Paul J. Connelly is the new owner at Quality Time Divers (renamed to Pro Dive Roatan).
I was born in Dundee, Scotland and lived there until my early 30’s. I studied Physics and Math at Dundee University, Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Abertay University and Quality Engineering at Paisley University and have an Msc. in Quality Management from there also. I worked in the corporate world on the military side for Hughes Aircraft Company Missile Systems Division and also on the commercial side for Maytag Europe in both engineering and management.
My love of adventure sports started when I was about 10 years old when I started training with my local kayak club in the rivers of central Scotland. I became the youngest ever kayak instructor at the time when I was 14 years old. It continued in my 20’s when I got involved in paragliding with an old college friend and also into skiing with another group of college friends. So when I decided that the corporate world was not for me I naturally turned to my hobbies for a new adventure. I sold my car rented my house, bought a beater, loaded it up with all of my toys and headed to the French Alps which had long been my destination when any vacation time came along. There I became a ski guide and paragliding instructor and helped out teaching and coaching kayaking to the local kids in the summers. I also qualified as a “Skiman Francais” which was one of my proudest achievements, taking a course in a second language and passing in the top 20% of the class (who were all native French).
From France I decided with my girlfriend that we should go travel further afield and so we bought round the world tickets and set off on a 6 month to 1 year adventure. 3 ½ years later we made it back to the UK! (This was when I got certified in Scuba on the beautiful Fijian islands). From there I was offered a job running ski stores in Colorado, which seemed a better option than a wet winter in Scotland, so off I went. There, with my kayaking background, I naturally got into whitewater rafting and became a Colorado certified raft guide, and ran a rafting company in the summers and the ski stores in the winters.
After a couple of years I became unsettled with the seasonal work and so decided to set up my own business selling ski vacations to Colorado online with first hand knowledge of the resorts and properties, especially for a European audience. This was when the internet was a “pup” at 28.8 kbps on dial up modems and didn’t provide much useful information. I ran that for about 15 years in Colorado and another 2 from “the road”. I loved my time in Colorado, but I was too tied to the office and didn’t get out to do the things I loved anymore. I was also tired of shoveling snow, so it was again time for a change.
Having been locked in the mountains with only short vacations to sate my appetite for scuba diving, my eye wandered towards a beach, a palm tree and a boat drink. Since I had always taken my adventure sports training to the highest level, it seemed odd that I still wasn’t a Scuba Instructor, so that seemed like a good objective. Not really to teach or as a career, but only to advance my knowledge and skills in diving. I had taught in the skies, on the mountains and on the rivers, so it seemed like a natural progression to teach in the ocean. I researched online and found that the #1 ranked place in the world to take your Instructor course was a dive center on the little island of Utila off the north coast of Honduras. Since I had not yet ventured into Central America it seemed like the perfect place since it was just a short hop away. Once more I sold the car and everything else and bought some warm weather clothes and headed to Cancun in Mexico. I traveled down through Mexico and Belize diving along the way and went to Utila to do my “IDC”. I spent 10 months there until the island got “too small” and then traveled throughout Central America diving as I went to find a place to call home for a year or two and see what opportunities arose. By the time I got to Panama I realized that the Bay Islands of Honduras were the best place in the entire region to dive so I headed back to the neighboring island of Roatan to see what was happening there.
Once I arrived on Roatan I immediately knew that this could be home for a while. I started to work as a “Freelance” instructor working at many dive shops on the island and gathering knowledge and experience along the way. It surprised me the lack of any professional management that was used at the dive centers. When they needed a new manager, the person that had been teaching there the longest was hired as the next manager whether they had any management experience or qualifications or not. I also learned that because so many instructors were “produced” here every month that getting experienced instructors was hard to do. The glut of new instructors available ensured that the wages and hence pricing on the island was so low as to be unsustainable, so as soon as the instructors gained enough experience to be employable elsewhere they left to find jobs that would pay a livable wage in other countries. Having plenty of management and business experience and now professional diving experience I began to look for an opportunity to put my “spin” on what a professional dive center could and should be.
I looked at several opportunities, but there was always something not quite “right”. Until I came to work for Delzie and Marcos Rosales at Quality Time Divers in February 2019 when the managers at the time (Gareth and Meghan) were off on a “visa run”. I immediately loved the dive shop, the dock, the location, the concept and the “vibe”. My accountant from Colorado was diving with me that week also, and he knew immediately what I was thinking. After a few days, Marcos was chatting with us after diving and mentioned that he was interested in selling the dive operation since he couldn’t find anyone that could run the business effectively and get it back into profit, and he just liked the way that I worked. I said that we would talk… and we did. It took a few months to sort out the details but we closed on July 10th, 2019.
From there it wasn’t too much to tweak the direction of the shop a little more towards the boutique that had always been the goal. For many reasons we needed to re-brand the business and after what I had seen elsewhere “Pro Dive Roatan” seemed to encapsulate what we wanted our shop to be. Professional diving with professional management and a boutique, private, VIP diving experience where discerning dive groups of family and friends could dive on their schedule, where they wanted, when they wanted and for as long as they wanted with experienced staff who knew the area and the reef. They were taken care of like royalty and catered to with world class service and facilities. Those are our goals.
We are just beginning our journey with boat and shop remodels and a dock remodel coming shortly afterwards. The website has been completely and beautifully redesigned and launched by our friends at Siren Creative Group, who are also our dive buddies. Our new logos, signage design and all of the design work was taken care of by Kathy Conarro, another of our dive buddies. The social media platforms are all changed over and we are ready for business.
So please come join us for your boutique dive experience like no other. Come as guests and leave as family.