Calgarians land in middle of Temptation Island, Belize
by: Calgary Herald
Travel Calgary Herald Front Page,
Feb. 23, 2001
The Sundiver Beach Resort, operated by Calgary's Scott family, was home to the crew from Temptation Island.
When Jay Scott and his family said good-bye to city life in Calgary and hello to the beaches of Belize, they were seeking serenity.
What hit them was a storm of activity -- actually two.
There was Hurricane Keith -- the first hurricane to hit Belize in 30 years.
But the other was perhaps even more unexpected -- the crew for the reality television show Temptation Island blew into town.
Now even if you haven't actually watched a complete episode of Temptation Island, you've probably tuned in for a surreptitious peek just to see what all the hype is about.
It's the latest trend in titillating television: Fox Network's reality TV show that sets up four purportedly committed couples for "the big fall."
The show, currently airing across North America, gets its name from its contrived efforts to tempt said couples -- coincidently all young, slim and attractive -- into compromising situations with 26 equally buff and beautiful singles.
Fantasy? For most of us perhaps, but not for the Scott family of Calgary.
It all started when Jay Scott, a long-time fixture in the Calgary oilpatch, his wife Kathryn, daughters Arianna and Tazmara, and son-in-law Ross Gowans, decided it was time for a change in lifestyle.
Despite the fact that none of them had any experience in the hospitality industry, the family purchased an upscale Caribbean resort on the island of Ambergris Caye, Belize.
After only a month to learn the business, the Sundiver Beach Resort was hit by these two events, giving the family an unexpected crash course in the ups and downs of life in paradise.
The family's property was selected by the company producing Temptation Island to house 42 of the 120 production crew for the month of September 2000. The Sundiver was the perfect choice for several reasons. It's located halfway between the resort where the male halves of the couples were housed and the hotel where the women stayed. With 12 rooms and suites as well as five villas and a house, the Sundiver not only had the space, but the staff and amenities to accommodate the show's art department, camera crews and senior production executives.
With Jay commuting between England and Russia in his job with an overseas Canadian petroleum company and Arianna attending university in Kelowna, the responsibilities of hosting the group fell to Kathryn, Tazmara and Ross.
So did the Sundiver gang manage to catch any dirt on the show?
"The crew would share the daily news on who'd been voted off the island and told stories of the pranks they played on one another," Tazmara said, "but no matter how hard we tried, they wouldn't give us the juicy details we wanted." Word was the crews were forbidden to speak to the cast, even when spoken to, and were similarly disallowed from divulging anything that might give away the show's outcome.
Tazmara was, however, able to view the filming of the bonfire scenes, and remarked that both the males and the females seemed genuinely worried about the future of their relationships. She also met two of the designated "tempters," or single cast members.
"They told me they did it for the free vacation," said Tazmara, "but I think all of the cast discovered it's not much fun having a camera in your face 24/7."
As for the final word on what relationships endured and what couples split, Tazmara said, "The last night of shooting was closed to everyone so your guess is as good as mine."
Everyone with the show worked hard, but Kathryn pointed out there was a bit of down time for the crew.
"The odd day when they wrapped up early, they'd kick back and enjoy themselves," she said. "They're a very talented group and a couple of nights they held impromptu concerts in our dining room. One evening we found them doing some wild dance steps."
On another occasion it was the chef's day off, so a cameraman volunteered to cook, treating his colleagues and the Sundiver staff to a fabulous seafood jambalaya.
Meanwhile, Tazmara, whose official title is marketing reservations manager, gained some insights in how to take an already picture-perfect tropical paradise and redesign it for TV.
"I spent a couple of days shuttling the art department through the shops of San Pedro to purchase bamboo furniture and hundreds of potted plants," she said. "Then the photography and lighting directors put in countless hours making the locations look like Close Encounters of the Third Kind. We were amazed with the amount of work that went into preparing sets."
The crew's jobs were made even more difficult by the fact the only modes of transportation on the north part of the island are boats or golf carts -- no cars are permitted.
The days were long for the show's crew, but they were even longer for Sundiver personnel. Kathryn, ostensibly the managing director, took on the additional roles of handy person, accountant, breakfast cook and waitress.
"By 5 a.m. I was cooking eggs and trying to make the perfect cup of coffee for 42," she said. "Since I'm no cook, it was fortunate they wanted hot and filling, not gourmet. It took me several mornings to get the coffee strong enough to get two thumbs up."
That's not to say the guests went without fine food. Sundiver's chef, Kenrick Theus, has established the resort's reputation for some of the best fare on the island. By the second week of filming, word of his lobster quesadillas had spread to crews staying at other locations.
Ross, who served as food and beverage manager, boat pilot, bartender and grocery shopper, was often up until 3 a.m. ensuring everyone was fed.
On Sept. 28, after the cast left the island, the Sundiver group attended the crew's wrap-up party, which ultimately moved to the resort. The following morning, Kathryn showed up to cook one last batch of eggs. Tazmara and Ross ferried boatloads of guests to town to catch flights, but they encountered high winds and bad seas. A storm was brewing, but our intrepid Calgarians were assured it wouldn't affect their area.
Later that day, when all planes were grounded and residents were advised to stay put, it was clear the tropical storm had turned ugly. Out of one tempest and into another, Sundiver braced for Hurricane Keith.
"We still had 33 of the Temptation Island crew with us, and along with our staff and guests arriving from other badly damaged resorts, we scrambled to accommodate 45 to 50 people," Kathryn said. "The crew, not being the sort to sit around and watch, pitched in to pull the boats out of the water and board the windows."
"Hurricane Keith hit us straight on and didn't back down for three days," Tazmara said. With winds up to 241 km/h, power was cut off and water poured into the buildings. "Fortunately we had a generator, but only seven gallons of diesel which translates roughly to seven hours of power.
"Oddly enough, while most of the phones on the island went out, we had one phone line that had never worked before the hurricane, but started to work during the storm."
Kenrick worked tirelessly to feed the unexpected guests three meals a day, while Ross kept a constant vigil over the generator to keep the refrigerators and freezers cold and the phone working. "On Oct. 3 we awoke to one of the most beautiful sunrises I've ever seen," Tazmara said. "Then the cleanup began." The following day, the last of the Temptation Island crew left with tears and promises to return -- but not on the job and not during hurricane season.
After two months, the Sundiver Beach Resort was fully refurbished. It was finally time to get down to what the family hoped to do all along -- run an idyllic, destination resort.
Kathryn sums up the experience with good humour: "Where do we go from here? We move into 2001, confident that we can handle anything this business can throw at us."
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