So far, 2017 has been a remarkable year for the Southern Cross Club in Little Cayman. First, the online travel site TripAdvisor.com named the resort to its top 25 in the Caribbean in two categories based on customer reviews: Best Hotel for Service and Best for Romance. Adding to the awards, administrations manager Neil van Niekerk was named an “Emerging Hero in Tourism” by the Cayman Islands government, and resort owner Peter Hillenbrand was recognized for his “Long Service to Cayman Tourism.”
Hillenbrand has also received a lifetime achievement award from the Cayman Islands Tourism Association for taking a run-down resort 40 years ago making it one of Cayman’s best. With a stunning location, distinct personality and outstanding service, the Southern Cross Club keeps its guests returning year after year for its barefoot elegance.
“The Southern Cross Club is the proudest achievement in my life,” said Hillenbrand. “But here are many people who also work hard to make the resort the success.”
“We came perilously close to losing the aggregation site in 2001,” said Hillenbrand, who is an active team member. “Today, the project is a model for the importance of protection, fishing regulation, and the science it takes to teach us what we need to do to manage sustainable fisheries.”
This February, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Sir Richard Branson made two dives at the aggregation site at the invitation of Dr. Guy Harvey of the GHOF. Sir Richard maintains a home in the British Virgin Islands, and because the Nassau Grouper is critically endangered across the Caribbean, Dr. Harvey wanted him to see the successful conservation work being done in Little Cayman.
“This year we witnessed the recruitment of many 6-year-olds which suggest that a large number of the juveniles we saw five years ago — we filmed them in the back reef and around Owen Island — survived to adulthood!” said Dr. Harvey. “This highlights the importance of a dedicated long term monitoring and protection effort.”
“There are no accessible places like Little Cayman left in the Caribbean,” said Peter Hillenbrand. “What she is, and what she means to those of us who love her, is precious beyond compare. There is nothing more important than caring for our planet, our earth, our marine resources.”