There are lots of hotels in the Cayo district, but by far the most iconic is the San Ignacio Resort Hotel which has stood atop the town of San Ignacio and the surrounding rivers and terrain for the past 44 years. This family-run hotel was the brainchild of Don Escander Bedran, a businessman and entrepreneur, whose family emigrated to Belize from Lebanon at the beginning of the twentieth century. Like other self-made men of vision, he started small and with little formal education.
In his youth, he had been a bartender, and truck driver. He married Paulita Reyes of Belize City in the 1950s and they settled in San Ignacio and raised a family of seven. It was of paramount importance for Don Escander to provide security for his family and afford them opportunities that he lacked. The fifties provided multiple avenues of opportunity, as is to be expected after the austerity of the Wartime forties. Most importantly he realized the wisdom of acquiring and developing land and the potential for growth in the Cayo District.
Change and Improvement
As Belize grew and evolved, so did the San Ignacio Hotel, in the capable hands of the four Bedran women. The hotel underwent physical and internal expansion. The family all made contributions. When Queen Elizabeth visited in February of 1994, it was Mrs. Bedran who prepared her accommodation and meal. Today the hotel stands as a testament to them both.
The San Ignacio Hotel has won several tourism awards in the past decade, for excellence in hospitality, infrastructure, and Cuisine. Its Spa Treatments are inhouse and excellent: facials, expert massage, nails, and body treatments. If you choose, you could just stay at the hotel, swim, mingle at the bar, surrounded by comfort and attentive service and not feel like you’ve missed anything.
The hotel is on a hill, surrounded by trees, therefore, as you walk into the lobby you are able to see the landscape and have the sensation is of floating among the trees. Also, all the upper suites offer spectacular panoramic views, with jacuzzi, porch, hammocks. The dining room is an outdoor porch as well as indoor. As I was having breakfast, there was a profusion of birds in the surrounding trees, and the savvy staff knows the birds by name. At “tea time” it is not unusual to see flocks of toucans visiting their favorite trumpet tree. The food is great with revolving daily specials, featuring Belizean and International cuisine, and steak weekends in the Running W steakhouse, featuring prime cuts from their sister company.
The concierge will be happy to arrange tours anywhere in Cayo, whether it be Maya Sites, Caving, Ziplining or kayaking. The green Iguana Conservation Project where you will learn about the lifespan and habits of this beautiful reptile. After touring the grounds, I am convinced that we were immersed in Maya land in their home and workplace.
There is a Tea Tasting Medicine Walk which will take you through the herb garden of medicinal plants and trees and learn about their uses. It culminates in a Maya hut where you will drink an herbal infusion in a Maya clay utensil. At night you can do a “critter” walk and see all the exotic little creatures that live there.
Written by Nelita Castillo