On Placencia, here's my run-down of most of the hotels on the peninsula, from my new guidebook, the Belize First Guide to Mainland Belize (I also did the updates on the new Fodor's and UpClose Central America Belize guides.)
Unlike Ambergris Caye, there are no condos on the peninsula and only a few places with kitchens. Most of the really nice places, like Inn at Robert's Grove, Luba Hati and Rum Point Inn, are small resorts with rooms or cabins, not self-catering houses. For a kitchen, Barnacle Bill's, which has nice, nearly new small houses, would probably be my choice, or one of the houses Kitty's has for rent.
If you don't have a car, though, you're going to want to be a closer to things than in Maya Beach where Barnacle Bill's is. If the shuttle isn't running (sometimes it is, sometimes not) it's a US$15 to $20 cab ride from Maya Beach to Placencia village.
Belize First Magazine http://www.turq.com/belizefirst/
Price categories are for in-season double without meals, not including 7% hotel room tax or service charge, if any. To make comparisons equitable, rates for hotels which include meals or other items in the tariff are adjusted, reflecting an estimated cost for room only. However, specific rates shown in the listings below are actual rates but do not include 7% hotel room tax, 8% sales tax on meals or service charge, unless otherwise stated.
Most hotels listed, except low-cost budget places, receive a star rating of from one to five stars. Only a few hotels in the country are rated five stars. Keep in mind that, although there is no direct correlation between the price of a hotel room and the hotel’s star rating, three- to five-star hotels are likely to be considerably more expensive than average. Some travelers may be willing to accept a lower level of amenities and services in exchange for a lower price, or they may even prefer staying in inexpensive lodging to better appreciate the local culture.
HHHHH One of the top hotels in the Caribbean, well-run with striking location and/or facilities.
HHHH One of the best hotels in Belize, with a dependably high level of hospitality.
HHH Excellent accommodations, with above-average amenities, service and/or hospitality.
HH Good accommodations and often a very good value.
H Functional accommodations, meeting basic needs, and often a good value.
Placencia and Seine Bight Villages and Maya Beach
HHHHH Inn at Robert’s Grove, Seine Bight. This 20-room seaside hotel on eight acres, which opened in 1997, has raised the bar on what visitors to this part of Belize can expect in a beach resort. Owned by ex-New Yorkers Risa and Robert Frackman, Robert’s Grove isn’t cheap, but you get what you pay for here. All rooms are air-conditioned, with king beds with quality mattresses, fridges and safes. You can play free on the only tennis courts in southern Belize. The pool is a beauty, 50-feet long and just steps from the sea, and there are three roof-top jacuzzis. Direct-dial phones are in all the rooms, and the sumptuous junior suites have TV with satellite programming. The restaurant at the hotel is one of the best on the peninsula. Guests get the use of a half-dozen small sailboats, plus kayaks, windsurfing boards, canoes and bikes on a complimentary basis. The Robert’s Grove dive operation runs fast, large boats. All in all, this is the way to run an upscale resort if you’re going to run one at all. Rates US$160 to $180 a night double, with junior suites US$225 (and worth the extra — # 4 is the top pick), from Nov. 1-Apr. 1; the rest of the year, double rooms are US$100 to $125, and junior suites US$150. Rates include continental breakfast and are plus hotel tax and 8% service. All-inclusive summer packages are available. While these rates are toward the upper end of prices in mainland Belize, if you’ve checked beachfront hotel prices in St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, Tortola, St. Martin or Anguilla, these look like a bargain. AE, MC and V accepted. The hotel, which has expanded twice since its opening, plans to add additional rooms by early 2001. The resort has a small private island, Robert’s Caye, used for island picnics and deserted-isle overnighters. If there’s a downside to this resort, it’s that you could transplant it to Mexico or another Caribbean destination, and you wouldn’t notice much difference. It doesn’t have the Belizean feel of Kitty’s. Tel. 501-6-23565; fax 6-23567 or, in the US., 800-565-9757; e-mail email@example.com; www.robertsgrove.com.
