Growing up in Guatemala, young Fernando spent summers kayaking through the remote cayes of the Belize Barrier Reef. Today he brings that same adventurer’s spirit to his countless successful businesses across Central America. Combine that with his internationally-renowned passion for preserving Mayan history (National Geographic named him one of their Cultural Heroes) and you get one interesting business parter!
We thought we’d sit down with Fernando as he took a break from business last week to watch over his grandchildren and ask him a few questions about his incredible drive.
Image Courtesy of Heineman International Medical Outreach
Q: You’ve steered countless projects across Central America. What are you most proud of?
Fernando: In Guatemala, we built the first private bus terminal hub in the entire region. It was the first LEED-certified building of its class in Latin America, with world class installations and amenities. Today it sees over 20,000 passengers per day, keeping retailers, bus operators and of course the passengers very satisfied. This was by far the most difficult project I have ever tackled, but so important, and it is a pleasure to see it succeed today.
Q: Which aspect of Itz’ana are you most excited to experience for yourself?
Fernando: The peninsula of Placencia has a special beauty. Its rustic small town feeling, coupled with a deep water lagoon that provides safe harbor for yachts, and the open sea access, make this place truly magical. I can’t wait to step on to a sailboat directly from a villa and head out for a day exploring the beautiful cayes.
There’s also the overwater ceviche bar, I’m particularly looking forward to spending quite a few evenings looking at the sea and sky change color as the sun goes down. It’s very exciting to be developing a 5-star resort in such a unique place.
Q: You grew up exploring the hidden spots around Belize and Guatemala. Is there a secret you think the international travel community hasn’t discovered yet?
Fernando: Hiking and diving the extensive cave system of Guatemala and Belize is an experience one must not miss. They hold prehistoric fossils, Maya remains, fish with no eyes, enormous rooms rich with stalagmites and stalactites, and many other impressive treasures. These are some of the largest cave systems in the world and most people do not visit them when they come to our wonderful countries, and they should.
Q: Ka’ana has won multiple awards, and Itz’ana is already being heralded as a new level in luxury for Central America. What is it about the resorts that make them stand out from other international offerings?
Fernando: I think the key words are “understated luxury”. You feel at home in a place where no one will scold you for walking in with your bathing suit on. All your needs are being attended to. The food is absolutely top quality with a focus on simple, healthy and local. We promise to make you feel pampered and “at home” comfortable at the same time.
That’s the idea behind Itz’ana: that you have your own space – whether it’s one of the incredible villas or in the hotel – that makes you feel totally at home, while also experience some of the highest levels of luxury in the world. It’s travel for a new breed of adventurer.
Q: You’ve worked tirelessly to rescue and preserve Maya cultural heritage. As we speak, you’re watching over your grandchildren. What knowledge of the Maya people do you hope their generation will carry forward?
Fernando: The Maya were a rich and complex society. Their knowledge of astronomy, mathematics and their advanced number system allowed them to develop an incredibly exact calendar. Their engineering and water works were among the best in the world for their time. As we know today, their writing system and grammar was one of only five in existence in antiquity. This society of intelligent people still live among us today in Mesoamerica. We need to get to know them better, and I hope my grandchildren will continue in that mission.
We’re just a few short months away from releasing the details of our Grand Opening late this year, where we’ll finally bring the dream of Itz’ana into reality. We hope to see you there by Fernando’s side!