Longtime tenants, staff reflect on 15 years of Camana Bay

Markus Mueri

Abacus | KARoo

It was a quiet morning during lockdown when it hit him. Markus Mueri stepped outside of Abacus and took it all in.

"When [Camana Bay] started off, it was really little and it was exciting," he said. "But right now, it has become a city... with all the different aspects of what you actually need."

Mueri and business partner Neil Bryington were among Camana Bay's first tenants when they opened Abacus.

"I'm extremely proud to be here," he said. "I've made a lot of friends here in Town Centre and I have to say, Camana Bay helped me [become] who I am today. The connections, the people you meet and greet, I've met some of the best people in my life."

He remembers being contacted by former Camana Bay sales consultant Paul Young about an up-and-coming development.

"The most important part was a cinema, a book shop, a restaurant and a clothes shop," Mueri said. "That was kind of the idea, the four things we start off with and see where it's going to go."

Today, an estimated 3,000 people either visit, live in or work in Camana Bay on a daily basis.

"Think about what you've created for public spaces where people on the island can come and hang out and enjoy it," Mueri said.

"It has become home."

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Markus Mueri, Abacus | KARoo
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Nicola de Lima NKY | NKY Collections | SOLES Shoe Salon | POLO by NKY | GREAT ROOM by NKY

Nicola de Lima
NKY | NKY Collections | SOLES Shoe Salon | POLO by NKY | GREAT ROOM by NKY

Truth be told, it took a leap of faith before Nicola de Lima was sold on this up-and-coming development.

It was back in 2006 and she received a call from former Dart Vice President Jeff Lombardo about expanding her retail business in a new, soon-to-be constructed development called Camana Bay.

The two made an appointment to view the site.

"I looked around and there was nothing. There was absolutely nothing," she said. "There was no sign of life."

That's when Lombardo stepped in.

"He said, 'Now I want you to close your eyes and envision schools, restaurants, cinemas, shops, coffee shops, fountains, people walking, hustling and bustling by,'" de Lima said. "So I closed my eyes and I saw it. I saw his vision and I was able to visualize it.

"I turned and I said, 'I'll take that spot.'"

That spot today is NKY. Fifteen years after seeing the vision, de Lima now owns five Camana Bay-based retail shops.

She said she often marvels at how significant a change she's seen in Camana Bay; from a sleepy Town Centre to a place where she was able to host a fashion show right in front of NKY for the store's 10th anniversary.

"It's the place where you want to be," she said. "It's the only place."

Marvin Cox
Dart Vice President of Property Management

Over the past 15 years, Dart and Camana Bay have played several important roles in Marvin Cox's life.

"I've seen Camana Bay come out of the ground," said Cox, who began with the company in security before moving up the ranks and today serving as vice president of property management. "I can recall when it was just all construction."

Camana Bay has represented a place to fulfill himself professionally and spend quality time with his family.

"For me, it means everything," Cox said. "It has afforded me all the opportunities that I've had to grow my career in property management. But then it's also that community where everything happens. Life happens, really."

Cox has seen just about everything Camana Bay has had to offer over the past 15 years, but he says the events that bring the community together are always top of mind.

"It's gonna be the Christmas events that we had," Cox said when asked about his favourite moments. "I recall Parade of Lights, the series of them. Those were just very amazing."

As he looks forward from here, Cox anticipates more opportunity for growth for him and his colleagues.

"It has been an incredible journey and something that I also want to pay forward, pay it back, to the people on my team," Cox said. "I do have an incredible team here."

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Marvin Cox, Dart Vice President of Property Management
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Brian Esau, Cayman National Bank

Brian Esau
Cayman National Bank

Cayman National Bank became one of the very first tenants at Camana Bay after Chief Executive Officer Stuart Dack heard about the development and knew the space would accommodate the company's expanding mutual funds department, trust and company management services and Cayman National Securities.

"He also saw the potential of another convenient branch for existing and future customers," said CNB Executive Vice President Brian Esau. "We immediately signed to become an anchor tenant."

Through the years, those at CNB have seen Camana Bay continue to expand and include larger retail outlets, restaurants and residential services in addition to smaller service type businesses.

"The Town Centre gives us an opportunity to offer a comprehensive stop for our clients, where they can find Cayman National Bank Ltd., Cayman National Fund Services Ltd. and Cayman National Securities Ltd.," Esau said.

Esau also said having the Camana Bay branch open during COVID-19 was a "godsend" as the amount of space nearby allowed for large customer lines with ample shade, parking and security.

"It was invaluable," he said.

Molly Morales
Dart Senior Manager of Events & Experiences

There have been more than 5,000 events held at Camana Bay over the past 15 years, and Senior Manager of Events & Experiences Molly Morales has been involved in just about every one of them.

"When I started with the company in 2007, I don’t think I could have imagined what Camana Bay would blossom into and mean to our community. Back then, we were just trying to create a vision in the midst of all the construction."

Out of that dust rose the Town Centre, which has hosted family gatherings, intimate cultural celebrations, sporting events and large concerts featuring international talent.

When it comes to the events that stand out in her mind, Morales conjures up images of giant, sparkling Christmas trees and Alicia Keys' live performance at Jazz Fest. But there's one she recalls that would likely go unremembered by anyone else.

"The first event on the Crescent was Voices for Hospice in 2009," she said. "That was pretty momentous to see the harbourfront come to life for the first time."

Morales also looks back fondly on the friendships she's made because of Camana Bay and the teams that she's worked with.

"Town Centre events wouldn’t be possible without the incredibly talented and dedicated people I’ve worked with throughout the years," Morales said. "Camana Bay would not have such a special place in our hearts without the commitment of so many amazing magic makers."

This article will also appear in the November 2022 print edition of Camana Bay Times.

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Molly Morales, Dart Senior Manager of Events & Experiences

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