Belize Travel Guide
GAÏA Riverlodge, located in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve of Belize, has long been a top eco-conscious resort (it was formerly the Five Sisters Lodge) but thanks to a new hydropower energy system and a few other environmentally-friendly upgrades, the resort and its jungle cabanas have pretty much topped all other green resorts out there.
Using the nearby Five Sisters waterfalls as their energy source, the GAÏA Riverlodge is now run entirely by hyrdopower energy, eliminating the need for electricity. But don't worry, the hotel does have a back-up system, an eco-friendly one too that's battery-powered. The GAÏA Riverlodge is also cultivating an on-site vegetable garden which will bring fresh, or "hyper-local" as they call it, produce to the lodge's restaurants. Awesome.
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Lagoon Bungalow at Turtle Inn
Ever wanted to live vicariously through a Coppola? You know, make a film or two, become a household name, travel affluently?
Well, we can promise you only the latter, friends, as we now have the official 4-1-1 on where Francis, Sofia and Roman stay when they travel to Belize. Obviously, they're going to crash at the Turtle Inn, a 17-acre beachside property FFC bought back in 1999.
But which rooms do they shack up in?
First, let's talk about Turtle Inn. It's the only luxury resort in the fisherman village of Placencia, Belize, reachable by a 30-minute puddle jumper from Belize International Airport. There's 25 rustic villas and cottages, two salt-water pools, three restaurants, a beach bar and a memorable staff to boot (shout out to Rudy!).
Accommodations come equipped with outdoor showers and gardens, homemade cookies (in a bottomless jar), screened porches and thatch roofs reaching up to 30 feet. The spa is fronted by Thai masseuses who can have you knackered in minutes and the new Miss Ellie dive boat that can drop you off at a deserted island within an hour.
Should you want to do the Coppola resort like an actual Coppola, you have three accommodations to choose from...
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We can't seem to keep our mouths shut. Every time we find an under-the-radar hotel, we swear we'll keep the good fortune to ourselves so the place won't get spoiled. But, we end up spilling the beans anyway when it comes to our latest find which is actually fun, because you know...we're givers here at HC. It brings good hotel karma.
Note:When seeking seclusion, a resort that takes at least two flights and a boat ride to reach it is a good place to start. Lots of properties like to market themselves as being private and remote, but many times that's manufactured by man-made barriers that restrict access and boundaries that box you into isolation rather than expose you to it. El Secreto Resort opened this week just off the northeast coast of Belize, and we find it to be a pretty good example of what a true hideaway should be. Guests catch a boat from San Pedro to make the 11-mile trip up the coast, past mangroves, and escaping civilization almost entirely as the resort is not accessible via car.
There’s something especially decadent about getting a pedicure in the jungle. Maruba Resort and Jungle Spa, in northern Belize, is offering some great spa deals this summer. Our favorite? Their signature “Mood Mud” body scrub. Brimming with minerals, Maya mud is the kind of rich goop that you’ll happily smear on your body.
You can pick the mud to match your mood: Red Daji "arouses strength, health, sex, passion, and courage." We’ll take a double dose, muchas gracias.
Spring may be coming soon, but if you need a warm-weather vacay pronto, play "name that bar" and you could be heading to Belize. St. George's Caye Resort will award a three-night stay to the person who comes up with the best name for its bar, which now bears the moniker the Conch Lounge.
The resort's recent renovation included six new cabanas, an island-themed spa and a tropical garden, so officials figured it was time to rename the bar to better reflect its atmosphere. And what better way to choose a new name than hold a contest.
We’ll let you in on a little secret: A hotel review that describes a place as an “exclusive lair where guests live out their recluse fantasies” is pretty much guaranteed to perk our interest.
Well, folks, that’s what ForbesTraveler.com wrote about Cayo Espanto, a private island resort off the coast of Belize that’s officially — albeit apparently belatedly — on our radar. Cayo Espanto made ForbesTraveler.com's 2008 list of the world’s top 400 hotels and resorts (one of two Belize resorts to make the cut, we should mention).
Call us shallow, but we always feel so much better about a hotel when their web site is well-designed, informative and doesn't have photos of the hotel from the 1980s.
And when it comes to eco-hotels or just hotels in the Belize region, we've seen some doozies. We're talking homemade webpages that someone's 6-year-old may have thrown up. But the Hamansi Resort is both an eco-hotel and in Belize, all the while pulling off a great, organzied, and informative website.
From there, Hamansai is stocked with things to do on the beach, in the water, and trekking through the rainforest. Then of course there's the eco part meaning they're actually nice to their gorgeous surroundings and hence the surroundings are nice to you too (well let's hope the birds never lose it and attack.) For Hamansai, being an eco-hotel also means encompassing a whole lot o' land:
40% of Belize is national reserve. Hamanasi, an eco-resort, promotes responsible, sustainable nature based eco-tourism! The hotel is nestled in 21 acres of rare coastal forest teaming with birds, flora and orchids
And as for the guests, there are a whole lot o' room options for you ranging from luxurious honeymoon suite to a beachfront room or a "spacious" treehouse.
· Hamansi Resort Reviews [TripAdvisor]
The Salamander Belize is located outside of San Pedro in Ambergis Caye, Belize. This very remote, solar-powered hotel has eight cabanas or "huts" running from $180 a night. They come with hardwood floors, bathrooms with running hot and cold water and best of all they sit on the beach, perfect for snorkel and dive afficionados.
And just a 30-minute boat ride from the hotel is the famous diving spot, the Blue Hole, where the water is so deeply blue that one can even see it from outer space.
The hole was formed after the Ice Age caused the existing dry cave system to collapse (we aren't scientists so visit Blue Hole on National Geographic.) At first this diver's heaven was thought to be bottomless until Jacques Cousteau measured it with a mini-sub and found it to be 400 feet deep and 1,000 feet in diameter.
If you are heading that way, you can hit up closer hotels in San Pedro, or stay at the Salamander.
But since this is Belize, a tropical destination, there are some bugs:
Keep your cabin door closed and your porch light off at the end of the day and you should be fine, we did not need nets over the bed. On a still day we left the porch light and coming back from dinner you could see a mat of mosquitos gathered in the thatches above the porch (door was closed).
So just remember to bring bug spray.
Azul is a secluded two-villa beach resort that combines San Francisco loft culture with a Belize beach resort.
Two San Francisco refugees opened Azul earlier this year in an attempt to combine high design with the natural beauty of Belize. The two villas have an open floor plan, 20-foot ceilings with beams of mylady wood, and are beachfront.
Viking stoves, a 50" plasma television w/ Direct TV, and iMac G4 with wireless access make up the best of the new. While bamboo railings, a palapa with hammock, and a rooftop hot tub overlooking the jungle round out the old.
Oh yeah, and it is all beach front, and of course, there is a beach bar serving mojitos.
Yup, this qualifies as a spot we don't even want to tell you about in case we can find a way to swing the rates this winter.
· Azul [Travel & Leisure]