Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fantasy Fest 2008 Theme Announced

The theme has been announced for next year's Fantasy Fest!

The 2008 theme is: Pirates, Pundits and Political Party Animals

(I can already hear the head shaking)

I get the part about politics, given that Fantasy Fest 2008 will be near election time.

But the pirate part looks to be more of a nod to the uber-sponsor Captain Morgan.

Creativity is what I applaud, and I hope that next year's crop of costumed partiers does more than simply paint granny's body.

Either way, its a fun time to be here, and I highly recommend you leave the kids and spend the week here on a wild Key West vacation.

What are your good costume ideas?
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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fantasy Fest 2007 Photos - Body Paint on Duval - Friday

Fantasy Fest 2007 is well under way and Key West is hopping with partiers, body paint, and sexy costumes. This year's Alice in Wonderland theme is revealing itself (pun intented) with fun body art and creative costumes.

Here are a few photos from the Friday Street Fair:

Duval Street during Fantasy Fest 2007 - Friday Street Fair

Skimpy and sexy costume draws a crowd on Duval Street during Fantasy Fest 2007
Close up of the body art on Duval St during the Key West fest
Body paint on Duval Street
Fantasy Fest body paint art
Photo of Fantasy Fest body paint costume on Duval Street
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Friday, October 26, 2007

A Tale of Two Cay Clubs

A previous post on the Key West Chronicle blog, titled Has Cay Clubs Bitten Off More Than It Can Chew, has received more comments than any other post (148 comments as of now, and growing).

The post was published 5 months ago and questioned if Cay Clubs had a sound plan.

Late last night, two anonymous comments were submitted. One comment was attributed to "Crystal" (Dave Clark's wife? mistress? good friend?). The other comment was written by a former employee of Cay Clubs. Although there is no way to determine who wrote and submitted the comments, both comments seemed heartfelt and had quite a bit of information.

In the interest of keeping you informed, these comments are reprinted below:

Anonymous commenter submitted:

Didn't you know, I am his mistress ;)
I haven't been here in quite a while, months actually, but it's nice to see both sides still interested in discussing these matters. I'm sorry for all the investors to be in the
position to be financially devastated. I hope Dave can keep it together- he's not giving up. The Berman group (another big developer in the Keys) just went bankrupt. The company building "Playa Cristal" on the old America Outdoors just died (47 yrs old) in his sleep (most likely from stress). All of the publicly traded development companies' stock just recently went to "junk status" (within the last couple of months). Times are definitely not good in this industry and market. All we can do is keep trying and plow ahead (with everything we can, for as long as we can). That's what I see Dave trying to do. He is all-consumed with keeping things moving forward. The bad press never helps and that was the main reason the merger didn't work out. That hurts everyone. But there are relationships in the works as we speak. The A&B deal has a substantial down payment that would be hard to lose- from many months past (maybe even a year, I'm not 100% certain). Closing on it and running it is a better plan, according to my information. I appreciate all the kind and gracious people in the Keys who have shown me, Dave, and our kids respect, whenever we are out in the community.
It helps me remember that there are truly good and decent people still out there, no matter how black our eyes get during this economic downturn/nightmare. Given this is such a small town, I expected people to treat us with a much different demeanor- given the layoffs, leaseback issues, etc. But they haven't. They usually say hello, ask how we're doing and wish us the best. They share stories of their friends and associates who face similar circumstances- tellus about their business downturns, etc. I feel really badly for our employees down here, holding their breaths, hoping for a better day- worried every morning whether or not they'll have their jobs. Several have been offered positions with the company taking over some of the projects down here- unfathomably, most declined. It's unreal how much loyalty and dedication these people generously devote. I really thank you all. Drs. Blumenthal, I'm sorry for whatever your situation has been. I know you've sold many properties with us (not sure if you bought?) No matter what, we will always admire and respect you (I think that's the neighbor blogger?)...Re-the blogger who mentioned the "83 houseboat"- it's actually a '72 houseboat. It's not very marketable, given most '72 houseboats can't be given away (it was given to us). I guess we should try to sell that, though- you're right. I'll work on that this week. Most of our time and energies lately have gone to holding things together and coming up with a more feasible gameplan for today's market. Again, I appreciate all the supportive comments and I sincerely apologize for any and all of the people who are disappointed and angered by the fall-out. You have every right to feel the way you do and to speak your minds. I wish there were more forecasts to share, but I think everything is continuously up in the air- each day's circumstances change- sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. So any news or forecasts we post or share, may change in a moments notice. I wish I could tell you more- I wish I knew more. I'm sorry.

Another anonymous commenter submitted:

