Scattered throughout Ambergris Caye, are many exceptional resorts that cater to our various tourists of "La Isla Bonita." These beautiful resorts aim to provide guests with a distinct travel experience and a home away from home. This week, The San Pedro Sun is proud to introduce a man who has dedicated himself to a resort that stands out on its own – Ruben Muñoz, General Manager of Journey's End Resort.
Ruben was born in Belize City to parents Mireya and Victor (deceased) Muñoz on September 20th, 1970. He was born into a family of one brother and two sisters and grew up in the King's Park area in the city. Ruben fondly recalls the close emotional bond his family had. His parents were a very loving couple, who were dedicated to their church and Ruben recalls the wonderful family retreats and charismatic conventions that the entire family used to attend.
Ruben attended St. Joseph's Primary School and remembered the freedom and carefree lifestyle of growing up in the city. When he was eleven years old, tragedy struck the family when his father died in a traffic accident. This unfortunate incident left the family in a difficult situation since his father had been the only breadwinner of the house. "Everyone had to fend for themselves basically, but situations like these 'build character' and molded me into the man I am today," he said. Ruben recalled that his siblings had to work and his family's financial situation prompted him to work even harder in his elementary studies. His hard work paid off when he successfully completed his studies at St. Joseph Primary School, and he obtained one of the highest scores in the national examination in that year which earned him a government scholarship to attend St. John's High School were he majored in accounting. After graduating, he pursued higher studies at the institution's sixth form (Junior College) where he continued his studies in business administration. During this time, his mom had ventured into the grocery business and Ruben remembered working during the night at the family owned business and simultaneously studying and preparing school assignments in between slow time in the grocery store. "On weekends," he recalled, "while my friends are riding bicycles and playing basketball, I would be in the grocery store working away."
After completing his studies, he had the opportunity to manage the family's grocery store but it was not challenging enough for him and so he decided to apply for a job at Price Waterhouse, one of the leading accounting firms in Belize. He was accepted as an accounts clerk but soon after, moved up to becoming a junior auditor where he had the privilege of auditing some of the finest resorts such as The Ramada Hotel, Radisson Fort George Hotel, Journey's End Resort and Victoria House, to name a few.
While at Price Water House, Ruben met the love of his life, Elvia Salguero, better known as, Elvi whom had just moved from her hometown of San Pedro Town, to take on a job as a Dental Assistant in Belize City. Ruben recalls that "it was love at first sight" and after a few dates and parties, they decided to start a family together. They got married on April 18th, 1996 and their union has produced four beautiful children: Nashlie (11), Monica (9), Chelsea (6) and Joshua (4).
For the next four years, Ruben was employed by Great Belize Productions Ltd, the leading Television Station in Belize, as their Financial Controller/Administrator. However, Ruben had always dreamt about moving the family to Elvi's hometown, "La Isla Bonita" and finally the opportunity came about as Victoria House offered him a position as Accountant. A short time later, he took on the challenge of being the Purchasing Manager of the Resort while continuing to carry out his accounting responsibilities. This job, he told The San Pedro Sun, opened up his mind to the financial and operational part of the Resort, which proved to be very useful later in his career. As purchasing manager, Ruben obtained vast experience in understanding the logistics entailed in the day-to-day operation of a resort. "Shopping for a hotel is not an easy task since all departments depends on the purchaser to obtain the best quality products that they need. Then the General Managers keep a "hawks eye" on the budget, prices and performance," he explained.
After remaining at Victoria House for four years, Ruben needed a change but more importantly a job that presented more challenges. He applied for a position at the Belize Yacht Club (BYC) and became the Financial Controller of the hotel. "At that time, BYC was comprised of various enterprises including a Marina, Gas Station, Time Share Resort and a few more," commented Ruben " and at first it was very complicated for me to adapt to the financial ins and outs of the business, but after a brief period of time I managed to get all sections of the company in sync," he commented. Shortly afterwards, he was appointed the position of Assistant Manager, and worked closely with the owners. "It was an extremely difficult position" he said " and the owners were very strict and had a zero tolerance for second-rate service and performance. This different and strict style of working really helped in molding a professional leadership quality in my management style," stated Ruben.
While working at BYC, Ruben received an unexpected call from the Manager of Journey's End Resort. "I had the opportunity to work with him previously at BYC before his appointment to Journeys End." The manager was resigning and had recommended Ruben as his replacement. Ruben applied for the position along with several other candidates and, once again, Ruben managed to pull through. Ruben became the General Manager of Journey's End Resort, a position he still currently and proudly holds. "This was one of the highlights of my life! There were several eligible candidates and I was chosen," commented Ruben, proudly. After accepting the post, Ruben realized that his new job needed a lot of dedication and hard work. One of his biggest challenges was uprooting his family and moving to North Ambergris Caye to live at Journey's End. "Moving was not very easy, especially since my job demanded a lot of my time," he explained. Ruben and his wife realized that for them to remain a tightly knit family it had to be done. "It took some getting used to but I think now we have made it work!" he exclaimed.
On the business side, he has made some important improvements to the resort. "We have upgraded all the facilities at Journey's End Resort and we have focused a lot of attention on the details, because as they say 'the devil is in the details'." Some of the major accomplishments that Ruben is proud of are the construction of a green house, which allows Journey's End Resort to produce approximately 20% of the herbs and vegetables that are consumed at the resort, while using the least amount of fertilizers. Journey's End Resort has also started producing its own "Black Gold" or compost material that is generated from the kitchen waste. But, the most visible change is the incorporation of the Luna restaurant. Construction for the top-of-the-line cuisine establishment began in September 2004 and will have its fabulous and grand opening this weekend. Through his hard work and dedication, Journey's End Resort is now one of the premier destinations on Ambergris Caye.
Eliot Spitzer, who is the Attorney General of New York and a 2006 New York Gubernatorial candidate, recently visited this exquisite resort. Mr. Jeremy Harris, the Mayor of The City and County of Honolulu, stayed there last weekend. Journey's End was also featured in the Regis and Kelly Live Show last month. "Being the General Manager of a Resort is a very difficult and demanding job as it is a twenty four hour job, especially when you reside on the property" says Ruben. "The Resort has become 'my extended family' including the employees and the owners of the Resort. We all have become one happy family here at Journey's End. As the saying goes, 'if you find a job that you enjoy, you will never have to work another day in your life'."
Nowadays, Ruben is very family oriented, and makes his wife and kids his first priority. Recently, along with his family, Ruben began attending The Living Word Church. Going to church has improved his life and through it, he has found a 'balance' between work and play. "Finding a balance in life is the hardest. Not just between work and play but also in the ways we incorporate God in our lives. It should be an important part of our lives," he said. In whatever free time he has, Ruben spends it with his family and dedicates time to one of his joys, playing the guitar.
Always having the option to move back to the city, Ruben chooses to remain in San Pedro, which he now considers his home. He holds a true value of his new home and has strived to make the island more environmentally safe. Ruben Muñoz has found a beautiful balance in his life and proudly calls "Our Community" his Journey's End.