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Beach sunrise at Victoria House

Classic Hotels and Resorts in Belize

By Andrew Harper

The Hideaway Report | May 16, 2016

I have traveled to Belize regularly over the past three decades. During that period, a number of hotels and resorts have become established favorites. On my recent trip, I went in search of new discoveries, but my thoughts often turned to properties where, on previous visits, I have been fortunate to spend so many happy times.

Victoria House, Ambergris Caye

Beachfront Villa at Victoria House

Although Belize faces the Caribbean, the country has few beaches of note. This is because a long barrier reef creates a vast saltwater lagoon between the coral and the shore. The snorkeling and diving may be superb, but beds of turtle grass often impede direct access to the water. This need not be a great inconvenience. At Victoria House on Ambergris Caye, a long wooden pier extends from the beach to a clear swimming area beyond the weed. A plantation-style hotel, Victoria House is an oasis of tranquility, despite being just 15 minutes by golf cart from the bustling town of San Pedro and its tiny airport. The property has a well-equipped dive shop staffed by experienced instructors, and guides are available for saltwater fly-fishing. For me, however, much of the property’s appeal derives from its lovely tropical gardens and consistently friendly and obliging staff. Victoria House is a place to settle into a lounger beneath the palms and to read for hours undisturbed. The quality of the 42 accommodations is inconsistent, and the regular casitas are too simple to appeal to a majority of Hideaway Report readers. I recommend only the Infinity Suites, the Rainforest Suite and the deluxe units in the three beachfront villas.

- Hotel at a Glance -

Victoria House    92Andrew Harper Bird

Like

Tranquil gardens, friendly staff, excellent bonefishing and superb snorkeling and diving.

Dislike

You cannot swim directly off the beach because of weed beds.

Good to Know

Only suites and villas should be considered.


Rates: Rainforest Suite, $600; One-Bedroom Infinity Suite, $670.
Address: San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.
Telephone: (501) 226-2067


View Victoria House Hotel Listing

Cayo Espanto, San Pedro

Beach Villa at Cayo Espanto

Set on a private islet, 10 minutes by speedboat from San Pedro, Cayo Espanto is a resort also suited to lazy afternoons with a long novel. Its seven lavish cottages offer stylish living areas, separate dining spaces and private beachfront sundecks with heated infinity plunge pools. All rooms have personal butlers, and meals are served on private verandas. Cayo Espanto’s principal drawback is that the shallow surrounding waters are ideal for bonefishing but not for swimming. Essentially this is a hideaway best suited to couples in search of privacy and seclusion.

- Hotel at a Glance -

Cayo Espanto    93Andrew Harper Bird

Like

Lavish cottages; the atmosphere of privacy and seclusion.

Dislike

The surrounding waters are mostly too shallow and rocky for swimming.

Good to Know

This is an ideal place for couples and honeymooners.


Rates: Casa Solana Beach Villa, $1,630; Casa Aurora Two-Bedroom Villa, $2,175 (all meals and house bar included; minimum stay required).
Address: San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.
Telephone: (910) 323-8355


View Cayo Espanto Hotel Listing

The Lodge at Chaa Creek, San Ignacio

Treetop Suite at The Lodge at Chaa Creek

Much of Belize is mountainous and covered with dry tropical forest. Surrounded by a 365-acre nature reserve, the eco-resort The Lodge at Chaa Creek is set on a grassy ridge above the Macal River, not far from the small town of San Ignacio and close to the border of Guatemala. The property’s 23 palm-thatched cottages come with screened sitting areas and spacious verandas; some offer outdoor showers and Jacuzzis. I particularly recommend the Garden and Treetop suites. Activities at the property include horseback riding, canoeing, hiking, bird watching and escorted trips to spectacular ruined Mayan cities such as Tikal, Caracol and nearby Xunantunich. Chaa Creek is ideal for a family vacation and children between ages 7 and 15 will find themselves in paradise. Adults in search of tranquility may be happier elsewhere.

- Hotel at a Glance -

The Lodge at Chaa Creek    94Andrew Harper Bird

Like

The feeling of continuity at this friendly family-run property; the array of activities.

Dislike

The lodge is at the edge of the forest and farmland is just a few minutes’ drive away.

Good to Know

It is simple to cross into Guatemala to visit Tikal, but you must leave early if you want to arrive before the cruise ship passengers who fly in from Cancun.


Rates: Garden Jacuzzi Suite, $450; Treetop Jacuzzi Suite, $590.
Address: Chaa Creek Rainforest Reserve, San Ignacio, Cayo District.
Telephone: (501) 834-4010


View The Lodge at Chaa Creek Hotel Listing

Chan Chich Lodge, Orange Walk District

Cabana at Chan Chich Lodge

Chan Chich Lodge is located on a 130,000-acre private nature reserve. The 12 one-bedroom and two three-bedroom thatched-roof cabanas are set in the plaza of an ancient Mayan city, and all around there are enigmatic green hills and hummocks concealing structures long since buried beneath several feet of soil. Chan Chich feels remote; nocturnal jaguar sightings are not uncommon. Naturalists lead guests on hikes through the dense forest, where the birding for exotic and colorful species is exceptional. Although Chan Chich could scarcely be described as luxurious, it is comfortable and atmospheric. The property will chiefly appeal to those with a deep interest in the natural world. I have recently received several enthusiastic reports from subscribers, which have led me to raise the property’s rating in the 2016 update to the Central & South America section of the Harper Collection.

- Hotel at a Glance -

Chan Chich Lodge    93Andrew Harper Bird

Like

The remote and atmospheric location; the abundant and exotic birdlife.

Dislike

The accommodations are comfortable, but not overly luxurious.

Good to Know

On night drives there are good chances to spot ocelot, puma and jaguar.


Rates: Deluxe Cabana, $460; Luxury Villa, $680.
Address: Gallon Jug Estate, Orange Walk District.
Telephone: (501) 223-4419


View Chan Chich Lodge Hotel Listing

 Sneak Peek

This article appeared in The Hideaway Report, a monthly newsletters exclusively for members.

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Andrew Harper Photo Our editors write under the Andrew Harper byline so they can travel the world anonymously to give you the unvarnished truth about luxury hotels. Hotels have no idea who they are, so they are treated exactly as you might be.

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