I was an employee of cay clubs. I noticed alot of problems in the company that i heard many people try and bring to attention but were just ignored. cay clubs violated many rules including many FREC rules. there was alot of misrepresentation rumors about ricky long before the market turned so poorly and they were ignored. they allowed him to continue becasue his sales were so high.
but the bigger problem is whomever was in charge of finances. its was like no one in any of the companies (cay clubs was divided into like 50 different ones) knew what the other comapny was doing. we didnt even have a CFO until the ending days. and yes the director of flight operations and his assistant are still employed along with at least one pilot. and there still is a plane. even if we do not own the planes we just borrow someones elses for the day (which is still pricey). many people that worked there were underqualified. many departments were a complete joke. its not just the owners who are struggling. the employees were let go with no warning, no pay, no vacation pay, etc. the sales agents are still owed lots in commission. barry graham owns over 20 units of his own at cay clubs and he hasn't been paid commissions or leasebacks. hes owed millions. there had just been a sales meeting about a month before the first layoffs where everyone was told the company was doing great only to be let go without warning. talking about lack of communication the hardest part for the owners and employees alike has been the lack of communication. even within the company it was all rumors and hearsay because dave was not talking to anyone. even other partners and directors had no idea what was going on. some of the employees were taking angry calls and could do nothing to help because they didn't know what was even going on. no bulletins saying for example "hey we aren't paying rental money, so here's why and here's what to say". Nope they just had to take all the angry calls and make it that much worse because the employees didnt even know. still communication has been horrible with was is left of cay clubs. gary and david schwarz have resigned. ever wonder why neither schwarz brother invested in even one unit? and if i recall most daves units were in his dads or cristals names and i dont even know if any of them ever even closed. food for thought. barry hasnt been in the picture for a while. they owe him so much money id bet they are avoiding him all together. ive heard that cristal and dave may not even be married so that if anything did happen daves not screwed. the last parts a rumor but the rest is fact.
dave-i dont think you intentionally meant for all this to happen so all i have to say is better communication is key. and manuals are a state law people work better and tend to follow rules better if there are manuals. and dont try and say there are cause they were quickly created at the very end after everything started going down. there was no organization or structure in that company and because of that you have hurt ALOT of people. There was even an owner who commited suicide because of his financial struggles due to cay clubs. forclosures and bankruptcies are huge dave. marriages get ruinied people lose everything they worked for. so everyone thats saying you are crook i dont believe that to be the case, but you definately need some business management classes before you start up another one.
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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pet Halloween Costume Contest in Key West

The annual Pet Masquerade Contest was held at a waterfront Key West hotel last night as part of the weeklong Fantasy Fest celebration.

Once again, the event did not disappoint.

Many contestants signed up with their dogs, cats, and other pets dressed up in imaginative and funny costumes. Being Key West, there was a whole menagerie of animals: lizards, Key West chickens, and even a LIVE lobster!

Enjoy these photos from the event:

The skateboarding Uncle Sam dog...cool!

The Plaid Hatters take the stage.
A skunky dog costume - ay chihuahua!

Santa's little helper is a crowd favorite.
Pirate dog and owner strutting onstage.

Another Pirate duo - overlooking the Key West harbor.

Watch out geckos! You too GEICO!

Representing the Key West Naval Air Station.

Miss Muffet (with map since she lost her "whey") with spider dog.

Lobster costume with real lobster "pet". Is that melted butter in his pale?

The luck of the Irish...times two!

The Key West Chicken Lady, Kathy Sheehan, with a Key West rooster.

Two ballerinas ready to go onstage.

Florida Seminole football fans.

Always classy, the weimaraner shines in tuxedo.

Playing on the Alice and Wonderland theme of this years Fantasy Fest.

I hope the bigger dogs don't get any ideas.

Tiny chihuahua cowboy and partner.

Nice costumes! Who's the pet?

Have you ever dressed your pet in a costume? What did it look like?

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No Bottom Yet for Key West Real Estate

Strange. Today's Key West Citizen editorial, titled "A Keys buyer's market offers opportunities," read as if written by a real estate broker. The editorial makes a case for why it is now a good time to buy.
No doubt, the Keys are a wonderful place. But market indicators show that Key West real estate has further to fall before bottoming.
Like it or not, the Citizen's editorial staff may have recommended catching the proverbial falling knife. It may be one thing for the editors to look the other way while the real estate pros continue to publish an erroneous and misleading advertisement. But I found this use of the editorial space to be a disservice - mainly because it overlooking the apparent problems with the real estate market.

Supply continues to heavily outweigh demand. Before a bottom in the market is achieved, supply and demand will need to find equilibrium. Although the bear market is into its second year, the technical indicators have not improved. In fact, they have deteriorated.
The number of properties for sale in Key West for the first three quarters of this year continued to swell higher.
Meanwhile, total sales, value of sales, and average sales price continued to fall. Further compounding the bear market in real estate, average days on the market swelled higher.
According to data recently published for residential Key West real estate, comparing the first 3/4 of 2006 versus 2007:
  • total sales were down 0.5% to 366

  • dollar value of sales dropped 15% to $305 million

  • average sales price dropped 14% to $833,000

  • average days on the market grew 29% to 174 days

  • average list price was down 7% to $991,000

  • the number of properties for sale increased 9% to 1394
Meanwhile, the demand side of the equation has been hobbled. Lenders have shut off the free flow of money, regulators are looking at legislation to further reign in the market, home prices are still very high, and taxes and hurricane insurance continue their burden.
We have likely not seen the bottom of the real estate market here. The Zillow chart attached to this post shows the Market Value change for Key West over the past 10 years. (Notice, on the chart, that a double bottom is trying to hold (the right side of the chart). But given the supply/demand numbers, prices are likely to continue to fall - thereby breaking the double bottom. When this happens, it is often referred to as the "other shoe dropping".)
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Friday, October 05, 2007

Cay Clubs Merger Terminated

It is now official.
The merger of Cay Clubs with Keys Hospitality Acquisition Corp has been terminated.
As a result, Cay Clubs may have extreme difficulty in avoiding bankruptcy - given they are already late on payments and near default on large loans.

According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the merger was terminated because of "The deterioration of Cay Clubs' market in Florida, the liquidity problems it is facing and the recent unavailability of jumbo mortgages for potential condo-hotel buyers have made it highly unlikely that certain closing conditions contained in the agreement could be met."

Cay Clubs is among the largest developers in the Florida Keys - having bought numerous properties at the peak of the real estate market.

Should Cay Clubs become enter bankruptcy, the implications for the Florida Keys could be significant.
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