The Great House Inn is located in the historic Fort George Area: The Fort George area, a peninsula ringed by Marine Parade Boulevard and Fort Street, is one of the most pleasant in Belize City. Meander in the neighborhood and you’ll pass some impressive homes and buildings, including The Great House Inn now the only colonial guest house. The Baron Bliss Memorial and Fort George Lighthouse stand guard over it all.  Towering over the coastline and facing the Belize Harbor, the Fort George Lighthouse was built as part of the memorial for Baron Bliss, Belize’s greatest benefactor. In fulfillment of his dying wish and financed with the generous proceeds he left the country, the tall structure was erected next to his tomb and memorial. While the public cannot enter the lighthouse, it remains an important, historic landmark in Belize City and is easy to spot while touring the Fort George area. The views from there also make for a nice photo op.

 The sea breeze can be pleasant here, and you can glimpse cayes and ships offshore. Once you round the point, the road becomes Marine Parade and runs past the Radisson Fort George Hotel and Memorial Park, a grassy salute to the 40 Belizeans who lost their lives in World War I.

From here, you’ll get a good view of the harbor. Originally this was Fort George Island; the strait separating the island from the mainland (the site of today’s Memorial Park) was filled in during the early 1920s.


The Great House was built in 1927 for Mr.  & Mrs. Barney Melhado, a prominent Merchant of Belize.
Mr. Melhado, whose family was, originally of Portuguese descent and born in Belize, contracted Mr. Cuthbert N. Frazer, a Scotsman living in Belize, to build his home. Mr. Frazer an independent contractor was at that time in the business of selling mahogany to the Belize Estate and Produce Company Ltd. It is rumored that the house was built for the equivalent of $ 12,000.00 U.S.

 Some time in the late 1940s Mr. Melhado sold his magnificent home to The Belize Estate and Produce Company Ltd. and moved to Nassau, Bahamas.

 The Belize Estate and Produce Company Ltd. had been operating in Belize from the 1800s with its head quarters in London. This company owned tremendous acreage of land in Gallon Jug and Yalbac areas of Belize and prime real estate in the City including the property that now exists between what is now The Great House and the Caribbean Sea. This home was eventually bought over by J. Glikstein and Son Ltd., whose head office was located on Stratford Road, London.

Albert Glikstein, grandson of J. Glikstein and wife Marcelle lived in the house that still exists next to The Great House, and frequently traveled back and forth from London.
Coincidentally, this wonderful home was used as a guesthouse for selected business men from abroad that were doing temporary work for The Belize Estate Company. The house was given the name Stratford House and was managed by Mrs. Doris Minty. She lived in a house which was located exactly were the Radisson executive wing pool now sits. That house was relocated by Steve Maestre to St. Georges Caye, an island 9 miles away, in the late 80’s when he built what is now The Villa Hotel extension of the Radisson Fort George.

 Sometime in the 1950s Marcelle Glikstein sold the building to Eugene Maestre. He lived in this house with his family of 7 until just before the 1961 Hurricane Hattie. Eugene then moved with his family to Saint Petersburg Florida. Shortly after his brother Michael bought his interest in the property and turned it into apartments.

In 1972 Mike’s son, Steve, converted the attic which was a storage room into a lovely 2 bed room apartment and married Mary Beth Valdes and settled down to raise a family of 4 children. Steve Maestre became the assistant manager of the Fort George Hotel and after 5 years decided to venture out on his own.  The property that now houses the Radisson executive wing was a vacant lot and part of The Great House property. Steve left the Radisson Fort George and shortly after built The Villa Hotel on this vacant lot. The Hotel had a very good reputation and the dining room was extremely popular with the locals and foreign visitors. In 1985 Steve converted the first floor of the Great House into six additional guest rooms, giving The Villa a total of 12 guest rooms.

In 1990 Steve expanded The Villa to a total of 41 rooms and added the swimming pool (the building you see standing today). If you look closely you can actually distinguish where the new large structure adjoins the smaller building in front which housed the six original guestrooms. At this time Steve franchised with Holiday Inn and the hotel became known as Holiday Inn Villa Belize.

In 1989 – 1990 Belize Holdings bought the Radisson Fort George, and shortly after made Steve an offer for the Holiday Inn. He sold the hotel to Belize Holdings and the Radisson flag was kept. He remained with the property on contract until 1997, the last 3 years of his tenure as managing director.

On February 1997, Steve decided to be an entrepreneur again and bring the building back to its glory. To fulfill his plan and to utilize the ground floor as a galleria, the house needed to be lifted (there was only 5 ½ feet head room on the ground floor). The Mennonites were contracted to raise the house 5 ½ feet. This completed, Steve and his crew continued with the restoration and renovation.
Having revitalized this glorious building The Great House opened its doors to the public on February 9th 1998 with 6 spacious individually color coordinated guest rooms.  In December of 1999, 6 more rooms were added, and in January 2004, 4 more rooms were added, for a total of 16 guest rooms, all keeping with the traditional vibrant colonial colors and charm.

This wonderful home has survived the laughter and struggles of many families and two severe hurricanes (1931 and Hurricane Hattie 1961).

Although one can only picture the original interior with it spiral stairway and large polished mahogany tables, the exterior with a few modifications reflects closely the original architecture. It is believed that this grand home was built on land created from coral rock, mahogany chips that were the waste that occurred when loggers squared the wood for shipment and as rumor has it the rum bottles from our deceased baymen. If this is the case, perhaps we should re-look at our formula for landfill before building in the future.