A few words come to mind when I hear the name Ramon Nuñez - determination, hard work, endurance, pride and San Pedrano. He is one of the many successful San Pedrano entrepreneurs on the island that have made an impact to the community of San Pedro. He has proved himself as a great friend, family man, boss and benefactor to the town.
Ramon Nuñez grew up in the small fishing village of San Pedro where he attended the Roman Catholic School. It is hard to believe that his education extended only to the primary school level. With a strong head between his shoulders, Mr. Nuñez created a solid future for himself with only a primary school education and a lot of experience.
After graduating from primary school, Ramon Nuñez became a fisherman. He had passed the Belize National Selection Examination (BNSE) but could not attend high school in the city because his family could not afford it. His only other option at the time was to become a fisherman. Every day he woke up before sunrise and set out to sea for an arduous day of fishing. He did this until he turned 23 when an incident changed his life. While at sea, he was stung on the leg by a sting ray which hospitalized him for a few days in terrible pain.
"This incident changed my life," said Mr. Nuñez. "After that I did not want to go back to the sea."
Shortly after, Mr. Nuñez started working for Paradise Resort as a tour guide operating his own dive shop. He traveled to Houston, Texas where he was certified as a dive master. He then returned to San Pedro and extended his services at his dive shop. At the time, Paradise only operated six cabañas. Little by little, Mr. Nuñez started to get more involved with the business aspect of Paradise Resort and eventually Jerry McDermott, owner of the resort, appointed him the position of manager. Mr. Nuñez's great skills in management and enthusiasm made the resort prosper. In the length of time that he dedicated to the resort he made it grow to a 32 cabaña resort.
"Public relations was my league," said Mr. Nuñez. "It came very naturally to me." Mr. Nuñez's great public relation and marketing skills greatly improved the status of Paradise and helped in the influx of tourists visiting the island. It was then he was offered a good opportunity to manage another hotel; he moved out of Paradise Resort and started managing Aqua Lodge. Aqua Lodge was the resort today known as Playador. He worked at Aqua Lodge for three years and then returned to Paradise.
"Jerry McDermott is a very good man and after a while I wanted to go back to work for him," said Mr. Nuñez. "He had been a great friend to me and had helped me out a lot."
It was when he returned to Paradise that Mr. Nuñez met with a group of tourists, staying at the resort, willing to invest in a new resort on the island. This was Mr. Nuñez's big break and the opportunity that brought him to where he is now. The investors told Mr. Nuñez that they would give him all the power to run the business; he would be in charge of everything.
Mr. Nuñez and the group of investors then started looking for a suitable place to build their resort. At the time, the entire south of the island, beyond the R.C. School, was covered with bush except for a few coconut farms and probably one or two resorts. They particularly liked a piece of land where the Reef Colony Resort was situated. The resort opened its doors in 1951 and was the furthest structure south of San Pedro Town. It boasted the only swimming pool on the island.
"The beach in that area was gorgeous," said Mr. Nuñez. "It extended far beyond the length of the piers and the view was impressive but it was already taken and we kept planning and looking for a nice spot to build the resort in."
In 1961, the infamous hurricane Hattie destroyed the Reef Colony, leaving only the resort's badly damaged restaurant and the pool. Vern Hammon, owner of the Reef Colony, sold the property to Jerry McDermott. Mr. Nuñez took this great opportunity to buy the property from Jerry.
On September 21st, 1981, Ramon's Reef Resort opened with ten units, a restaurant and dive shop. From then on the resort grew in popularity, service and class. In 1987 the resort was sold to Richard Headrick and the name changed to Ramon's Village. The thriving resort underwent little or no changes over time and proved to be one of the best on the island.
"I owe a lifetime of gratitude to Richard Headrick and his wife Gina," said Mr. Nuñez. "My life totally changed when they took over the resort. He is the best boss that I have ever had."
Ramon's Village took another venture and bought the Aqua Lodge Resort and changed its name to Ramon's II. Mr. Nuñez took up the strenuous job to manage and run both resorts.
"It was an incredible challenge that took all of my free time," said Mr. Nuñez. "It was very difficult because I had to be in both resorts working a lot of overtime. When people needed me at Ramon's II I was not there and vice versa. Then there came the point where I could not handle it any more and things were not going so well, so I decided to sell Ramon's II."
After selling Ramon's II, Mr. Nuñez invested a lot more time in the development and improvement of Ramon's Village. Mr. Nuñez has converted Ramon's Village to one of the nicest and most prestigious resorts on the island. Today, the resort operates 61 rooms, the Ramon's Village Restaurant, Purple Parrot Bar and a dive shop which provides excellent diving tours and fishing trips.
"I have to give a lot of credit to my staff," said Mr. Nuñez. "They are one of the best on the island and without them Ramon's would not have the great reputation that it has. I also think that the travel agents have done a great job in marketing the resort and San Pedro."
Ramon's Village employs 51 people and runs an office in Laurel, Mississippi in the United States. In May of 1998, plans to renovate the resort were actualized. The renovations will cost Ramon's Village one million Belize dollars. After the renovations are complete, Ramon's will obtain status of a five-star hotel, with luxurious rooms, cabañas and the most modern and stylistic swimming pool on the island.
"Tourism is increasing in the island and we all need to keep up with the times and supply visitors with what they want and are looking for in a paradise," said Mr. Nuñez. "Hotels need to increase their services and "class" if they want to attract tourist to the island."
At the moment, Mr. Nuñez is in the process of writing a book which will be named "Nature and the Mayan Boy." The book will be an autobiography of his life as well as a story of life in San Pedro as he was growing up. "I hope that this book will enlighten as well as entertain people when it comes out," he said.
Mr. Nuñez has definitely proven himself to be an exemplary man in the community of San Pedro. His endurance and determination throughout his life have lead him to may personal and spiritual riches. He has worked really hard for Ramon's Village and has expressed his deep loyalty to it and Mr. Headrick. "I do not think that I will ever leave this place," he said. "I plan to retire very late and will not leave here unless it is sold or something drastic happens. I am very happy here."
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