Wednesday night, residents of San Pedro were still grappling with surreal devastation after the island’s iconic tourism establishment was partially destroyed by fire. Tuesday night, the San Pedro Fire Department made an enormous effort to contain an inferno that raved through the Ramon’s Village Resort sometime after 8:00pm. Police say the fire originated in the roof top of unit 15 and rapidly spread to other units, ultimately destroying a total of 30 cabanas, including a laundry room, kitchen, gift shop, bar, office and three store rooms. All structures are of Pimento, hard wood, sheet-rock casing and thatch roof. Neighboring structures received some damage and power supply was interrupted for close to an hour. In a statement issued by the Belize Electricity Limited Tuesday night, the company stated “BEL disconnected the island to mitigate damages from a fire at a resort, within close proximity to transmission line.” But San Pedro fire personnel were met with several hindrances in their attempt to battle the blaze, that is because a section of Coconut Drive, which includes access to Ramon’s Village has been undergoing street renovation and so this blockage caused limited access to the fire. In addition, because electricity had to be cut off, the fire hydrants could only receive low water pressure. Assisting firefighters though were local residents and guests who lined the property with buckets of water. It took almost 2 ½ hours before the fire was brought under control. All twenty guests staying at the resort, as well as neighboring resorts and even residents living near the area were safely evacuated. On Wednesday Ramon Nunez, General Manager of the resort, expressed “We cannot say thank you enough to all of the people who fought this fire and helped us save as much of Ramon’s Village Resort as possible.” Meanwhile, owner, who resides in the US Richard Hedrick, saddened by the destruction stated “Our hearts are broken that our beloved Ramon’s has suffered such damage. Over the past twenty-seven years tens of thousands of guests have visited Ramon’s Village and had the time of their lives. However, out of adversity comes steadfastness and you can be assured that very soon the rebuilding of Ramon’s Village Resort will begin.” In fact, the institution’s design and construction personnel are on the ground in Belize assessing damages and a way forward. Guests who have been staying at the resort have been relocated to other San Pedro area hotels. And while this comes as devastation to the resort personnel and the people of La Isla Bonita, it is also a loss to the local tourism industry says Minister of Tourism and Area Representative the Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr. “We will render as much support to the management and staff because this resort has been a leading institution in tourism, not only on the island but in the country” commented the Minister who watched helplessly as fire consumed the property. Ramon’s Village Resort, which has been in operation since 1982, is valued at an estimated $8 million US dollars. The property is insured. We note that no injuries have been reported and Police continue to investigate the cause of the fire.
On Wednesday, Minister Manuel Heredia Jr, Minister of Tourism & Culture and Area Representative, Board of Directors and Staff of the Belize Tourism Board, expressed their deepest regret in a joint press release, stating “Our thoughts and support are with the employees and management of Ramon’s Village Resort, as they embark on a difficult and painful task to pick up the pieces from last night’s devastating loss. We stand ready and willing to assist them as they start rebuilding. While the resort was significantly damaged, forty of its cabanas and dive shop facility that weren’t affected by the fire are fully functional and open for business.” BTB stresses that its Quality Assurance Department, which is tasked with ensuring that industry partners are in compliance with established standards of safety and quality, reported that on December 16, 2012, that the Quality Assurance Inspectors conducted a full inspection of Ramon’s Village Resort and found them to be in full compliance and up to standards. In 2002, Ramon’s was named Hotel of Year at the BTB’s Annual Tourism Awards. Later, in October 2010, founder of the resort, Ramon Nunez, was awarded with BTB’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution of over forty years to the tourism industry.