The Lodge at Chaa Creek owners and Belize environmentalists Mick and Lucy Fleming are no strangers to awards
The sound of hundreds of Belizeans applauding so loudly was one of the best awards ever
San Ignacio, Belize November 07, 2017
The founding owners of The Lodge at Chaa Creek were recently honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Belize Tourism Board in recognition of their decades of service to Belize’s travel industry. And, according to the popular eco-resort’s public relations and events manager, Mick and Lucy Fleming’s decades of service extend well beyond tourism and Belize.
“Mick and Lucy spread their Green philosophy throughout the region by proving that being environmentally friendly and supporting local communities can go hand-in-hand with business success, and there’s no doubt that their ethical, green development has been a model for other businesses in the region.
“Ever since they opened Chaa Creek in 1981 they’ve proven that you can offer a w ide range of accommodations, amenities and activities in ways that actually benefit the environment and local communities, and that a high degree of luxury, impeccable service and exquisite dining can go hand in hand with sustainable tourism. That’s a legacy that all of us at Chaa Creek are proud to be associated with,” Denise Duran said.
“And even though Chaa Creek has been honoured with numerous awards over the years, the fact that Mick and Lucy were recognised with a lifetime achievement by their peers is particularly satisfying,” she added.
The Fleming’s Lifetime Achievement award was presented at the 15th annual Belize Tourism Industry Awards hosted by the Belize Tourism Board, a government statutory body, whose website explained that:
“The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to those who have dedicated their lives to grow and develop Belize’s tourism industry. The awardee’s contributions are significant and have positively impacted Belize and the lives of countless Belizeans. Despite challenges, this tourism industry lifetime achiever persevered. This individual embodies the definition of a true success story”
While accepting the award, the Flemings gave credit to the local communities, neighbours and Chaa Creek’s 160 staff members.
“My heart is filled with gratitude, my heart is filled with love. We want to thank all the talented Belizeans who shared their skills, ideas, hard work and toil to achieve this lifetime recognition with us. Without them Chaa Creek would simply not exist, because they are truly our life’s blood, our heart and soul,” Ms Fleming said.
Mr Fleming agreed, praising the talent and work their neighbours and local community put into helping the couple realise their dream of turning a small family farm into one of Belize’s first true eco-resorts.
“We wouldn’t be here without the community,” he said.
Chaa Creek’s green development grew alongside that of the Fleming’s adopted home. When they settled along the banks of the Macal River in the 1970s, Belize was primarily an agricultural country, and the Flemings made their living as farmers. When Belize achieved independence from Great Britain in 1981, the couple built a simple cabin using materials sourced from the surrounding jungle, both Chaa Creek and Belize began the move from agriculture to tourism.
What made the Flemings stand out was their early commitment to sustainable tourism and the tenets of responsible travel, Ms Duran said.
“They worked hard to build up Chaa Creek and to bring worldwide attention to Belize with their own marketing, and they were very successful at doing both. And, for many of us, the real achievement is that they developed in ways that benefitted the environment and our local communities while supporting eco-tourism in Belize,” she explained.
Earlier this year the Flemings were honoured at National Geographic’s 2017 World Legacy Awards in Berlin with a first place award for “Engaging Communities,” with National Geographic editor Costas Christ writing that:
“Locals remain at the centre of the Fleming’s life and work – they have employed more than 160 villages and fund community projects from a mobile science lab for school children to hospitality training courses and educational scholarships.
“Call it the romance of doing well and doing good”
For Ms Duran, the local recognition has been as important as Chaa Creek’s prestigious international awards.
“It gave all of us a chance to reflect on just how much Mick and Lucy have done for Belize, and what a model Chaa Creek has been for true eco-tourism. The sound of hundreds of Belizeans applauding so loudly was one of the best awards ever,” Ms Duran said.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek is a multi-award winning eco resort set within a 400-acre private nature reserve along the banks of the Macal River in Belize. It was recognised by National Geographic with first place honours at the 2017 World Legacy Awards held in Berlin.