* * * * * Inn at Robert's Grove (tel. 700-565-9757 or 501-6-23565 , fax 6-23567, e-mail [email protected], www.robertsgrovebelize.com ) The typical guest at Robert's Grove may not realize what a tremendous feat Bob and Risa Frackman have accomplished with their beachside resort in Seine Bight, which opened in late 1997. To create a smoothly functioning five-star property on what is still a somewhat remote peninsula, where most in the local labor pool may never have worked at any job except in the home or fishing, where fresh fruits, vegetables and meats and other supplies have to be brought in from Dangriga or Belize City or even farther afield, and where the basic infrastructures of resort life, from electricity to transportation, are not always reliable, is nothing short of amazing. But the newly expanded resort, now with 32 units, is definitely five star. The staff is remarkably well trained, with everything working with few glitches even in Bob and Risa's absence (they were back in New York when I was there). The air conditioning is cold (though the unit in my children's room required a little tweaking.) The meals in the restaurant, under Chef Frank DaSilva's guiding hand, were dependably well prepared and nicely presented. My wife and I stayed in one of the new "deluxe suites." These are condo units built to be sold, starting at around US$185,000, and then managed by the hotel when the owners aren't in residence. Whether this idea will fly in Placencia we don't know (though we're told two units have been sold so far), our unit was a delight, with a large, strikingly decorated living room -- a happy melange of Mexican tile, Guatemalan fabrics and African art -- with cable TV, verandah with a sea view, a bedroom with king-size bed with a luxuriously firm new U.S.-made mattress and a jumbo bathroom with a big, tiled combination bath and shower. The resort has facilities still missing at many other Belize resorts -- not one but two swimming pools, roof-top, tennis courts and complimentary use of small sailboats, kayaks, bikes and other equipment. There's a tour desk, PADI dive center and a sandy beach where you can actually swim. Rates, while not cheap, do not leave you with the impression that you are being held up at Amex-point. Indeed, by Caribbean standards for a top resort, these rates are remarkably low: This summer, standard rooms start at US$100 double, junior suites $150 and deluxe condo second-floor suites a steal at US$175. A meal plan is US$39 per adult. In the high season starting in November rates increase to US$175 for a room, US$225 for a junior suite and US$275 for deluxe second-floor suite. We think the deluxe suites are well worth the extra money.

--Lan Sluder
Belize First Magazine http://www.belizefirst.com/

Lan Sluder/Belize First