A History of Chaa Creek
The story of Chaa Creek Cottages began in 1977 when two young travelers stumbled upon what would later become their adopted home. In those days most business was conducted around bar room tables in Belize City and it was here that Mick and Lucy Fleming ran into the owner of an overgrown 140 acre farm in the Cayo District.
They soon moved out to the jungle property and within years the land was producing home grown vegetables. In those days the farm had no road access so the Flemings transported their produce by dugout canoe to the ready markets of San Ignacio Town, much as the Maya had done 1,000 years before.
The little farm was soon producing milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs – as well as two baby Flemings. When other travelers heard about the farm they would often trek out to visit, sometimes staying to lend a hand. As more visitors came, the Fleming’s one room farmhouse became smaller and smaller and the idea was launched to build a guest cottage from materials found on the land.
Chaa Creek Cottages, the first jungle lodge in Belize, opened its doors in 1981 and over the next two decades growth has kept pace with the increasing number of visitors.
The Chaa Creek road was built by the British Army Corps of Engineers in 1983 and was accompanied by the addition of a dining room to cater to the six existing cottage rooms. Two years later indoor plumbing was installed and a further six cottage rooms, a 6,000 gallon of water tower, staff quarters and a gift shop were built.
The year 1987 brought electrification of Chaa Creek which meant that washing machines replaced scrub boards, a deep freeze saw the end of salted blocks of ice and a submersible water pump, the retirement of a gasoline engine relay pumping system. A batch of new canoes took guests on excursions down the Macal River.
The luxury of a hot water shower was introduced in 1988 while an ice machine helped make the perfect margarita for guests who relaxed on the deck of the bar. The cottage rooms had grown by four to a total of 16. To round off the year an office was built and outdoor lighting was installed in the gardens.
All of the cottages were upgraded in 1990 and a new office was established in nearby San Ignacio Town. Trails were cut along the 330 acre Chaa Creek property, to accommodate horseback riding tours and trekking.
In 1991 the Flemings noticed that their original thatched (1977 model) house was falling around them. They built a new house for themselves and their two children and added a manager’s house atop the hill.
By 1992 there were 26 members of staff in residence at Chaa Creek. Infrastructure was upgraded and new stables were built for the increasing number of horses. Chaa Creek also played host to a team of archaeologists who were invited to investigate the Chaa Creek Maya sites.
The Blue Morpho Butterfly Breeding Centre was established at Chaa Creek in 1993. It was designed to create awareness and understanding of the local environment for our local and overseas visitors. The property also accommodates the Chaa Creek Natural History Centre, which records and displays the results of scientific studies conducted in Belize.
In 1997, further building resulted in a total of 21 cottages including a Garden Suite and a Jacuzzi Suite. In 1998, electric lighting and fans were added in each room for additional comfort. A lovely new building houses an expanded laundry, garden shed, stores room and saddlery, coveniently located near the new horse corral.
In 1999, the Camp at Chaa Creek was renovated. The camp now features ten casitas, each on a raised platform with airy peakroofs, full screens and containing either two or four comfortable beds with clean linens and towels.
Renovations in 2000 included new sundeck verandahs for all of the cottages, a state-of-the-art Spa set above the Macal River with a panoramic view of the Maya Mountains and lush rainforest, and a fully air-conditioned Conference Centre.
During 2003 we acquired fifteen additional acres of land from Rosita Arvigo. This included the famous Ixchel Medicine Trail, now known as the Rainforest Medicine Trail. This land acquisition also allowed us to add two rooms; the Orchard Villa, designed with families in mind and a Honeymoon Sky Room which, as the name implies, was designed for Honeymooners.
Chaa Creek is presently comprised of 23 cottages including two Treetop Jacuzzi Suites, two Garden Suites, an Orchard Villa and the Honeymoon Sky room.