Ex-Newcastle and Charlton star Andy Hunt now runs ‘Jungle Dome’ hotel in Belize

Planning for life after football can often prove to be a stumbling block for many professionals in the game.

Routes into coaching or punditry are not pathways every player wishes to take, prompting alternative approaches to be taken.

That can certainly be applied to former West Bromwich Albion, Newcastle United and Charlton Athletic striker Andy Hunt, who retired from football in 2000 after a ten-year career.

Forced to call time on his playing days at the age of 30 after being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, Hunt and his partner made a bold decision.

"I'd had enough of football and to be honest I'd had enough of the British weather,” he said.

"Me and my girlfriend at the time started looking around and we really liked Belize.

"We visited the country and spent some time there. We found a property, bought it, sold the house in England and came out."

Having moving to Belize in 2001, Hunt decided to set-up a luxury hotel resort in the tropical jungle.

“We decided to set up our own business over here in 2005,” the former professional striker explained.

“It’s the most idyllic place and tourists can come out here and explore the ancient mines and the caves.

“There’s horseback riding, zip-lining along with waterfalls and wildlife rehabilitation centres.

“On the coast there are so many beautiful islands where you can go scuba diving and snorkelling.

“We get mainly Americans and Canadians on our holidays, but it’s always lovely to see a few Brits out here.”

In what can only be described as a truly unique move to make, Hunt and his wife Simone have admitted that it took time for this idea to come into place but the pair have no regrets over their decision to start a business.

“We often get asked, ‘How did a professional footballer and a former MTV VJ end up owning a jungle lodge in Belize?’

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  • "Well, it wasn’t a conscious plan, we were simply looking for an adventure,” the pair reasoned. In 2001 we moved to the tropics without knowing what we were going to do once we got there.

    "For a while we soaked up the sun, developed our property (the Belize Jungle Dome) and did a lot of soul searching and head scratching.

    "Then Andy came with the idea of turning the Dome into a small resort.

    “I thought that sharing our personal space with strangers was a terrible idea. But, as in all things, I have learned to trust my crazy husband and so went with it.

    "It turned out that his vision was a great one! Instead of ‘strangers’ invading our space, our guests became friends.”

    Success has followed since putting together their ambitious plan, with Belize Jungle Dome five-star rated on TripAdvisor with over 300 reviews received.

    One user shared their experience of their stay, stating: “Everything about the stay was perfect. They picked us up at the airport. They gave us a tour of the property. The food was great. The suite was very comfortable and spacious. They joined us for dinner. They always made sure we had everything we needed. They helped us make plans. The staff also made us feel special. I have traveled extensively around the world and have rarely been treated so well.

    Another guest added: “The Jungle Dome in Belize is the perfect home base to explore this part of Belize.”

    Despite being affected by COVID-19 guidelines, precautions have been put in place to allow bookings while the Hunt’s are also offering customers 100 per cent credit towards a future visit should a trip be cancelled for any reason.

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