HHHH + Luba Hati, Seine Bight. Heaven is in the details here, the little design touches and details owners Franco Gentile and Mariuccia Levoni, Italians-by-way-of-Manhattan, have built into their Mediterranean-style resort on the Caribbean. The art in the rooms, the recessed lamps, the subtle colors and stylish furnishings all differentiate Luba Hati from some of the other resorts in Placencia that, by comparison, look slapped together. Sea grapes and palms and other trees and shrubs have not been cut down here, as they have at some other resorts. Maybe that’s why sandfleas are not much of a problem. The restaurant is one of the best in Belize, and one of the priciest, serving fresh fish and pasta with Mediterranean flair (and good helpings of olive oil.) Whether all this is going to work in Belize we don’t know. Many visitors are happy with a pool, a beach and beer and don’t want to pay the tariffs this sort of sophisticated resort requires. Already, Franco has modified his original concept by adding a swimming pool and air-conditioned cottages on the beach, in addition to the breeze-cooled rooms in the main building. Rates about US$150 to $180; the meal plan is US$40 per person. Rates drop to around US$120 after May 1, but Luba Hati usually closes in the late summer and early fall — check for exact dates. Room rates plus hotel tax and 10% service. AE, MC, V accepted. Tel. 501-6-23402, fax 6-23403; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.lubahati.com.
HHHH + Rum Point Inn, near Placencia village. This is a resort with real character. The inn reflects the personalities of owners George and Corol Bevier. The Beviers came to Belize with their four children in 1971, and in 1974 they opened Rum Point Inn, which was one of the first resorts in southern Belize. The Bevier clan are not back-slappers, and the atmosphere is a bit, well, reserved. It’s not for the tattooed, beer-slurping crowd, but for those with an interest in diving, ecology and nature, who know quality when they see it, this could be the perfect retreat. The restaurant, bar, hotel offices and library — Rum Point’s is by far the best hotel library in Belize, with an extensive collection of regional books and videos — are in a lovely 1950s wood-frame colonial building on the beach, with hammocks gracing the verandah. Spread around the expansive seaside grounds, on and near the beach, are 10 cabañas. You have to see these free-form concrete cottages to believe them. Some say they look like igloos, others say they remind them of flying saucers or top hats. Once inside, though, you’ll enjoy the tasteful custom-made furnishings and interesting curved spaces. They have fans, not air-conditioning. Twelve newer units in three buildings are large, about 800 sq. ft. each, set a bit back off the beach. They do have air-conditioning, along with beautiful tile baths and furnishings from Guatemala and Belize, and are decorated in jungle themes. An above-ground pool with waterfall was added in the late 1990s, and the hotel has a first-rate dive operation, with a 42-foot fast jet boat. Rates are US$151 double Nov. 16-May 31, and US$130 rest of year. Rates with meals (the restaurant isn’t one of the resort’s strong points) are US$216 double in-season and US$195 off. All rates plus hotel tax and service charge. AE, MC and V accepted. Tel. 501-6-23239, fax 6-23240; e-mail email@example.com; www.rumpoint.com.
HHH Green Parrot Beach Houses, Maya Beach. This is a good spot for families, as most of the beach-front units have kitchenettes for making your own meals, lofts for mom and dad, and a pull-out sleeper for junior or sister downstairs. Rates are per-cottage, not by number of persons (however, there is an additional charge for more than two people for the included continental breakfast). Six of the eight units here are wood-frame Mennonite-built cottages, and two are one-story bay thatch cabañas. The Mennonite cottages have kitchenettes, but the cabañas have fridges only. All have fans, not air-conditioning. New owners David and Asma Allardice have made progress in upgrading the restaurant. Meals, however, are fairly expensive, with a three-course dinner — appetizer, entree and dessert — running around US$20 to $35. The beach here is sandy and attractive, with swimming around the pier. Rates US$125 per cottage Nov.-May, US$105 rest of year. Rates include continental breakfast but not hotel tax or 10% service. Summer specials are available. AE, MC, V accepted. 1 Maya Beach Way; tel./fax 501-6-22488; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.greenparrot-belize.com.
