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#334494 - 04/24/09 10:24 AM Congrats to 2009 BTB Tourism Award Winners!
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
Congratulations to the winners of the Belize Tourism Board 9th Annual Tourism Awards. About 350 members of Belize’s tourism community attended ceremonies April 22 at Old Belize. Winners included several Sanpedranos and San Pedro companies:

Lifetime Achievement Award: Marcela Staines, Elvi’s, San Pedro
Minister’s Award: Rosita Mai, Corozal Town
Hotel of the Year: Hamanasi, Hopkins
Small Hotel of the Year: SunCreek Lodge, Toledo
Restaurant of the Year: Hidden Treasures, San Pedro
Small Vendor of the Year: Lola’s Art, Seine Bight
Tour Operator of the Year: SeaDuced, San Pedro
Tour Guide of the Year: Eworth Garbutt, Inn at Robert’s Grove, Placencia
Education Award of the Year: Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center
Environmental Award of the Year: Mike Heusner, Craig Hayes and Ali Flota
Front Line Person of the Year: Pamela Roberts, Radisson Fort George, Belize City
Cultural Award of the Year: Belize National Dance Company
Receptive Award of the Year: Placencia Tourism Center, Placencia
Corporate Organization of the Year: BRC Printing, Benque Viejo del Carmen

--Lan Sluder

#335273 - 04/30/09 11:42 AM Re: Congrats to 2009 BTB Tourism Award Winners! [Re: Lan Sluder/Belize First]
Marty Offline
Mrs. Elvia Staines of the world-renowned Elvi’s Kitchen was the proud recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ruben and Elvira Muñoz, alongside their daughter Nashley receive the new, Restaurant of the Year award.

Tour Operator of the Year Award was captured by Seaduced by Belize. They, along with their hard-working staff proudly took the prize, which, to them is a symbol of honor and pride.

Craig Hayes, Mike Heusner and Ali Flota of El Pescador received the Environmental Award.

La Isla Bonita shined in the annual National Tourism Awards presentation hosted by the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) which was held last Wednesday night at Old Belize. Of the 14 awards, four were brought to the island, making islanders proud.

        The gala event was short but filled with surprised. The fist category announced was Restaurant of the Year award. Of the four top nominees San Pedro’s Hidden Treasure was announced as the winner of the category. For Ruben and Evelia Muñoz, both proprietors of Hidden Treasure, it was an overwhelming experience. In an interview with The San Pedro Sun, Muñoz stated that, “I was shocked, not because we don’t deserve it, but because we are relatively new and there are a lot of restaurants in the country before us.”

        In May, Hidden Treasure will be celebrating its first anniversary and to receive such an award in its first year of operation speaks of their quality of service. But whom does Muñoz attribute the awards?  “It’s certainly a consorted effort between a lot of people, but I attribute the awards mainly to my family who played a very important role, my staff, Anthony Anderson, Juan Carlos Rosales, Rafael Valdez and most importantly my customers,” stated Muñoz

        For the Hidden Treasure, the awards mean a push forward. “Knowing that our hard work had not gone unnoticed, it inspired us to do even better and hence we are planning to go a little green,” stated Muñoz adding that “we will be planting some products that will enhance what we are doing.”

       For the Muñoz family and Hidden Treasure, the secret behind them is all about the memorable experience, from the time their customers walk into the establishment, the reception, the music and the food, which is a work of art, has all combined to make dining at Hidden Treasure unique.

        Later on during the night Craig Hayes, Mike Heusner and Ali Flota of El Pescador received the Environmental Award. According to BTB the Awards was given to all three for their effort in “getting the catch & release legislation passed for the protection of bonefish, permit, and tarpon in Belize.” The legislation BTB referred to is not law and is just a draft legislation which has been prepared. This is expected to be tabled in the next sitting of the House of Representative.

        The third award San Pedro brought home was the 2008 Tour Operator of the Year Award which was captured by Seaduced by Belize owned and managed by Rebecca and Elito Arceo. Rebecca Arceo told The San Pedro Sun that for Seaduced, it was an honor. “It is a huge honor and we are definitely happy and proud of being the first business in San Pedro to capture this award,” stated a happy Arceo.

