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Feb 11, 2014

Ramon’s Village: rebuilding an iconic resort in La Isla Bonita

In the tourism industry, there are well known faces, but there is one person who, even if you have not met him personally, his name resonates. Ramon Nunez has been around at Ramon’s Village for decades; in fact, long before San Pedro came to fame as La Isla Bonita. He takes it all in good stride, meeting guests one on one, and less than six months after the famous Ramon’s Village was destroyed by fire, the resort is up and running. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

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Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The verdant botany around sundry thatched cabanas, together they all make up the oldest vacation place on Ambergris Caye, offers the best of both worlds; equal parts jungle lodge and seafront getaway.  Its proximity, a very short distance from the ultramarine hues of the Caribbean Sea, makes a weekend stay at Ramon’s Village Resort a unique alfresco experience.

 

Ramon Nunez

Ramon Nunez, Manager, Ramon’s Village Resort

“This is my dream; it is what I dreamed, to have some place like this.  But I’ve always loved the thatched roofs, it makes a feeling like you are on an island, you know.  It doesn’t feel like you’re in [Las] Vegas or stuff like that.  But this is what I love, this type of village, you know for a hotel.”

 

If you’ve enjoyed an overnight stay in the comfort of a well-appointed room at the eponymous resort, then chances are [that] you’ve probably bumped into forty-one-year old Ramon Nunez.  Well, he’s not quite as old as he’s masquerading.  In fact, he has been a fixture in tourism here for the past forty-five years.

 

Ramon Nunez

“I am the only manager that goes around their guests every day.  I see what they are doing, if they feel good, if they are having a good time.  That’s the feeling [of] being a hotelier, to be with your people and greet them, show them a good time and service.”

 

Francisco Aldana

His mantra ‘courtesy and exceptional service’ is an enduring spirit, a quality shared by all employees of Ramon’s Village Resort.

 

Francisco Aldana, Supervisor, Golf Car Rentals

“For many people they don’t look forward to go to their jobs but for me I look forward everyday to go to my job because every day is a different day for me.  There’s something different happening everyday and that’s interesting for me.”

 

Francisco Aldana has been working here since 1994.  As one of the longest serving employees, wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience in hospitality management are the tools of his trade.  Aldana’s friendly personality is rivaled by almost everyone on the staff.  Meet Ron Craig.  Along with blending a mean mixed drink, he’s also quite affable.

 

Ron Craig, Bartender, Tropic Al’s

Ron Craig

“I was always a people person, you know, so I get along with everybody and pretty much it just came in right with the job that I am doing, you know, and everybody likes the response back with it and they keep me going.”

 

Indeed, he’s always on the go.  Just a few months back, Ron’s job description changed considerably in the wake of a massive fire that eviscerated a majority of the pimenta structures.

 

Isani Cayetano [File: August 28th, 2013]

“It is the morning after what residents of San Pedro are referring to as arguably the costliest fire in the island’s history.  Employees and guests of Ramon’s Village are rummaging through what is left of last night’s fire.  Everything on the property has been decimated.”

 

Ron Craig

“The big people came in and they didn’t fire anybody.  They just gave somebody a job to work [on] building back the resort.  Me personally, I was pretty much an electrician first, you know, sorta and then they put me into ordering stuff for the resort to build back everything.”

 

The steady makeover, a near-complete remodeling of Ramon’s Village, is beyond doubt a demonstration of the perseverance of family.  Rebounding from the devastation was no easy task.  Team leader Einer Gomez is instrumental in the rebuilding exercise.

 

Einer Gomez, General Manager, Ramon’s Village Resort

Einer Gomez

“We knew that it was going to be a very difficult task because…but we didn’t have a choice.  We were only a few months away from the high season that really kicks in around December twenty-first and we knew that we had to rebuild as quickly as possible because those rooms were already sold.  We all know, Ramon’s is one of the most popular hotels in the country.”

 

With seventy-one luxurious rooms, this iconic, Maya-themed hotel remains a pillar in the overnight tourism industry.  Since opening its doors in the early eighties, Ramon’s Village has evolved from a small twenty-room operation, at a time when the travel business in Belize was very much up-and-coming, into a multimillion dollar foreign investment.  The tragic event of August 27th, 2013, says the patriarch, only served to bring the family closer together.

 

Einer Gomez

“Every employee kept their job and every employee was back at work the following day trying to rebuild.  There was no one that said, “I’m sorry, this is not my job description, I’m not going to come back.”  So we are very grateful to our staff and the love for their work and their workplace and really that’s what makes Ramon’s.”

 

Today they are preparing for a small beachfront wedding.  A visiting couple and a handful of family and friends have chosen this ideal Caribbean seascape to tie the knot.  Former owner Ramon Nunez will be their master of ceremony, proud to be living his dream vicariously through the success of Richard and Gina Headrick. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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