The fall of Sueno del Mar and other resorts in Belize

Editorial | Ambergris Caye is fast becoming like the Wild West of property developers. Resorts and hotel complexes are being seized by the various banks operating in Belize. It has been apparent to many inhabitants of Ambergris Caye, and on the mainland of Belize. that many smooth talking developers arrive and spend their time in bars and restaurants telling people how rich they are and how they are going to build golf courses, resorts and hotels which will bring many hundred of thousands of tourists from all over the world to the shores of Belize.

These people purchase a lot or two and immediately start selling pre-construction, offering insanely low prices and equally ludicrous completion dates. They spend a little money on the Internet by purchasing google words and the gullible come on down and hand over many of thousands to these sharpshooters/snake oil salesmen. Then the developers go to the bank and borrow more money showing sales contracts and put up the land as collateral with their bank of choice. The unsuspecting investor unknowingly has no chance of getting his or her title until the bank is paid off in full, which is highly unlikely in many cases.

The resorts that people have bought into that investors are having problems getting their titles include Reef Village, Sapphire Beach (four resorts), Belize Legacy Resort, Brahma Blue and others on the west coast of Ambergris Caye. There appears to be many lawsuits in the offing and in the end only the lawyers and the banks will win.

The worst case of all is Sueno del Mar, which was sold as fractional ownership and has recently been seized by Belize Bank. Individuals who have invested tens of millions of dollars have lost everything as the directors are still on the island and when asked said well it was the recession and not our fault. Perhaps they should have said we lived high off the hog and got all our original investment with a profit back and then let all their investors hang out to dry. The salesmen who sold this resort said it was our job to sell and make large commissions and all of these salesmen were from the U.S.A. as were and are their investors.

While there are many well run developments on the island and mainland it appears the ones with aggressive sales tactics are the ones that are most likely to go under. The promise of ridiculous returns on investments should be a warning in itself but when you look at how cossetted people are when they arrive in San Pedro/Placencia/Hopkins/Belmopan till when they leave. In some ways the writer of this piece is amazed that the salesmen/developers allow them to sleep in their hotel rooms without their supervision because during their waking hours they are/were only allowed to talk to their selected/approved people. Others sell reclaimed land which is very unlikely to be built on as the sewage/water and electricity will always be a problem and in these cases the land is sold so cheaply that you get what you pay for and everything will still remain a dream.

Anyone who lives on Ambergris Caye laughs when a tourist says ‘I hear they are going to start the golf course on the West Coast of the island’ as they know it will never happen as the water costs alone are totally prohibitive.

My advice is purchase wisely – check that you are guaranteed your title when you finish paying off your contract. Remember snake oil is sold in Belize but it only comes in bottles, sold by the Mayans and it is inexpensive. A lot of these so called developers have no ties to the local communities and when the money tree is empty will move to pastures new.

7 Responses to “The fall of Sueno del Mar and other resorts in Belize”

  1. Anthony Hunt says:

    Choose one:
    1) Cavaet emptor
    2) A fool and his money is easily parted
    3) Belize bruk up any circus
    4) Everyone thinks they can run a hotel/bar/restaurant
    5) All of the above

    The sooner we get back to doing what we do best…selling what Belize has to offer…and the quicker we stop pretending/wanting to be like Cancun..the better off we will be.

  2. Georgia says:

    An excellent and accurate article bringing to light the rape of a beautiful place and the exploitation of warm and friendly locals. Keep up the honesty.

  3. Jonathan Mullen says:

    I’m not a big fan of anonymously written articles but I do agree with most of what was said. Sadly every time this happens, it discourages honest investors and has a negative affect on tourism. Sueno Del Mar had one of the best reputations for paying their bills. I don’t think anyone thought they would not succeed. Hard for me to believe it was structured to even be vulnerable in such a way as buyers would be at risk. But I have to say that many of the banks are engaging in practices that would shut them down and imprison the Officers if it were another country. Specifically with regards to Real Estate. My advice is never invest in anything when it is leveraged with the bank. Pre-construction deals are fine as long as the titles are secured and the developers reliable. The bigger the hype the more likely the lie. Very hard to know who to trust when you first come here. Near impossible.

  4. Jeff says:

    Sueno del mar is different. It is not a bunch of bamboo or wooden shacks that would blow away in the next hurricane. It is first class construction and has inherent value. The members of Sueno del mar will buy the property outright and continue to enjoy the island and the wonderful friends that live here on A.C.

  5. Johnny says:

    One thing the article gets bang on is that the directors at Sueno certainly did live high on the hog with their investors money and never stopped putting their hand out. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  6. Mick says:

    This cowardly author (anonymous is spelled c.o.w.a.r.d. in my book) has no clue. Take everything he wrote about Sueno del Mar, turn it upside down and you will have the truth.
    As one who spent good money buying a membership at Sueno, I am sad that it has come to this. Certainly, operational mistakes were made and the economic winter is the prime factor, but we have no regrets about our purchase and, as Jeff said, we look forward to many happy years at Sueno and on Ambergris. You betta Belize it!

  7. Jeff says:

    It’s not just the quality of construction that makes Sueno del mar different. The people who own there and the people who work there are extraordinary. The bank loaned money and the bank will need to made happy. The members of Sueno will accomplish this and hopefully soon get back to “business” of enjoying Belize. The alternative is the place sits empty. Anyone who prefers that is not thinking of what is best for ambergris cay.

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