Thatch or Concrete?

Posted By: belize4me

Thatch or Concrete? - 06/30/02 07:28 AM

I am moving to Belize and have plans to build a small waterfront resort. It will be located in northern Belize in the Corozal Town area. About 6 - 8 a/c rooms, swimming pool, restaurant & bar.
I am wondering what people/tourists like better.
Thatch cabaņas or a concrete building.
The Belize Tourist Board recommended that I should build a concrete motel type building. Others I have talked to say that
I should build thatch cabaņas kind of like Ramon's Village (the original individual units) or Captain Morgan's.
What do you forum readers think?
Help, confused...
Posted By: trina

Re: Thatch or Concrete? - 06/30/02 08:13 AM

Lord knows I am no housing expert...ha! But given the hurricane history of the area, I would advise concrete. A new restaurant owner in San Pedro told me he could not get insurance unless he did concrete (rather than wood frame and/or thatch). Just passing this on to you for further research.
Posted By: rickcheri

Re: Thatch or Concrete? - 06/30/02 08:16 AM

email us and I'll give you the low down!!
Rick... [email protected]
Posted By: Sandcrab

Re: Thatch or Concrete? - 06/30/02 01:05 PM

An excellent question b4m, and I believe after doing some research on Belize, Ambergris Caye, and tourism since 1996, that I've formed an opinion. Hope it helps you make up your mind.

It does seem obvious to me that tourists definitely prefer the thatched look to concrete. Any reader of this board and other boards can see that it is a very popular roof style with most tourists. But, there are some serious problems that come with this choice as follows.

1. Storms can be devastating to thatched roofs and Belize has had its share of these lately. This may only be an anomaly or it may not, as Belize's hurricanes have been occuring more in the last four years than in the last twenty. This may continue or it may not... but it's a crap shoot in any case. Replacement of the roof is not the only problem or cost... you probably would have to replace all the interior furnishings as well if the roof developed a leak or blew off. This can get very expensive.

2. As mentioned, insurance rates may be higher due to the style of roof and its less protective nature. You will no doubt check this out with a Belize insurer.

3. Thatch may have a disadvantage at certain times of the year, usually in the wet season more so than the dry season. It can harbor insects and reptiles which like to nest in the thatch such as spiders, various small lizards, and others. It can be quite a surprise to be sharing a bed with a spider or worse.

4. Normally, to keep these insects from becoming boarders in your roof, you would want to spray the interior on an ongoing basis. This is just another maintenance cost you will have to incur more often.

5. Last but certainly not least is the huge cost of air-conditioning with a thatched roof. You have almost no insulation value to keep the cold air in. Therefore your air conditioner is always on high. Concrete with insulation would be ideal and much less costly for air conditioning. Electricity costs are very high in Belize.

So, what to do? In my opinion, you have to give the customer what they think they want, and at the same time protect your considerable investment.

In order to comply with this way of thinking, I'd give strong consideration to building the cabana on a raised platform with concrete and rebar including the roof, as the tourist board has suggested.

Then I would put a false thatch roof over it which would give the cabanas a tropical look, thereby pleasing and meeting the ambience requirements of the guests. The insect problem is also reduced or solved.

This way you protect the interior more, and probably won't have the large expense of replacing the furniture and linens everytime a big storm comes through your area.

I'm sure there are many other refinements that will come into the minds of the readers, but I have tried to keep my answer simple and to the point at this stage.

I hope these opinions and suggestions help with your plans.


[This message has been edited by Sandcrab (edited 06-30-2002).]
Posted By: Chloe

Re: Thatch or Concrete? - 06/30/02 04:56 PM

I concur with Sandcrab.
Posted By: Lan Sluder/Belize First

Re: Thatch or Concrete? - 07/01/02 01:46 AM

In my opinion it doesn't much matter whether you build thatch or concrete in Corozal Town -- you'll likely lose a ton of money on either. Much as I enjoy Corozal, it's not even on the radar of 98% of tourists to Belize, and except for a couple of places such as Hok'ol K'in and Tony's which do lot of group and medical mission business, Corozal area hotels are lucky to have 15% occupancy.

--Lan Sluder
Fodor's Belize & Guatemala, Belize First, Adapter Kit Belize, Belize First Guide to Mainland Belize, etc.
Posted By: Gaz Cooper

Re: Thatch or Concrete? - 07/01/02 10:54 PM

I agree with Lan on the location

First rule of real estate and location of a business is Location Location Location.

This is the first step on the road to success, a hotel in Corozal would in my opinion an extremely difficult to fill.

Corozal is in no way a touristy town other than the overland traffic from Mexico heading into Belize.

On the other note about thatch and concrete I have to say Thatch is more appealing to tourists, I can speak form experience here as I have a small hotel with all concrete roofs and huge condos, but noticed that visitors would rather stay in a thatch hut for a similar price than a concrete room or motel, thats whuy I am continuing the develpment of my resort by adding thatch beach cabanas, this way if they want a big condo thay got it if thay want a quaint thatch cabana they got it.

for the genetleman that is palnning on building the hotel in Corozal Please do your homeworks and listen to those that are in the know.

Lan knows his stuff and I have been here for more than 12 years in the tourism business

Be careful or please feel free to e-mail me or visit me at my resort for free advise on what it takes to have a chance at success in Belize.

good luck

Gaz Cooper
Playa Blanca Dive & Beach Club
Posted By: Gaz Cooper

Re: Thatch or Concrete? - 07/01/02 10:57 PM

hi Belize4me

please drop me a private e-mail I have some information I would like to share with you



e-mail [email protected]
Posted By: belize4me

Re: Thatch or Concrete? - 07/07/02 08:37 PM

Wow! Lots of very interesting information. I will keep on reserching before coming to a final decision. Seems like thatch is the tourists choice but it is a lot of trouble and many risks involved. Also the fact that Corozal (as beautiful as it is) is not a tourist town is a shame. It is also a shame that the BTB ignores Corozal. Mabey the locals in Corozal should try harder to get tourism flourishing. It would boost their economy. I was in Cayo in the 60's and there was almost zero tourism and now it seems to be second to Ambergris Caye. Corozal should be able to do it. Thanks everyone for the great information.
Posted By: denverdan

Re: Thatch or Concrete? - 07/10/02 05:51 PM

Posted By: sweetjane

Re: Thatch or Concrete? - 07/10/02 07:17 PM

xanadu used newer (old ) technology in incorporating thatch with monlithic domes for strength.
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