The owner of the Lodge at Chaa Creek said that the eco resort’s inclusion in a recent USA Today travel guide “bucket list” is good news for the nascent Belizean tourism industry, and further proves that environmentally sustainable, Green tourism can provide a high quality travel experience.
Lucy Fleming, who with her husband Mick started Chaa Creek by accepting guests at their small family farm in a remote part of Belize in 1981, said that recognition such as USA Today’s provides an important boost to the Belizean tourism industry, which since it’s relatively recent inception has struggled to achieve name recognition in the highly competitive Caribbean travel industry.
“While we are of course happy to have Chaa Creek represented in such a prestigious list of exotic, high quality places, I think the big story is that Belize is finally becoming recognised as the high quality destination that it is,” Ms Fleming said, “and further proves that a commitment to sustainable tourism and responsible travel can still provide a high quality travel experience,” she added.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek was one of eleven desirable destinations listed in an August 14 2013 USA Today Oyster.com feature titled, “11 unique lodgings for your travel bucket list”.
“Travel is about new experiences—and travel at its best can mean eye-opening, once-in-a-lifetime and even life-changing journeys. Many of us have a personal bucket list of trips to try before we die, and those who don’t might just need a little inspiration,” the article states before describing what the authors consider to be eleven of the best in the world.
Chaa Creek was included with other destinations ranging from Ireland’s Ashford Castle, Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp in Botswana, Post Ranch Inn in California’s Big Sur and the Grand hotel in Baglioni, Florence.
“It’s such an impressive list of truly exotic locations by such a respected travel authority that we can’t help but feel honoured to be included,” Ms Fleming said.
The article said “Chaa Creek enjoys a gorgeous jungle location in the Cayo District. It feels wonderfully secluded without being entirely remote and inaccessible… Also on the grounds of this large private reserve are the Rainforest Medicine Trail, Natural History Centre, butterfly farm, and the Maya Organic Farm. There’s enough to keep guests busy here for a week, easily, between the numerous on-site attractions and the tours that can be arranged.”
Ms Fleming said that she feels such exposure is particularly important for Belize as it highlights not only the country’s many physical attractions, but what is now a quality local travel infrastructure that has been meticulously developed along environmentally sustainable practices over a relatively short time.
Belize, the former British Honduras, only became an independent nation in September 1981, the same date that Chaa Creek opened its doors. Although Belize gained word-of-mouth attention as a favoured vacation spot for celebrities, the small developing country never had the marketing clout to achieve popular name recognition, she said.
Ms Fleming agreed that while Belize has so much to offer travellers, such as the Belize Great Barrier Reef; the second largest in the world, vast tracts of protected pristine jungle reserves, a large concentration of ancient Maya temples and archaeological sites, hundreds of tiny islands and a friendly, English speaking population, the little country has struggled to compete with more established destinations such as Mexico, Jamaica, the Bahamas and other fashionable locations.
However, all that is beginning to change, she said.
“It wasn’t so long ago you’d be met with blank stares when you said you’re from Belize. But now, there’s an instant smile and a sort of ‘oh wow’ factor, which is great to see.
“It hasn’t happened overnight, and a lot of hard work by many committed people has gone into transitioning Belize from an agricultural economy to a world class travel destination, but now, with USA Today, Condé Nast, National Geographic, Lonely Planet and so many other travel authorities giving Belize their stamp of approval, we’re starting to see results.
“And to have developed as a true ecotourism destination focussed on responsible travel and Green, sustainable tourism is an achievement the entire nation can feel proud of,” Ms Fleming said.