In an interview with Bruce McIntosh of the McIntosh Alliance, he explained what his company does - they are a service to developments - to people that have a dream; and they do the entire project. Initially, McIntosh's group assessed the site and its viability for the proposed project. McIntosh said it was essential to determine that the project would be market driven - not ego driven and that it was realistic for the location and marketplace. Currently working on a project in Egypt, McIntosh has done developments in Turkey, the Philippines, Australia, New York and Los Angeles. Royal Belize Village, to be built on 200 acres, will center around the "Club", to be included in the first phase of building. Within two years - hopefully for the 1998-99 market, three model residences, 24 hotel rooms and seaside facilities including a circular pier/boardwalk and large fresh water pool (with a sand beach) - will be in operation. Mr. McIntosh says this will be a "small scale resort, part of a mixed use development." The resort will have gaming, but in a very discreet way - it will be part of the restaurant/club building and will not be larger than 3,000 square feet, it is a small part of the adult entertainment package. No grand casino is planned. Gaming is an amenity that is considered essential in world class facilities. When asked about licensing, Mr. McIntosh said they had been assured they would be approved as long as the resort is developed the way it is planned at the present time. He commented that Government had been specific in all of their meetings that the project must be one of the highest quality and world class stature.
According to the Royal Belize Village brochure, the Village and Club will “grow gradually from forty rooms in year two of its operation to a mature two hundred fifty available rooms over six years. In addition, fifty three bedroom residences, one hundred one bedroom townhouses and two hundred one bedroom apartments will be built during the following phases of construction.
The capital is available for the first phase of the construction, says Mr. McIntosh. The phases following will be market driven; hopefully they will be built as planned , but a response to the developing market in Belize and specifically for this five star installation needs to be part of future planning.
How will they get along with San Pedro? - very well, since San Pedro is an advantage to Punta Azul. Mr. McIntosh pointed out that if they wished to be an "exclusive" resort, it could be built any place. "We are looking to build a community," he said. "San Pedro is a tourist attraction, the first of many Belizean attractions. There will be Belizean involvement, we will promote Belizean businesses and purchase Belizean products when possible. Belizeans will be hired and trained for all positions. This is why we named the project Royal Belize Village. It's base is the wonderful attraction of San Pedro." McIntosh concluded by saying he would like the resort to be considered "inclusive". "All exclusive" resorts throughout the Caribbean have earned bad reputations. Visitors arrive, stay within the compound, never experiencing the local customs and people, never contributing to the local economy." Royal Belize Village plans to be part of the community of San Pedro.
The old airstrip located near the property is necessary to their plans, said Mr. McIntosh. Plans for a new terminal are already drawn. The terminal, when construction begins in several years, will be constructed in two phases. A small terminal to meet the area's needs that can be expanded as the northern population increases. In addition the developers have no plans to get into the airline business, they intend to utilize the local carriers.
A very definite signal was given regarding information - the residents of the island will be kept informed about the development.
Dolphin International Development Ltd., the umbrella company involved in the effort, is already a familiar name to many on Ambergris Caye. The company has given sizeable cash donations to the elementary school and the Boca del Rio Park. In the Royal Belize Village they wrote, "Here, Paradise has not been lost, managed development will continue to produce a product unequaled in the region." They also wrote, "Dolphin Development has made a substantial long term investment in the country of Belize and is committed to its economic development through the creation of a world class resort development as well as an international banking component to encourage offshore investment." The banking component, Fidelity Federal Trust, Ltd., a Belize international business corporation, is currently in process and has an office at the Belize Offshore Center in Belize City. There are also plans for a branch office on Ambergris Caye.