Every resort’s management has its own style of providing the experience travelers seek and expect, but very few can say that they have a unique history. At Yok Ha Island Resort, founders worked hard to build a private enclave that paired world class luxury with perhaps the most personal approach to hospitality most travelers experience.
If this means something to you—-if you often stay at B&Bs because you crave the intimacy they provide over sleek, sprawling compounds where you’re an account number and credit card rather than a welcome friend—-you are going to enjoy reading Yok Ha Island Resort’s history, because it’s a modern-day success story of a new vacation property with deep family roots.
The resort’s roots were actually put down on Waterfoot Caye about 30 years ago when Edgar and Barbara Pascascio bought the island to use as a family get-away haven. As years passed, children grew and the Pascascio’s “home away from home” remained an idyllic escape—until 2001 when son Wilfred Pascascio and his wife Abigail proposed turning the island into a resort, despite the fact that there was only one small building onsite.
While it took a few more years to turn ideas into action, the island was backfilled beginning in 2006, funding was secured in June 2012 and architectural renderings and blueprints morphed into the vacation paradise all of the Pascascios envisioned. Besides, most resort owners in Belize are foreigners, so the family could boast about being one of the few facilities owned and operated by native Belizeans once it was up and running.
Where did they start? With a pier of course! But tummies are as important as a place to land boats, so the resort’s restaurant building became the first new formal structure. Within a year, five guest cabanas were built, outfitted with lovely baths and decorated with local textiles, furnishings and art. Talk about efficient! The resort was completed in February 2013 and Yok Ha’s first guests—Tom and Lisa Zetah—checked into their private enclave on April 2, 2013.
Construction and renovation weren’t the only changes at Yok Ha once word of mouth spread and visitors began to flock to the resort: Under the management of Wilfred and Abigail, Yok Ha is gaining a solid reputation for pairing the warmth of family vacationing with a luxurious island experience.
Guests find it hard to believe Yok Ha has yet to celebrate its third birthday, but Wilfred and Abi keep their eyes on the future, not the past. Both keep up with hospitality trends and prioritize catering to the tastes of travelers, but not at the expense of continuing to grow Yok Ha’s reputation for being the friendliest, homiest island lodging in Belize.
The young Pascascios are particularly delighted to welcome couples eager to marry on the resort’s beachfront and/or honeymoon within the privacy of beautifully-appointed, romantic cabanas. If feedback is any indication of Yok Ha’s future, this little island intends to make some big Belize tourism waves over time, based on so short a history of success.
Abigail and Wilfred agree that their philosophy for growth is sound. “Guests expect a family experience that includes luxury resort amenities and this synthesis is only possible when a family runs the show—-and in our case, a 100-percent Belizean family, at that. For these reasons and more, we encourage guests to give us as much feedback as they like,” adds Wilfred. “They’re family, too, after all!”