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 forested 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 (USD $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 Villas, and stunning Ix Chel Villas 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 400-acre private nature reserve that is home to an impressive array of Belizean flora and fauna.
With a dedicated 155+ 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.