        Seaduced by Belize has been very visible within the community and according to Arceo, that positive attitude contributed to the award. “As a tour company, we try to instill the love to the environment through community minded projects, we try to remain ecological as much as possible because we all believe in preserving Belize’s prestige,” stated Arceo.

       Like other award recipients, Arceo stated that the staff played an important role. “While we must thank San Pedro, our customers and the hotels, I think the very human experience that our tour guides make our customers enjoy, shows the level of dedication they have given to Seaduced and Belize,” stated Arceo adding that, “that is why my staff deserve the praise.”

        To top it all, the night’s most prestigious honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award went to Elvi Staines of Elvi’s Kitchen. Staines who is considered a tourism icon has owned and managed Elvi’s Kitchen for 35 years and her years of dedication, hard work and contribution to the growth of tourism in Belize finally paid off.

        “During the past 35 years, I made Elvi’s Kitchen grow from a small business with one little window to a famous restaurant that has lived up to its name,” stated a happy Elvi Staines. When asked how does this award makes her feel, Staines stated that, “I feel good, I have worked hard all my life and I think that the years of service and contribution I have made to the tourism and economic development of Belize has paid off. Indeed it’s an honor for me, my family and all of us at Elvi’s Kitchen.” 

        Elvi Staines received a huge unique art piece of circular wood carving with a map of Belize carefully etched in the middle of art piece. The circular woodwork is referred to as the circle of life which has gold leaves delicately carved and entwined around it. But what is the secret behind the 35 years of Elvi’s success? According to Staines, consistency and ensuring that the service provided is the best and that is always effective for success. “I would like to thank all those who have contributed to the growth of Elvi’s Kitchen, our customers who have patronized us and the community of San Pedro for their continuous support,” stated Staines ending that, “it’s a good feeling that I will treasure it for the rest of my life.”

        Other award recipients were Althea Sealey and the Belize Dance Company who were presented with the cultural award of the year, The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center who got the Educational Organization Award of the year. BRC Printing of Benque Viejo del Carmen was bestowed the title of Corporate Organization of the year, Pamela Roberts of the Radisson Fort George was named Front Line Person of the year. Receptive Service of the year went to Placencia Tourism Center. Eworth Garbutt of the Inn at Robert’s Grove took home the Tour Guide of the year award. Sun Creek Lodge in Punta Gorda was awarded Small Hotel of the year while the Hotel of the Year went to Hamansi Dive & Adventure Resort. Small vendor of the year went to Lola’s Art in Seine Bight. The Minister’s award went to Ms. Rosita May, hotelier and tourism pioneer of Corozal District.

        The San Pedro Sun joins the community in congratulating all the awards receipts.

#335410 - 05/01/09 09:19 AM Re: Congrats to 2009 BTB Tourism Award Winners! [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Elvia Staines Gets Top Honors at Tourism Awards

BTB Honors Key Tourism Pioneers at its Ninth Annual Tourism Awards Ceremony
The annual Tourism Awards have come and gone, but in the heart of our very own Minister of Tourism, Hon. Manuel Heredia, due merit and recognition has been served to deserving stakeholders. The icing of this cake remains in San Pedro since four of the prestigious awards will stay on the Island for life in recognition of their dedicated work and accomplishment and as a model for others to follow in the industry.

On Wednesday evening, April 22, a host of industry stakeholders, distinguished guests and tourism friends gathered to honor recipients of the 9th Annual National Tourism Awards, held at the Old Belize Bar & Grill.

The top honor of the evening was The Lifetime Achievement Award which honors a person for a lifetime dedication towards the advancement of self and the industry, and this year’s honoree is Mrs. Elvia Staines, of internationally famous Elvi’s Kitchen. Mrs. Staines, and spouse, first started at the service of an American retiree and managing their personal estate, Robinson Point. She was instrumental in the founding of telephone services in San Pedro and later on she was the founder of The Burger Isle. Fine culinary expertise, friendly service and great hospitality quickly earned a name for her business which soon developed to Elvi’s Restaurant and eventually established itself as a Trademark, Elvi's Kitchen.

