New Hotelier On the Scene

The Cayman's man

When the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman opened in December, the buzz was all about names: Greg Norman! Eric Ripert! Nick Bollettieri! Jean-Michel Cousteau! Mike Ryan! Wait—Mike who? Meet Michael Ryan, the hotel's 42-year-old owner, who turned a 144-acre parcel into a serious resort stretching from beach to bay. It was a Trump-size move for a hotelier with no Q rating. Ryan, a native of Canada, had developed properties in Costa Rica and the Great Lakes, but nothing like this: 365 rooms, 24 condos, 69 villas, and a spectacular La Prairie spa, not to mention Norman's golf course, Bollettieri's tennis academy, Cousteau's dive center, and Ripert's two kitchens. "You get lucky in life," Ryan says, deflecting too much credit with his just-folks charisma. But building such a special place did take genuine humility. "I promised the designer, Frank Nicholson, that I wouldn't pick any color, furniture, or artwork," he says, "or make him hang some horrible painting I'd done." From $700 to $930; 345-943-9000;