Pool at Fort George Hotel before it became the Radisson Fort George. Also an old brochure for the hotel.
The Fort George Hotel & Marina
At the end of World War II, Churchill was voted out of office and the new Labour Government set up the Colonial Development Corporation (CDC) and declared it would dismantle the Empire just as soon as the CDC made the Colonies economically independent.
Some time later, Belize, known then as British Honduras, got the promise of the Fort George Hotel, all 35 rooms of it, and a promise that the Home Government would not devalue the British Honduras dollar.
It took four long years to build the Fort George Hotel, partly because the building’s foundation was a construction nightmare. Belize City is built on a swamp. There is nothing but mud down the depth of 15-25 ft. Pilings must be driven down to rock bottom if any building of concrete is not to sink. The piles were driven 160 feet to hit Bedrock to support the Hotel. Similar to Barclay's (Heritage) Bank. Of course, what do you expect? Afterall, the land that the Hotel is built on was not even mangrove swamp it was the bottom of the ocean, reclaimed (filled in).
The room rate at the Fort George Hotel was $10.00 US per day and included three full meals. An English High-Tea at four o’clock in the afternoon was $1.50US. The lunch and dinner in those far-off days was a seven course meal, literally from soup to nuts. If you were not a guest at the hotel the meal cost $2.55 US.
It was during 1954 the Colony of British Honduras got a new Constitution that provided for the Universal Adult Suffrage. The voters list jumped from 1,400 to 22, 000 and the Colony was off on a slow, but steady journey to Independence, The Fort George tried to keep pace.
This is where I learn to swim as a Girl Guide, thanks to June Husneur. Good old days!!!! The British Army gave Fisheries Unit staff SCUBA lessons in the Fort George swimming pool in 1977. Growing up in Belize City only two hotels had pools, Fort George & Bliss Hotel. We paid $10 to use the pool in the 80’s. Originally the pool was a real salt water pool from the sea.
The building above the pool was the dining room. In 1976 the dining room manager was Mr Paul Hunt. You were allowed to use the pool for a reasonable price but you had to take a shower before entering the pool. You were even allowed on weekends to go in there and use the bar services. Sam Tillet playing on his organ and signing one man band by the pool side.
My friends and I were the first to swim in that pool. It had no fence, was not built yet and the gravel was still around it. They finally had the water in and ready. We would check every day when it would be ready when they said yes we all jumped in clothes and all. Those were wonderful days and I would not change it for a million dollars. As children you feel safe and free. Some of my friends who were there all feel the same way.
Learned to swim in that pool when I was a girl guide, did 27 laps to finally pass the course, Mrs. Feldmier was the British woman who taught us. I must have been 11 to 12 y/o. Used to swim there even after every weekend or whenever possible!
Gabriel Casey: This pool was the scene of a sad drowning incident in 88 of a young aspiring young man named Christopher Montejo. I know the details because as a CIB Det. at the time, I investigated his untimely death after he broke his neck.
I worked there as the pool boy during the summer holidays in 1964. At that time i think it was $2.00 to use the pool and it was $00.45 for a club sandwich and $00.09 for a pint of imported lemonade.
The club sandwich which was sold only at the bar, was much bigger n nicer than they're now. When i worked as the pool attendant there i used to clean out that pool every day with a vacuum cleaner and that pool has an automatic pump which recycles the water in it all day, keeps the water recycled whilst making sure it's chlorinated and it also has filters to filter the water so that the water in it stays fresh n clean.
The had the best club sandwich and potato salad for lunch when we'd go swim there. They were cut in fours. Three layers of toasted bread, ham, some vegies. Maybe cheese. Can’t remember what else was in it. It had a tooth pick to hold it together or else it would fall in over. To this day I compare every club sandwich to theirs.
Fort George Hotel, which opened its doors in 1953, after 4 years of construction, was gifted to Belize by the C.D.C., the British post-war Commonwealth Development Corporation. It had all of 35 rooms on three floors, priced at US$10./day, which included 3 meals. Herman E. Solis was the chef in the 1960's, later it was the iconic Chef Bob. Before the tower was built, the paddle lounge bar was a favourite spot on a Saturday night. Sunday was pool side bar downstairs with Mike the bartender. They used to have nice dances, the 1973 St. Catherine's Academy prom was hosted there.
fond childhood memories..... the building that housed the rooms was sinking because it was poorly piled . When my Father came to Belize , he was the first qualified Architect to do so, being RIBA (ROYAL Institite of British Architects), he was asked to save the building from sinking further, which he did. The assignment was first given to an Engineer but he failed, so my Dad Frank J Spooner was called in.
Back in the 1970s that the retail price of beer was controlled. A bottle of Belikin or Charger cost 65 cents whether you bought it at Fort George Hotel or Fenders on Handyside. Their club sandwiches were something to look forward to.
Fort George Hotel Dateline
Construction on the Hotel is completed by the Colonial Development Corporation
The Fort George Hotel opened to the public.
Hurricane Hattie destroys parts of the hotel
On the 25th Anniversary of the opening of the hotel, two Royal Air Force Harrier jets performed a salute and flew past in the presence of the CDC Deputy Operations Chief from London, Mr. Bruce Boguslawski.
Mr. Paul Hunt signs an agreement to operate the Fort George Hotel
The hotel is acquired by Belize Hotels Limited with Mr. Paul as the sole owner
The famous Club Tower is built by Johnston International
Joined the Fort George Hotel and Marina Corporation in franchise owner manager agreement
The Holiday Inn Hotel was acquired by owners and became part of the Fort George Hotel and Marina Fort George Hotel & Marina as the “Villa Wing”
Grand 6.5 Million dollar renovation of public areas and the Colonial rooms
Hotel receives Fort George Hotel and Marina’s Excellence in Design and Renovations
Fort George Hotel and Marina Fort George Hotel is presented with the Fort George Hotel and Marina Hotels & Resorts Worldwide “best of the best” President’s wards
Presented with this year’s Advocates Award by Fort George Hotel and Marina Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
Presented with this year’s President Award by Fort George Hotel and Marina Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
The Villa Wing rooms are renovated
Once again the Advocates Award is presented to the Hotel
The Club Tower rooms are renovated
Once again the Advocates Award is presented to the Hotel
Hotel receives award for the Highest Increase in Revenue Per Available Room at the Fort George Hotel and Marina Annual Business Conference in Hong Kong
Hotel receives the Award of Appreciation in Recognition for Promoting 100% Belizean Arts & Crafts Association from the BCCI – National Handicraft center of Belize
Fort George Hotel and Marina ranked among the best business travel hotels in Latin America by the readers of Latin Finance, a leading finance and investment magazine
Hotel gets 1st runner up for University of Belize, Green Business Awards
Top photograph by Noel Escalante
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