lifestyle, travel This is Cozumel


The second in a series about successful island businesses run by non-Mexicans.

This article looks at the Hotel Flamingo, a fashionable boutique hotel in downtown Cozumel.

The hotel was in dire need of some tender loving care back in 1996, when Tom Fryer bought it to live his island dream.

After making the move from his home in the San Francisco Bay area of California, Tom had to work hard to build it up to the successful business he has today.

When he first took over the 4 story hotel half a block back from the seafront on 6th Street it was in a state of disrepair. Today, 12 years later, it has 22 clean, stylish rooms and a fabulous penthouse villa with breezes and views (all recently refurbished for the third time).

Like many Americans and Canadians, when on a scuba diving vacation to the island Tom fell in love with the excellent marine life, beaches, great weather and hospitality of the people. He started to dream about living here.

Unlike many, he decided to take make it real. Like the true diver he is, Tom took the proverbial plunge and bought the hotel, setting off in search of his island dream.

Tom has many fond memories from his years running the Hotel Flamingo. He says, "One of the things I like to see is when a guest stays here for the first time and they are traveling alone and do not know anyone.

"Soon, they feel at home with the staff and make local connections in the bar and lounge.

These people come back from their vacation feeling that they had a special experience beyond the normal."

Cozumel hotel bar
Bar open to the public.

Certainly the Flamingo makes a pleasant change from the all-inclusive 'warehouse' hotels on the island's south-west coast. Tom's guests don't just get to know each other, they get to know the real Cozumel from the inside.

Tom admits it hasn't all been plain sailing though, as a non-Mexican he has worked hard to adapt to the local ways of doing things.

"The biggest challenge in running a business here as a foreigner is adjusting your standards to what is available on the island", says Tom, "when you come from the States where you have so many more resources and options in running a business, in Cozumel you need to be very resourceful and in many cases compromise."

Cozumel hotel penthouse
Penthouse with views.


Regardless, Tom has managed to maintain high standards.

He offers a luxurious penthouse villa, gourmet menu downstairs in the Aqua Restaurant and a bar with shaded sidewalk tables, perfect for drinking a cold cerveza and watching the world go sweating by.

The bar and restaurant are open to the public as well as hotel guests. Prices are reasonable and there is often live music and art on display.

Tom's advice to other foreigners with similar island business dreams is simple: research the idea thoroughly first.

He recommends that you first find out the true costs of running the business and come and stay for an extended period of time before committing.

"See if you will really like it before you make the big move and live here full time", he says.

Forever the smart businessman, Tom has agreed to offer readers of This is Cozumel a discount of 15% - just mention this article when booking.

For more information, visit the Hotel Flamingo website or call the hotel's toll free number 1-800-806-1601.

For more Places To Stay see our Hotels section.

More Enterprises in Paradise:

Furniture and interior design company, The Magic Of Design.