Chairman & CEO, Great White Shark Enterprises
During the 2012 Cayman Alternative Investment Summit hosted and organized by Michael Ryan, Greg Norman had the following to say about Michael Ryan.
“I especially want to thank Mike, a lot of you probably know him and a lot of you probably don’t know him. I have known Mike for 15 years, and in my business when you have a connection and relationship with someone like Mike it goes beyond friendship in a lot of ways.
I can remember walking around this golf course when we started to build it, walking through mangroves and surviving hurricanes, only to see Mike’s dream come out of the ground to where it is today.
To be able to host the people in this room today, the individuals that make the world go around, is very special. It does not take much, if I have respect for somebody, that if they ask me to do something I am there. I have a lot of respect for Mike, a lot of respect for what he has done in the world of business and it is a honor to be here today in front of everybody.
About Greg Norman:
Greg Norman was labeled the “Great White Shark” by a newspaper reporter during the 1981 Masters Tournament, but he began exhibiting all the characteristics of that deep-sea creature long before that. His crowning achievements are British Open Championships in 1986 and 1993, and in total, Norman has won 91 professional events around the world, including 20 U.S. PGA TOUR titles. He has 29 top 10 finishes in Majors (Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, British Open, PGA Championship), or more than 38 percent of those he has entered.
While his well-documented wins on the golf course secured him a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame, he continues to work at both his game and a business that promises to succeed long after his playing days are behind him. He serves as Chairman and CEO of Great White Shark Enterprises, a multinational corporation that comprises several companies and divisions including Greg Norman Golf Course Design, Greg Norman Wine Estates, Greg Norman Australian Prime, Southern Cross Developments, Greg Norman Production Company, Greg Norman’s Australian Grille, Greg Norman Interactive as well as many other merchandising and licensing initiatives.
Mitsui Chairman & Allan Guest, Former CEO
Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance (London Management) Ltd
20 November 2006
To Whom It May Concern
Our involvement with Mr. Mike Ryan and/or Condoco began in June 2000 and forms part of the principal debt financing in collaboration with Royal Bank of Scotland for the purpose of constructing the Ritz-Carlton development in Grand Cayman. In the course of the project we have, in conjunction with the Royal Bank of Scotland, provided a total debt support for US$180M which is currently amortising down to the successful operation of the Hotel and sale of condominiums.
During the course of the development Mike Ryan and the Development Group have established a strong and open relationship which has enabled all parties to work effectively to overcome some significant unforeseen challenges and, in particular, the quality of strength and leadership of Mike Ryan and his team has ensured the success of the development for all concerned.
It goes without saying that the professionalism and integrity of the individuals and companies with whom we choose to do business is of the utmost importance to our company, not least because of the consequential impact which our partners’ conduct necessarily has on our own commercial reputation. Our decision to work alongside Mike Ryan and Condoco in respect of the Grand Cayman project was therefore something which was not entered into lightly and only embarked upon after detailed and vigorous analysis of every aspect of the proposed development and the integrity of our putative partners. Our shareholders would, of course, expect nothing less.
1 am happy to state that over the past 6 years, we have enjoyed an excellent and productive working relationship with Mr. Ryan and/or Condoco. In particular, we have found him/them to be both highly professional and deeply committed to the success of the Ritz-Carlton development and to have proved themselves fully capable of overseeing the construction, marketing and opening of a project of substantial size and complexity. Now completed, the resort is a world class and highly prestigious hotel and condominium development on a scale and standard unique in the Cayman Islands and, moreover, one whose quality is comparable with any high-end luxury resort in the Caribbean region. We are proud to have been involved in the successful delivery of the Ritz Carlton project and would have no hesitation over working with Mr. Ryan in the future were the right opportunity to arise.
President & Managing Director Asia Pacific for Marriott International, Inc & Former President & COO, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C.
In 2004 Simon Cooper had the following to say about Michael Ryan, “I have known Michael Ryan for three years in business related to The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman project. My impression is that he is very focused on bringing the project to fruition no matter how challenging the business and physical environment. He is passionate in pursuit of his vision, with a personal commitment to the project and everyone associated with it.”
