Matachica is located close to Belize's Great Barrier Reef, on a powdery white sand beach. Think low-key barefoot vibe; more for the laid-back traveller than the set-in-their-ways traditionalist.
Matachica offers a relaxed atmosphere and a splash of colour, from the pastel shaded cabanas to the vibrant multi-patterned tables and chairs in the entrance. The interior walls of the main building are painted in warm cosy colours, while lanterns and fans hang from the ceilings, and a mixture of art work and statues adorn the walls (as well as a smidge of peeling paint here and there).
Accommodation ranges from 25 individual beachfront and sea view casitas to one exclusive luxury villa, all decorated in an eclectic Bohemian style. Step past the hammock on the deck and through the shuttered wooden doors into the casitas that define rustic through their Central American furnishings and mosaic-tiled bathrooms. The Luxury Caribbean Villa is the exclusive two bedroom (both en suite) accommodation option that offers king beds, a living area and kitchenette as well as a screened patio.
Sample local flavours at award-winning Mambo restaurant, housed under a large palapa amid candelabras, local ceramics and soft music. Note that they only take children over 12 years old and describe their ambiance as 'mature'. The beachfront bar-lounge, under the domed thatch roof is the place to head to for Belizean beach -side living, the atmosphere is chilled and there is a wide collection of spirits and liqueurs, plus Cuban cigars and ambient music.
Complimentary activities abound at Matachica including kayaks, snorkelling, fishing and bicycles so you won't be short of things to do. If you're feeling too lethargic to venture out, enjoy the Jade Spa natural treatments or, for a dip, there's the hotel's infinity pool or the conveniently located ocean. Unfortunately the sea grass in the shallow waters means that guests should swim off the jetty for an ocean dip - a small price to pay really. After dinner the Cinema-Martini Lounge offers a huge plasma television screening of an extensive selection of classic films.
Why We Love It
Matachica is full of character, friendly staff and is the ideal place for a relaxing barefoot break.
El Secreto is an exclusive and secluded resort on the sandy shores of an island enjoying views of the palm fringed beaches and protected reef of nearby Ambergris Caye.
There are just 13 thatched villas, each decorated individually with traditional and contemporary touches. Luxurious amenities include Egyptian cotton sheets, ensuite marble bathrooms and private patios with outdoor shower and plunge pools. The Sea villas have ocean views, the lake villas boast wooden decks extending over the saltwater lagoon, and the tropical villas in the forest have Jacuzzis and hammocks.
The restaurant useslocal Caribbean flavours with the emphasis on freshly caught seafood, pizzas, carpaccio and salads. Guests can also enjoy a romantic meal set up on the beach, on the lake or in their room, for the ultimate private dining experience.
The swimming pool is at the centre of the resort and right on the beach, with hammocks over the water and loungers in which to laze of a warm (basically every) afternoon. The Ikal spa, named after the Mayan word for spirit, offers facials, rituals and massages for pure relaxation.
If sunbathing is not quite stimulating enough, try one of the many activities on offer. Diving and snorkelling trips take guests to enjoy the clear blue waters, abundant marine life and precious corals at the nearby barrier reef, Hol Chan marine reserve and the world renowned Blue Hole.
The resort's hobby catamaran and fishing trips (reef and flat) offer excitement above the water, while on dry land bike rides, zip lining and cave tubing are all available. Culture vultures can also take a helicopter or boat trip to see the Mayan ruins of Altun Ha or Lamanai.
Why We Love It
The Belize barrier reef is the largest in the northern hemisphere, and home to luxuriant corals and endangered species such as the hawksbill turtle, West Indian manatee and American crocodile.
Victoria House lies between picturesque white beaches and coconut groves with lush tropical gardens planted with hibiscus, bougainvillea and oleander.
On the island of Ambergris Caye, Victoria House is small and exclusive with a casual ambience and friendly staff and just a short boat ride away from one of the world's best dive sites.
The plantation rooms, casitas and private villas are stylishly furnished with cool white fabrics and handcrafted furniture. All rooms are located in lush tropical gardens with palm trees and sweeping views of the reef and white sand beach.
At night guests can enjoy delicious fresh seafood in the hotel's restaurant and a cocktail in the cosy palapa bar. The pool is perfect for relaxing and overlooks the turquoise Caribbean and the new spa (as of 2016) offers a range of treatments from radiant face masks to hot stone massages. In addition to the excellent diving, activities nearby include fishing, snorkeling, birding and cave tubing.
Why We Love It
In true Bill & Ted fashion, Victoria House was voted 2009 Most Excellent Beach Hotel in the Americas by Conde Nast Johansens Magazine.