BTB HOLDS ANNUAL TOURISM AWARDS - 06/10/11 01:59 PM
San Pedro was a big winner once again at the 11th Annual Belize Tourism Board (BTB) Tourism Awards that took place at Old Belize in Belize City on Wednesday, June 8. Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation, and the BTB gave merit and recognition to deserving stakeholders in Belize’s tourism industry.
Receiving one of the top recognitions this year was Mr. Romel Gomez Sr. who was presented with the Minister’s Award for his contribution to tourism in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye as a fisherman and owner of Ruby’s Hotel. Enes Ramirez of Belize Diving Adventures, San Pedro, was awarded with Tour Guide of the Year, the first woman to receive that award. Thirdly, (and technically an award for San Pedro too) Placida Leonor Requena Guerrero, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. She hails from Punta Gorda where she operates a tour charter business there, but was raised in San Pedro and has extended family on the island.
San Pedro had a strong presence at the awards ceremony as Trip Advisor handed out certificates for the winners of their Travelers’ Choice 2011 Awards whose recipients from Ambergris Caye included: San Pedro Town, Victoria House, Las Terrazas, Xanadu Island Resort and The Phoenix Resort among other Belizean resorts; all were there to accept their recognition.
Old Belize was the venue of the awards show where industry stakeholders, distinguished guests and tourism friends gathered to honor recipients of the 11th Annual National Tourism Awards. Here is the complete list of this year’s nominees and winners. Our congratulations to all!
Small Hotel of the Year Award – Table Rock Jungle Lodge
Sea Side Cabanas, Stann Creek
Hickatee Cottages, Toledo
Table Rock Jungle Lodge, San Ignacio, Cayo
Small hotels represent the bulk of the accommodation sector in Belize, and offer an intimate experience like no other.
Restaurant of the Year – Maya Beach Hotel Bistro Placencia
Red Ginger, San Pedro
Maya Beach Hotel Bistro, Placencia
Blue Water Grill, San Pedro
Have you ever had a meal that was more of a dining experience? Has it been at a fancy restaurant or a small operation? What stands out most is the ambience, service, and the creativity of the cuisine.
Frontline Person of the Year – Althea Sheable, Front Desk Chabil Mar Villas, Placencia
A positive attitude is infectious! Front desk staff, bartenders, waiters, activities coordinators, and so on, are famous for this.
Tour Guide of the Year – Enes Ramirez, Belize Diving Adventures San Pedro
Buno Kuppinger, Sun Creek Lodge, Toledo
Enes Ramirez, San Pedro
Everette Anderson, San Pedro
Tour Operator of the Year – Avadon Divers, Placencia
Avadon Divers, Placencia
Tour operators who are not a part of a hotel have the unenviable task of ensuring a family friendly, world class experience, at an affordable price, while enduring the highest standards of visitor safety.
Hotel of the Year Award – The Lodge at Chaa Creek
The Phoenix Resort, San Pedro
The Lodge at Chaa Creek, Cayo
Caves Branch Outpost, Cayo
(The Hotel of the Year is a true tourism ambassador. Belize’s biggest selling point is by word of mouth referrals from trusted sources. This hotel creates a “we want to come back again” drive. Belizean employees and suppliers benefit from this hotel.
Minister’s Award – Romel Gomez Sr.
Lifetime Achievement Award – Placida Leonor Requena Guerrero, Punta Gorda
Requeña’s Travel Service
This morning the BTB held a presentation on the state of the industry. That was preceded on Wednesday by its annual award show. It is the premier event in the BTB calendar of activities in which the stakeholders get recognition in a number of categories; from the Frontline Person, to the best restaurant and the Hotel of the Year. Both the west and the peninsula split the awards. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has a report.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
Tourism in the Jewel has flourished into a multimillion dollar industry over the past decade becoming a perfect travel destination from what was once a hidden secret in the heart of Central America. Nevertheless, the significance of changing and growing the tourism product is not lost on the industry’s many stakeholders who remain dedicated to the work that is necessary for its improvement. The Eleventh Annual National Tourism Awards is the platform where recognition is given to the efforts of just about everyone involved in the travel business.
Selenie Matus, Director of Tourism
“We received a total of about four hundred and sixty nominations that came in from throughout the country for all the six important categories in the awards and this is an important process for us because it really helps us bring to the fore those examples in excellence and service that are so critical to growing the industry.”
Among the nominees for the coveted Frontline Person of the Year Award was Althea Schable. A reservations manager at Chabil Mar in Placencia, her post exemplifies excellence and service in the hotel industry. She is at the front and center of meeting and greeting guests at the resort. It is no wonder then that Schable would receive the sought-after individual award.
Althea Schable, Winner, Frontline Person of the Year
“I’m very much surprised that I did win it because at my job really all my co-workers are all frontline workers. [They also provide] excellent service. We all work together as a team. I love my job, love where I work. [They are] great owners [and a] great management team. So it is a shock. I’m honored to get it but it’s all for them too.”