About Simon Cooper:
Simon F. Cooper became President and Managing Director, Asia Pacific in September 2010. He oversees the operation, development and strategic positioning of the brands and luxury groups in Asia Pacific. Mr. Cooper served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Ritz-Carlton from February 2001 until he assumed his current position, after a distinguished career with Marriott Lodging, including serving three years as President of Marriott Lodging Canada. His first hospitality job was with Canadian Pacific Hotels & Resorts. Among his many professional honors, Mr. Cooper has served on the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, Canada Institute Advisory Board and as Chairman of the Board of Governors for Canada’s University of Guelph. While he was President and COO of Ritz-Carlton, Mr. Cooper presided over a major expansion of the brand. In 2008 Mr. Cooper was named Corporate Hotelier of the World by HOTELS Magazine. In June of 2010, he received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Guelph. Born and educated in England, he earned an MBA from the University of Toronto.
Honorable Robert L. Livingston
Founding Partner, The Livingston Group & Former Elected Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
Robert Livingston met Michael Ryan approximately 18 years ago when they were introduced by a mutual friend in Costa Rica. “He needed some help trying to persuade the government to follow through with his effort to buy some land. Later, he introduced me to folks in the Cayman Islands and now we represent them in Washington,” Livingstone said.
Describing Ryan as sophisticated, well educated and energetic, Livingston said, “He’s one of the brightest young people I know. He’s a very strong family man. He protects his wife and family. He’s energetic and community minded. He’s a talented guy.”
Commenting on Ryan’s skills in business, Livingston added, “I think he’s a great businessman; I’ve always been impressed with him. He’s always been forthright, totally above board with me. He’s a great people person, very impressive. He’s probably a very good salesman and I don’t mean that in the pejorative sense. He pays great attention to detail. He has his head on his shoulders in my opinion. I’ve met a lot of people in my time and Mike Ryan is one of the most impressive people I’ve met.”
About Robert Livingston:
Robert L. Livingston is a Founding Partner of The Livingston Group and a distinguished former Republican Member of Congress from Louisiana. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in a special election in 1977 and was re-elected to eleven successive two-year terms. Mr. Livingston served as a member of the Appropriations Committee through most of his time in Congress, and for the maximum period of six years on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. From 1995 through 1998, he served as the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, shepherding the 13 appropriations bills through the legislative process. At the start of the 105th Congress in 1997, Mr. Livingston chaired the bi-partisan ethics reform task force, in which role he was responsible for reshaping the House ethics rules. He was chosen by his peers to serve as Speaker-designate for the 106th Congress. Following his departure from Congress in 1999, Mr. Livingston established a successful lobbying firm, The Livingston Group. It is today a highly regarded, bipartisan firm, which boasts an extensive network of over 60 principals, consultants and international associates, and 50-plus domestic and foreign clients.
Co-founder and Managing Partner, Revolution Growth & Former Chairman & CEO, Exclusive Resorts
Donn Davis and Michael Ryan have known one another for over 12 years. “We met when a company I was CEO of, Exclusive Resorts, was starting to look to buy into high-end development projects. I have met personally with Mike many times over the years and consider him a trusted business colleague. He was one of Exclusive Resorts’ development partners and we would do business with him again in his next phase or his next project.”
Describing Ryan as an “excellent developer,” Davis says, “He is passionate, tenacious and determined to deliver excellence in both his hospitality product and his real estate product. He has vision to create significant, valuable and lasting developments. He is both creative and bottom line oriented, which allows Mike to successfully ‘connect the dots’ on large projects.”
“Mike is a pioneer, one of the few who understands that consumers who buy real estate must be your first priority and you must ‘super-serve’ them. That is not a mindset that traditional hospitality companies have,” he added.
About Donn Davis:
Donn Davis is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Revolution Growth. Donn co-founded Revolution LLC with Steve Case [former co-founder of AOL] in 2005.Prior to joining Revolution, Donn was CEO at Exclusive Resorts, where he was responsible for building the company from a start-up to the acclaimed market leader, scaling the company to $1 billion of owned luxury residences and hospitality operations in 40 world-wide destinations. During the formative period of the consumer Internet, Donn was a senior executive at America Online, where he served on the company-wide operating committee and was responsible for leading the AOL Interactive Properties Group as COO and then President.
