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San Pedro Holiday Hotel

As the San Pedro Holiday Hotel nears its 50th year as a landmark of hospitality on the island, we prove once again to be a leader in the tourism industry. Announcing renovations to our general areas, guest rooms and the grand opening of Caprice Bar and Grill, our property lends itself to a chic “boutique hotel” feel , while staying true to our old world charm! Perennial and new Guests of HH have always been part of, founder and owner, CELI’s extended family. This level of hospitality seems of a by-gone era in many destinations nowadays.


Walk through our age-old mahogany doors and we will take care of everything else…..


History of Holiday Hotel The history of Holiday Hotel is long and storied. The two articles reprinted below help to show the heritage of this fine establishment and those who founded and maintain it…

Reaching paradise is not always an ordeal. My flight from Miami included a glass of wine, a fine seafood meal, an in- flight movie and a cat nap- completed with dreams of warm, clear water and golden coral reefs. Two hours after I boarded it, our TACA 767 touched down at the International Airport just outside Belize City. Within one-half hour I was aboard a Tropic Air twin prop and 15 minutes later I arrived in paradise- Ambergris Caye.

Ambergris should appeal to most anyone yearning for a tropical getaway. This is especially true if you are a diver searching for both exciting diving and a fun island. Ambergris, 25 miles long and one- half to two miles wide, is Belize’s largest offshore caye. Actually, it is an island by virtue of a narrow canal, dug by the ancient Maya, that separates Ambergris from the southern end of the Yucatan Peninsula. This geographical closeness has made it convenient to the Yucatecan Maya, who migrated here from Mexico during and since the Caste War of 1861. Today, Ambergris is purely Belizean but with more than a hint of Maya-Mexican ambiance. Ambergris Caye is also Belize’s most populated and most popular offshore island. San Pedro Town, toward the southern end of Ambergris Caye, is the local and tourist hub. Lining the sandy streets bordering the eastern beaches are numerous shops, r6staurants, bars and hotels. In the center of town, on the beach, is the charming and nearly historic San Pedro Holiday Hotel. The town center does not imply traffic, noise or crowds. It is merely the middle of what is still more of a sleepy fishing village than an industrious tourist Mecca; few buildings in San Pedro are taller than a palm tree.

Celi Nunez McCorkle

Celi Nunez McCorkle is an island girl by her own definition. Born and raised in San Pedro, she is also the belladonna of tourism on Ambergris Caye. Celi opened Holiday Hotel, a five room establishment, on June 16,1965: With a sing-song voice that characteristically mixes purpose with humor, Celi described those early days: “We had nada-nothing! No electricity, no water, no phones, not even an airstrip. Guests arrived by sailboat and they were picked up in a Land Rover, the island’s only vehicle. We brought luggage to the hotel with a wheel barrow! ” Dive tourism began on Ambergris Caye when Celi brought in the island’s first compressor in 1970, a 4.5 cubic foot Mako transported in a trailer through Mexico. After the arrival of the island’s hyperbaric chamber eight years ago, dive tourism accelerated rapidly and Holiday Hotel has been a focused dive and fishing resort ever since.



Article via Ambergris Today

San Pedro Pioneers Celi Nunez and John Greif

By Angel Nuñez

When Neil Armstrong made his first step on the moon he said that it was a small step for him but a giant step for mankind.  I know I can safely say that when John Greif II made is first landing in the lagoon of San Pedro right behind the Plaza de San Pedro, it was a small landing for John, but a giant landing for San Pedro.  This was indeed what initiated the tourism industry for San Pedro and for that matter for Belize as a country.

John Greif made his historic landing in San Pedro in a sea plane because there was no airstrip back then in 1957.  Oh, how great it is that he fell in love with San Pedro and with a native girl, Celi Nuñez.  He said he thought he had landed in Heaven and I am sure he saw this angelic woman in the person of Celi Nunez and he thought she was an Angel.  I was present at the soccer field when he landed and I can tell you that the entire village, some 300 persons strong, was there.  Everyone wanted to see a plane for the first time in their lives.  We just looked and looked at the plane in amazement.

John Greif brought the first Seaplane to San Pedro, Ambergris<br /><br /> Caye

John Greif brought the first Seaplane to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye 

Consequently to that visit, a romance commenced between these two celebrities.  John was a pilot who fought in a war.  And Celi was the first Sanpedrana girl to have graduated from a high school.  It seems like a natural connection and with those two heads together there came forth the commencement of the tourism industry.  John and Celi opened the doors to the first hotel in San Pedro in 1964 with George Price (+) cutting the ribbon.  They had faith that their efforts and investment would be fruitful, and just look at what we have today.

This couple did not stop there.  They had to open the doors of San Pedro to foreign visitors and they lobbied enthusiastically for an airstrip because John’s passion was in flying more so than in the hotel.  Once the land was identified, they soon received government’s green light to work on the airstrip.  All the older Sanpedranos can reminisce a crowd of Sanpedranos and Celi herself at the field cutting down coconut trees and bush with machetes and axes.  They were paid two dollars for cutting down a tree and they thought it was a bargain.  Everyone cooperated because Celi had convinced everyone that this would be good for San Pedro. By 1969 we had a grass airstrip and the commencement of commercial flights to San Pedro. Now just look at the airport we have today as a testament of Celi and John’s efforts and the people of San Pedro.

San Pedro's grassy airstrip in 1969

San Pedro’s grassy airstrip in 1969

Celi did not stop there.  While John continued with his dream airstrip, Celi was busy building the hotel industry and working with the Belize Hotel Association and the Caribbean Hotel Association.  She was busy promoting San Pedro and Belize abroad. Happy with her accomplishments, Celi went on to become a licensed pilot herself.

Celi Nunez McCorkle at the San Pedro Holiday Hotel and Restaurant

Celi Nunez McCorkle at the San Pedro Holiday Hotel and Restaurant

Obviously, that was not enough for a dynamic woman like Celi.  She started a restaurant business, trained her personnel and chefs, and opened up the doors of another service industry for the Island.  Now if you would have thought this was enough, you are wrong.  With a young girl ready for high school, Celi opted to take on the challenge of supporting secondary education in San Pedro to find a suitable place for her daughter Celi Jeanne Greif and for the teenagers of San Pedro in general.  She became the first chairperson of the Board of Directors and devoted, time, money, effort, patience and pride in uplifting secondary education in San Pedro.  What started as a small dream with 25 students has now blossomed into an over 500 institution that also offers an adult night program and a junior college.

John Greif II, Celi Nunez McCorkle with son John Greif III at the<br /><br /> San Pedro Airstrip

John Greif II, Celi Nunez McCorkle with son John Greif III at the San Pedro Airstrip 

Okay, I have just touched the tip of the accomplishments of these remarkable persons.  Now John has been honored with his name given to the San Pedro Airport.  And my proposal is:  When will San Pedro honor Celi for her immense contributions to this Island.  Twenty Five Years Ago will not rest until I see this honor bestowed.  Absolutely nobody…nobody, deserves it more than Celi Nunez.