Hi, Razor, I wouldn't say Costa Maya is bad. I would hope our little run-in wasn't the norm. It is a very nice property for the most part. Our room was really nice. The grounds are nice and the views are awesome. I have pictures posted at the trip report section for Feb. 6-21. My first impression of the place was I didn't want to leave, until our little incident. Of course, no place is ever perfect.
However, it is a long ways from town and not feasible to get a golf cart way up there. Maybe consider renting bikes for the week from Joe's Bike Rental in San Pedro. If you don't mind bike riding, it's not a bad ride to town along the beach. The road does go part of the way up too. You could take the water taxi to town, rent the bikes for the week for about $70 (that's what we were quoted) and bike back up to Costa Maya. Then you'd be able to go to more restaurants in the north end. It's way easier to get around by bike too. It goes more places than a cart. They usually have a basket on them too so you can carry some things.
I think Portofino's is walkable. You have to walk the beach and it's kind of dark at night. I'm trying to remember which one was Portofino's. We didn't walk there because I wasn't comfortable walking at night up there. There's literally no one or nothing around.
The restaurant at Costa Maya was good when we ate there but the menu was small. We had brought a bunch of groceries up there with us because we had stayed in town several days before. So if you can get to the grocery store first, I'd recommend it, or early on in the week.
When you're picked up from town by the resort, the water taxi boat is very large and has room for luggage and groceries. Do you arrive on a Saturday? The water taxi on Saturday is free. We dropped off our luggage with the water taxi (there's someone from the resort always there), and we went and got our groceries, as did a lot of other people. It's only a block straight up from the Hustler pier which is where it will pick you up. The resort must stock up too, because there was lots of stuff for the resort, even a water heater. When you get to Costa Maya, they handle all your luggage, etc., so don't worry about having too much to carry. I wouldn't trust the little general store at the resort because a lot of stuff was outdated and who knows how long it had been sitting there; e.g., they had little bags of sugar, flour, mixes that they bagged themselves in plastic baggies. Who knows how old it was. They also sell boxed and canned items like Hamburger Helper and rice, cereal, but it's spendy. Check the dates if you buy anything there.
The beach area in front of the property is really big with little palapas to sit under and lounges. There's a small pool too. It is a full service resort and their activities fill up very fast and are only offered on certain days. e.g., if you want to go to Hol Chan, it's probably offered 2 days out of the week and that's it and once it's full, that's it.
And, a little bit of warning. If you go to a timeshare presentation and don't buy, be prepared to be treated differently the rest of your stay. They also seemed really perturbed that we left for the mainland for a few days. I suppose because they didn't make any money off of us.
Trip Advisor is not always accurate. Our local news just did a report on TripAdvisor and there are bogus reviews on it that get through. As is done on this message board, businesses bash other businesses and try to discredit each other. So, some are legitimate and some aren't. I would say most are accurate, though.
A.C. is so unique that where you're staying will probably not matter a bit. I would suggest getting out and about too. If you hate it up there, there's really cheap rooms in town, if only for a couple days, and the locals are by far the most hospitable of all the Carribean islands.
Keep an open mind! Belize is fabulous. If your only goal is to relax on the beach with a good book and enjoy the stunning ocean views, you will be a happy camper at Costa Maya. If you like night life, activity a little bit of bustling of people, you might get bored but you'll have plenty to do during the day.
Enjoy! And consider the alternative - not being on vacation! I would take Costa Maya over the cold Minnesota winter any day. (Unless I paid a lot of money for it).