A few clarifications from my end:
1) My quoted comment about 40% off referred to off-season rates compared with high-season rates. On Ambergris Caye and elsewhere in Belize, *published* rates from around Easter to Thanksgiving (exact dates vary) are from 10% to 50% lower than in the high season. Typically in Belize it's 30 to 40% off the high season rate. In general, the most expensive properties offer the biggest off-season discounts; budget properties discount only a little (usually 10 to 15%) and a few may not discount at all.
2) Walk-in rates as Marvel said are exactly that. You take your chances. You cannot get walk-in rates in advance. Ambergris Caye is one place that traditionally has offered quite a few walk-in rates. This year is the best year for tourism in Belize anytime in history, so there's less pressure to lower rates than in years past, but walk-in rates are still available. At 4 p.m., a hotel with empty rooms and no bookings to fill it for a few days would rather take $60 a night than zero. Hotels don't advertise these rates and some deny they offer them at all.
3) According to the BTB's stats, the average annual occupancy for all hotels on Ambergris Caye over the past few years has been about 40%. Some well-run, well-marketed San Pedro hotels have enjoyed considerably higher occupancy than that and a FEW may be in the 80% range (though some of these pad their occupancy rates by leasing some of their rooms to med students or otherwise renting them). That figure is average annual occupancy -- occupancy tends to be highest in March (and of course at Christmas and Easter) and lowest in September and October).
Again, occupancy has been higher this year, and there hasn't been a jump in hotel construction in San Pedro (yet) as there has been in Stann Creek district, where probably one-half of the hotels are for sale now, either actively or passively, but from late August until early November is slow time for Belize hotels because U.S. schools are going back in session and families don't travel so much. Plus soon it will be prime hurricane season in the Caribbean.
4) Over the past four or five years, the total tourist arrivals show that September and October have only one-half as many tourists arriving in Belize as during June and only about a third as many as in March.
To me, the best ways to get deals on hotels in Belize are:
* Go off-season, especially in August, September or October.
* Book direct via the Internet, rather than through a travel agent. Small hotels don't like to publicize it, but they prefer to do direct bookings rather than pay a travel agent 15%+ commission.
* At least *look* at package deals with airline/hotel combos -- these can occasionally save $$ over straight bookings. Some of the hotels on Ambergris Caye stay heavily booked by working with wholesalers and package tour opertors.
* Book your first night or two at the best rate you can find, then after you arrive look for walk-in rates (unless you are satisfied with where you have booked).
* For the biggest savings, look at the expensive or luxury properties.
Of course you can't expect to get a quality hotel room for next to nothing. Even near-empty hotels will balk at discounting too heavily.
Belize First Magazine http://www.turq.com/belizefirst/