After the beaches and the lagoon, a change of scenery is found deep in the nature of the far west side of Belize. There I am received by the Ka’Ana Resort, a small, chic hotel where the accommodation blends right into the tropical forest. Would you like to take a breath of fresh air by my side?
Two young Irishmen who wanted to invest…
This is how the story of Ka’Ana Resort began 8 years ago; two young irish brothers decided to take a tour around the world in search of a small nest along the way, with the potential to invest in a business venture together. After having envisaged numerous projects across all five continents, it was the advice of a friend that led them to Belize. Not long ago the popularity of the country had sky rocketed as petrol resources were beginning to be exploited. The two friends speedily visited the country and loved it. They bought some land which already had some buildings on it and made it into a small, pretty hotel resort.
Today, Ka’Ana has a total of 17 spaces of accommodation: 2 villas, 10 ´casitas´ (bungalows) and 5 rooms; with plans to build more soon. The establishment offers the services of their restaurant (furnished mainly by their botanical garden), their bar, their pool and spa as well as a variety of activities and things to do in the surrounding area. Ka’Ana is part of a number of networks constituting some of the most refined and select places all over the world. Maybe you have already heard of hotels programs such as Kiwi Collection, Signature or SLH (Small Luxury Hotels of the World)? Ka’Ana is a part of all three of these networks. And I can testify that their teams really are attentive to even the tiniest of details.
Here are some examples to give you an idea: Iced lemon juice with ginger on arrival, fresh cut flowers in the bathroom; natural smelling soaps and shower gels in small wooden containers; a daily newsletter called ´The Archaeologist´ (on recycled paper) that gives activity ideas laid out as if they were magazine articles on how to discover the regions treasures; the hotel guide is bound in a leather and wooden cover; each night there is a different surprise: A sweet delicacy (accompanied with a small text explaining the specialty and accentuating the fact that it is a personalised surprise just for you); the cocktail menu does not only describe the ingredients but presents each cocktail as a concept; when night falls, small candles are lit to guide the path back to your room (where candles have also been lit in your absence); during your stay you are almost sure to come across one of the managers, who will come to greet you; on the eve of your check-out date a letter is given to you as a gentle reminder and to thank you…
Does this make you want to visit? From 200 USD a night you can come and give this experience a try… Reservations can be made here: Ka’Ana Resort (or if you don’t plan to book it yet, at least enjoy their wonderful video online 😉 ).
A break in the heart of nature, but that´s not all…
The surroundings are completely natural. The resort is situated 10 minutes away by taxi from the village of San Ignacio, in the middle of a piece of tropical forest. Some of the ´casitas´ are almost completely covered with vegetation (as you can see in the picture!).
The resort is certified by the Alliance Rainforest, which signifies their engagement for sustainable tourism. I wrote an article on Hopineo.org to develop their various initiatives about responsibility towards nature and the local population, and in particular their dedication to the program Pack For a Purpose. This organisation suggests that travellers (and as such, future clients of the hotel) use their empty luggage space to bring materials for the local school. This initiative is a part of the program ´Adopt a School´ that Ka’Ana Resort has developed to help the school in the neighbouring town of Succotz in a close and focused way. Other than school materials brought by the clients, the hotel supports the school by giving financial aid for student fees, renovating the sanitary facilities and by developing a sports and nutrition program for the children.
My helping hand for the marketing team
I spent a short, 3 night stay at Ka´Ana but the time is well spent as my arrival had been well prepared for. The resort already has a complete and experienced commercial team so we had been exchanging emails to clearly define the objectives for my mission on arrival.
The hotel is managed by a South African couple named Janine and Jock; they arrived recently to Ka´Ana (3 months ago) and my main contact would be Joanna, head of marketing. Joanna started working at the hotel whilst still a student as a receptionist and has witnessed the very beginnings of the establishment. So what exactly do I have to offer her team?
- 9am: I join them in their office and introduce myself (they are 5 in total): I talk about my journey and my project, joke little to lighten the atmosphere… :). It´s the first time that I have found myself in front of a group of people with a personal project to present and to be offering them my modest set of knowledge.
- 10am: 3 members of the team come to join me for a short private session. They work for the commercial side, reservations and social media. I give them an introduction into the world of revenue management; it´s not that they wish to become revenue managers, but they wish to better understand how it works in order to widen their vision on the whole. I have developed a PowerPoint presentation on Revenue Management as a guide for structuring my explanation. I try to interact as maximum as possible when doing the presentation (as opposed to be giving a long and boring monologue). And we start to chat about other wider subjects (such as the stronger positioning of the OTA, advertising in travel agencies…). Overall I feel very happy with the exchange, as I think that it was a quite instructive exchange for both them and I, and everybody is super friendly, I had a good time.
- 11.30am: I have lunch with Joanna, the head of marketing, an opportunity to get to know her and the hotel better.
- 2pm: I meet with Patricia who works in reservations. Numbers are her thing and her role will come closest to that of a revenue manager (especially since her team has recently begun to manage a second hotel). I will help Patricia to elaborate a nice spreadsheet on Excel that will be allow them to :
- Help with decisions such as regularly adapting the strategy by following the pick-up (bookings pace) for every day of the month.
- Follow their monthly performance, to then be able to adjust their strategies with which to obtain their objectives and update their forecasts.
Thursday and Friday morning
I spend another 3 or 4 hours with Patricia to continue tweaking our lovely Excel spread sheets… Oh, what a wonderful program Excel is! It is like a magic wand, if you know the correct formulas you can use them to perform miracles… I have so much fun with them, the time just flies by!
When evening comes I stroll down to the small village of San Ignacio, go horse riding with Janine and Joanna, or relax in the pool and write some new articles for the blog… Life is good 🙂 All the photos taken in Belize can be found in the ´Photos Gallery´of the blog. Afterwards, I am on the road again, on my way to a new adventure, in a new country: Bienvenido a Guatemala!! Bye bye English, back to Spanish 🙂 To be continued…
Have you already had a really memorable experience in a hotel?
Which are the details that you cherished the most?
Do you have any advice on wonderful places to visit in the West of Belize?
Translated by Holly Cooper Chima