There's nothing more important than the people you surround yourself with. And when it came time for our directors to hire employee #1 the pressure was on to find someone who totally embodied the ethics and spirit of Itz'ana.
As the very first Itz'ana employee more than 3 years ago, we lucked out with Kim. Her personality could fill the resort even before it existed and her passion for the destination is palpable. We sat down with her to ask a bit about those early days and what she sees in the future of our beautiful slice of paradise.
So what excited Kim about the project in the first place? "Firstly they had an existing brand: the successful, beautifully located boutique hotel Ka'ana. Having a background in marketing, I immediately noticed the attention to detail and impeccable customer service. And then there were the great directors, Ronan and Colin Hannan and Jonathan Blitz - the team showed real strength of character, determination, vision, and an inspiring philosophy, and of course an enjoyable sense of humor!"
Nothing is more important to our team getting along than shared laughter!
Kim was originally a Big City Girl from Central London who moved to Placencia back when it was, as she terms it, "my little fishing village." She's now raising her two daughters here, giving them "the freedom to run around in the fresh air, swim and be active, all part of the Belizean adventure."
As one of the early expats, we wanted to know what she considers are the best parts about living in Placencia. And be warned - once you get her started on this beautiful little town, she won't stop!
"The tranquility and adventure of living by the sea, not just any sea but one with the prettiest turquoise waters, which most days is as still as a lake. And the ability to swim with stingrays, turtles, nurse sharks and the brightest selection of fish imaginable at any given time. It's a real life fish tank right on your doorstep!"
Who could say no to that? As Kim says, life in Placencia is "slightly different than a double decker red bus stuck in a traffic jam!"
And of course a lot has changed since Kim first arrived on these sunny shores.
"It used to take us 25 minutes to drive from the airport into the village with a hilarious 'bumpety bumpety bump!' Now it takes just 10 minutes cruising on one of the best roads in Belize." The new road also meant better access to fresh produce from farms inland, which is super important to a foodie like her (and pretty much everyone else on the team)!
"Now we have fresh homemade Belizean cheeses from triple cream camembert to aged parmesan delivered to our doorstep. The Farmhouse Deli visits Placencia once a week for a farmers market with a selection of fresh breads, vegetables, smoked meats and cheeses. We also have a gentleman named Chad (aka "The Sprout Man") who delivers a selection of organic sprouts, lettuces, arugula and veggies every week!"
And with that, we're hungry again. Kim has a gift for making you want to try everything in Placencia all at once.
She's also one of the founders of our health-focused office culture. When our staff canteen temporarily closed due to a relocation, Kim made salads daily in her home for the entire team to keep the healthy eating going!
"The leisurely activities in Belize as a whole means that you have to be active! You're outside all the time enjoying adventures by sea or land, and it really inspires one to absorb a healthier mindset. Nearly everyone on the team is taking part in some sort of healthy lifestyle! You can see more people walking in the mornings and evenings up and down the Peninsula, lots of yogis, swimmers, volleyball and marathons are being held in town. It's quite lovely as it brings everyone closer together."
And finally we asked Kim the most important question of all: the countdown is on to Itz'ana's grand opening... what is she most looking forward to?
"Every detail of the project has been so carefully thought out, from whimsical secret rooms behind bookcases to exploring Belizean sea-to-table dining using local produce, materials and much more. It's also been incredible to see the importance this team has put into paying homage to Belize. The surrounding environment and community of Placencia truly inspired every aspect of the resort and residences."
"Having previously worked in the high-end hospitality industry in London with some of the best chefs and brands in the field, I understand the level of personalized service required to make the resort a success. We must deliver the impossible and unimaginable every day. This team of designers, architects, contractors, food and beverage staff, housekeeping, and everyone in between is fantastic. I fell in love with this family as it developed, and I'm extremely excited to see the birth of the butterfly that is Itz'ana."
You've been with us from the beginning and we can't wait to see what 2017 brings for the Itz'ana family.
Itz'ana will be taking bookings for 2017 soon. Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know when you can come down and ask Kim for more insider tips!