HHHH Kitty’s Place, near Placencia village. It’s not the fanciest hotel in Placencia and it doesn’t have all the resort amenities like air-conditioning, a swimming pool or tennis courts, but for us Kitty’s is just about the perfect Belize seaside resort. It’s a barefoot, casual, laid back and totally delightful spot. The three beachfront cabañas here are our favorites, but Kitty’s also has two apartments and six rooms. With a Belikin in hand and a breeze from the sea, we’re in heaven in these wood cottages with ceiling fans, big comfortable beds and fridges. The 350-feet-long stretch of golden beach at Kitty’s is one of the best on the peninsula, and there’s even a little coral head where you can snorkel. The restaurant and bar, on the second level of the main building, are comfortable spots for a cold one and a good, moderately priced meal. Last time we were by, co-owner Kitty Fox said she was putting the hotel up for sale, for a cool US$1.5 mill. Whether it will actually change hands or not, who knows, but we hope if it is sold that the new owner keeps Kitty’s Place a whole lot like it is now. Rates: Cabañas are US$140 double, and most other accommodations are US$100, with a couple of budget rooms with shared baths going for US$40. Rates are plus tax and 7% service, and there are discounts off-season. AE, MC, V and Discover accepted. Kitty’s sometimes closes for a month or so late in the summer, usually in September. The hotel offers trips to a private island, French Louie Caye, a small mangrove island about 8 miles offshore; overnight trips including transportation, lodging and food and snorkeling gear are US$75 per person. Kitty’s also manages several house rentals in Placencia starting at US$300 a week and offers multi-day catamaran sailing cruises. Tel. 501-6-23227, fax 6-23226; e-mail email@example.com; www.kittysplace.com.
HH Mariposa, near Placencia village. Peter and Marcia Fox have two immaculately clean studio apartments in their beachfront home, each with queen bed, kitchen with microwave, gas stove and full-size fridge, bath, tiled floors and private verandahs. Each apartment has its own private palapa located on Mariposa’s 175 foot beach. Rates US$125 double year-round. MC, V and Discover accepted. Tel. 501-6-24069, fax 6-24076; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.mariposabelize.com.
HH Maya Breeze Inn, Maya Beach. Owned by Buddy and Tressa Olson from Olympia, Washington, this small cottage colony has three frame cottages on the beach, two with air-conditioning. A fourth unit is planned. Rates US$110 to $125 double Nov. 16-Apr. 30, US$85 rest of year, with continental breakfast included. MC, V accepted. Tel./fax 501-6-37012; e-mail email@example.com; www.mayabreezeinn.com.
HHHH Nautical Inn, Seine Bight. Ben and Jane Ruoti, transplanted Arizonans, offer just about everything here for the visitor who wants a modern small resort on the beach: diving, swimming in the beautiful fresh-water pool or off the pier, and even “coconut bowling,” weekly Garifuna drumming and a tour of their green iguana raising project. The resort, on 4 acres, has 12 rooms in pre-fab octagonal buildings, all with air-conditioning. There’s a restaurant and bar. Rates US$129 double Nov. 30-Apr. 30, US$85 rest of year. AE, MC, V accepted. Like quite a few resorts in Placencia, this one is for sale, but the level of service remains high. Tel. 501-6-23595, fax 6 23594; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.nauticalinnbelize.com.
HHH Singing Sands, Maya Beach. This little six-cabaña resort on the beach was one of the first places where we stayed in Placencia, back in the days when this resort was run by a tee-totaling couple from Ladyville, and we have fond memories of it, even though the owners frowned if anyone popped a Belikin. It was later sold to an Australian couple who quickly opened a bar and made some other changes. Then Ohioans Marti Cottrell and Eldon Ebel bought it in 1998 and have made improvements since then, including new thatch on the cabañas. You’ll enjoy the nice fresh-water pool and the pier, where you can dip in for a swim. Bikes and canoes are complimentary. Rates: Around US$110 double in-season Nov. 15-May 31, US$85 the rest of the year. Off-season package plans available. Meals are available — figure around US$25 to $35 a day per person. MC and V accepted. Tel./fax 501-6-22243; e-mail email@example.com; www.singingsands.com.
HHH Turtle Inn, near Placencia village. If you like laid-back, thatch-style accommodations right on the beach, this could be your place. Owner Skip White and the entire operation of the inn epitomize the definition of slow-down-and-relax. By the second day you’ll be getting yourself a beer from the bar and bringing one to Skip. Turtle Inn isn’t fancy, though the newer beach houses, opened in late 1999, are a step up from the older cabañas, which were getting a little run-down. The fact that it’s not in the village but close enough to walk (barely — it takes about 20 minutes) is a plus for those who don’t have a car. The resort does dive and fishing trips, and meals are available. Rates around US$110 in-season, US$75 off. Tel. 501-6-23244, fax 6-23245; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.turtleinn.com.
