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Concierge.com

Belize Hotels

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Azul Resort
North Beach
San Pedro , Ambergris Caye
Belize
Tel: 501 226 4012
info@azulbelize.com
www.azulbelize.com

Do a couple of 3,000-square-foot villas a beach resort make? If Azul is any indication, yes. But no matter how spacious, light, and airy the interiors, the rooftops—home to hot tubs, ample seating, and stellar views—are the main draw. If the surrounding Caribbean weren't such a distinctive Caribbean blue, you'd almost think you were in the Greek Isles, given the simple, chalk-white walls. Though you clearly have little reason to leave your villa, the abutting infinity pool warrants a dip and the nearby barrier reef warrants a dive. The resort's restaurant draws crowds from the entire island, but if you'd rather avoid them, your own Viking-outfitted kitchen is always an option.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Blancaneaux Lodge
Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve
Belize
Tel: 800 746 3743 (toll-free)
Tel: 501 824 3878
info@blacaneaux.com
www.blancaneaux.com

Blancaneaux is the kind of place that makes you feel as if you were being put up by your rich, eccentric uncle. Of course, he's merely your figurative uncle—unless you happen to be, say, Nicolas Cage. Yes, Francis Ford Coppola is the proprietor in question, and his tastes and travel loot pervade the place, where he's blended Central American textiles, Mexican curios, a Thai spa (with some of the best massage this side of the Mekong), and most recently, a Guatemalan restaurant to supplement the Italian fare already on offer at Montagna. The mix works beautifully, not least because of its setting: on the banks of a cascading river in the middle of a pine forest. Napping is a constant temptation, whether in one of the 19 breezy, thatch-roofed rooms or one of the innumerable hammocks hanging around. But then you'd miss the hiking, river swimming, and horseback riding on the property; not far away, you can survey jungle-shrouded ruins. Combine a trip here with a visit to Coppola's Turtle Inn for an abridged version of the best of Belize.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Cayo Espanto
Cayo Espanto , Off Ambergris Caye
Belize
Tel: 888 666 4282 (toll-free)
Tel: 910 323 8355
info@aprivateisland.com
www.aprivateisland.com

Only when you flip through Cayo Espanto's celebrity-studded guest book do you realize that you've probably been sharing this six-villa resort with some bold-faced names. So complete is the sense of seclusion you get here (Cayo Espanto is a private island near Ambergris Caye), even your butler can operate unseen if you'd prefer. He'll coordinate activities (snorkeling, diving, fishing, in-room massage) with the staff—and meals with the chef. Though you likely need no instruction on how to pass the time in a giant, open, breezy villa with Caribbean views from nearly every Yves Delorme–outfitted bed; nor on how to wade or swim in the knee-deep, chalcedony bathwater that surrounds the island.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Jaguar Reef Lodge and Spa
Hopkins Village
Belize
Tel: 866 910 7373 (toll-free)
Tel: 501 520 7040
info@almondjaguar.com
www.jaguarreef.com

With its multiday packages, encyclopedic activities catalog (greatest hits include snorkeling, hiking, and zip lining), and spacious casitas and suites, the 25-room Jaguar Reef works well for families. But this lodge on a 600-acre peninsula on the southern Caribbean coast also draws many a honeymooning couple. And if you happen to be a flirtation-seeking woman traveling alone, perfect: A more attentive staff you'll never find. (Read: Sola travelers who prefer to be left alone may do better elsewhere). Whatever your travel profile, you'll likely end up on at least some of the excursions, even if you hadn't planned to: Other guests who've done them will persuade you over, say, club sandwiches or seafood pie (a local favorite). There's a lot of intra-table chatting at meals here. And be sure to stop by the recently revamped Butterflies spa. While the signature California Relaxing Massage may seem oddly juxtaposed, go with it: Even a minute in, you won't be quibbling over geography.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Ka'ana Boutique Resort & Spa
Benque Viejo Road
San Ignacio
Belize
Tel: 877 522 6221 (toll-free)
Tel: 501 824 3350
info@kaanabelize.com
www.kaanabelize.com

