Here are some options in PG, from my Mainland Guide. I haven't updated telephone numbers and rates, but most information is still accurate.
--Lan Sluder www.belizefirst.com
Punta Gorda Town
THREE STARS Sea Front Inn. This is Punta Gorda’s best hotel. Larry and Carol Smith, expats with Belizean citizenship who have lived in PG for more than 20 years, designed and built a striking four-story building across the road from the sea. They’ve since added apartments in the back, making a total of 12 rooms, 2 suites and 4 apartments. All of the rooms in the main building are decorated differently, and they’re of differing sizes, but all are attractive. One room, a cozy nook up Stairmaster-style stairs on the fourth floor, may remind you of your favorite attic hideaway when you were a kid, though others may find it claustrophic and hot. Most rooms have air-conditioning and cable TV, and most have sea views. The third-floor restaurant (now open only for breakfast) sports rosewood tree trunks etched with Maya carvings. This commons room is lined with windows where you can sit and look out over the beautiful Bay of Honduras. Beverages are usually available from the fridge on the honor system. Rates: around US$45 to $75 double; apartments with kitchenette US$110. Some discounts may be offered off-season. Prices include pick-up from the PG airstrip. AE, MC, V with surcharge. Front St., P.O. Box 20, Punta Gorda; tel: 501-7-22300, 7-22682; e-mail [email protected]
TWO STARS TC’s by the Sea. Owner TC Benson brings a touch of the USA to this place on the seafront. It has five rooms, one with a king-size water bed and all with fans and cable TV (“including R and X-rated movie channels,” notes TC). There’s a restaurant serving porterhouse steaks, ribs, ham, and Southern-style fried chicken. Rates are US$25 to $70 double, about US$5 less off-season, and include breakfast, use of a canoe and pick-up from airstrip, bus terminal or water taxi landing. MC, V accepted. Front St., Punta Gorda; tel. 501-7-22963; e-mail [email protected]
TWO Traveller’s Inn. This modern 12-room hotel, owned by folks who operate the Z-Line bus company, is next-door to the former Z-Line (now Southern Transport) terminal. It’s a shame this place isn’t on the seafront, but at least it does have air-conditioning. The last time we were by this was locked up tight, but we’re told it is now open. Rates around US$70. José Maria Nuñez, Punta Gorda; tel. 501-7-22112.
Dem Dats Doing. Alfredo and Yvonne Villoria, who came here from Hawaii, have a pleasant room they rent on their organic ecofarm. Near San Pedro village; tel. 501-7-22470.
ONE STAR Nature’s Way Guesthouse. This rambling, funky old guesthouse appeals to the hippy backpacker in us. It has a nice location, on the water toward the south end of town, and guests here are often well-traveled, with stories to tell. At these prices — starting at US$8 per person and running up to about US$22 for a double — don’t expect a Hampton Inn. Last time we were by, owner Chet Schmidt, an old Toledo hand, ardent environmentalist and supporter of the Maya, and quite a character to boot, was talking about selling or leasing the inn, so changes may be ahead. 65 Front St., Punta Gorda; tel. 501-7-22119.
TWO STARS St. Charles Inn. Probably the best of the bunch in the low-moderate category. Centrally located; some rooms have air-conditioning and all have TV. Doubles from US$20. 23 King St.; tel. 501-7-22149.
ONE STAR PLUS Tate’s Guest House. Run by William and Olive Tate, this is a fine choice for the frugal. A couple of the rooms are air-conditioned. Doubles around US$24. 34 José Maria Nuñez, Punta Gorda; tel. 501-7-22196; e-mail [email protected]
THREE STARS Fallen Stones Jungle Lodge and Butterfly Farm. The setting of this lodge is fabulous, on 42 acres on a hilltop near the Lubaantun ruins with grand views of the Maya Mountains and into Guatemala. Be warned: The road to the top of the hill is a doozy, but it’s worth the ride up the rocky, steep road. Welchman Ray Harberd, a world traveler and noted butterfly expert, is your host. Elsie, Ray’s wife, is sometimes here also, though she journeys back to England from time to time. The wood cabins are set down the hillside, two individual units and three larger cabins each with three double rooms. All have baths en suite with hot-water showers and electric lighting, powered by a solar system. Follow the steps down the hill and you’ll come the the butterfly farm. One screened room has thousands of blue morphos — an amazing site! Rates: US$105 double Nov.-May, US$84 the rest of the year, including hotel tax. Meals are a bit pricey but good, at US$7.50 for breakfast, US$12.50 for lunch and US$22.50 for dinner. The lodge offers a variety of tours to nearby Maya sites and villages. MC, V accepted. No children under 10 except by advance arrangement. P.O. Box 23, Punta Gorda; tel. 501-7-22167; www.fallenstones.co.uk.
Directions: From PG, go north on the Southern Hwy. 16 miles to the junction with the San Antonio Rd. Turn left (road becomes unpaved) and go 1.6 miles. Turn right on unnamed road (look for sign to Lubaantun). Continue on road past turn-off to Lubaantun. Look for sign on left to Fallen Stones. After a rain, you will need a four-wheel drive vehicle with high road clearance.
[NOT RATED] Tranquility Lodge, Jacintoville (P.O. Boz 118, Punta Gorda). New mid-priced lodge with cabanas, A/C rooms, a restaurant and "swimming hole" north of PG at Jacintoville.