On Ambergris Caye, Mahogany Bay to be the country’s first global-brand resort: A Hilton

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A glimpse of the 22,000 square-foot "Great House" at Mahogany Bay Village, toward sunset.
A glimpse of the 22,000 square-foot “Great House” at Mahogany Bay Village, toward sunset.

After decades building its reputation on boutique and eco-friendly resorts, Belize now has its first global brand-named resort in development, here on Ambergris Caye: Hilton.

The global hospitality giant is going small though, naming The Resort at Mahogeny Bay Village to its exclusive line of boutique  resorts and hotels, called the Curio Collection by Hilton.

Curio began in 2014 as an attempt by a major corporation to develop a more intimate side  that would appeal to “independent-minded travelers’ needs for local discovery and authentic experiences,”  according to a Hilton press release. The Curio Collection consists of 25 high-end luxury resorts and hotels around the world, mostly in the U.S. as well as Jamaica, Spain Argentina and Germany. Unlike traditional brand-name resorts which encourage guests to remain (and spend) within their walls while enjoying an approximation of local culture, the Curios Collection is for guests who want to step out and enjoy the real world.

Some of the residences at Mahogany Bay.
Some of the “rustic chic” residences at Mahogany Bay.

If traditional resorts are akin to gated communities  with a tightly controlled experience, the Curio Collection promises more opportunity for guests to jump into the real world. “The Resort at Mahogany Bay Village will be a borderless community that encourages travelers to get out and experience all that Belize has to offer,” explains Beth Clifford, president, Mahogany Bay Management, Ltd.

And, yes, that is exactly what existing Belize lodges, boutiques and resorts have been encouraging for decades.

If you are still trying to come up with a comparison, think of mass-appeal brewers like MillerCoors and Budweiser and their attempts to enter the microbrew market by buying up existing craft breweries. Sort of like that.

Mahogany Bay, which Hilton describes as “rustic chic” is still very much a work in progress. Situated south of San Pedro Town on Ambergris Caye, the dominant architecture is wood construction, with an emphasis on natural materials and Belizean design. While there are big plans and much under construction, Mahogany’s village at this point consists of an excellent coffee shop (Rum and Bean), a taco shop and a large commercial space that may hold up to four retail shops. There is also a 22,000 square foot convention and meeting space, the Great House, which will make its debut this weekend at an event hosted by the wife of the prime minister, Kim Simplis Barrow.

Scores of villas have been constructed along canals but none is apparently occupied.

The property recently hosted a fund-raising concert by present and former members of the recently inducted Hall of Fame group Steve Miller Band.

The press release describes the resort like this: “The rustic-chic resort destination is located in San Pedro, Belize on Ambergris Caye, about 15 miles from the mainland and 10 minutes from the San Pedro Airport. With 205 cottage and villa-style rooms, the resort sits on a 60-acre property featuring private residences, bay and beach clubs, a spa, meeting space and ‘The Village,’ a vibrant public space.”

Of course the company has there are high-hopes for its Village, which will “complement the downtown San Pedro area with a General Store, craft and farmer’s market, scuba and fishing operators, concierge and tour coordinator, hair/nail salon and much more. Guests will be able to try organic fresh vegetables harvested daily from Ambergreens, Belize’s first aquaponics farming venture, fantastic coffee at Rum and Bean, lunch at Taco Shack and local fare at the all-day restaurant, among many other food and beverage outlets.”

“With its luxury accommodations, beautiful location, environmentally-sustainable design and integration with the local community, we can’t wait to welcome guests to The Resort at Mahogany Bay Village,” says Dianna Vaughan, senior vice president and global head, Curio – A Collection by Hilton and DoubleTree by Hilton.

And Mahogany Bay stands to gain a lot from this venture.

“As part of the Hilton Worldwide portfolio, The Resort at Mahogany Bay Village, Curio Collection by Hilton will participate in Hilton HHonors®, the award-winning guest-loyalty program for Hilton Worldwide’s 13 distinct hotel brands. Hilton HHonors Members always get an exclusive member rate, along with HHonors Points, free standard Wi-Fi, digital check-in and no booking fees only when they book directly through Hilton,” according to a press statement.

The Resort at Mahogany Bay will of course participate Hilton HHonors®, the guest-loyalty program for Hilton’s 13 hotel brands, offering lower rates, free WiFi, digital booking among other amenities.

Hilton is the first global hospitality corporation to get a foothold in Belize but not likely the last. A massive resort at the southern tip of this island is reportedly being built by a major chain and several properties to the far north are said to be locked up by big resort chains.

Here is the press release from the Hilton Corporation.

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6 thoughts on “On Ambergris Caye, Mahogany Bay to be the country’s first global-brand resort: A Hilton

    SPmQQse said:
    June 15, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    [a reprinted comment]…..
    …….
    ”The resort will prioritize the preservation of natural resources ”
    ….give me a break….
    that whole damn so-called, resort….was built over the destroyed and dredged over pristine environment and natural habitat…..acre after acre of the place……that the project’s protesters ,saw being destroyed ….day after day… month after month.
    for that reason alone……it is and will always be…..a despicable place….
    …….
    now….HILTON …. is associated ,directly, with one of the biggest environmentally destructive, foreigner owned developments , to date, on ambergris caye, belize.
    i gatta wonder if….Juan Corvinas’s bosses ,will realize his/their blunder, b4 or after he reaches puberty.
    …….
    200+jobs….better called…..200 slave/minimum wage jobs.
    and where will the millions in profits , go…?
    ♫- oops-there-it-goes -♫ …to foreigners….again.

    Like

      Lindsey Stewart said:
      June 15, 2016 at 10:01 pm

      I agree completely with SPmQQse’s comment. They have turned a natural habitat and built condos on it. typical development. nothing unusual there. but sell it as something that isn’t true or different or respectful of the environment. it is development. period.

      Like

        robertjhawkins1 responded:
        June 16, 2016 at 6:24 am

        Notice that the phrase ”The resort will prioritize the preservation of natural resources ” is not contained in my blog post. I saw that in the press release but could not in clear conscious repeat it. One walk around the Mahogany Bay property will tell you that “preservation of natural resources” was not a priority.

        Dredge and fill of the lagoon is not preservation. It is destruction. And Mahogany has done massive amounts of dredge and fill.

        It is the same with the phrase “environmentally sustainable.” What does that mean any more?

        I welcome the elaboration by Mahogany on how they intend to “prioritize the preservation of natural resources” and how they are “environmentally sustainable.” just as I welcome specifics from other resorts and big developments that use these phrases so casually.

        Or so callously.

        I think they are buzzwords that every publicist is expected now to insert into the corporate boilerplate. They mean nothing any more, although and specific details behind them will.

        Like

    Linda Young said:
    June 16, 2016 at 7:11 am

    I agree 100% with all of you, and I think Mahog. Bay will eventually turn into a Ghost town.

    Like

    Phil and Tess said:
    June 16, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    We know that property zoning here in Belize is managed with “Deed Restrictions”. Are these not used for conservancy as well? Does anybody know what role local government gets to play in preserving land within it’s locus of control? Is it all a Ministry responsibility or does some of that decision making fall to the district or town?

    Like

      SPmQQse said:
      June 17, 2016 at 3:02 pm

      it is a combined responsibility lying with both national and municipal….unfortunately….bribes run rampant , apparently ,throughout most if not all governmental dept.’s.
      …….
      actual preserving/preservation…ecologically…. not-existent.

      Like

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