At Tela, a beachside town 87km (54 miles) east of San Pedro Sula, a major resort project has attracted big names such as Westin and Hilton, though so far, little has gotten off the ground. The major government tourism initiative, with help from the World Bank, was all set to turn Tela Bay into one of the most important beach destinations in Central America. Chances are it still will happen, though not as soon as developers had hoped. The hopes are that there will be two four- and five-star mega-resorts, an 18-hole designer golf course from Gary Player, and a marina operating in the area. Controversy has been swirling around the project, though, as opposition groups are claiming that a Cancun-like resort would completely wipe out the already fragile ecosystem at the city's Laguna de los Micos and do little for the Garífuna communities there. These groups may have run out of luck, though. Ground has already been broken, roads are being expanded, and 20 new bilingual tourist police officers have been trained and hired.
The conquistador Cristóbal de Olid founded this city on May 3, 1524, the day of the Holy Cross, and gave it the name Triunfo de la Cruz. The abbreviation of the name would eventually lead to the shortened name of Tela. In the early 1800s, the Garinagu began to arrive here from Roatán and set up communities all over Tela Bay, many of which are still around to this day. Towards the end of the century, the municipality began to form around the banana plantations of the Tela Railroad Company, a subsidiary of the United Fruit Company, which owned the Chiquita brand. The company monopolized city politics, until moving its offices to La Lima in 1976.
Today, as tourism grows, its days as a banana republic are in the past. While the skeletal remains of the Tela Railroad and United Fruit offices are gathering dust, the employee homes have been turned into one of the country's finest resorts, the Hotel Telamar.
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