Secret Harbour comes to life

Dragon Bay developer Mike Ryan talks about Secret Harbour, the next phase of this water-based community which has been inspired by the world’s greatest maritime villages.

What is special about Secret Harbour?
This is the first time that someone has been able to have the platform that we have created here at Dragon Bay to design an actual harbour village where the water is fully integrated.

Given our ability to create the islands that make up Dragon Bay, we’ve created the harbour and allowed the homes around it to come to life the way they should. And, I think that’s unbelievably unique. In a nutshell, it’s the chance to build the perfect little harbour village right in the centre of Grand Cayman with all the support and amenities that we have in the whole Ritz-Carlton Dragon Bay development.

Where are you in the construction process?
I think the most exciting thing that is happening is that we are under way. We’ve started construction and we look forward to finishing up the first group of buildings in short order. The designs that we have finalised and streamlined have shortened the construction process so we are now looking at 24 to 30 months. Our goal is to get the whole first stage done, which is the harbour, the clubhouse, the promenade. We should be seeing vertical structures by Christmas.

How do you feel about seeing Secret Harbour come to life?
It’s extraordinary for us. We felt it was a fantastic idea. There’s something magical about creating that harbour.

It’s taken us years, literally, to work through what seemed like a very simple, very cool idea, but then the execution of it, to actually make it happen, was incredibly difficult. We’ve been through more designs on this than anything else I’ve ever done.   

When you get it right, it feels magic. It’s about creating and letting things evolve. To see it coming to life, with people buying the units and being excited about the vision with us, and now seeing it coming out of the ground, it’s hard not to be excited about that. I think it’s great for us; I think it’s great for Cayman.

Why do you feel this is the right time to move ahead with a new development?
One of the things that has been key to our success from the beginning of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman project into Dragon Bay is that we’ve always had a long-term vision, which has enabled us to be much less affected by cycles. Since we started the project in 1997, we’ve been through the bursting of the dot-com bubble, Y2K, 9/11, Hurricane Ivan and, now, the recent recession. And we’re still here, we’re still moving ahead.

What has buyer response been to Secret Harbour?
I think the buyer response has been incredible. We’ve wanted from the beginning of the Dragon Bay concept to make a place where Caymanians wanted to be based, as well as people who are only here for part of the year. To see such a high percentage of Caymanians, about 40 percent, buying along with the part-time residents is terrific. In the worst real estate market in the last 80 years to have 60 percent of Secret Harbour already sold is astronomical; it shows that we really hit something spectacular.

What are the different residences planned? What makes each of them special?
We have to have our continued thread of British Tropical Colonial, but I’m not going to build a Little Venice; I’m not going to build a Greek Island because we’re not Greek. From the great harbour communities that I was fortunate enough to visit, in my around-the-world voyage, the ideal is the Harbour Loft.

What’s the vision? I’m stepping into this loft building, I’ve got these soaring 12-foot ceilings; I’ve got these 10-foot glass walls that look out across the water; I’ve got a floating staircase that cascades up; I’ve got this big outdoor space; I’ve got the roof decks with the very elegant, very narrow railings so they’re not blocking your view; I’ve got the promenade outside my front door where everybody walks around the harbour.

The Bridge Residence, like the Harbour Loft, is something that I don’t think you are going to see anywhere else. And it’s a real bridge over a real entrance to the harbour. You’ll have a private elevator that goes into the unit, you’ll have this massive roof deck and you’re watching the boats going back and forth underneath you.

How do you feel about the design details and interiors at Secret Harbour?
The key thing is in trying to capture the essence of the perfect Harbour Loft, you’re looking for a high-ceilinged, high-volume, very clean, open space with a lot of natural light.

Then, to accent it, to make the interior design work, we wanted to create something that had an elegance to it, that spoke to the cosmopolitan nature of this British Colonial harbour village, while keeping it clean, young, new, without trying to be trendy. So that’s why we reached out to D’Aquino Monaco, who did such a spectacular job for us in the Silver Rain spa, which is a stunning statement. It’s a magical place. It’s very clean, it’s very sharp, but in no way feels trendy. It’s still elegant, it’s still timeless.

In Secret Harbour, we’re bringing those elements together – in the mosaic tiles; in the standalone tubs; the beautiful, custom-made built-in wall units. All of it is going to come together to make this Harbour Loft space just untouchable.

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