While many hotels across the nation have been battered and brutalized by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hamanasi Resort has managed to go above and beyond. The resort hidden away in Hopkins Village, Stann Creek, has been voted in the top twenty hotels of the world by TripAdvisor, ranking at number seventeen. The accomplishment is one that Launce Robert, Hamanasi’s General Manager says is due mainly to the unwavering support from its staff.
Launce Robert, General Manager: “What an achievement. Obviously very exciting and you know the management and staff at Hamanasi are very proud of their achievement. My initial thoughts were well it took me back to March 2020 when basically the borders closed down and there was all of that uncertainty and fear. There was a threat on our fragile existence when COVID hit and my thought at the time was ‘This is what you’ve been practicing for, this is kind of the real deal. This is the test of resilience. You want to be sustainable, you want to be stronger through the hard times so this is an opportunity in the middle of all the chaos.’ and that was kind of our mindset. We knew going into it that we could come out stronger so that was our goal we were gonna come out stronger and better. We set that goal and we basically went for it. Organizationally we made some key changes to cope with the pandemic. We dovetailed in with improvements in efficiency and all of t]]]hose adjustments that we did paid off and paid off well. So we’re standing here proud, we got a lot of Belizean staff that are very happy with the achievement, everyone has a little skip in their step and yeah, happy days. We try and make it look like it’s easy trust me the service industry it’s hard work. When you’re out there every day pleasing customers there’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears. So yeah the other thing is training. Training, training, training I can’t say enough about training. We have an incredible HR department. Our HR department has one job to do, it’s got one function and that’s to create happy, skilled and proud staff. You bundle that with a whole lot of passion and basically you’ve got a recipe for success so you know that’s what we strive to do. We do it everyday, everyone knows the plan. We get out there and try and get the job done as best as possible.”
The award is not only huge for Hamanasi but for the country as a whole according to the President of the Belize Hotel Association, Ted Tejada.
Ted Tejada, President, Hotel Association of Belize: “In order for tourists, especially the north American ones, in order for them to make a decision where they’re going to travel 78% of the time they’re going to go and read the reviews on TripAdvisor. That is how this particular website has become so powerful in the tourism industry. I can still remember fifteen years ago when I sat in a conference where they said that 78% of the travelers around the world will read the reviews. So for one hotel actually in Belize to acquire or be appointed number seventeen it’s a great day. I believe, and I’ve been to Hamanasi several times what they have done with that product it’s a proud product of Belize. They have converted a hotel not just a resort but a sanctuary in the middle of this country. You are steps away from the beach but at the same time you are feeling like you are in the jungle. Actually when you look at the reviews that they have on TripAdvisor I believe they have over 2,558 reviews, it’s outstanding. Many of the times as you are aware for a tourist to be able to write a review on your hotel 90% of the time they will only do it if they’ve had a very bad experience. No one is gonna take their time to write a review because they’ve had a positive experience. They have over 2,500 selling their resort it’s unbelievable so we as the hotel association congratulate them because they have done a stellar job. And when you read the reviews that people have written about this resort they mention the names of the employees “Mike and David.”, the people that took them on tours, the people that took them diving, snorkeling. So it’s stunning that the guests are saying it’s not just about the resort but it’s the people that actually work for that property.”
Tejada noted that he encourages Belizeans to be a tourist at home and help to rebuild the economy.