Tennis Coach to the Stars
Nick Bollettieri says of Michael Ryan, “Mike Ryan and I met at the 2002 U.S. Open tennis tournament. It did not take long to see that he was a family man and a motivated businessman who has a deep passion for the game of tennis. I customized the tennis program for Mike at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Resort.
While I have only worked with Mike on The Ritz-Carlton project – an enormous project to conceptualize and develop – he is obviously very open to new ideas and is committed to developing a tennis program that will be the best of the best.
Mike is obviously a visionary with high expectations of others and of himself. He is fearless when it comes to making his dreams a reality, a characteristic that I have found to be an enormous asset in my field. Mike comes across as a man who is very sure of himself, and this is the strength he has when first meeting people.
I don’t know how others in business might perceive him and frankly, I don’t care. He comes across to me as a real person and that is why I agreed to be part of the group in Grand Cayman.”
About Nick Bollettieri
Nick Bollettieri is one of the most influential people in the world of tennis and a legend who has transcended the sport. In 1978, he founded the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida, and he used to coach ten #1 players in the world – Agassi, Becker, Courier, Hingis, Jankovic, Rios, Seles, Sharapova and Venus and Serena Williams, as well as a multitude of other world-class players, including: Haas, Kournikova, Arias and Vaidisova, to name a few. The Academy quickly became synonymous with tennis excellence and its coaches and students continue to reflect Nick’s passion for excellence and the game. In 1987, Nick expanded his vision when he joined forces with IMG to turn the Tennis Academy into a multi-sport training facility, now known as IMG Academy. At 81 years old, Nick is still going strong teaching private lessons, as well as overseeing the progress of numerous professional players, the elite juniors, and the general Academy groups.
Anthony Travers, OBE
Chairman, Cayman Islands Stock Exchange
Speaking of Michael Ryan, whom he has known since Ryan moved to the Cayman Islands in 1997, Anthony Travers said, “When we see the huge infrastructure development of tourist destinations like Dubai, and the strides made by close competitors such as the Turks & Caicos Islands and Cuba, it seems clear that without capital commitment of The Ritz-Carlton and the perseverance of Mike Ryan, the long term tourist sector in the Cayman Islands would soon be uncompetitive.
It does require a great deal of vision, entrepreneurial skill and business acumen to undertake a project of this quality,” Travers said, referring to The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Resort. “There are certainly stylistic arguments for and against the project but the fact of the matter is that those who criticize Mike are looking increasingly out of touch. What is clear is that notwithstanding the storm, The Ritz-Carlton represents a new standard of excellence in the hotel and condominium industry in the Caribbean.”
Travers added: “A good deal of the criticism has verged on the unfair. The question of whether the Cayman Islands has a tourism industry and the type and development that should be permitted under it is very much a policy matter for the Cayman Islands government. Having set those policies, we should be grateful for those who are prepared to invest the capital and make the commitment to raise the standard.”
About Anthony Travers, OBE:
Anthony Travers, OBE, is the Chairman of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange, former Chairman of Cayman Finance and former President of the Cayman Islands Law Society. He spent his thirty-year legal career years with leading offshore law firm Maples and Calder where he served as Senior Partner and a Managing Partner for over twenty years both in Cayman and in various foreign offices that he established for the firm. He retired from Maples and Calder in 2006. In December 2012 Anthony stepped back into private practice as the Senior Partner of Cayman Islands and BVI boutique law firm Thorp Alberga which was renamed Travers Thorp Alberga. He has extensive experience in all aspects of Cayman Islands law and has worked closely with the Government in the development of Cayman Islands legislation particularly the Mutual funds and Private Equity legislation and legislation relating to the establishment of Private Trusts. In 2011 the inaugural FCI 500 list of the most influential people in financial centers listed Anthony Travers #95. Anthony was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order (OBE) for his services to the Government and the Financial sector in August 1998.
Singer/Songwriter – Nine times Grammy Award winner
Ms. Crow performed at the opening of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman in January 2006, and remarked “It’s so beautiful, hardly anything needs to be done. Walking into this setting feels like, it feels like a celebration.”