Placencia with its breadth of sandy beaches and pristine marine ecosystems is synonymous with luxury getaways. It is also famous for fine dining. The prestigious honor of Restaurant of the Year was presented to Maya Beach Hotel Bistro. Proprietors John and Ellen Lee have been in business on the peninsula for the past seven years.
John Lee, Winner, Restaurant of the Year
“We do what we know. We like food, we like wine and we started a small restaurant and it has just grown to something more than we expected and we’re glad that people there and people there and people in Belize like what we have to offer.”
Ellen Lee, Winner, Restaurant of the Year
“That’s the thing that’s the nicest about it to, you know, put in all that effort and to realize that people in Placencia are, you know, happy about our place and that now being recognized by the industry is the best thing that could happen.”
Not to be outdone by competition in the south the Cayo District also claimed two of the six awards. Small Hotel of the Year went to Table Rock Jungle Lodge while Hotel of the Year went to Lucy and Mick Fleming’s the Lodge At Chaa Creek.
Allan Spring, Winner, Small Hotel of the Year
“I think there’s something for everybody in the Cayo District. Almost all the lodges are family run and they reflect the families and their things and Table Rock is a culmination of our dreams to come down to Belize to live with nature and that type of thing so we are right in the rainforest. We haven’t cleared the trees and that type of thing. We have outdoor thatched dining. Cayo’s a beautiful where you don’t have to worry about mosquitoes and flies and yet we offer gourmet dining in a beautiful outdoor setting. Our staff works really hard and we believe that they deserve most of the credit for this award.”
Expanding on the idea of family business which includes a number of Belizean employees turned extended relatives is Mick Fleming. Amazingly the Lodge at Chaa Creek started with an initial investment of three hundred U.S. dollars.
Mick Fleming, Winner, Hotel of the Year
“Lucy and I are the co-owners of the Lodge At Chaa Creek and we’ve lived in Belize for thirty-four years and we’ve had a blast. We have loved every moment of what Belize has to offer.
We have flourished under the freedom, I think, of what Belize has given to us and not just us as two individuals but the way that everybody who’s a part of our organization has developed and the skills that they have taken on and the cost of their lives. I mean as I said earlier on there are people in the audience here who are part of our life and there are so many others at Chaa Creek who have been with us for anywhere up to twenty-seven years. We have five members of our staff who were over twenty years and probably fifty percent of our staff who have been with us for ten years plus.”
The National Tourism Awards is one of several annual activities organized by the Belize Tourism Board to draw attention to achievements within the industry. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.
San Pedro shone once again at the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) Tourism Awards Ceremony. The BTB Awards is a time to recognize and honor those organizations, industry partners and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the tourism industry. Wednesday, June 8th's gala event saw a gathering of distinguished guests such as the Prime Minister of Belize, Honorable Dean Barrow; the Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr., plus a host of tourism stakeholders at the Old Belize venue.
Winners were those who have catapulted Belize's tourism product, taking the time and initiative to further enhance Belize's natural charms, and showcasing their love for the product and services that they offer. San Pedro, Ambergris Caye is one of the premier tourism destinations in the country, and as such, there were several nominees from La Isla Bonita. With categories including Top Restaurant, Top Small and Large Hotel, Top Front-Line Personnel, Tour Guide of the Year, and Tour Operator of the Year, there was much to look forward to.
After a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem performed by Clyve Myers and accompanied by rhythmic Garifuna drumming, followed by the invocation, there was a warm welcome from both the BTB Director Seleni Matus and Minister of Tourism, Manuel Heredia Jr. Following the welcome addresses, it was time to name the big winners.
San Pedro was proudly represented by Enes Ramirez-Anderson of Belize Diving Adventures (BDA), as she took the honor of Tour Guide of the Year. As Tour Guide of the Year, Enes has provided tourists with exceptional experiences, taking full advantage of Belize's natural heritage. She has guided tourists, showing them the best that Belize has to offer, in a responsible and consistent manner. In an interview with Enes, she stated what an honor it was to be named the Tour Guide of the Year. "We rarely have female tour guides winning, so this is a big accomplishment for women in the field." She spoke of how she undertook the challenge of becoming a Dive Master, and then an Instructor. While it took some convincing, she is glad to be an accomplished diver. She thanks her husband Everette Anderson, who "pushed me to always better myself in the field. He always believed in me, knowing that I could be so much better than the average, and thanks to his encouragement, I am where I am now." And where she is now is as a proud business owner, having opened BDA with her husband five years ago. Diving and tour guiding is a wonderful way of life for her and the family. She encourages more females to get involved in the guiding businesses, offering her support. "I am willing to mentor and assist others who are looking to get into the field." Her willingness to share her knowledge and passion for the tour business is what has made Enes stand out in a most positive way. Congratulations!
Other awardees included Cayo District's The Lodge at Chaa Creek - Hotel of the Year and Table Rock Jungle Lodge - Small Hotel of the Year. Placencia swept a number of awards, including Frontline Person of the Year - Althea Scheble of Chabil Mar Villas, Tour Operator of the Year - Avadon Divers, and Restaurant of the Year - Maya Beach Hotel Bistro.
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