Founders and Owners
Mick and Lucy Fleming arrived in Belize in 1977. After a chance encounter with a Royal Air Force regiment commander led them to a small parcel of bush land in the remote interior of western Belize, they began their journey to build a new life surrounded by the verdant beauty of a pristine rainforest.
What they didn’t realise was that their new home and fledgling farm along the banks of the Macal River would in time also support over a hundred Belizean families and host thousands of delighted visitors a year as Belize’s premier eco-lodge.
It didn’t happen overnight, but with hard work and persistence the young couple’s farm began producing fruits and vegetables, eggs and homemade yogurt to sell at the local market. As word spread that there was a hospitable young couple in the Cayo District who always welcomed travellers with a place to sleep and plate of rice and beans, more and more people found the intrepid way to their door, drawn by the rustic beauty of their remote homestead.
To cope with the growing influx of arrivals, and now with an infant daughter and a son on the way, the Flemings began charging a modest eight Belize dollars ($US 4.00) a day for a hammock space and dinner. They then built a thatched roof, one room hut using materials from the jungle, which was soon followed by another. The dirt track into the property was improved by British Forces, and “Chaa Creek Cottages” was born.
Established in 1981, just as Belize achieved independence from Great Britain, Chaa Creek became the forerunner of the country’s inland eco-tourism industry, providing a unique place to stay for a range of visitors including birdwatchers, Mayanists, researchers and adventurous tourists.
The Flemings always shared a deep abiding respect for the environment and the diversified people who inhabit it. This ethos is reflected in Chaa Creek’s development and has provided a model for other hospitality-oriented businesses by proving that environmental sustainability and responsible tourism does not mean sacrificing luxury or quality service. This overriding ethos continues today and has resulted in the impressive number of awards and enviable Industry recognition Chaa Creek has garnered over the years.
Today The Lodge at Chaa Creek consists of 24 thatched roofed, individually designed and artfully decorated cottage style rooms and the more luxurious Tree-Top and Jacuzzi Suites, as well as a fine dining restaurant and lounge, full service Rainforest Spa, a Natural History Museum, Butterfly Farm, conference centre and other attractions and amenities, all surrounded by a 365 acre private nature reserve that is home to an impressive array of Belizean flora and fauna.
With a dedicated 135 member staff looking after over 5,000 guests a year ranging from school children to celebrities and members of the British Royal Family, the Flemings continue to show that being Green works. With initiatives such as the Chaa Creek Cares program, which sees 10% of all room revenue going directly into environmental and social programs, the former little farm on the banks of the Macal River continues to make a positive impact on Belize’s natural world and society while providing a delightful, high quality travel experience for a wide range of guests from around the world.
The Chaa Creek adventure continues, and each year more and more adventures come to relax, reconnect with nature, and share in the Fleming’s dream.
Meshack Yahani Eliah has been a member of the Chaa Creek family since 2003 and currently works as a naturalist guide. In addition to possessing a vast knowledge about the flora and fauna of Belize, family man Mr Eliah is one of those people children seem to gravitate towards, and he reciprocates with patience, understanding and a true passion for opening young minds to Belize’s many treasures. Whether you are young or not-so-young, a guided walk or tour with Mr Eliah will leave you more knowledgeable and much richer for the experience.
Rosanna Montalvan is our Head Waitress at the Mariposa Restaurant. Affectionately known as Ms. Rosie to her co-workers and the many guests who have become her friends over the nearly 10 years she has worked at Chaa Creek, she is one of those staff members whose names keep popping up in guests comments and recommendations. Whether it’s her famously beautiful smile, warm personality or willingness to go the extra distance for her guests (we suspect it’s a combination of all three) Ms Rosie seems to make a long and lasting impression on everyone she comes in contact with.
Hailing from the small Maya village of Big Falls in Southern Belize, Miguel exemplifies all those things that make Chaa Creek’s guided tours such a satisfying experience. He joined the Chaa Creek Inland Expedition Tour Guides Team on January 2006, where he is valued as a particularly knowledgeable birding guide. In addition to his broad knowledge and genuine love of nature and Maya culture, Miguel’s affable, easy going manner makes him a favourite with our guests, and it’s no wonder he was recognised as 2003’s “Tour Guide of the Year” by the Belize Tourism Board.
Darren Lamb is another famously friendly guide who loves to share his passion for Belize’s unique natural and cultural riches. And his passion is backed up with knowledge and experience. He says that as a young boy growing up in nearby San Ignacio he inherited a love of guiding and “being around people” from his dad. By the time he joined Chaa Creek’s Inland Expedition Tour Guides Team in November 2007 Darren was well acquainted with our local rainforests and wildlife. Equally important, he immediately showed a knack for communicating this knowledge and passion to our guests.
Guest Services Supervisor
Shenny Manzanero has that combination of professionalism, experience and personality that makes Chaa Creek’s hospitality stand out. She ensures smooth running, happy relations as our Guest Services Supervisor. Shenny is a true San Ignacio local who, in addition to having a commitment towards environmental sustainability, enjoys reading, playing sports, listening to music and spending quality time with friends and family. Once you’ve had the pleasure of enjoying Shenny’s warm welcome and ongoing assistance you’ll understand why she’s such an integral part of the Chaa Creek family.
Theodoso Juarez, or Docio to his many friends, has been the heart and soul of Chaa Creek’s Macal River Camp for almost twenty years now. The title “Camp Supervisor” barely begins to describe the multi-talented Docio, who with his genuinely friendly manner and wealth of experience and stories continues to make stays at the beautifully rustic Camp memorable. Along with the ever smiling Francelia, this Dynamic Duo act not only as hosts, but provide delicious home style meals, a wealth of information, great support and a warm, family environment. Docio and Francelia are just two more examples of what makes Chaa Creek the people oriented place that it is!