Portofino Resort- Now with a new BEACH BAR!!
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#16415 - 03/31/03 09:14 PM Two Perspectives on Mopan River Resort
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
Here are two somewhat different perspectives on Mopan River Resort in Cayo, both from people there very recently. Guess it goes to show you: Different strokes for different folks. (Note: I've stayed at Mopan River but these reports are NOT by me.)

--Lan Sluder
www.belizefirst.com

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The accommodations at MOPAN RIVER RESORT were wonderful. The staff is just outstanding, and the trips were great. We wanted for not a thing. Even slippers were waiting in our cabana, and a refrigerator full of free beverages of soda/beer and the full bar is included in the costs as well. And we could make our own coffee with instant coffee packages and our stove/water kettle. In particular, they handled everything for Tikal ---which is a huge plus from what we could tell. We didn't think we would even go to Tikal, we're glad we did. The guides they employ for the various day trips are just outstanding, and we particularly liked the no tipping policy. It's truly all inclusive. We spoke to some people that we met at CORONA DEL MAR in San Pedro (which we also enjoyed) who were staying at Cahal Pech, and they were very disappointed with Cahal Pech, we were thrilled with our choice. Mopan River has a Jungle Buggy that takes you to Caracol (we didn't do that trip) and to Xanantunich (we did that one as a day trip). Very great transportation services. And coolers w/ beer/soda water waiting for us in the van upon our return. They have frozen water ready in the mornings for taking on the trip with you. Breakfast is made to order. Jay takes the orders himself. All of the food was great, of course Pam and Jay are just the best hostess and host. They pretty much think of everything, including sandwiches for the ride to the zoo on our way out since the airlines don't really do that so much. They prepare you well in advance for the trip with helpful email instructions on what to bring. Pam even helped straighten out a problem for a young couple wanting to get married in Caye Caulker. They had Lan Sluder's books available in their guest library---which was a nice treat too, not only for your information, but because the library had lots of stuff to read from archeological books to Tom Clancy. Videos were available, but we didn't get a chance for that. We kayaked down the river, which was very fun. We also did Chechem Ha (pottery cave) which was a great tour! We were busy all the time if we wanted, and the pool was a refreshing place to return and relax. Many guests played cards after dinner and had cocktails and shared stories. Very nice place with the iguanas running around and the birds and the beautifullly manicured grounds. It's so pretty there, even when it rains. Very well guarded too. Some folks struggled with the roosters and dogs across the river, but Pam/Jay offer earplugs if anyone requires them. People should keep in mind that they are going to the 'jungle' so some bugs might come out and about. Jay/Pam do everything to make the place bug free. Janice Berger, March 2003

* If you are going to stay at MOPAN RIVER LODGE, I have a word of advice for you: Dogs! The lodge-which, make no mistake, is a beautiful, absolutely first-rate place-is right across the river (like, 50 feet) from the small border town of Benque Viejo del Carmen, and the town is FULL of stray dogs, most of which seem to bark ALL NIGHT. Ear plugs will help a bit, but if you're going for that quiet nighttime jungle experience, Mopan is not for you. (The place is also completely fenced in, so you can't really venture outside the enclosed compound.) The other dog aspect are the ferocious guard dogs (big Rottweilers) that patrol Mopan all night. True, they are walked around by staff on leashes, and are supposed to make you feel more secure, but they kind of freaked me out a bit. One of them lunged at some guests who were sitting on the riverbank at night. True, the leash stopped him, but still . . .also, we were warned in no uncertain terms to stay away from the dogs. My wife and I walked through the town of Benque, and didn't feel threatened at all-the people in Belize are incredibly friendly-so I guess I didn't see the need for attack dogs. But then again, I don't live in Belize all year . . . still, the dogs made me feel less secure, strangely enough. The owners apparently are some type of U. S. tax dodgers, and don't seem to treat the staff very well-in fact, they seem pretty contemptuous of the locals. In fairness, I must say that Mopan River Lodge is really a nice place-beautiful grounds, very nice, exotic cabanas with all modern conveniences, great tour guides (Alexi and Eric are awesome), friendly staff (everyone in Belize is friendly!), great food, a very nice pool, a birdwatching/observation tower, and an open bar. And the owners aren't kidding about the "everything included" pricing package: When they say "all included," they mean it. The only thing you have to pay for are border-crossing fees and park entrance fees. And we went on some great tours: Tikal, Barton Creek Cave, Xuanantunich, and kayaking down the Mopan. I guess I have mixed feelings about Mopan River Lodge. Chuck Tobler, March 2003
_________________________
Lan Sluder/Belize First
http://www.belizefirst.com

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#16416 - 03/31/03 10:44 PM Re: Two Perspectives on Mopan River Resort
Barbara K Offline
Just got this from a client today...

