San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

The flight from Corozal Airport takes about 20 minutes and at the time of writing was about US$70.00 one way.

I must confess to not have personally met any private airline owners previously, so sitting in the presence of John Greif III, proud owner of Tropic Air I was immediately impressed with  how down to earth (Pardon the Pun) this incredibly astute business man/aviator was! – Perhaps I’ve seen too many Howard Hugh’s movies! Tropic Air has served Belizeans for over 36 years.

John boasts 7 children, the eldest is now 32 and the youngest whom I had the pleasure to meet is just 14. Sat back in his tiny office that seriously reflected my own for apparent disarray, I had no doubt that John could locate any piece of paper he needed at any time. This totally unassuming man was a delight to interview. We discussed Island and Belizean politics and his businesses rise to the top as the premier air carrier for his beloved Belize.

I had been surprised to discover when I booked my flight to San Pedro, that I was unable to book less than 24 hours in advance, if I was not an airline account holder. The system, John explained, was introduced to combat a massive credit card fraud that originated from across the border in Mexico.

The company he told me had experienced a 70% growth in the last 5 years.

I expressed my dismay at the seemingly over the top prices of so much in Belize. John was quick to point out what I had already discovered – 80% import duty  on many items and 20%tax.

 

His major personal complaint – litter control! A problem he suggested could only be remedied at school level. Start teaching the youth the benefits of a clean environment and ecological management for the good of the tourist industry as well as the local population.

I managed to squeeze in three days in San Pedro thanks to the generosity of Sun Breeze Hotel. A fabulous hotel that is located immediately opposite the Tropic Air terminus. You could not hope for a more central location for any visit than the Sea Breeze. Our beach front room complete with Jacuzzi was just what the ‘doctor’ ordered for my weary body! Miss Julia and her staff went out of their way to insure our every requirement was taken care of. They offer Sun Breeze Suites for longer stays and we were very tempted.

               

One of the first things you notice on arrival in San Pedro is the lack of conventional motor vehicles – everyone uses Golf Carts! I’m not sure what the licensing and tax/Insurance costs are but they have to be lower than conventional cars and trucks. We found Moncho’s Golf Cart rental – located right beside the airport terminal and got a great deal on our cart for the three days of our stay. Martin – the owner who looked after us personally has also contributed to our “Time to Share “chapter. The most modern carts at the best price. Most of his vehicles are only a couple of years old if not newer. This is important if you want to avoid a breakdown.

 

Captain Morgan's Retreat

 

It was here on Ambergris Caye that I discovered the incredible Captain Morgan Retreat! And what a retreat it is! As I mentioned in my introduction I spent many years in the Resort Development field with names like Hilton, Marriott, Wyndham  and the Chinese government, to name but a few. I must say however along with some of the spectacular timeshare resorts in Mexico I have seen nothing that impressed me as much as Captain Morgan. I was shown around the property by non-other than the ’Captain’ himself – owner and founder Ernie Olmstead himself and what an astute and charming gentleman he is.

 

Dr. Shield and Ernie  Olmstead - Captain Morgan’s Retreat

 

One of the most exciting developments to someone like me with a long history in the timeshare industry is the introduction over the last few years of what are called “Fractionals”. Whereas timeshare owners usually purchase a one or two week duration vacation package – the ‘fractional’ offers deeded ownership of an aircraft, boat or vacation home for longer periods of say anything from one month to a quarter share. In the case of Captain Morgan’s Retreat they have

just completed a magnificent penthouse which is available as a monthly fractional. Even before completion it is 60% sold out.

               

Exquisite Penthouse Fractional Deeded Ownership,  A two bedroom ‘lock off’ apartment  & just to cap it off – A Casino!

And our unexpected guest for Breakfast!

We could not have been more impressed – the restaurant was great and we enjoyed the best breakfast on the island and at the best price, by the way!  Like MacArthur – “We will return!”  

Dr Shield and "Captain Morgan" - CEO Ernie Olmstead

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