Over the past few decades Belize, and Ambergris Caye in particular, has experienced rapid growth and development, especially in the Tourism sector. In the early years, major development projects were few and far between and Ambergris Caye saw little in the way of yearly tourism. Over time however, Belize's untapped market is being recognized by hotel corporations and investors alike and that has paved the way for large hotel brands to discover the opportunities available in Belize. This growth hasn’t come without objections though with the most common ones brushing on the misconception that corporations negatively impact the culture, socioeconomic and ecological well-being of Belize and its citizens. These are reasonable concerns and certainly worth looking into. Luckily, in the case of Ambergris Caye this is not the case. In fact, brands like Marriott and Best Western consider it an important part of their business plans to actively ensure their projects have extremely positive impacts in the local communities they decide to become a part of. Let's explore this in more detail.
Belize Marriott Residences Ambergris Caye Resort
In 2018, ECI Development announced a partnership with Marriott International that would see the first hard branded Marriott resort community developed on Ambergris Caye. Both ECI Development and Marriott are companies who are known for their eco-friendly and socio-conscious development standards. Though not in full swing yet, all plans made by both parties have kept the well-being of the environment, the local economy, and the local citizens in mind.
Where the environment is heavily concerned, this project has included one of the largest environmental compliance studies done in Belize as part of its master plan. As a result of these studies, the development team created an Environmental Compliance Plan for Belize that now future developments in the area are expected to follow as a guideline for their actions. This means that due to The Marriott brand’s impact on the country, development will be even more environmentally conscious in years to come. This positive change and effects before ground has been broken on the project. Though once ground is officially broken, the impacts will continue and only get better.
Due to the nature of the construction methodology that is being used for this development, the entirety of the frame and skin of the building will be pre-cut offsite and delivered to the island. This means that only 5% of the workforce of the project needs to be certified personnel, leaving the other 95% to be local Belizeans. It’s expected that during the 18-month build period, 60-100 local people will be directly employed. During production, the local construction workers will have the opportunity to learn state of the art construction techniques and skills that they then will be able to take to future projects and as well be able to include on their resumes forever.
Jobs and economic benefits during production will not solely be for the individual employees, and this is due to the nature of the country’s population and employment norms. Many workers will be coming from mainland Belize, meaning that more businesses on the island will benefit from the needed accommodations, food, and entertainment of the staff. These benefits for third party businesses will continue after the opening of the resort. Once open, resort guests will be wanting to do diving tours, fishing, and local shopping, thus generating a substantial boost to the local economy and the expectation is that many more businesses will spring up nearby to support the desires of these guests, furthering the economic boost.
Once open, the operations of the resort itself will rely heavily on the employment of local Belizeans. 250 full-time jobs are expected to be generated by the hotel and all its amenities and the expectation is that 98% of these employees will be locals. From start to finish, planning to opening, Marriott and ECI Development are keeping in mind the ecological and socioeconomic impacts.
Best Western Grand Baymen Gardens Resort
Last month, Grand Baymen Gardens announced that a brand partnership with the Best Western Hotels & Resort's brand, the 7th largest hotel chain worldwide, had been secured for the property. The Grand Baymen Gardens opened on Ambergris Caye in April of 2013 and further development and growth on the property has been happening ever since. From the start of construction on this property, the involvement of local contractors and workers has been incredibly important in the building process. More construction and improvements to the property are slated to happen over the course of the next few moths and years and local contractors are being employed to complete these projects. The Fleet Building is the newest addition to the property and this building is slated to commence construction in the summer of 2020.
Guests enjoying the pool at the Best Western Grand Baymen Gardens
Once transitions towards becoming a Best Western are completed, all of the Grand Baymen employees will complete Best Western training, not only to be able to provide exceptional customer service but as well to be able to better their standing in the job market in general. The staff that will be undergoing the training are all local to the area and many have been working with hotel for quite some time. A partnership with such a reputable and affordable hotel chain like Best Western ensures that more visitors to Belize will be able to enjoy the island and as well become patrons to local vendors, restaurants, and stores. The Best Western Grand Baymen Gardens Resort is one that has already been able to prove itself on the island as being beneficial in terms of economically benefiting the local economy of Belize.
Mahogany Bay Village
Image Courtesy of Luxury Travel Advisor
In December of 2017, Curio – A Collection by Hilton opened Belize’s first global luxury branded resort on Ambergris Caye. This village is comprised of over 60 acres of both residential and resort properties, with many businesses, such as restaurants, operating within. Development of the project included the work of more than 240 Belizean vendors. As well, 150 Belizean and Belizean Mennonite craftsmen were consulted and included in the production. The reasoning that so many locals were involved in the process was because every single piece of furniture in every single building was crafted in Belize from local, sustainably sourced hardwoods. This includes all the flooring, furniture, and even items like the shutters on the windows.
Belizean workers were incredibly important to the production of Mahogany Bay Village and thus jobs were created that would not have been there before. The production of jobs for local Belizeans didn’t stop there because once opened 21 new businesses were created in Belize by this endeavor, with 15 being within Mahogany Bay. The creation of The Hilton resort on Ambergris Caye created a variety of livelihoods for local individuals, and these jobs continue to this day.
The Benefits Are Real
Ambergris Caye continues to grow and become more beautiful year after year
Without knowing the facts, it can be easy to assume the worst about the development and international brands that are coming to Belize. These case studies on Ambergris Caye definitively show the true positive impact that developments have had and will continue to have as Belize continues to draw more and more travelers to its shores. The companies highlighted here value the local community of Belize and find it integral to their being that they are thought of and included through every step of their development process. These new resort developments and communities lead to economic boosts, environmental norms changing, and the sociological well-being of the citizens being improved.
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ECI Development delivers affordable luxury residence and resort communities in Central America, providing our clients with various premier lifestyle options from the Caribbean to the Pacific. ECI delivers inspired residences for adventurous souls.
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