Bart chose Belize to make his home over three decades ago. After visiting over 37 countries and then graduating from the University of Florida with an education degree, Bart was looking for someplace to settle where he could contribute to the betterment of the world. He met a sweet little old Baha’i lady who encouraged him to visit her friends who were caretaking a farm in Belize, so he decided to visit to see if Belize might play a part in his destiny in life.
Thirty years ago Belize was known to be rather wild. There was practically no tourism in the Cayo district and there were few paved roads around San Ignacio. The mostly backpacking travelers didn’t usually stop in San Ignacio; they traveled through it on their way to Tikal, Guatemala.
When he first came to Belize for a visit back in 1976, Bart thought he might stay for 2 years, but one thing led to the next and he ended up buying 100 acres of riverside and roadside land with producing fruit trees on the edge of San Ignacio Town, the same property that he was first guided to by the ‘sweet little old lady’! The property was developed into what is now known as Maya Mountain Lodge.
A FAMILY AND A LODGE DEVELOP
Bart and I met at a Convention for the Baha’i Faith in Honduras in 1982. He quickly fell in love with my three adorable kids; he seemed to think I wasn’t so bad either since I was a cook, a musician, and adventurous enough to live ‘bakabush’ in Belize with no electricity, water, or telephone. We were married in the garden beside the current lodge kitchen and, on our first wedding anniversary, we had twins. We decided to quit on kids right then and there!
Around the time of the birth of the twins, we decided to go into tourism full-time. From a meager beginning with camp facilities and latrines, the lodge and tour company grew slowly and steadily. When electricity arrived in about 1989, we went out and bought every electrical device we could find, including fans for the cottages.
It wasn't easy raising kids and developing a resort at the same time. Work was often tough with Bart guiding and developing tours while Suzi ran the lodge, created the gardens, and did the cooking. Cottages were added, mostly one by one; tile floors, hot water, and other amenities came slowly. The pool was added about 20 years ago. Air conditioning did not arrive in all cottages until late in 2005. Tours were quite limited in the early days, but over the past fifteen years, a new activity, destination, or site becomes available almost every year. The Cayo area still has a wealth of yet-to-be-discovered exciting adventures.
30 YEARS LATER...
Life at Maya Mountain has never been boring. From archaeology teams with on-site labs to spider, butterfly, and bird specialists, the Mickler family has enjoyed all aspects of this beautiful jungle. All five kids learned to speak Spanish as well as Creole and the last four are Belizean as well as U.S. citizens. They were partly home-schooled and raised with a world citizenship outlook, proud to be part of Belize’s diversity of people and cultures. It seems the idea of diversity stuck because their spouses are from Japan, Jordan, and Suriname (so far). The twins are married to a Costa Rican and an Iranian.
Our interests have led us to participate in numerous educational, environmental, and artistic endeavors from development of a national eco-tourism association (BETA) and helping to revive ceramics in Belize to giving moral leadership training for adults, youth, and children. We have enjoyed assisting local schools with tourism training, especially with helping many students with their internships at the Maya Mountain Lodge. Bart is interested in Rotary and we have both been active on the Board of Directors of a local community assistance organization, The Cornerstone Foundation.
AND MOST RECENTLY? ...WORLD TRAVELS AND GENTLY DEVELOPING 90 RIVERSIDE ACRES FOR SALE
The Mickler's desire to travel has motivated them to exotic places like China, Thailand, The Holy Land (Israel), Australia, and New Zealand.
Bart and Suzi are spending part of this free time traveling and part "gently" developing the 90+ acres not utilized by the Lodge including 1/3 mile of riverfront property. Bart explains that friendships have evolved with many of the guests who return over and over with their families. Some of them have developed a desire join in their laid-back life-style and to own land adjacent to the lodge at One World Village.
Don’t worry, Bart and Suzi still find time to enjoy this little bit of paradise in which they live. You are likely to find them in the evening on the river canoeing or enjoying a smoothie by the pool, tending the gardens and grounds and enjoying its fruits…
The Micklers hope that each of you enjoy the hospitality of Maya Mountain Lodge and its wonderful staff who share along with us the privilege of hosting you. We look forward to meeting you, your family, and friends on future trips!