Glad that we didn't go to that Mopan resort. DuPlooys couldn't be beat. Interesting fact about Mopan - they keep their costs down by scheduling resort-wide trips. Either you take the same trip as everybody else or you go (& pay extra) by yourself. Couldn't see going from place to place with 10 to 15 other people.
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www.barbsbelize.com

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#16417 - 03/31/03 11:19 PM Re: Two Perspectives on Mopan River Resort
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
Guess I might as well post my own review of Mopan River.

--Lan Sluder

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[FOUR STARS] Mopan River Resort, Benque Viejo del Carmen, Cayo; tel. 501-823-2047, fax 823-3272, e-mail mopanriver@btl.net; www.mopanriverresort.com. Closed July-October. The valu-o-meter got turned up to wow in Cayo when this all-inclusive opened in November 1999. Some visitors complain that Belize hotel rates seem reasonable enough, but at check-out the total tab is lot higher than expected, after adding the price of meals, drinks, transfers, tours, tax, and service charges. But here, owners Jay and Pamella Picon deliver almost everything for one price: transfers from your arrival flight in Belize City, room, all meals, daily tours (including trips to Tikal, Caracol and Barton Creek cave, plus kayaking on the Macal River,though not admission fees), local beer and drinks, and even tips and taxes. And that one price isn’t a budget-breaker, either, starting at less than US$130 per person per day (based on a 7-day stay.) No tipping is allowed. Guests are responsible only for site admission fees, visa/border fees, departure taxes, usually adding up to about US$70 a week. Fact is, it may be the best upmarket deal on the mainland. The location is a bit, well, unexpected, across the Mopan River from the back streets of old Benque, but once you’ve taken the short ferry ride (Jay had the steel ferry built to his specs) to the resort’s 10-acre coconut palm-studded grounds, you’re in your own private paradise. The 12 thatch cabañas are done up in high Belizean style, with cabbage bark wood floors and mahogany cabinets, and they come with most of the modcons, including cable TV, VCR, 24-hour electricity (but not A/C), some of the best beds in Belize and refrigerators stocked with complimentary soft drinks and Belikin. Three of the cabañas are larger suites, with full kitchens. We think these are worth the small extra cost. Breakfasts are to order, and dinners usually have a theme such as Thai night, with recipes Pam Picon picked up from cooking courses at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. Over drinks or a barbecue at the expansive, art-filled Picon home which occupies a prime spot on the grounds, Jay, who admits to his share of serious tax problems in the U.S., will regale you with tales of his days as a pilot and head of large U.S. aviation companies. Jay’s real name is Joseph Ross, and his tales of tax woes have been recounted in The Wall Street Journal and in the book, The Cheating of America by Charles Lewis and Bill Allison. The resort has good security: Guards with Rottweilers patrol after dark. So what’s the down side? The location will be a turn-off for those expecting to be in the jungle — this is NOT a jungle lodge. A few guests have reported noise from dogs barking in town. And it’s not for those who want to do things entirely on their own, trying different restaurants, heading out on a whim, staying up late to sample local nightlife. As at many small lodges, the particular mix of guests when you’re there has a lot to do with your total experience. A swimming pool opened in 2001, and a wedding chapel in 2002. We recommend you do not swim in the Mopan River here, as it is polluted by discharges from Benque and nearby Guatemala. Rates: Seven-night all-inclusive packages are US$898 per person in a cabaña, or US$1,073 for a suite with kitchen; three-, four-, five- and six-night plans also available, from US$598, but the weeklong package is the best deal. Christmas and Easter holidays are slightly higher.
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Lan Sluder/Belize First
http://www.belizefirst.com

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#16418 - 04/01/03 12:39 AM Re: Two Perspectives on Mopan River Resort
bywarren Offline
Here is some more interesting perspective on the subject. www.escapeartist.com/efam26/bacon.html

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