HHH Barnacle Bill’s, Maya Beach. The opening of this new place in Maya Beach in early 2000 is part of a welcome trend toward moderately priced self-catering cottages on the beach. American owner Bill Taylor built two one-bedroom hardwood cottages about 60 feet from the beach. The bungalows are on stilts, cooled by fans and sea breezes, and each has a full kitchen with fridge, microwave, two-burner stove and cooking utensils. The bedroom has a queen bed, and there’s a sofa sleeper in the living/dining area. Doubles are US$90 Nov.-Apr., US$60 rest of year. No credit cards. 23 Maya Beach Way; tel. 501-6-37010; e-mail email@example.com; www.gotobelize.com/barnacle/.
HHH Blue Crab Resort, Seine Bight. Kerry Goss and Linn Wilson run this small resort in Seine Bight. It stretches from the sea across the road to the lagoon. Rates: The two sea-blue beach-front cabañas with fans go for US$85 double, and three rooms with air-conditioning are US$95 double. A cottage, not directly on the beach but with a seaview, goes for US$160 double. It sleeps four and has air-conditioning and TV. Rates are cut about 20% Apr. 30-Nov. 30. Dive and fishing packages are available. MC, V accepted. The hotel runs various tours, and Linn, who was born in Taiwan, prepares meals with a Chinese flair at the resort’s small restaurant. Tel. 501-6-23544, fax 6-23543; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bluecrabbeach.com.
HHH Serenity, north of Placencia village. At this moderately priced beachfront resort, one of Placencia’s “largest little resorts,” you have a choice of 10 air-conditioned rooms in the main hotel or 12 cottages with fans on the beach, which is a nice, 1,000-foot stretch of sand. This hotel has been for sale for years, but it keeps chugging along. The Bamboo Room, located on the lagoon side, serves light meals and drinks and is a popular meeting spot. Rates are around US$90 double in-season, and US$60 off-season, plus tax and 10% service. AE. MC and V accepted. Tel. 501-6-23232, fax 6-23231; e-mail email@example.com; www.belizenet.com/serenity.html.
HH Barracuda & Jaguar Inn, Placencia village. Wende Bryan does a great job running this small, inviting place in Placencia village. It’s not on the water, however. The Pickled Parrot restaurant here is one of our favorite eating spots in Placencia. Rooms are US$50 double in-season, US$35 off; the two-bedroom apartment is US$75 in-season, and US$55 off for two people (additional US$10 for each additional person.) AE, MC, V accepted. Tel. 501-6-23330, fax 6-23250; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.gonefishingbelize.com.
H Coconut Cottage, Placencia village. Kay Westby offers two pleasantly comfortable rooms with private baths and fridges in a frame cottage on the beach. Rates US$55 double, with small discounts off-season. No credit cards. Tel./fax 501-6-23155; e-mail email@example.com.
H Cunche’s Villas, Placencia village. This spot on the beach is owned by Earl and Kurt Godfrey, two well-known fishing guides. The rooms are upstairs facing the sea with chairs and a hammock on a covered balcony. Each room has two beds, a small fridge, private bath and shower. They can room and fish eight anglers, two to a room and two to a boat. Rates around US$55 double. Tel. 501-6-23277, fax 6-23277; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
HH Harry’s Cozy Cabañas, Placencia village. Harry Eiley, a lifelong resident of the village, offers three varnished wood cabañas in the shade on the beach at the south end of the peninsula, near the site of the occasionally open Tentacles restaurant. Each cabaña has a double and a single bed, fridge (one unit also has a stove), screened porch and hammocks. Sometimes there’s not as much of a breeze here as on the east side seafront. Rates US$55 double. No credit cards. Tel./fax 501-6-23155; e-mail email@example.com.
H Inn at Maya Beach, Maya Beach. Owners Jerry and Ginger Jones and their three cats, C.B., Puddles and Rooster, will do their best to make you feel welcome at their little B&B on the beach. There’s only one room here, with a queen bed and private bath, and you have the use of the family room and a pier with twin palapas. The cost is US$50 double including continental breakfast. No credit cards. 70 Maya Beach Way; tel. 501-6-37004; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.gotobelize.com/theinnatmayabeach.
