This is how I compare them:
[Three Stars] Seven Seas Resort, Boca Del Rio Drive, tel. 501-226-2382, fax in the United States 734-448-7070, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, www.AmbergrisCaye.com/sevenseas/index.html.
This established beachfront property has gone through a variety of incarnations over the years, including timeshare, but it remains a very good value at the north edge of town, within walking distance of downtown restaurants. Staff is friendly and helpful. In a small cluster of three-story pink and white buildings youíll find air-conditioned one-bedroom suites with tile floors and Belizean-made furniture. Thereís a pool and a pier. Rates for direct booking are a deal Ė around US$97 double in-season and US$67 off-season, plus tax (no fixed service charge Ė tip what you want). Bottom line: Rates for one-bedroom suites are hard to beat.
[Three Stars Plus] Playa Blanca Resort, San Pedro; tel. 501-226-5206; e-mail email@example.com; www.playablancabelize.com.
Run by Gary ďGazĒ Cooper, an expatriate Brit and well-known dive operator in San Pedro, Playa Blanca is more a large private home (where everyone happens to dive or hang out on the beach) than a regular condotel. The piece de resistance is the penthouse, a 2,200 square-foot second-floor suite with three bedrooms and two baths and great views of the water; it also has access to a large patio and roof-top sunning area. This huge space, which goes for a whopping US$550 per night in-season and almost as much, US$495, May through mid-December, could be right for a family or a group of divers, as it sleeps 8 to 10. Available also are large one- bedroom (US$165 off-season, US$185 in-season) and huge 1,400 square-feet two-bedroom suites (US$225 off, US$250 on). Dive packages with Gaz Cooperís dive operation also are available. Thereís a beach bar and, by the time you read this, a pool, but no restaurant. As you are about 5 miles north of town, (a trip to town is free on the hotelís boat if itís going, otherwise itís a US$10 water taxi ride one-way) this is not a place for those who want to try a different restaurant for every meal. There are six hotel restaurants within a half-hour walk, but itís not as if you can pop next door for a burger when you get hungry. Bottom line: Off-the-beaten path condo suites in a beautiful waterfront setting.
--Lan Sluder www.belizefirst.com