Portofino Resort- Now with a new BEACH BAR!!
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#82859 - 03/24/04 02:43 PM Tofino’s AC report – March 1 – 8, 2004
tofino Offline
My first report was on the week we spent on Blackbird Caye Resort 2/18-1/25, 2004, second report was on San Ignacio 2/25-3/1, 2004,which I managed to delete after I wrote it. Will still do it again, later, but wanted to write this one in response to “klandersnitrox” report, which is one the of the most comprehensive I’ve ever read and thank you for that.
So, we left San Ignacio morning of March 1st after a week there. We decided on the fancy air-conditioned, express bus only to discover that the air-conditioning was not working and guess what. They can’t open the windows on this bus. Moral, take the regular bus from now on, at least the windows open and you can get a breeze. Oh well, we’re on vacation so who cares. Fly to AC from Municipal on Tropic Air. Saved a few dollars, always a good thing. We had reservations at Banana Beach. We also had to change rooms for the last two days because we were late in making reservations, but it was no problem at all. We just packed and they moved us, zip, zip. Our first five days were spent in a suite on the 3rd floor facing the big pool. We also had a small balcony that overlooked the small pool facing away from the ocean. When I say small balcony, it was only big enough for one person to stand there. Good for hanging wet bathing suits over though. We had a kitchen/dining/living room, a large bedroom and a sofa opening into a queen size bed. We actually cooked a couple of dinners in our room and made lunches of tuna, peanut butter and egg salad sandwiches, fruit and chips. Keep in mind we had already been in Belize for over two weeks and our budget was just about shot. So, we went to the pink grocery store and stocked up on chicken, hamburger, eggs, baking potatoes, salad makings, all easy dinners, drinks and microwave popcorn. Worked out perfectly. Breakfast was, of course, included, every morning, but after about three mornings we decided to order something else and the $5 coupon was really great. I don’t remember the number of our room but it was in the middle of the third floor, facing the pool and the ocean, if we could have seen it. Very nice. After 5 days, we were moved to A105 which is on the left side of the hotel (facing the ocean) on the ground floor. This is a room with two twin beds (can be pushed together to make a king), a big bathroom with a Jacuzzi and a little hallway which connects to another room somewhere. We used the little hallway to stash our suitcases to help keep our room tidy. Right outside our room was a wooden walkway shared by all the rooms on that side. We each had a table and chairs, pots of plants and a porch light. This made our room seem twice as big because we spent so much time out there. Great place to dry out swimsuits, wetsuits, towels etc. The room has a small refrigerator. Now if it just had a microwave, it would be perfect. Frankly, it’s the room I will choose next time I go there. We walked out the door and from our table we could see the ocean and the beach, about 50 feet away. Liked not climbing those stairs, too. And just around the corner from both swimming pools. Knowing we would be moving to a room without a kitchen, we cooked up all our food before we moved.

We never did have dinner at the hotel, but breakfast and a couple of lunches. We used the tour services “Monkey Business” and couldn’t have been happier. The young women were more than helpful and friendly. Of course, we were there for a week, and were in the shop every day, maybe they just got used to us. We checked out prices of various snorkel/dive trips and found the prices to be exactly the same all over town. So, we figured why not give the business to our hotel.
The beach was just great, we did have big winds for our first five days, so the water was pretty crummy, but the chairs and shade was really comfortable. We did walk the beach almost every day to town and found the other hotels to feel much less inviting and friendly. They seem to be mostly empty. Banana Beach always had a couple dozen people sunning or reading in the shade. Even so it was quiet and restful. We took a trip to Bacalar Chico, which was kind of disappointing because all we really wanted to do was snorkel, instead it’s a hour or more boat ride, then a lecture on the Mayan Indians, which, frankly, is done so much better by any guide in San Ignacio. Then a disappointing swim (no coral, one kind of fish) at San Juan and then around the point to Rocky Point. Way too windy to go there and the snorkeling we did do was rough and not much fun. As this was the most expensive trip, $85 US each, and took a whole day, it’s probably the one thing we regret doing. They did take us through mangroves and at one point we cold touch both Belize and Mexico at the same time and out to an island where we saw some beautiful and interesting birds. So, I guess it wasn’t a total loss. We also went to all the regular places, Hol-Chan is great because Margaret could dive and I could snorkel. Tres Cocos has the most awesome staghorn coral I’ve ever. All in all, the snorkeling trips were great. As we went with whatever company was going that day, I can’t say some are better than others. They are all good and the guides try to give you a good time.

