Gaïa River Lodge
Gaia River Lodge is a peaceful sanctuary retreat in Belize's Mountain Pine Ridge, perched in the natural beauty of pine forest overlooking spectacular waterfalls in the lodge's grounds.
There are 16 private cabanas which vary in size and location, each individually decorated in traditional Belizean style with baby leaf thatched roofs, mahogany interiors and luxurious Matouk and Frette linens.
The restaurant is situated directly above the water falls, and has a large veranda, creating a perfect setting for dining, or an evening cocktail. The Chef serves up a great selection of international dishes, sourced from locally grown fruits and vegetables, with local flavours to tantalise the taste buds. Guests can also enjoy fresh seafood from the nearby Caribbean Sea.
This is a great place to get in touch with nature and explore the surrounding areas. There are tours to see wildlife a plenty, as well as adventurous excursions to Caracol, Belize's largest Mayan ruin. Hiking, biking or horse riding may be more appealing, which can be enjoyed throughout the Pine Forest Reserve, or the jungle. Canoeing, cave tubing and zip lining, however, may be ones for the thrill seekers.
Why We Love It
Guests can swim in the fresh water river, which is only a stone's throw from their cabana.
Owned by Francis Ford Coppola, Blancaneaux Lodge is a peaceful retreat located in the central forests of Belize, just outside the town of San Ignacio.
The lodge is surrounded by a beautiful garden of tropical trees, plants, and flowers, which is in turn surrounded by the jungle. The Privassion River winds through the property, leaving waterfalls and crystal clear pools that are ideal for swimming.
Accommodation is in wood and thatch villas and cabanas dotted around the grounds or along the river. All are luxuriously furnished and very private.
The resort's riverside spa has a hot pool and offers a variety of treatments including Thai massage. Enjoy a drink at the jungle bar before sampling the classic Italian cuisine in the restaurant. Blancaneaux's organic garden provides most of the vegetables, fruits, herbs and nuts for the kitchen, and free-range hens supply fresh daily eggs.
A number of activities are on offer in the vicinity of Blancaneaux. Surrounding the lodge is the 300-square mile Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve which can be explored on foot, by mountain bike or on horseback (Blancaneaux has its own stables), following the extensive network of forest trails. The reserve contains diverse environments that are home to iguanas, howler monkeys, and numerous species of birds and butterflies.
Why We Love It
Aside from film, Francis Ford Coppola's other passion is wine, and Blancaneaux stocks all the excellent wines from FFC's award-winning Californian vineyards.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek is recognised as an exemplary model of sustainable development within Belize's rainforest.
The jungle lodge has comfortable palm-thatched cottage rooms including Tree Top Jacuzzi Suites, and an Orchard and Spa Villa. Each cottage has beautiful Mexican tiled floors, large mahogany beds, original artwork and private bathrooms with hot showers.
The Spa at Chaa Creek is tranquil and pampering and perfectly complements a day's exploration of the great outdoors.
Chaa Creek's activities include swimming and canoeing, horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking. Naturalist guides are on hand to show you the best of the river and jungle wildlife, including a guided bird walk, tour of the natural history centre and butterfly exhibit, and a creatures of the night walk.
Why We Love It
The lodge has its own stable and horseback is a great way to explore this private 400 acre nature reserve which runs along the banks of the Macal River in the foothills of the Maya Mountains.
Lamanai Outpost Lodge
Lamanai Outpost Lodge is situated on the banks of a 28 mile long lagoon amid the remnants of a major Mayan city.
The variety of surrounding habitats mean that nature-based and adventurous activities are possible all year round, without the need of transport or lengthy journeys.
Lamanai Outpost Lodge's cabanas all have private bathrooms, hot water, mini bar and verandah. Although there are only two air conditioned rooms, natural ventilation is excellent, courtesy of ceiling fans and a breeze that comes in from the lagoon.
Close by, the jungle-shrouded temples of Lamanai Maya ruins encompass over 700 structures, a visitor's centre and a museum. Whether you are exploring the ruins or watching the sun rise over Crab Catcher Lagoon, you won't have to share the experience with many others.
Why We Love It
Come here to escape your fellow man; the nearest tourist lodge or hotel is over 70 miles away.
There are several lodges in Central America that are near to Mayan cities, but only one actually in the ruins of one.
Chan Chich sits in the middle of a 130,000 acre private nature reserve in north-western Belize, and the lodge itself was built on the plaza of an unexcavated Mayan city. There are just 12 thatch-roofed cabanas and one two-bedroomed villa. Each cabana is decorated in local hardwoods, with queen sized beds (or king-size for the deluxe cabanas), colonial style ceiling fans, baths and verandas complete with hammocks. The villa has an additional outdoor shower and a large living room and bar.
The lodge restaurant is very good, and serves traditional Belizean specialities cooked using locally grown produce. There is also a bar, a pool and a Jacuzzi.
Activities on offer include trekking (guided if requested) on nine miles of well-maintained trails around the lodge; bird-watching for 350-plus species including Ornate Hawk Eagles and Rose Throated Tanagers; riding and canoeing.
Why We Love It
The authorities allowed the building of the lodge on a Mayan site because the original plaza was already beyond repair, and to deter looters who had already entered many of the temples at the site.
Hidden Valley Inn
Nestled in its own 7,200 acre nature reserve, Hidden Valley Inn is one of the most secluded properties in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, the oldest and largest parkland in Belize.
There are just 12 rooms at this intimate eco-resort, ten of which are Estate rooms and two are Estate suites. The Estate rooms have full private ensuites with a combination shower/bath arrangement. The rooms have a vaulted ceiling, fan and screened louvered windows in each wall to provide ample air movement and comfortable temperatures. The Estate suites each have a screened-in patio with hammocks and seating, an outdoor waterfall-themed shower and claw-foot bath.
Facilities include a restaurant, bar, swimming pools, hot tub and massage studio, and there are even three yoga platforms dotted around the property. There is a cozy communal sitting room with a roaring log fire in the colder months. There are no phones or televisions in the rooms, so this is a great place to escape and enjoy the surroundings.
There are over 100 miles of roads and trails to explore on foot, by car, mountain bike or horseback, and there are several waterfalls and lakes where guests can swim or canoe. Rare birds such as the King Vulture and the Orange Breasted Falcon are often seen around the premesis, and guided tours of the area are likely to unveil many more.
Why We Love It
We highly recommend yoga on one of the platforms in amongst the forest and waterfalls - the Yokol Chen platform is especially enticing.