In 1991, a young adventurous Bruce Forrester, a citizen of Canada, ventured off beyond the beaten path and immediately fell in love with the unspoiled coastline of the Southern Region of Belize with its cobalt blue water, golden sand beaches as well as its unobstructed views of the majestic Maya Mountain Range.
Bruce Forrester becomes the first hospitality pioneer to build and manage a resort on the Central Coast of Belize.
To develop and manage a resort in the US or Canada can be challenging. To do so in an undeveloped country like Belize, in 1991 was enormously challenging with no electricity or internet, no phones, water or decent roads; just Jungle & Beach. The Wild South of Belize, at that time.
Bruce Forrester managed to build the Jaguar Reef Lodge and Spa and operated it for the last 20+ years successfully. The lodge was inducted into TripAdvisors Hall of Fame in 2015 and was voted 'Resort of The Year' by the Belize Tourism Board in 2013. Vogue Magazine rated one of the top three Adventure Travel facilities, worldwide.
But it was not his brave tourism pioneer spirit that would make the young Canadian respected and revered, it was his strong support for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's efforts to enforce the IWC's ban on killing whales. Bruce is a long time member of Sea Shepherd and is a dedicated environmentalist. He was honored in 2006, by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society for his outstanding performance to protect whales from the senseless wholesale slaughter conducted annually by the Japanese government's Institute of Cetacean Research.
Read the full article published by the Sea Shepherd about Bruce’s heroic achievement: The Power of One Can End the Killing of the Whales
Today, Bruce Forrester enjoys his retirement in his home in Canada, but returns to Jaguar Reef Lodge several times a year. Bruce also represents and promotes the Jaguar Reef Lodge at Tourism Trade shows, worldwide.
David Hayles, "The Visionary" and owner of ViVA BELiZE Hotel Group & Adventure Company, visited Belize for the first time in 1989. It was a different Belize than what it is today, but David fell in love with it. The Canadian entrepreneur came in and out of the Country for the first couple of years and invested in land. 1994, he started his first farm producing citrus.
David Hayles is today one of the largest citrus producers in Belize and it was more by chance that the Canadian got involved in the tourism industry. First, the partnership with Ian Anderson in 1995, later the partnership with Bruce Foerster in 2004, was just the start to a long journey of becoming the leading Hotel Group & Adventure Company in Belize.
David Hayles has a passion for architecture, design and development. His newest products, Sleeping Giant Lodge and Villa Margarita are a clear statement of the direction of his future developments. High quality resort developments, environmentally friendly and sustainable designs combined with professional Full Service Hotel Management. The ViVA BELiZE Hotel Group and Adventure Company has received numerous Tourism awards over the last years. This at the end of the day is reflecting the professional and consistent leadership of David Hayles.
David and his wife Patty Hayles, live in Belmopan, the Capital City of Belize, where the headquarters of ViVA BELiZE is located. They are both very passionate about the diverse businesses they operate and are both seen on a regular basis at the resorts.
In 1995, several villagers from Armenia Village reported to David Hayles that a young Canadian, Ian Anderson, was camping around the Caves Branch River and taking people on amazing tours through the various caves located on David’s property. After several reports, David decided that it was time to approach Ian and experience some of these cave adventures first hand.
During their many trips into the caves, Ian, a young man driven by his untamed sense of adventure, shared his vision and enthusiasm of building a rustic Jungle River Camp with outhouses and bathing in the river. David, having the resources and knowledge to develop the idea, agreed to join in and help make the dream a reality. Ian, being the spirited adventurer he is, took on the exciting challenge of managing the resort and bringing his novel idea... "Ian Anderson's Caves Branch Jungle Lodge" to life. A successful partnership was formed.
Ian Anderson has spent the last 20 years, as an active member of the Tourism Industry in Belize. He is a respected pioneer in the industry, and is credited as being the tour operator that first established cave tubing in the country. Ian has received many awards, the last in 2015 from the Belize Tourism Board for "Tour Company of the Year." The lodge has grown over the years and many amenities such as additional rooms, tree houses, a pool, a restaurant, the botanical gardens etc etc were added. Ian Anderson's Caves Branch is today - "The Premier Jungle Lodge" in Belize.
In addition to building a number of successful businesses in Belize, Ian has continuously worked to give back to his adopted home, Belize. Ian along with wife Ella and Caves Branch have supported, founded, sponsored and coordinated multiple efforts to create positive experiences and opportunities for Belizean youths as well as provide emergency aid for Belizeans and tourists alike. The Belize National Youth Foundation, Packed for a Purpose, Belize Disaster and Rescue Response Team and the Youth at Learning Risk Projects in Belize, are some of the programs Ian and Ella Anderson have developed over the years.
Ian Anderson and his wife Ella, are still active managing the Lodge onsite and they mingle with the Lodge guests on a daily basis.