As we get closer to our Grand Opening later this year, we thought it would be fun to start introducing you to some of the friendly faces you'll see as you walk around Placencia. Welcome to our "People of Placencia" series!
Our perfect little town has a lot of big personalities, and we're starting with two of our favorites: Penne Somers & Pam Solomon.
This mother-daughter duo are universally recognized on the Placencia Sidewalk.
As Penne says, "if you visit Placencia for a week or so you will experience what I lovingly call "the royal wave'. It takes a very short time in the village to be recognized. First time visitors think Placencians are confusing them with someone else, but that's not the case!"
It certainly is the most welcoming place – even more so if you have these two by your side! We sat down with them to talk about what makes Placencia so special and their long history with the Itz'ana team…
"We've known Colin and Ronan, the creators of Itz'ana, since before we even opened our restaurant almost a decade ago. I believe they were our first customers!" Pam owns everyone's favorite foodie destination Rumfish y vino with her husband John, and it's no wonder our founders stayed close to them – their culinary experience is one of the best in Belize!
It's these kind of relationships that our Itz'ana family – and the entire town of Placencia – truly treasure. And it's why we're so thrilled that Penne joined our team early on in the process to help guide our design, calling it "the most exciting project Belize has seen to date."
So what brought these two accomplished women to this slice of paradise in the first place?
"I came to Belize almost 20 years ago with my best friend," Penne explains. "Their family had just purchased a fly fishing resort in San Pedro. Within two years I was working there and having my first taste of living in the Caribbean. Pam came to visit often and we fantasized that someday we would be working together in the place we were beginning to love! And speaking of love…"
And here Pam jumps in: "Yes! When my husband proposed, I immediately wanted to have a destination wedding in Belize. Being in the wine business already, we decided to spend our honeymoon in the southern part of the country at Francis Ford Coppola's Turtle Inn. It was then that we discovered the vacant restaurant space that became Rumfish y vino. We bought it on the spot! Went home, packed, and moved down permanently 6 weeks later!"
That's one of our absolute favorite stories! And truly shows the type of adventure these women embody. They fit right in here.
"Placencia gets into your soul. Most visitors return and some come to stay."
We couldn't agree more, Penne.
So what about the forthcoming launch of Itz'ana has them most excited?
"I've had the privilege of watching Itz'ana take life literally from the ground up," says Penne. "What separates it from other resorts is the story we're telling. Much of the furnishings, ceilings, walls and doors are being done by indigenous wood craftsmen using materials sourced by hand in the jungles of Belize and transported to the on site workshop. I hope to create a video journal of how this was accomplished streaming in the bar for our guests to enjoy."
What a wonderful idea! We're sure our guests will appreciate the attention to every detail.
"Placencia is long due for some new, more trend forward style resorts. Our lovely peninsula and its wonderful resorts have been maxed out during the high season for years!" That they have Pam! And she should know, being a master hostess whose diners return again and again from across the globe.
We asked her what makes her Rumfish so beloved.
"I think our relentless commitment to the guests overall experience, plus our quality of product and service has been the cornerstone to our success. We have kept a ‘no fail' attitude since the beginning."
Her proud mother certainly agrees. "Pam, John and their staff have the ability to make every guest feel special. They warmly welcome first time diners, who in many cases become repeat diners immediately. Return guests are welcomed back with hugs and hospitality. Rarely does a customer leave without a personal touch."
They've been so successful, in fact, that they recently opened up a second location in California. More than a few past Placencia visitors have stopped by to soak in the unique Belizean beach vibes.
"They are loving it! This SoCal town was already a beachy place, but now people can truly feel, if even for a moment, that they are on vacation."
So what do these discerning women of the world think Itz'ana will bring to the atmosphere of their beloved town?
"A destination like no other in Central America. Itz'ana is a joint effort determined to create a home away from home for all visitors. No stone is being left unturned. We will relish and respect the originality of life on the peninsula while offering comfort and luxury to our owners and guests. I can't wait for the day the doors open to guests and they begin to experience our story."
That absolutely deserves a standing ovation, Penne.
"Itz'ana is speaking directly to the sort of discerning customer our peninsula attracts… people with taste and a sense of adventure! It's been a long road for this dedicated team, and it will be wonderful to watch them see their dream come to life."
We can't thank you enough for your support, Pam. And we know you'll both be with us when those doors open later this year!
Want to join Penne, Pam, and the rest of our Placencia family? Residences are still available or you can sign up to be the first to knowwhen we're accepting hotel reservations.
We can't wait to welcome you to Placencia!