Leo Wassner first came to Belize from Austria in 1993 on vacation to do some fly fishing. He says that is when he fell in love with "La Isla Bonita." He had fished around the world and found this was the only place that you could catch tarpon with a fly rod all year long. He returned the next year and decided to invest in this land of paradise. A heart attack and subsequent stroke were but minor setbacks to Leo. By February of 1995 all the shares of the Belize Yacht Club and Marina were his. He appointed Mr. Wilhelm Hubner as General Manager that August. Mr. Hubner was not only a friend, but came from a family of hotel owners in Austria. Two years later, Wilhelm needed to return to his homeland, and offered his responsibilities to front desk manager, Eddie Halliday, Jr. who succeeded him until his recent resignation.
While all of this was going on, Leo was back in Austria finishing up with the Wassner family business, a number-one name in security doors. (There are Wassner doors in the Kremlin in Russia!) He returned to San Pedro Town numerous times and following one visit, had a vision for an entertainment center. He noticed that there was no exclusive location with the capabilities of serving the needs of large conferences in Ambergris Caye. This idea, coupled with additional building space for live bands and dances led to the newly built Sands Convention Center here in San Pedro Town. Little by little this project will be opened, starting with the conference room two months from now. Catering services will be available and eventually a rooftop bar with seating for 100. An interesting point is the island's first and only elevator will be operating here (used only for freight).
Leo Wassner, a Belizean citizen since 1995, and wife Ilse are finally here to stay. He expressed a need to provide excellent service when guests first arrive. Along those lines he has developed an orientation program complete with informative videos of different sites in Belize to promote tourism throughout the country. This way, visitors can easily plan where they would like to tour, especially those with limited time. RenČ Vasquez, Food and Beverage Manager, added that the Splash Bar is now serving daily lunch and dinner specials. Opening hours have been extended from 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Furthermore, construction at the Marina portion of the Yacht Club is to be completed in two weeks. Mr. Wassner explained, "Services will now include four gasoline and two diesel hoses providing more timely, efficient filling at the pumps for boats. The hurricane took its toll on our dock, but we bounced back well." This section of the Yacht Club has sentimental value since Leo and Ilse were married on the pier in 1996. She assists him in all of the day to day operations at BYC and he refers to her as "the ėrudder' that keeps the operation on course".
Future plans include opening his own quality dive facility, Belize Yacht Club Divers, utilizing local dive operators to aid in this endeavor. Another is linking with other resorts or lodges on the mainland to provide diverse vacations for visitors to the Yacht Club.
Leo is now the manager and intends to hire more staff. He would like everyone to work as a team by service training and cross training the staff. His goal for the Belize Yacht Club is to have "no low season"; and with the many designs underway, his dreams may come true.
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