Just spent 16 days in Belize to attend the BETEX tourism trade show and hotel site inspection tour. Wow! Saw a lot of new properties! Belize is growing by leaps and bounds. The show was nicely produced by the BTB and BTIA and assorted sponsors. I have attended every BETEX since 1996 and while the travel industry has changed greatly over the years, this trade show never fails to impress.
One of the best hotels in the country, Victoria House, on Ambergris Caye offers barefoot elegance at its best! Upscale but not pretentious. Deluxe accommodations including individual casitas, Plantation rooms and suites, 3 to 5 bedroom Villas, award winning restaurant, casual fun Admiral Nelson's bar, dive shop, gift shop with in person guest artisans, new spa (with full service gym, yoga classes, reiki, massage and all spa services), 2 pools, gorgeous grounds and super customer service. Most of the staff has been there for 15-20 years. That really says something about the good management and ownership of this resort. One of my long time favorites in Belize.
Well it was definitely different being in Belize for an extended period of time. Takes a while just to figure out how to do the daily living like banking, grocery shopping, paying electric bills, etc. Plus not having transportation and walking everywhere is different for this spoiled US chick. But it was good. I could have stayed longer. But I will be back in May for the big tourism trade show BETEX, and more traveling around the country for Cashew fest in Crooked Tree, Cacao fest in Punta Gorda, etc. May is usually very hot and dry in Belize so travel is easy.
I did find it hard to blog regularly while in Belize between slow sketchy internet connections, and wanting to be "living" it rather than writing about it. But I will fill in now and in the coming days with my adventures (& hotel site inspections) done in the last 2 months
Visited the "so called" Secret Beach yesterday. Nice spot on the western lagoon side of the island, with shallow calm clear water, and lots of people enjoying family Funday Sunday. Obviously not much of a secret any longer (as evidenced by the line of golf carts in the photo below!) this area became popular a few years ago when the unusual Sargasso seaweed washed up on the "front" side of the island rendering the beaches virtually unusable. Now that the Sargasso has receded for the most part, it is a popular spot in its own right with several bars and snack shops, and beautiful sunsets. Plan accordingly as it is a long (~1 hour each way), hot, dusty (or muddy) golf cart drive with no services along the way. Gas or charge your cart before starting out....and enjoy! Several tour companies offer day trips by boat as well.
The Marco Gonzalez archaeological site is located 5 miles South of central park in San Pedro. While not a huge ruin with pyramids like you can see on the mainland, it is a nice, partially excavated 8 acre site that was a commercial trade center on La Ruta Maya (the route of the Mayans through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala & Honduras.) Situated in a wetlands area, it is best visited during the dry season from mid February to mid June, early on a breezy day. You can visit it any time of the year but I would guess it would be super buggy during the wet season. Definitely use bug repellent at any time (although it was really not needed yesterday). $20 Bz admission fee. The paths are well marked with a recently constructed 1/4 mile "boardwalk" accessing the main plaza, and there is a small gift shop on site. Tours can be arranged or can be self guided. Worth the visit!
Spent the last few days in the Cayo district in SW Belize. Mountainous, refreshing, adventurous. Did waterfalls, caves, Maya ruins, the Belize Zoo, etc. And stayed at the wonderful Caves Branch Lodge in one of their 2 bedroom treehouses. Spectacular property outside Belmopan off the Hummingbird Highway (which has been repaved and is now a pleasure to drive!) What a treat to wake up high in the canopy of the rainforest!
Dined at the new seafood restaurant at Banyan Bay. HUGE improvement over the old on site restaurant. Interesting menu, good presentation, large portions, friendly service (thanks Daphne!) I had the mushroom artichoke risotto with seafood kebab, my companion had the whole catch of the day (snapper) blackened, and we shared a caesar salad and sesame beets on the side. Excellent! A bit pricey at $148 Belize (including drinks) but not outrageous. The setting is lovely with exposed "beached" woodwork, raw bar type display, light trendy music playing and, of course, the ever present seabreeze gently blowing. Seating is inside in the open air dining room, or outside on their pier, with a long group or communal table that can be reserved. The new chef Mr Garfield from Barbados is often found circulating among the patrons. And don't miss the delightful swing garden just outside the restaurant (envisioned and created by former general manager Javier G). A perfect place to take your after dinner coffee or drink. Overall a fantastic addition to this family friendly resort.
Arrived in Belize and am starting on the most popular of the islands - Ambergris Caye, locally referred to as San Pedro which is the largest town on the island. Here is the view right now from my new "office" :)
We returned from Belize yesterday and we had a fabulous time. You did an outstanding job arranging this trip. I found that you listened to what we were looking for and really helped us choose the accommodations and activities to perfection. We are so happy that we found you to help us with this trip.
I hope we can use your services again. Do you only arrange Belize vacations?
(now of course they were staying at the fantastic Chaa Creek inland, and The Phoenix on the beach on Ambergris Caye so it is hard to go wrong....but I will accept a little of the credit! ;)
Barbara Kasak, Owner