A Lifetime Achievement Award for Mrs Julia Edwards and More at San Pedro’s 2023 Tourism Awards

by Khaila Gentle

Belize’s #1 travel destination, Ambergris Caye, held its second-ever tourism awards ceremony this year, and it was even bigger and better than the inaugural edition. Created by the San Pedro Town Council in an effort to recognize some of the smaller businesses that may be overlooked in Belize’s National Tourism Awards, the San Pedro Tourism Awards is dedicated to honoring the industry professionals who make the island – Belize’s most frequently visited –  thrive. This year, the awards saw a total of nine categories as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to SunBreeze Belize General Manager and hospitality industry veteran Julia Edwards. Keep reading to learn about the categories for the 2023 San Pedro Tourism Awards and all the winners.

SunBreeze’s Julia Edwards Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Image courtesy of Sunbreeze Belize

For the past 27 years, San Pedro’s beachfront duo – Sunbreeze Suites and Sunbreeze Hotel – have been managed by Mrs. Julia Edwards.

The San Pedro Town Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award is given to those deserving of recognition for having demonstrated exceptional commitment and dedication to the tourism industry over the course of their careers.  And ever since first entering the role of General Manager at Sunbreeze in 1996, Edwards has done just that.

One article from the San Pedro Sun explains that Edwards’ long tenure in the hospitality industry began with the basics, noting “She worked in the food and beverage areas first, learning all aspects, finding how much she enjoyed it.”

I knew I needed a job where I would have direct contact with other people,”

-Mrs Julia Edwards to the San Pedro Sun

Over the years, under the leadership of Mrs. Julia Edwards, Sunbreeze Belize has flourished and grown into an iconic accommodation choice in the heart of La Isla Bonita.

The Winners and Nominees of the 2023 San Pedro Tourism Awards

2023 San Pedro Tourism Awards Hotel of the Year Winner: Caribeville Belize

In addition to the Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2023 San Pedro Tourism Awards featured a total of nine categories. From Hotel of the Year to Local Eatery of the Year, here are this year’s winners.

Hotel of the Year

Winner: Caribeville (Grand Caribe & Sunset Caribe Belize)

Nominees: Alaia Alaia Autograph Collection |  Xanadu Island Resort

Small Hotel of the Year

Winner: Caye Casa
Nominees: Seven Seas Resort | Playa de Sala

Tour Guide of the Year

Winner: Juan Coc (White Sands Dive Shop)
Nominees: Leslie Acosta (Elite Adventures) | Venancio Tillett (Scuba School Dive Center)

Front Office Person of the Year

Winner: Abigail Najarro (Victoria House Resort & Spa)
Nominees: Tristan Delgado (Pelican Reef Resort) | Adrian Gongora (Seven Seas Resort)

Restaurant of the Year

Winner: Elvi’s Kitchen (Winner)
Nominees: Rain Restaurant (found at Grand Caribe Belize) | Caramba Restaurant

Tour Operator of the Year

Winner: Island Dream Tours
Nominees: Scuba School Dive Center | Tuff E Nuff Tours

Dive Shop of the Year

Winner: Chuck & Robbie’s Dive Shop
Nominees: Amigos del Mar Dive Shop | Belize Pro Dive Center

Bartender of the Year

Winner: Joseph Pate (Nauti Crab)
Nominees: Jovanie Rowland (Sandy Toes Beach Bar & Grill) | Gizelle Cantun (Victoria House Resort & Spa)

Local Eatery of the Year

Winner: Neri’s Tacos
Nominees: Brianna’s Deli | Norma’s Deli

The San Pedro Town Council also recognized some of the industry pioneers on the island. They included the island’s first-ever hotel, Holiday Hotel; the first-ever restaurant, Elvi’s Kitchen; the first dive shop, Coral Beach Dive shop; the first-ever Miss San Pedro, Leni Alamilla; and San Pedro’s first-ever Mayor, Gilberto ‘Chico’ Gomez.

Photos courtesy of the San Pedro Town Council. Caribbean Culture + Lifestyle Belize extends a heartfelt congratulations to all the winners!

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