by Michael O'Brien
Nearly 30 years ago, I was appointed headmaster of a private boarding school for boys aged seven to 13 in the peaceful countryside of Southern England. At the same time, I began to feel that I also needed to experience another side of the world where life was not so (comparatively) easy and where the culture and language were completely different. So, I travelled to Mexico five times over three years, stayed with modest Mexican families, and learned to speak Spanish.
Somehow, with the pressure of work and other responsibilities, my interest in Latin America faded. I bought a very nice time-share on Longboat Key, Florida, where I went with my family over 10 years. Then, suddenly and without explanation, I felt I needed to return to Mexico. I had sold my three weeks of time-share and had a little money to spend on something wild. So, when I walked down a little street in Puerto Morelos just south of Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula and found a plot of land just 150 meters from the main downtown square and 100 meters from the beach, the temptation proved irresistible. I bargained, set deadlines for replies and bought two little houses 5,000 miles away from home.
But that was just the start. I hadn’t bargained with Fernando! He had given me some help during the purchase of the plot, and when he realised that the deed was done, he decided it was time for him to play his part in the drama. What! Just refurbish the two houses? Was I a man or was I a mouse? Instead, he suggested, there, just three minutes’ walk from the Caribbean, in the heart of a real Mexican pueblo, he would demolish the houses and build a HOTEL for me, become the manager and assure me of the adventure of a lifetime.
How could I say no? And the money to build? No problem, he assured me. He was sure that I could find enough to finance a little hotel in the real Mexican style where people would come from all over the world to stay a day, a week or a month and enjoy the best that Mexico had to offer at a reasonable price. Anyway, he wanted to be the manager, we had become amigos, and that was more than enough reason.
And that is what has happened. We started building four years ago, and the building has taken up to now (October 2000). We organised the project in three phases. The first phase finished two years ago, and we opened 10 rooms. We were in business, and that first Christmas an extended Mexican family booked the whole hotel. And it worked! Not a single problem with the plumbing!!
The following year we built the restaurant and four more spacious rooms on the second floor with air-conditioning and bathrooms to rival anything, anywhere. I am sure nobody else around has bidets! By Christmas 2000 we will have 21 rooms, terraces with a view of the sea and the waves breaking over the reef, a special laundry area, an extended reception area and, of course, Fernando’s tasty breakfasts.
I am still working full-time in England running a language school and helping to promote new fashion models. I go over to Mexico four times a year with my little grandson, but I am involved every day in England promoting our web-sites and replying to e-mails from people who want to know what this Hotel Inglaterra is all about and, of course, sharing the day-to-day fun with Ferndano by phone.