One of the oldest buildings in Belize City has recently been transformed into the newest addition to our growing hospitality industry.
The newly restored structure stands with a dignified air, exuding a peaceful and serene atmosphere. Opened in February, in the able hands of Steve Maestre, who has well over 20 years’ experience in hospitality management, the Great House promises to be a huge success. One can’t deny the project is close to his heart, having lived in this very building for 25 years!
Although the grand, colonial style structure was built in 1927 as a private residence, its role as a guest house spans many years. In the 1940’s, it was purchased by the venerable Belize Estate & Produce Company for use as an exclusive guest house for colleagues and associates visiting from England. Then the building was purchased by Maestre’s uncle as a family home. In the early 1960’s, Maestre’s father bought the property and converted it into long-term rental apartments, where Steve himself was a tenant. When he acquired the property about ten years ago, Steve lived there with his family on the upper floor, while the apartments were used as an extension of the old Villa Hotel next door (an earlier Maestre project, recently sold).
Realizing that the time had come to put the full potential of this property to use, Steve has created a truly unique facility in the heart of the renowned Fort George area, a quiet and attractive corner of the ‘City, just steps from the Caribbean Sea. During restoration, the entire 50′ x 60’ building was raised five and a half feet to accommodate a new ground level with a collection of boutiques and shops, as well as the Smoky Mermaid Restaurant. The second level houses the six large, well-appointed guest rooms, all air-conditioned, with balcony, private bath, cable TV, refrigerator, mini-safe, coffee maker, and hair dryer. The entire building is kept in spotless condition. A night’s accommodation is competitively priced at US$95/double, which is a great value, considering all the amenities available.
The Smoky Mermaid Restaurant is situated in the lovely courtyard garden and offers a good variety of local and continental dishes, with specialities cooked on a “smoke-house grill”. It is quickly becoming a popular spot with both locals and guests. The bar offers happy hour every Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. and free appetizers are served. (Call 02-34759 for reservations.)
Tourists and business people alike, will enjoy the Great House, with its attention to detail and service. Business travellers will also appreciate the dedicated fax/modem line in each room, and other services such as photocopying, access to a computer, if necessary, and e-mail.
Airport transfers, as well as all types of tours around the country can be arranged for clients, on request.
The assortment of shops will soon be fully occupied and include a gift shop, a unisex salon, a gourmet food/wine/cigar store, an ice cream shop, and a tour operator. Worth a special mention is the unique “Pretty Ethnic Boutique,” which offers an interesting collection of fashions and handicrafts from around Central America and abroad, intended to represent all of the cultures that make up Belize, and featuring garments hand-painted by local artists.Whether you spend a day, a week or longer, your stay at the Great House is sure to be memorable and relaxing.