BTB Honors Key Pioneers at its 11th Annual Tourism Awards Ceremony

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

San Pedro shone once again at the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) Tourism Awards Ceremony. The BTB Awards is a time to recognize and honor those organizations, industry partners and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the tourism industry. Wednesday, June 8th’s gala event saw a gathering of distinguished guests such as the Prime Minister of Belize, Honorable Dean Barrow; the Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr., plus a host of tourism stakeholders at the Old Belize venue.

Winners were those who have catapulted Belize’s tourism product, taking the time and initiative to further enhance Belize’s natural charms, and showcasing their love for the product and services that they offer. San Pedro, Ambergris Caye is one of the premier tourism destinations in the country, and as such, there were several nominees from La Isla Bonita. With categories including Top Restaurant, Top Small and Large Hotel, Top Front-Line Personnel, Tour Guide of the Year, and Tour Operator of the Year, there was much to look forward to.

After a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem performed by Clyve Myers and accompanied by rhythmic Garifuna drumming, followed by the invocation, there was a warm welcome from both the BTB Director Seleni Matus and Minister of Tourism, Manuel Heredia Jr. Following the welcome addresses, it was time to name the big winners.
San Pedro was proudly represented by Enes Ramirez-Anderson of Belize Diving Adventures (BDA), as she took the honor of Tour Guide of the Year. As Tour Guide of the Year, Enes has provided tourists with exceptional experiences, taking full advantage of Belize’s natural heritage. She has guided tourists, showing them the best that Belize has to offer, in a responsible and consistent manner. In an interview with Enes, she stated what an honor it was to be named the Tour Guide of the Year.

“We rarely have female tour guides winning, so this is a big accomplishment for women in the field.”

She spoke of how she undertook the challenge of becoming a Dive Master, and then an Instructor. While it took some convincing, she is glad to be an accomplished diver. She thanks her husband Everette Anderson, who

“pushed me to always better myself in the field. He always believed in me, knowing that I could be so much better than the average, and thanks to his encouragement, I am where I am now.”

And where she is now is as a proud business owner, having opened BDA with her husband five years ago. Diving and tour guiding is a wonderful way of life for her and the family. She encourages more females to get involved in the guiding businesses, offering her support.

“I am willing to mentor and assist others who are looking to get into the field.”

Her willingness to share her knowledge and passion for the tour business is what has made Enes stand out in a most positive way. Congratulations!

Other awardees included Cayo District’s The Lodge at Chaa Creek – Hotel of the Year and Table Rock Jungle Lodge – Small Hotel of the Year. Placencia swept a number of awards, including Frontline Person of the Year – Althea Scheble of Chabil Mar Villas, Tour Operator of the Year – Avadon Divers, and Restaurant of the Year – Maya Beach Hotel Bistro.
TripAdvisor is an incredible source for information on travel and tourism. As such, those who have experienced different places, hotels, locales, restaurants and more, rate their experience, and it is said that those ratings can make or break businesses. The BTB was pleased to recognize those who have made their positive mark via TripAdvisor, a place where it is truly the tourists that decide.

Taking the honors for San Pedro was The Phoenix Resort, with the accolades for Traveler’s Choice-Best Service in Central/South America and Best Relaxation & Spa in Central/South America. Mark Maggiotto, General Manager at The Phoenix stated,

“The Best Service in Central America award we won is a testament to our tremendous staff. Our team works very hard to be helpful, knowledgeable, to solve problems when they arise, and to do all that with a great attitude. We were very honored to be recognized by TripAdvisor and the BTB…The Best Relaxation and Spa award is a credit to Sol Spa, the amazing on-site spa at our resort. The team of therapists and staff do a great job pampering our guests and other visitors to the island and we are so proud to be partnered with them and offer their many services and treatments at The Phoenix.”

Xanadu Resort was also recognized for their excellent service with the Traveler’s Choice – Best Service in Central/South America. Managers at Xanadu were

“…delighted to once again be the recipients of an award from TripAdvisor. We […] were within the top 10! It is wonderful to be recognized in this manner and even better that it is as a result of the service which our guests have experienced firsthand. At Xanadu Island Resort we consistently endeavor to provide our guests with the best experiences and we believe that it all starts with service. We are grateful, happy and proud to have been selected by TripAdvisor and reviewers for the Travellers Choice Awards 2011 and we will strive to achieve this every year.”

Victoria House was named Traveler’s Choice – Romance in Central/South America. Janet Woollam, Manager, stated that Victoria House is

“delighted with the award. [We] are happy to know that our guests recognize and appreciate all the hard work our staff puts in to making their stay memorable.”

Taking the award for Traveler’s Choice – Luxury in Central/South America was Las Terrazas. Ovel Leonardo, Manager at Las Terrazas stated that,

“It’s always an honor for us to be recognized. To know that out of the thousands of resorts available, that we were chosen, well, that sets us apart. It means that our hard work is acknowledged. It is exciting and it also drives us to continue working harder to continue to meet and surpass expectations.”

The town of San Pedro was also named TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice: Top 25 Destinations in Central/South America. On hand to receive the honor was San Pedro Mayor Elsa Paz. Several other businesses were recognized by TripAdvisor, including Hamanasi (Hopkins), Hickatee Cottages (Toledo), and Cocoplum Island Resort (Stann Creek).

San Pedro’s Romel Gomez was given the Minister’s Award for his pioneerism in the tourism industry, providing a much needed service with Rubies’ Hotel and Deli. Also recognized for her work in Requena’s Charter Service was Placida Leonora Requena. For much of her life, Placida has been dedicated to family, education and the tourism industry. Her life’s work was recognized at the ceremony to rousing applause.

In addition to the Special and Nominated Awards, Special Recognition Awards were also given out at Wednesday’s event. Ms. Ruth Williams and Mr. Carl Jones were both awarded in this category for their outstanding leadership in the Fort George Tourism Zone.

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