Cayman Islands: Single Family Offices In The Cayman Islands


Ken Dart and his family first visited Grand Cayman in the late 1980s and fell in love with the island. Recognising the opportunities Cayman could offer, both as a place to make his family's home and base his family office, he opened a small investment office in 1993 with three employees. Some 23 years later that investment office has grown to become the base of Ken Dart's global operations and Grand Cayman continues to be home to his family.

At the time, the Islands offered a unique blend of genuine hospitality, a safe, welcoming community and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It had a stable government, a legal system based on English Common Law, good basic infrastructure including telecommunications, airports and port; an open policy on foreign property ownership and an advanced registered land title system. Above that, it was tax neutral and provided access to best-in-class service providers competing in the global arena. The fact that the Cayman Islands is geographically proximate to the United States, is located in the Eastern Time Zone, is English speaking and uses a fixed exchange rate with the U.S. Dollar were also attractive features.

This combination of factors gave Mr Dart the confidence to relocate his family office and expand the size of its team. With a goal of growing the capital base and with a long-term investment horizon, Ken saw opportunities to invest in the Cayman Islands – investing both for profit and to enhance the quality of living in the community. Many of these investments have helped make the Cayman Islands an even more exciting proposition for other family offices looking to relocate.


One of Ken Dart's first initiatives was the establishment of a 26-acre nursery that would supply mature, native landscaping materials for his own private gardens and the future developments he might undertake.

To date, his signature development is the mixed-use town of Camana Bay, which broke ground in 2005 and continues to grow. Inspired by the principles of new urbanism, Camana Bay features thoughtful and sustainable design and has a commitment to public open spaces, focusing on human engagement and interaction. Mr Dart's vision was to create a community where businesses thrive and people want to live, to attract and retain top employees by creating an environment with a focus on life, productivity and wellbeing.

Understanding that access to quality education is a vital factor for businesses hoping to attract and retain talent, Camana Bay's first completed phase included a world-class school campus, home to the Cayman International School, adding much needed capacity to the handful of quality private schools on the island.

Today, his vision is a reality and Camana Bay is a dynamic 650-acre, community with over 800,000 square feet of commercial office, retail, residential and entertainment spaces; where more than a thousand people gather each day to work, learn, shop, dine, play and live. It is a thriving Caribbean town with city amenities in a beautiful island setting.

In January 2011, Mr Dart acquired a hotel that had permanently closed in 2008. After an extensive search for the right hotel brand, one emerged as the clear, best choice: the US-based Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group.

Recognised by Fortune as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for 7 years running, Kimpton is renowned for its people-focused culture. Its philosophy of genuine, unscripted hospitality was attractive as an alternative to the typical luxury approach and the brand had a track record of success with adaptive, reuse of existing buildings, transforming them into signature hotels.

After rounds of careful study, it was ultimately decided that a better use of the land was to raze the existing structure and start anew. In July 2013, Dart and Kimpton announced their partnership and together set out to create the brand's first foray outside of the United States, a boutique hotel with an expansive beach setback, beautifully landscaped grounds, stunning ocean views and a modern Caribbean vibe that was at once rustic yet polished.

The Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa and The Residences at Seafire fill a need in Cayman's hotel and real estate market, offering accessible luxury in a boutique setting of high design and personalised guest experiences. It will grow, rather than dilute the market. Regaled as one of the most important resort hotel opening of the year, Kimpton Seafire opened on schedule in November 2016, adding 266 rooms, with 62 for-sale residences scheduled for completion in 2017.


In December 2015, Dart Realty introduced the Caribbean's first LEED1 Gold Class-A office building at 18 Forum Lane and welcomed PwC as the anchor tenant, adding yet another global financial services name to the growing list that have chosen Camana Bay as their Cayman address. Continued interest in state-of-the-art commercial office spaces at Camana Bay has prompted Dart to construct One Nexus Way, scheduled to open in 2017.

Today Dart Real Estate, one of the DART group of companies, has invested more than US$1 billion in the Cayman Islands across a diverse portfolio of commercial, retail, resort and residential real estate including infrastructure such as public parks, roads and bridges.

