Welcome to Belize

FullSizeRender.jpgHey there! My name is Alana, and I am a second semester senior at Cornell University studying business and hospitality. I am spending the summer as an intern at Chan Chich Lodge, where I will apply my Property Development studies to a conservation context. Post-graduation, I am hoping to work somewhere at the intersection of sustainability, hospitality, and development, so interning here in Belize seems like a great place to figure it out!

Upon landing, two things caught my attention: the vibrant, rainbow-colored “Welcome to Belize” sign on the airport tarmac, and the humidity. Both new, and both indicative of what (I’m assuming) my 10 weeks here will be like.

This vibrancy continued throughout my introduction to Luis, a tour guide at Chan Chich and the first staff member I had physically met, to the landscape I saw traveling to the lodge, and to the amazing dinner Emily (the other summer intern) and I shared with Crist upon arrival.

The humidity, well, has continued nonstop- at least it seems that way to someone from humidity-free Arizona.

From this summer, I am hoping to better understand how sustainable hospitality properties, like Chan Chich, operate successfully- through seasonality, remote location, the practice of a triple bottom line, etc. I am also hoping to gain project management experience; Crist and I discussed the possibility for the property’s evolution, and in my job description he included site analysis and feasibility studies based on market demand. I am going to help outline options for Chan Chich’s future!

My first full day on property was filled with shadowing the big-grinned, humorous housekeeper, Gina.

Crist thought it would be important for Emily and me to work with the staff to gain camaraderie amongst the employees and to understand the fundamentals of Chan Chich’s particular form of hotel operations. Housekeeping is something I have been exposed to at school in hotel operations-based courses, and as the grass roots of any hotel, I think it’s important to understand and respect the functions of the department. It was an exhausting day well spent; I was able to connect with several employees and create a mental map of the property, its amenities, and accommodation options for guests.

Day two was more of the same with Gina and her senior colleague, Teresita. I then moved on to some documentation work and getting to know some of the other people filling the lodge for the next couple months. There are currently archeology students onsite excavating the Mayan ruins that are at the heart of Chan Chich. Our eclectic conversations over meals and late night drinks at the lodge bar have ranged from Nancy Drew video games to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s policy implementation. Even though we are here for completely different reasons from completely different schools, the comfort and relaxedness we have unanimously felt at Chan Chich has made the transition to minimal wi-fi and connection to the outside world relatively smooth.

Today is day three, and I’m excited to apply my academics to the real-world, to expand industry knowledge, to further develop my future career plans, to go on insane jungle runs, and to learn about and from the warm Belizean people.

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