Rented the golf cart, of course and one day late in the afternoon found ourselves on a road that got narrower with water on both sides of us. We were on the other side of the airport and were totally lost. And laughing like two goofs. As it was getting dark, we figured we’d better get ourselves back to come civilization. What we didn’t know was we were on a dead end, a really long dead-end. Thankfully, we came across a couple of guys in another golf cart and they led us back to where we needed to be. We were way south. Turns out the two guys were policemen, at least we think they were. The golf carts really are fun and we always enjoyed the boys who would jump on back for a ride or grab onto the back on their bikes for a haul. I know, it’s probably dangerous, but hey, aren’t kids always doing something dangerous. Then they’d just let go or jump off with a big smile and wave.

So, we ate at a lot of the same old places and I’m not going to list them here. Except for Casa Picasso. What a great place, what great food and Chris and Jennifer are great. Go there. It’s down a side road south of town. Start looking for signs or ask someone. It’s worth the trip.

Spent our last night on a blow-out dinner at Rico’s on the beach not too far from BB hotel. Had a steak that was marked USDA, big laugh over that. Spent as much for that meal as all the groceries we had bought. But, hey, it’s our last night, right?

All in all, had fun, did find the prices higher than the last time I was in AC, 1999, and way higher than anything in San Ignacio, but this is a tourist island getting more popular every month, so we were not surprised. And as food and drink is the biggest expense and the one we had the most control over, we didn’t mind mixing our own drinks and having them by the pool and cooking up easy dinners in our room. And the nice thing, the housekeeping staff does up the dishes the next morning. Yea! One other nice thing, hotel pays for cab ride to and from airport. We appreciate each and every little thing.


#82860 - 03/24/04 03:04 PM Re: Tofino’s AC report – March 1 – 8, 2004
goody2shuz Offline
Welcome Back..Tofino smile It's great to spend time on this board getting to know people from all over and reading trip reports much like yours upon their return laugh We are all psyched for our first trip to AC in only 11 more days at Banana Beach. We start out in a courtyard room (I believe that's what you stayed in) followed by a week in a deluxe oceanfront. Between your report & Mikell's we are soaking up so much info. (as well as form all the other wonderful boarders who spend time to help out) Great to know Hol Chan is a good place for both snorkelers & divers...since hubby is the only one who dives & we're looking for places that provide an opportunity to do both. Thanks for sharing...Goody

#82861 - 03/24/04 09:36 PM Re: Tofino’s AC report – March 1 – 8, 2004
tofino Offline
Hi Goody,

You are going to have such a wonderful time and I'm already envious even though I got to spend three weeks in Belize. I really love it there. The only recommendation I'll make is to go to Casa Picasso and have the gazpacho soup. Check it out on their website, there's a good map to help you find them.

Otherwise just do what everyone else does, go with the flow. You'll find lots of help and information just asking anyone at the hotel or on the streets.


#82862 - 03/24/04 09:58 PM Re: Tofino’s AC report – March 1 – 8, 2004
goody2shuz Offline
Tofino...you envying me...I'll be there a week shorter than you wink Yes, Casa Picasso is on our list of places to go...not just for the great food that their well known for but also for their Jumbo watermelon martinis laugh

#82863 - 03/24/04 10:05 PM Re: Tofino’s AC report – March 1 – 8, 2004
Beachy Offline
ah, shucks, :rolleyes: you guys make us all feel so great here,thanks for joining us and taking time to write about us.The whole staff thanks you and welcomes everyone!
Come again soon!
Casa Picasso celebrated three yearsthis May, thanks to all of you!
Chris and Jen

#82864 - 03/24/04 10:23 PM Re: Tofino’s AC report – March 1 – 8, 2004
goody2shuz Offline
Chris...We're gonna try those martinis, it's on the top of our "to do" list...any chance of us getting your secret recipe...we have a group of friends who always try to outdo each other in the Martini contest...and if we come back with a great one not only will we win but chances are that we can talk them all to coming back to AC with us next time around laugh ...Goody

#82865 - 03/24/04 10:37 PM Re: Tofino’s AC report – March 1 – 8, 2004
mikell Offline

you arrived the day we left...maybe you were one of those people getting off the plane with big smiles smile while we were getting ready to fly out...we were the ones with the sad faces! frown

glad to hear you enjoyed BB as much as we did...great staff and accomodations...(and you gotta love someone doing your dishes every morning!!)

tres cocos was my favourite snorkel spot too! amazing coral for sure!

and Casa Picasso was on the top of our list too...didn't try the gazpacho...but the paella special friday night was fabulous...topped off by the bananas picasso!!

thanks for the trip report...i got to re-live our time there a little once more!

#82866 - 03/25/04 01:20 PM Re: Tofino’s AC report – March 1 – 8, 2004
Beachy Offline
No problem, I will be happy to share secret martini recipes when you are here! I figure I will let you find your favorites first, don;t forget that after 9pm we do many of the best martinis 1/2 price, which should make it easier for you and the gang to taste all of them!
Casa Picasso celebrated three yearsthis May, thanks to all of you!
Chris and Jen


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