Placencia sweeps Tourism Awards
The biggest event in the tourism calendar is the National Tourism Awards. This year it did not disappoint; the event was moved to Bannister Caye where the guests, dressed in white, arrived by catamaran from the Old Belize pier. The highlight was the announcement of the nine winners in the industry… and move over San Pedro, the hottest area is the Placencia peninsula. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
The Twelfth Annual National Tourism Awards, held in recognition of the efforts of all stakeholders in the travel industry, took place on Bannister Caye on Saturday night. The event, organized by the Belize Tourism Board, was well attended. It highlighted the importance of developing and strengthening our tourism product.
Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism
“Your commitment to service excellence helps to set us apart from our competitors in this region. As we present the awards this evening, several key words will resonate: development, high standards, innovation, sustainability, authenticity. These are just some of the things that help to make our tourism product offerings parallel to none. Tourism continues to be one of the main pillars of our national economy and for this reason, among others we must always seek to improve capacity of Belize as a world class premier vacation destination in order to meet the increasing demands of the ever-discerning traveler.”
Candidates for the sought-after Small Hotel of the Year Award included Singing Sands Inn, a private, out-of-the-way seafront resort on Maya Beach. It offers a breathtaking view of the Caribbean Sea, as well as the nearby Placencia Lagoon.
“My wife and I, her sister and her husband, we wanted to find a place in the Caribbean to do a life change so we found the Singing Sands in May of 2008 and then [we] closed it, renovated it and re-opened in February of 2009. Our tag line is casual elegance, so what we’ve tried to do is create more of a Belizean feel here, you know, with your thatched roof cabanas, not your typical resort, boutique resort and our aim is to make it intimate. I believe it’s very sexy.”
Placencia, with its stretch of sandy beaches and immaculate surroundings, is one and the same with haute living. It is also celebrated for fine dining. The impressive distinction of Restaurant of the Year went to Maya Beach Bistro. It is the second time proprietors John and Ellen Lee would win the prestigious award.
John Lee, Winner, Restaurant of the Year
“This is a great honor and I’m sure all of our staff are watching this tonight and they’re really happy and it’s them who have made this what it is and we’re really proud of them all.”
Among the nominees for Frontline Person of the Year was Natalie Ranguy of Chabil Mar’s Villas. Her job epitomizes quality of service in the hotel industry.
Natalie Ranguy, Winner, Frontline Person of the Year
“Whenever I do anything I do it to the best of my ability and I thank you very much for this award and I’ll share it with the rest of frontline. Thank you.”
The night’s biggest win for Hotel of the Year, a victory for an industry stakeholder outside of Placencia, went to San Ignacio Resort Hotel.
Miriam Roberson, Proprietor, San Ignacio Resort Hotel
“It’s very humbling. It’s quite an honor. We did it Paulita! I can’t believe it! It’s really hard to wrap up thirty-seven years in just a few words but we’re living a legacy and it makes it even more special. We are, like I said, living a dream and reliving a dream, building a dream that started a long time ago. But the people that are behind it, our staff, who would fill this stage if they knew what was happening tonight, we owe them the biggest thank you and we take this back home to them.”
Of the nine categories for this year’s awards, seven went to individuals and businesses in Placencia. Chairman of the local chapter of the Belize Tourism Industry Association is Stewart Krohn.
Stewart Krohn, Chairman, Placencia BTIA
“It was almost a clean sweep Isani, just a great night for Placencia. I think it’s a credit for how the community pulls together at that destination, you know, we get into our little scrapes now and then but when it comes down to it everyone is working towards a common goal and we want the destination to be the best it can be. We want the country to be the best tourism destination in the world.”
Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.