Bucking the ethno-chic, thatch-roof trend, the Cayo District's 15-room Ka'ana is best suited to guests who want to check their outdoorsy personae before entry. Though endless adventures lie close at hand—among them, the caves of Jaguar Paw and ruins of Xunantunich—a return to the room signals a farewell to anything even vaguely Indiana Jonesian. Here you'll find perhaps the highest thread counts, cushiest beds, and iciest air conditioners in all of mainland Belize. Not that nature is shunned: The grounds are essentially a well-groomed, bougainvillea-centric little Eden. And the welcome-to-paradise theme is interpreted particularly deftly by the spa's lead therapist (try the papaya citrus smoothie body scrub), and the kitchen's executive chef (ingredients from the resort's organic garden turn up in just about everything, but the tortilla soup is one of their best outlets).

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Kanantik Resort
Stann Creek District
Belize
Tel: 877 759 8834 (toll-free)
Tel: 501 520 8048
info@kanantik.com
www.kanantik.com

The coastal retreat near a jaguar preserve also counts crocodiles, agoutis, and coatis among its neighbors. It's "remote, which is part of its charm." Staff are "warm and polished." Accommodations—thatched-roof beachfront cabanas with wood flooring, stucco walls, and wraparound decks—are Mayan influenced and "offer a peaceful escape." The menu changes daily and always mix Belizean and Italian flavors (a nod to the Italian owner).

(25 rooms)

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Lodge at Chaa Creek
Chaa Creek Nature Reserve
Near San Ignacio
Chaa Creek Nature Reserve
Belize
Tel: 501 824 2037
reservations@chaacreek.com
www.chaacreek.com

When vagabonding Brits Mick and Lucy Fleming happened upon the Cayo district's Chaa Creek, circa 1977, they thought an organic vegetable farm would be just the thing there. The project failed, but agriculture's loss was eco-tourism's gain. Having hosted guests even in the property's early days, the Flemings quickly understood the site's potential, and have since built 23 thatch-roofed, locally furnished cottages. Though there's something to recommend every room, stay in an airy (and aerie-like) Tree Top Jacuzzi suite, and you'll find yourself eye to eye with the denizens of the surrounding hardwoods' upper branches. When you come down from your perch, there's plenty to do on-site: hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, horseback riding—and the serious practice of sybaritism (at the eco-decadent spa, Mayan chocolate forms the basis for everything from a cocoa massage to a fondue wrap). Off-campus excursions include a trip to Actun Tunichil Muknal (a.k.a. "ATM," or Cave of the Stone Sepulcher).

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Machaca Hill at Laughing Falcon Reserve
Laughing Falcon Reserve
Near Punta Gorda
Belize
Tel: 501 722 0050
info@machacahill.com
www.machacahill.com

One of the few places on earth where you can say "as far as the eye can see" without hyperbole, Machaca Hill defies you to spot anything but dense rain forest in any given direction. An 11,000-acre private reserve in the southern district of Toledo, this former fishing lodge recently reopened as a soft adventure resort with 12 wooden (mostly stilt-borne) rooms, where the average day goes like this: You wake up to the calls of the resident, name-affirming howler monkeys; watch the mists—and birds—rise from the forest canopy over breakfast; head down to the river and canoe or kayak while blue morpho butterflies flirt, kiskadees and toucans argue, and iguanas high-dive off tree branches into the lily-filled water below. After lunch, you head to the neighborhood Mayan ruins, which—though admittedly not as majestic as Xunantunich and Caracol—are beautifully intimate, crumbling, and on the verge of being reclaimed by the jungle.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Machaca Hill Rainforest Canopy Lodge
Punta Gorda , Toledo
Belize
Tel: 501 722 0050
info@machacahill.com
www.machacahill.com

