The Cayman Stingray Tourism Lifetime Achievement Award is reserved for what one would describe as key players in tourism, for people who have molded the industry and contributed to the overall well-being of the destination. Recipients of this award are considered to be “pioneers” of tourism in the Cayman Islands.
Adrien’s story starts off in 1959, when his mother, Mrs. Hebe Bodden Briggs, first started Sunset House. Adrien joined Hebe, along with his wife, Bonnie, in managing the business in 1969, at age 23, upon graduating from Miami Dade Community College with his Associates degree. Bob Soto taught Adrien to dive and in 1972, Adrien opened Sunset Divers, providing diving services to the Sunset House’s hotels guests. Today, Sunset Divers and Sunset House have approximately 40 employees.
Sunset House was the sixth hotel on island at the time it opened and the only one of these six that is still in operation today.
Sunset Divers was the fifth dive operation on island, and of these five, only Sunset Divers and Bob Soto’s are still in operation today. Sunset Divers was the first dive operation on island to have custom-designed dive boats, which are now standard in the industry.
In 1976, Adrien and his second cousin Attlee Bodden started Caribbean Marine Services, providing tendering services to the cruise ship industry. They started very simply with two tenders – T1 and T2 – which were built locally by Mr. Vickus Miller, in true Cayman style on the iron shore launching ramp south of McCoy's Villa near Jackson Point on South Church Street. CMS has grown along with the cruise industry and today CMS, employs approximately 50 individuals and has a fleet of 18 tenders. The first cruise ship that CMS tendered was the Southward on the 20th November 1976.
In 1983, Adrien purchased Harbour House Marina & Yacht Club Ltd., which provides boat sales, ship’s chandlery, and repair and maintenance services to the marine market. Under Adrien’s guidance the business continues to thrive.
In 1987, Adrien and Attlee entered into a partnership with the Pritzker family and opened Red Sail Sports (originally known as Nick's Aqua Sports), providing diving, watersports and retail services to the Hyatt Regency Grand Cayman. Today they provide services to the Westin, Morritts' Tortuga, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, the Marriott, Grand Cayman Beach Suites, Sea Grape Beach and theReef Resort. Over the years, Red Sail Sports has grown from a staff of 23 to 125.
In 1995, Adrien and Attlee and a number of other investors purchased Rum Point and redeveloped the property. They offer beach watersports, stingray city trips, diving, retail, bar and restaurant.
Adrien has cleaned rooms, done laundry, cooked, tended bar, unclogged toilets, etc. As the owner and manager of a small hotel in the Cayman Islands in early 70’s one was required to be a jack-of-all-trades and Adrien exemplifies this. He was capable of doing all jobs and has done all jobs that were required at Sunset House over the years. This “can do” spirit is alive and well at Harbour House Marina and CMS. Adrien can fix a boat engine, repair the hull of a boat and drive a travel lift if necessary and in the past when necessary, Adrien has taken to the helm of CMS’ tenders. Adrien was also Sunset Diver’s dive master in the early days. He would cook breakfast for the guests and then take them diving, come back after the dive and tend bar.
Despite owning and being very active in all of his businesses, Adrien still found the time to participate in the community. He was a founding member of the old Cayman Islands Watersports Association and served as president for six and a half years and also on its Board of Directors. During his tenure with the CIWA, he along with the Board, were instrumentation in the development of the Marine Parks and the installation of permanent moorings at various popular dive sites around the island. These permanent moorings help protect the dive sites from anchor damage from the various dive boats that frequent these locations.
As you can see, his lifetime of achievements speak for themselves and have made Adrien Briggs an icon of stellar magnitude in our tourism industry. So once again, please congratulate Adrien Briggs as this year’s 2013 Cayman Stingray Tourism Awards Lifetime Achievement recipient!
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