New British Colonial architecture in Cayman

Secret Harbour is Dragon Bay Developer Michael Ryan’s microcosm for his entire Dragon Bay development: communities connected by and with the water. With the first phase breaking ground next month, Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull speaks exclusively with Mike to find out more and reports.
Cayman’s Ritz-Carlton resort is not number one in the region for nothing. Attention to detail, excellence in the quality, service delivery and amenities that guests enjoy set it quite firmly apart, head and shoulders above the competition. These qualities flow through everything in connection with the resort and in particular the brand new Secret Harbour development, set to break ground in June and a labour of love for its developer.
“In the years that the plans for Secret Harbour have been on the table we have gone through seven complete iterations of the plans. Ensuring that the development embraces all the highest qualities that guests have learnt to expect from The Ritz-Carlton, while being mindful of the current market climate have all brought us to the stage where we are at now – ready to break ground on this extraordinary project,” Mike states.
The Secret Harbour project has been two years in the making, with Mike undertaking his 11-month voyage to visit all the greatest coastal communities of the world – from Penang to Singapore to Portofino to Rhodes. This tour brought Mike the inspiration he needed to develop his 360-acre Dragon Bay development, a luxury residential and resort community right here in the Cayman Islands.
Ground was broken last year for The Deckhouses, 19 five-bedroom, five-bath private island estate homes with integrated boathouses and guest cottages, with the first phase of Secret Harbour following suit in just a few weeks.
British Colonial sets the standard
Basing the design element of Secret Harbour around the British Colonial imprint that he was so inspired by on his travels around the world, Mike says Secret Harbour will be a brand new interpretation of that highly successful style of architecture:
“The British Colonial style forms the basis for so many great communities, which have adapted the style to suit their own particular location,” he says. “Yet the format and structure of the design still remain true. As a coastal community and a British Overseas territory I felt that Cayman would be the perfect location to develop a contemporary British Colonial style, given its heritage, cosmopolitan population and multi-cultural society.”
Important values held true

Striving as always to provide the very best, Mike says the changes in design (which had gone right through to the drawings stage each time) were necessary to ensure the success of the project.
“We took into account the current real estate and general economic climate and decided to be counter-intuitive and buck the trend of trying just to cut costs, quality and service. Instead we decided to concentrate our efforts in providing our owners with what they truly found valuable,” Mike states.
Mike says that a tremendous amount of effort, therefore, went into tightening the plans from every angle to ensure that no part of the design was wasted and owners were provided with real and tangible value for money.
“We have retained in our plans basic architecture that we felt was intrinsic to the design expression, such as 12 foot high ceilings, ten foot high glass window walls and intelligent layout so that the design flows throughout each property,” he says. “Rooftop terraces will give panoramic views of the North Sound. We found this outdoor living, which automatically connects you with the water, a fundamental part of the successful designs from our travels.”
In order to ensure the highest standards of luxury are met, but without added or wasteful costs, Mike says great attention was paid to using space and materials as intelligently as possible.
“We looked at communal spaces such as stairwells to ensure that the space was properly filled; we might decide to put a single sink in the powder room as opposed to a double sink – but that sink will be the finest quality,” Mike says.
The interior for each apartment is designed by the renowned design team of D’Aquino Monaco, whose first foray into design in the Cayman Islands resulted in the award-winning Silver Rain spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. Known for the boldness of their work, interior designer Carl D’Aquino and his partner, architect Francine Monaco, have earned international acclaim for the design of exclusive private residences and high-end commercial projects around the world.
Attracted to quality
A testament to Mike’s belief in his latest project is the fact that over 65 per cent of the properties in the first phase at Secret Harbour have already been pre-sold. Work will begin on the series of one, two and three bedroom units as well as the host of top class amenities, such as the harbour itself with a promenade, bridged archway for boats to pass under, Clubhouse with La Prairie spa suites, a movie theater, a café inspired by Eric Ripert, and a business meeting area.
“We understand the lifestyles of our owners. We know that they will enjoy meeting at the café for a morning latté or cappuccino, perhaps conduct a meeting in our business centre or meet up with friends at the movies, and that is why these amenities are our top concern,” Mike confirms. “We want to create a product that has developed with a real sense of what local residents are looking for in their community.”
Units start at US$600,000 up to US$3 million with most in the US$1 million to $1.5 million region. And don’t worry, the luxury penthouse with its sweeping views of the North Sound is still for sale. But you had better hurry.


View from the roof terrace