The Tour Operator of the Year Award was achieved by San Pedro’s very own, SEAduced by Belize, owned and operated by Elito and Rebecca Arceo. Seduced prides itself in providing enjoyable, yet educational adventures. The goal of each and every guide is to awaken the senses of the tourists to the unlimited beauty and history of Belize. Seaduced is an avid provider of sustainable tourism and a champion of the preservation and conservation of the environment, especially the beaches, mangroves, lagoons and the Belize Barrier Reef.

For the first time, a Restaurant of the Year Award was introduced. The recipient of this award was Hidden Treasures of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, owned by Ruben and Elvia Muñoz. Hidden Treasures is not truly hidden anymore as its great popularity attracts hundreds of visitors and locals alike to its exotic hidden place at Escalante Subdivision. There it boasts exotic hardwoods of Belize, a rainforest ambience, and most important a desire to leave lasting impressions on all of its customers which they achieve with creative table presentations, luscious dishes and warm sincere hospitality.

The fourth San Pedro resident who was recipient of an award was Ali Flota of El Pescador on Ambergris Caye. She shared the Environmental Award of the Year with Craig Hayes and Mike Heusner the for their work in getting the Catch & Release Legislation passed for the protection of Bonefish, Permit, and Tarpon in Belize.

“Tourism has become a way of life for many of our Belizean people. It is an industry that has seen much development and received colossal recognition,” comments Tourism Minister, Manuel Heredia Jr. “The Annual National Tourism Awards serves to acknowledge our industry personnel who are dedicated to the development of tourism in Belize over the years. Tourism is the only industry that spreads so far into our communities making each of us a part of the extraordinary experience that we call Belize.”

Other Winners

The National Tourism Awards Ceremony recognizes and honors organizations and industry partners who have made outstanding contributions to the industry. A total of 14 awards were presented in various categories.

* For their extensive work in promoting and preserving Belize’s cultural heritage through the arts, Althea Sealey and the Belize Dance Company was presented with the Cultural Award of the Year.

* The Educational Organization of the Year Award went to The Belize Zoo & Tropical Education Center for their advocacy in building awareness for conservation and their provision of educational programs scores of Belizean students over several years.

* BRC Printing of Benque Viejo Del Carmen was bestowed the title of Corporate Organization of the Year for excelling in product and marketing innovativeness, quality of product experience and operational performance.

* An elated Pamela Roberts of the Radisson Fort George was named Front Line Person of the Year for her over 15 years working the frontline and positively influencing and serving both local and foreign guests to the hotel.

* Receptive Service of the Year went to Placencia Tourism Center for their consistent quality services to the tourism industry, while Eworth Garbutt of the Inn at Roberts Grove took home the Tour Guide of the Year Award for his dedication and commitment to sustainable tour guide practices and excellence in service.

* The quaint establishment of Sun Creek Lodge in Punta Gorda was awarded Small Hotel of the Year for its personalized service and an authentic Belizean experience.

* Hotel of the Year went to Hamansi Dive & Adventure Resort, for setting international standards and expectations and for creating an atmosphere of paradise and luxury as well as a strong commitment to their local community.

* Small Vendor of the Year went to Lola’s Art in Seine Beight for offering quality and locally made art.

The Minister’s Award is presented to someone whose work and interest in the tourism industry is grounded in community service and activism. This awardee is usually not boastful or arrogant about achievements but continues working below the radar as a stellar player within the tourism industry of the local community. The year’s recipient was Ms. Rosita May, hotelier and tourism pioneer of Corozal District.

The BTB hosted approximately 350 people at the Award Ceremony. Musical Entertainment was provided by Jacklyn Castillo and Belize Music Agency Jazz Band. MC’s for the night’s event were William Neal and Gwen Nunez Gonzalez.

The Minister of Tourism, Board of Directors, Management and Staff of the Belize Tourism Board salute all winners on their OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENTS!

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