The Lodge at Chaa Creek’s events planner, Denise Duran, said that discovering that Belize was listed as one of the top five happiest countries on earth according to the global Happiness Index, comes as no surprise to her.
“At Chaa Creek I speak with visitors to Belize all of the time, and they constantly remark on how cheerful Belizeans are,” Ms Duran said, “So I’m not really surprised to hear that we’re officially very happy.”
The Happiness Index is an annual report compiled by the New Economics Foundation that for 2013 measured the wellbeing of 151 different nations using a variety of indicators such as global data on life expectancy, experienced well-being and ecological footprints to rank countries according to a Happy Planet Index (HPI).
According to this year’s report, Costa Rica was the happiest country, with an HPI of 64.0, with Belize coming in at number four with an HPI of 59.3.
“Guests often remark that Belize and Costa Rica are similar, in that we have large protected wildlife areas, beautiful beaches, and a relaxed, peaceful feel, so I can understand that.” she said.
Ms Duran said that several guest have also remarked on Belize’s high happiness ranking after reading a June 2013 Travel Channel article; “The World’s Top Ten Happiest Countries” that invited readers to “See the world’s most blissful places, according to the leading global happiness measurement the Happy Planet Index.”
The Travel Channel feature stated that “With the second biggest barrier reef in the world, a laidback Caribbean lifestyle and a favourable climate, there’s a lot to be happy about in Belize. But its cultural diversity is what is truly believed to make this country so content and welcoming: European, Creole, Hispanic and Mayan are some of the prevalent groups that form one harmonious culture here.”
Ms Duran said that, as both a Belizean and a travel professional, she agreed with the article.
“People here in Belize need to work as hard as anywhere else and face the same challenges everyone does, but Belizeans are definitely more laid-back and less stressed than most people I meet. Being surrounded by all the natural beauty we’re blessed with has a lot to do with it, and I found it interesting that the Travel Channel pointed to our multicultural society as a factor.
“I think that living with such a diverse mix of cultures has made us more accepting and relaxed around each other and people in general. Belizeans have always helped each other out, as you see in the very Belizean expression of, ‘hand wash hand’, and that just creates a good feeling all around,” she said.
Ms Duran said that her work in coordinating weddings, honeymoons, romantic and family all-inclusive Belize vacations and other activities at Chaa Creek keeps her in touch with a wide range of people from around the world.
“If people aren’t happy when they first arrive here, they almost always are by the time they leave, so that tells us something right there,” Ms Duran said, “I’m sure that one of the things people like about Belize is not just the stunning natural beauty and the many healthy things to do but the feeling they get while they’re here. Happiness rubs off on people,” she added.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek, known as Belize’s first eco-resort, sits within a 365 acre private nature reserve at the foothills of the Maya Mountains and offers a wide range of activities and tours to a diverse clientele of travellers from around the world.
Asked how her co-workers at Chaa Creek felt about Belize coming in so high on the happiness list, Ms Duran said, “Well, it made us happy.”