I think they're both very good places.
* With the new addition, Banana Beach is much larger, with around 67 units. Believe Xanadu has 10, maybe 12, one-bedroom condo suites (units have lofts with an additional bed).
* Banana Beach is more traditional construction, reinforced concrete with a Mexican-influence style, especially the original building. Xanadu is unique in that is has dome construction with thatch roof.
* Banana Beach has a wider variety of rooms, from regular hotel rooms to four-bedroom suites (in the addition the hotel has the ability to combine several one-bedroom units into a single large suite). The majority of units at Banana Beach, however, are one-bedroom suites with a bedroom, kitchen/living area.
* Banana Beach has two pools, Xanadu one, but Banana Beach's are "courtyard" pools, inside the central patios.
* Xanadu is a little closer to town.
* Banana Beach's management and staff are top-notch; nothing wrong with Xanadu's either but Banana Beach is known for its professional and friendly staff.
* Xanadu throws in free use of bikes, canoes, etc. Banana Beach does not.
* Banana Beach has always been known for its superior value, and it's still a top value though prices may be a little higher or a little firmer than before, and Xanadu has been discounting some, so the prices may be closer.
* The beaches are similar. There's a low seawall right in front of Banana Beach and, if I remember correctly, not a seawall at Xanadu, but you can walk a few steps at Banana Beach and be on a beach without seawall.
* Depending on when you go, Banana Beach may have its on-site restaurant open, but in any case there are plenty of good restaurants on the island.
Believe in my guide to the island, San Pedro Cool, we give Banana Beach four stars and Xanadu three and a half.
I'd be very happy at either, though I'm still a big fan of the second and third floor seafront corner suites at Banana Beach, and especially so when the old A/Cs are replaced with new units.
--Lan Sluder www.belizefirst.com