H Maya Playa Resort, Maya Beach. If you’re a tightwad hankering for a thatch cabaña on the beach, this near-budget spot may be for you. The three cabañas, built in 1996, have open-air “tropical” baths, and queen beds up in the loft. Don’t expect luxury, or top-dollar construction, but the price is right: about US$50 to $60 for a cabaña that sleeps up to four. No credit cards. Tel. 501-6-37020; e-mail email@example.com; www.gotobelize.com/mayaplaya/.
HH Ranguana Lodge, Placencia village. These five white frame cottages with red roofs, on the water, are among the best moderate choices in the village. Rates about US$65 in-season, including tax, with small discounts off-season. MC, V accepted. This lodge, popular with the fishing set, also is associated with a budget resort and fishing camp on Ranguana Caye, about 18 miles southeast of Placencia. There was a change in ownership in 1999; what changes may be ahead, if any, we don’t know. Tel./fax: 501-6-23112; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ranguanabelize.com.
HH Seaspray Hotel, Placencia village. This is the largest hotel in Placencia village, with 19 rooms in two beachfront buildings. The rooms in the older building are fairly basic, but the newer rooms are airy and attractive. Some have refrigerators. Norman and “Miss Jodie” Leslie are great hosts. They also have a cabaña about 10 feet from the beach, and a good inexpensive restaurant, De Tatch, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers Internet access. High-season rates are around US$25 to $60, and modest discounts may be available off-season. Accepts AE, MC, V. Tel./fax 501-6-23148; e-mail email@example.com; www.belizenet.com/seaspray/.
H Secret Garden, Placencia village. What a deal! For around US$40, you get a newly built small two-bedroom house. It’s in the center of the village, not on the water. The house, on stilts, is fully furnished with kitchen, new appliances and private bath with hot shower. No credit cards. Tel. 501-6-23420; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
HH Serenade Guest House, Placencia village. This is one of the few places in the village with air conditioning. It’s not directly on the beach, but the rooms in a large three-story white frame house are comfortable and even have a telcom port for your computer. Rates: US$65 double Dec. 1-Apr. 30, US$35 rest of year. Serenade also has a small resort on Sapodilla Caye. Tel. 501- 6-23163, fax 6-24074; e-mail email@example.com; www.belizecayes.com.
HH + Tradewinds, Placencia village. If you want a beachfront cottage but don’t want to pay the higher prices north of the village, Tradewinds is your best bet. The five pastel-colored cabins on the beach at the south end of Placencia village are cute as a bug’s ear. They’re not large, but at about US$55 in-season, and as low as US$30 off-season, they’re a good value. Fridges are standard. Owner Janice Leslie also rents three budget rooms in the main house. MC, V accepted. Tel. 501-6-23122, 6-23201; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
H + Westwind Hotel, Placencia village. This eight-room, locally owned hotel is on the beach near the middle of the village. Rooms have fans and fridges. The hotel also can arrange a rental car. Rates around US$55 double. MC, V accepted. Tel./fax 501-6-23255, e-mail email@example.com.
H Xcape, Maya Beach. Another bargain spot, with four rooms on the beach for around US$50. It’s run by Texan Roxy Curry. No credit cards. Tel. 501-6-37002; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.gotobelize.com/xcape/.
H Deb and Dave’s Last Resort, Placencia village. Deb and Dave Vernon run the best budget hotel in Placencia village. It’s not on the water, but the four rooms in a shaded hardwood building are clean and comfortable. Their tour company, Toadal Adventures, is a top choice for high heart rate guided tours inland and on the sea. Tel. 501-6-23207; fax 6-23334; e-mail email@example.com; www.toadaladventure.com.
H Lydia’s Guest House, Placencia village. This is another good budget choice, at the north end of the village. It’s run by Lydia Villanueva and offers 8 basic but clean rooms, with fans, shared bath, refrigerators, and, on the second floor of the wood-frame house, a verandah with hammocks. Rates: around US$20 double. AE, MC and V accepted. Tel. 501-6-23117; fax 6-23354; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.