Managing Director, Wealth Management – Bank of America Corporation
Forbes Morton has over twenty years of experience in financial services and has spent the last 20+ years with Bank of America. His previous positions include head of Planning and Development in the Wholesale Bank, Business Manager for the Strategy Group and Business Executive for Wealth and Investment Technology.
Mr. Morton has known Michael Ryan for 40 years. “We’ve known each other since grade school. We played on many sports teams together, went to university together and have been climbing partners. Our families get together two or three times a year,” he said.
As a businessman, Ryan, according to Morton, is “entrepreneurial, decisive. He rises to the challenge and has very strong leadership skills. Mike is profit driven while at the same time delivering a quality product, creating a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.”
As someone to do business with, Ryan is “bright, unconventional, quick-witted, humorous and loyal. In short, multi-dimensional. His greatest strengths are being strong-willed, focused, empathetic, and driven to succeed,” according to Morton.
Former Vice President & General Manager, The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman
Jean Cohen says about Michael Ryan, “I find him to be a visionary, a really big thinker. He understands the big picture very quickly. He’s a passionate leader; he has an extraordinary work ethic, doing whatever has to be done to drive his project forward. He is straightforward, businesslike, tenacious and energetic. No obstacle is too big for him. He’s just unflappable.”
As an example of his character, Cohen cited Ryan’s response to Hurricane Ivan that devastated the Cayman Islands in 2004. Cohen was off-island when the storm hit and was desperate to care for her staff. “We had to evacuate our people. I called Michael to see if he could do anything. ‘I’ve just arranged for a 737 to take them out,’ he said. Those were my people he was talking about. These were not Michael’s people; they reported to me. He somehow commandeered buses to get them to the airport tarmac. He went into the departure area and told all those waiting that he had 10 empty seats and asked if anyone wanted to leave. He told them that women and children should go first. They (her staff and the residents he helped) would do anything for him now.”
“During difficult times you tend to see someone’s character. He has very strong moral fiber,” Cohen added. He also turned the hurricane into an opportunity to improve the resort project, she said. “After the hurricane, he maintained a positive attitude and his optimism. He didn’t waver for a second. His approach was ‘It’s not every day you get an opportunity to rethink the project.’ He has positive drive around the clock.”
Cohen observed that Ryan’s determination to make The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Resort the best possible resort led him to take every step necessary, including many that were not required.
“After more than 30 years in business, I can pretty much pick and choose my projects and the people I want to work with. It was truly a pleasure to be on this project and to be affiliated with Michael Ryan.”
Founder, EastWest Financial Services
Tom Evans has known Michael Ryan since 1993. “He engaged my firm, EastWest Financial Services Ltd., as the investment banker to arrange long-term project financing for a Sonesta Hotel he was building on his large mixed use property on the North Pacific coast of Costa Rica. We have had a very strong business association ever since. EastWest was also engaged as the investment banker for The Ritz-Carton, Grand Cayman project.”
“Mike has real vision as a developer and, I believe, is on the cutting edge of where his type of product is headed. He is constantly fine tuning the real estate product he offers his client and customer,” Evans added.
Describing Ryan’s strengths as “very strong marketing and sales skills, vision, drive and perseverance through all types of business adversity,” Evans said, “I believe a lot of off-shore developers and hotel industry types admire and respect Mike for the risks he’s taken. In many ways he is a pioneer in his business product, the branded serviced hotel condo product, which now has been enthusiastically adopted and widely imitated throughout North America.”
About Thomas Evans
Tom Evans specializes in international investment banking activities in developing countries. He is a founding partner of EastWestand is currently the sole principal at the firm. At EastWest, Mr. Evans has been responsible for placing in excess of $2 billion in debt and equity financing in a broad range of projects in emerging markets using nontraditional financing techniques. He provides specialized advice on private sector projects and is responsible for structuring, coordinating and raising the necessary funds for a project, including negotiating the financing terms, conditions, and economic concessions for a client. Some of the most recent examples of EastWestlarge-scale, mixed-use projects include the Four Seasons, Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo, the Four Seasons, Exuma at Emerald Bay, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, and the Four Seasons Hotel and Residences, Denver, Colorado.