From Dart Real Estate's roots at Camana Bay to its first hotel development at the Kimpton Seafire and an upcoming five-star resort on Seven Mile Beach, Mr Dart's design philosophy is dedicated to place-making where people naturally gravitate, enabling them to lead more fulfilling lives whether at work, home or play. He believes that greater than the sum of the architecture, interiors and landscape is the experience of the people spending time in these places, whether a small community park or an expansive mixed-use community growing around a vibrant town centre.

During the past 25 years, while the billionaire entrepreneur has been quietly investing from and in the Cayman Islands with a focus on long-term value creation, the country itself has continued to evolve and develop. The Cayman Islands often leads the way among international financial jurisdictions, meeting or exceeding global regulatory standards and domestically, improving its capabilities in technology and telecoms, offering fibre-based reliability and speed, essential to global competitiveness and business continuity. Grand Cayman today is a one-stop shop for professional services in accounting, law, trusts and auditing, with world-class leaders in their respective fields offering unparalleled service delivery in a competitive business environment.

The continued rise of growing global wealth means more family offices, and more of them exploring the optimal jurisdiction in which to base operations. More than ever before, the Cayman Islands is prepared to serve single-family offices and the professionals responsible for wealth preservation, management and growth.

In the early 1990s when Ken Dart set up his family office, the jurisdiction offered political stability, good transport links to the US, and a sufficiently robust communications infrastructure to allow a family office to operate. Over the next 25 years, Cayman has continually been refined to the point where today, it offers the depth and diversity needed to establish and service sophisticated wealth and succession planning structures.

Building on solid English legal principles for trusts, the Cayman Islands has introduced trust-specific legislation which provides a number of creative and flexible tools for family offices to use. The Cayman Islands specifically permits those creating trusts to reserve a range of powers over the trusts and, through the use of the innovative and unique "STAR Trust", it allows the creation of purpose trusts which can be used to facilitate philanthropic giving, succession planning, or the furtherance of commercial goals.

Cayman continues to innovate and is expected to soon pass its Foundation Companies Law, an exciting legal development which will introduce another unique form of legal entity to the Cayman Islands. This commitment to legal innovation, supported by a network of highly qualified professionals allows the Cayman Islands to continue to meet the needs of an increasingly sophisticated client-base.

As the global BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) project marches on apace, it is becoming increasingly important for legal entities to show that they have substance behind their corporate exterior; that real decisions are made in the place where the company is established. Cayman is ideally placed to ensure that family offices established here will be able to evidence that their "mind and management" really is in the Cayman Islands. Not only can family offices look to relocate their key individuals to the Cayman Islands, the family's structures can then be serviced by local professionals.

Cayman has a professional services culture underpinned by an open competitive market for services boasting multiple firms of highly skilled professionals. During the past two decades, the jurisdiction has become highly regarded and is used directly and indirectly by a large proportion of the world's ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families and offering a degree of excellence, which underpins its established positive reputation amongst the jurisdiction's clients. What Mr Dart thought was already a great international financial centre and destination to relocate to in 1994 has been significantly enhanced and modernised during the past 25 years.

There is only one place in the Western Hemisphere where you can manage sophisticated trust structures, in a tax-neutral environment with access to excellent professional services, in a location with a stable government, proximity to the US and an incredible quality of life: right here on the tiny Caribbean island of Grand Cayman.

About the Author

Mark is the CEO of Dart Enterprises Ltd. and director of its Cayman subsidiaries including Active Capital, Dart Development and Dart Real Estate. Based in the Cayman Islands, Dart has a global presence with investments in Europe, the US and Caribbean; in addition to oversight of Dart's global investments he leads the Cayman-based Family Office. He spent the first 15 years of his career in securities and investments and in the last 10 years, has added real estate development and mergers and acquisitions to his areas of focus. VanDevelde works closely with Dart's visionary owner and shareholder, Kenneth B. Dart, to realise Mr Dart's vision of a strong and sustainable local economy supported by the Dart Group's corporate and community development activities. VanDevelde moved to Cayman over 20 years ago and considers it his home. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Michigan State University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.

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