Guests at this 12-suite resort nestled in an 11,000-acre rain forest preserve are not expected to converse with the gardener over mojitos on, say, the benefits of growing vegetables by the Mayan lunar calendar. Nor should they feel required—despite urgings by the new management, a husband-and-wife team with years of experience in the African eco-luxury industry—to dance by firelight to Garifuna drumming. But chances are they will. Formerly a no-frills fishing lodge, Machaca Hill opened after a three-year rehaul that now provides a luxe base for soft adventurers: huge, hill-hugging suites that emphasize simple rain forest elegance (hardwood furniture accented by Mayan tapestries), and a new spa complete with a backstory (built from recycled hurricane-damaged hardwood). Sure, there are benefits to staying poolside and to bird-watching from the main lodge (the area is home to hundreds of species) or even au naturel nature sighting from one's glass-windowed shower, but the emphasis here is getting off your khaki-covered backside and exploring the area's coral reefs, jungles, and Mayan ruins. At your disposal is an adventure arsenal—mountain bikes, canoes for paddling the Rio Grande river, open-air Land Cruisers—plus the resort's guides, invaluable both for their knowledge on the flora, fauna, and the various ethnic groups (Maya, Creole, Garifuna, East Indian) as well as their Belizean wit. In keeping with the participatory atmosphere, staff will join you for pre-dinner drinks, dinner itself—an affair combining organic ingredients from the on-site garden—and, yes, a bit of dancing to the drums.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Matachica Resort & Spa
North Beach
San Pedro , Ambergris Caye
Belize
Tel: 501 220 5010
Fax: info@matachica.com
www.matachica.com

Matachica is the anti-generic beach resort. Despite all the requisite trappings (a gorgeous stretch of white sand, iguanas that scuttle across it on cue, a generous endowment of gently swaying palms, and perfect margaritas), distinctiveness is what defines this remote corner of Ambergris Caye. Each of the 21 cabanas is painted its own sorbet-reminiscent shade. And the lobby aesthetic is essentially shabby chic meets Mesoamerican…at the Casbah. In the Moroccan-veil-draped, Guatemalan-pillow-strewn lounge area, a manager-cum-DJ spins a steady supply of world music for the guests who are invariably gathered there. Despite the full complement of activities on offer (diving, kayaking, biking), most people check in mainly to chill out. To that end, there are hammocks everywhere, a sweet restaurant, and a desert oasis–evoking spa tent.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Turtle Inn
Near Placencia
Belize
Tel: 800 746 3743 (toll-free)
Tel: 501 523 3244
info@blancaneaux.com
www.blancaneaux.com

A sister property to Blancaneaux Lodge, Turtle Inn is where Belize meets Bali (and a few other places). After the original structure—which Francis Ford Coppola had acquired and modified in 2000—succumbed to Hurricane Iris, the director built a new one to his exact specifications (and "personal joy") in 2003. The result: 25 rooms ranging from the Seaview Villas (private gardens, outdoor showers, Balinese woodwork) to the Chinese Matrimonial Suite (antique Chinese fertility bed, Chinese bath, screened-in porch), to the Pavilion House (private beach, steam shower, Japanese bath). Other sea-influenced attractions include the Mare restaurant (Italian, complete with Neapolitan brick pizza oven); the hotel's dive shop, which runs all manner of snorkeling and diving trips (Placencia is on the country's south coast, about 20 miles by boat from the reef); and a waterside spa.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Victoria House
South Seagrape Drive
San Pedro , Ambergris Caye
Belize
Tel: 800 247 5159 (toll-free)
Tel: 501 226 2067
info@victoria-house.com
www.victoria-house.com

Though the Caribbean is visible from much of this 42-room resort on Ambergris Caye, the open-air restaurant offers one of the best perspectives. Looking out toward the beach, you can't help but notice that the perfect shot has composed itself for you. Protruding from the sugary sand in the foreground are a palm that tilts just so and a handcarved wooden sign that reads "Welcome to Victoria House Bar." In the background: a thatch-roofed building (the resort's dive shop) on an otherwise empty jetty—and a seemingly color-corrected sea and sky. Except that these blues really exist. When you're not diving, swimming, snorkeling, or napping (rooms range from intimate stone-and-thatch casitas to family-size beachfront villas), head into town: San Pedro's restaurant- and bar-lined main drag is about a half hour away if you walk along the beach, or about 15 minutes by bike.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.