4110264649 61e3ef4e16 b 590x442 Roberts Grove: Seaside in Belize

The dock at Robert's Grove Beach Resort, Placencia, Belize

With the end of the Mayan calendar on its way at the end of 2012, seems like I can’t crack open a blog post without reading of the splendors of Belize, the birthplace of Mayan civilization.

I have to agree with the sentiment that Belize is a lush, beautiful country full of friendly people and delicious food. I merely ask, why wait ’til the global apocalypse to go there?

I know of a lovely place where you can stay by the seaEnd Times or no End Times.

My first morning at Robert’s Grove Beach Resort in southeastern Belize was also my first morning in the country. I strolled out onto the resort’s long dock, the sky steely grey and the wood still damp from a fleeting rain shower. I stopped and peered over the side at million baby fish wriggling in the green Caribbean. Glancing back to shore, I closed my eyes and smiled, listening to papery palm fronds shush in the breeze. I turned, followed the dock to the end, and sat down on a bench in the frond-roof palapa and wondered if it was too late to extend my trip.

This quiet, romantic and (sort of) remote spot is good for what ails you. Reached by a short Tropic Air charter (from the hub of Belize City to the resort town of Placencia) and an also-short van ride, you’ll arrive at a laid-back version of paradise. From the airplane, I’d loved seeing the jungle unfurl like a green shag carpet beside a silvery sea, but here at the resort I felt my own shoulders unfurl. And I don’t have to tell you, my overworked friends, that this is no easy task for any of us.

 Roberts Grove: Seaside in Belize

Along 22 acres of white-sand peace and quiet, there are pools with hand-painted tiles and hot tubs, a cheerful bar with a view of the water, palms strung with hammocks, and *sigh*…that dock. The rooms look and feel like big, airy haciendas with huge bathrooms (and kick-ass water pressure), plenty of places to stretch out, and little front porches upon which to perch.

 Roberts Grove: Seaside in Belize

Soundproofing is, um, excellent, and you get a nice view whether you stay upstairs or down in the Ocean View Villas. Mind you, I don’t want to stop you from booking an Oceanfront Villa, it’s just a little more expensive. You do what you like.

 Roberts Grove: Seaside in Belize

Meals here are served on the seaside deck, and I fell in love with the combination of Caribbean breezes and gorgeously prepared food. I’d never had spiny lobster, conch fritters with jalapeŮo, curried shrimp or banana gelato before, but thanks to Robert’s Grove I now crave them on an almost unsustainable basis. Each morning at the resort, I was tearfully happy to have rich, dark coffee and a fluffy egg-white-and-veggie omelette served seaside to a soundtrack of Lionel Richie and Hall & Oates.

Two years later, and I’m still shocked that I actually returned home after this trip.

 Roberts Grove: Seaside in Belize

In addition to resort guests, dinners here attract Garifuna musicians (descendants of West African slaves who specialize in intoxicating drum rhythms) and American expats; the relatively nearby central village of Placencia feels more residential than touristy, full of couples and families who long ago came on vacation and never left. In case you have no desire to leave the resort in the evenings but still want to meet locals, simply hang out on the deck at Robert’s Grove long enough you’ll find yourself drawn into conversations that swing from gossip to history to debates about the best fishing spots, beaches and adventures.

If chatting with locals feel too, well, chatty for you two, consider renting one of the resort’s two private islands. Both are at least a half-hour boat ride from a main shore and strike me as ideal places to get away from everything except nature — and yourselves.

But by all means, be sure to visit this place before the end of the world arrives. You’ll kick yourself if you miss it amidst a fiery ball of destruction.

 Roberts Grove: Seaside in Belize