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success stories?

Posted By: Tesia

success stories? - 04/25/03 04:21 PM

My husband & I are thinking about creating a small eco-resort in AC. However after reading Lan Sluder's book and several posts on this site, I'm feeling discouraged. Can anyone share a few success stories? And maybe a little advice about what causes success vs. failure in the AC hotel industry?

Also, I'm confused about the issue of being able to make $ before your first year of residency. If you are running your own business (and employing Belizians), are you still unable to earn a living before you obtain residency status?
Posted By: ckocian

Re: success stories? - 04/25/03 04:56 PM

ibanole, your scenario is repeated dozens of times everywhere in Belize. Add to what you've said the risk of petty theft, the high cost of replacing what's been stolen, and replacing broken things (which in a saltwater environment happens really often) and you really have to have the patience of a saint.
Posted By: Lan Sluder/Belize First

Re: success stories? - 04/25/03 09:29 PM

Tesia,

There are quite a few hotel success stories in Belize. I think if you look at some of the hotels in San Pedro and elsewhere in the country that are doing a good business and (generally) making money, you will see that most have several things in common ... though they have a variety of approaches to success.

Over the years, here's what I've come to think are the ingredients for success in the hospitality business in Belize:

* Prior hotel experience, or if not that at least a successful track record running another kind of business.

* Sufficient capital to make the necessary investments in the property, in marketing and in operations during the first months and in some cases years of operation.

* Personal, hands-on involvement by the owner.

* A commitment to marketing and knowledge of and often an intuitive understanding of the five Ps of the marketing mix and how they work together (People, Price, Place, Promotion and Product).

* Good people skills -- an ability to get along with and motivate people of all types and backgrounds.

* An understanding that a hotel is a business, not a lifestyle. You have to have an eye for business detail and cost control.

* An understanding of what most guests want in terms of value, service and amenities ... and the willingness to satisfy them at a very intensive and high level. (Some people are just not cut out to be in a service business like the hotel business.)

* Lots of common sense, and in many cases the ability to do things yourself -- fix things, for example.

* A good bit of luck.

It helps if you make the right location decision. It's a lot easier to be successful on Ambergris Caye than, say, in Corozal Town or even Placencia. San Pedro is the most popular destination in Belize; it's fairly easy to get to; it's an almost year-round destination (whereas even Placencia is seasonal); it's safe and friendly (for visitors, anyway).

If you're serious about succeeding, I would look at operations like the following, among others: Inn at Robert's Grove, Chaa Creek, Banana Beach, Ramon's, Hamanasi, Chan Chich, Lamanai Outpost, Mopan River Resort, Great House, Colton House, Treetops, Aguada, Iguana Reef Inn, Villa Boscardi, Tony's.

--Lan Sluder
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: success stories? - 04/25/03 09:32 PM

Here are some success stories in a variety of areas ................

Philippe and Nadia at Mata Chica spent two years looking for the right spot to build a resort. they found Ambergris Caye, bought land and built a flourishing business. Come and have a peek - they had good business plan, adequate savings and they work really hard. They survived a bunch of really tough stuff (including Hurricane Keith) ...... but at no time have I heard them say that it was not worth it, or that they would head back to LA, Paris or Milano ....

Malcolm at Fidos has done an excellent job of building a strong business. He paid his dues, but never gave up, and Fido's is a raging success.

Herman Penland moved here to "retire" - he bought Southwind properties and moved into development with Belizean Shores - a very successful condo-resort enterprise.

San Pedro Sun was started by Gringos and eventually sold to Dan and Eileen who were then newcomers ....... it's a super paper with a wide circulation.

Success for an entrepeneur is never guaranteed, nor easy ..... here or anywhere. But it is possible if you have the right skills, adequate funding and have a product that is right for the marketplace.

The problem most folks have is that they arrive in Belize with a particular fantasty that is so fixed, they fail to see reality. That's why you can benefit from stories of failures and/or difficulties too ...... knowing both sides of the coin is very helpful.
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: success stories? - 04/25/03 09:35 PM

Me again - it looks like Lan and I were posting at about the same time - had I read his post before writing my own, I would have simply said ....... "RIGHT ON LAN - good advice and excellent examples of well deserved success."
Posted By: Tesia

Re: success stories? - 04/25/03 10:54 PM

ibanole, ckocian, Lan, and Diane - Thank you so much for your thought-provoking responses. We will take your advice to heart and hope we have the opportunity to meet you when we visit AC at the end of May.

Lan - your book has been extremely helpful.

Thank you also to any future posts!
Posted By: Chloe

Re: success stories? - 04/26/03 12:00 AM

I would add Diane Campbell and Husband to the success list.
Posted By: Corozal-Bay-Inn

Re: success stories? - 04/26/03 11:07 PM

smile This is my experience from Corozal Town. We opened our Inn on April 20, 2000 with 4 units. Business is great and a year later (April 27th, 2001) we opened our swimming-pool, restaurant & bar. The first swimming-pool in Corozal Town. It was another success and we have since remodeled the restaurant/bar area twice since then. We have now found the look we and our customers love and a design that is most productive. Our workday starts at 8am and ends at 2am, almost daily. You have to be on site 24/7 to be sucessful in my opinion. Maybe after a few years and you know the business like your hand can you take it a bit easier. Good workers are hard to find but are out there. You might go through a lot of workers and have to filter out the bad ones. You also have to have a lot patience. One guest might complain your beds are no good, room is too hot and ruin your day and the very next guest will say you have the best bed they have ever slept on and that they were so cool throughout their stay, and you will say "I love this business". It has happened to us, and most guests are great and come back year after year.
You have to enjoy what you are doing or forget it.
Now, 3 years after we first opened our doors, we are about to start building again, 15 air-conditioned rooms right on the waterfront. The demand is there. It is also said there is no business in Corozal but it is just the opposite. We have no off season. When the fourign tourist do not come to Belize we get the local tourists who do not mind the heat or rain. For many months now it has been hard to find a vacant room in Corozal Town.
If you are working in your own resort I do not think you will have any trouble with Immigration kicking down your door and arresting you. After all you will have to train your staff confused to do things your style. And if you have a crowd and have have to help out in the kitchen, laundry room or behind the bar, front desk, ect. no one will bother you once you have Belizean workers and treat them right. The workers will be glad for the extra hand.
And rule #1 you have to get a bit Belizeanized and nothing will bother you. You better Belize it.
Good luck in your adventure. cool
Posted By: NYgal

Re: success stories? - 04/27/03 01:01 AM

Good proof.

We've been there and it is a nice place. NO, beautiful place.

AND, that was before the pool was opened. The place was full. smile

Good luck on the new additions. It's a great spot for them too.
Posted By: Corozal-Bay-Inn

Re: success stories? - 04/28/03 05:11 AM

Thanks NYgal for the kind words. You made our day smile .
Posted By: NYgal

Re: success stories? - 04/28/03 01:09 PM

smile
Posted By: Sandshaker

Re: success stories? - 05/17/03 10:58 PM

That sums it up VERY well Lan!
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