A Down-Home Experience at Banana Bank

There's something about the Banana Bank Lodge & Jungle Equestrian Adventure Center that makes it feel like your back home visiting family at the ranch in Kansas or Montana.

The only exception is that this ranch is a resort surrounded by banana trees and other tropical floral and fauna, as well as a collection of tropical birds, monkeys, and a beautiful jaguar named Tika.

John and Carolyn Carr have a lot to do with creating that down-home feeling at Banana Bank. They are a couple with a colorful background: he is a former saddle bronco rider born in Montana, and she is a Kansas native and an artist with many paintings in her gallery which focus on Belizean culture.

The Carrs have been in Belize for over 25 years. Their 4,000-acre Banana Bank Lodge, half of which is primary growth rainforest, holds a unique place in Belizean history. Back in the 1800's, when logging was the primary industry and the only way to the interior was by boat, Banana Bank was an outpost on the Belize River, and served as headquarters for a land development company. Banana Bank later became a working cattle ranch, and in the 1950's and 60's, it became renowned for hosting horse races.

Around 1945, an old train station built around 1910 in a Belizean frontier town was dismantled and shipped in pieces by river to Banana Bank. It served for many years as the original ranch headquarters. Now, the Carrs have refurbished it into a clubhouse called "The Headquarters," which serves as host to receptions and as a guest lounge.

Accommodations at Banana Bank include the lodge's unique three-story Chateau Brio, a striking architectural centerpiece with one of the most magnificent plantation-type staircases in Belize.

All-you-can-eat home cooking is served family style here, and free coffee and fresh squeezed juice are available anytime. Banana Bank offers 24/7 satellite Internet service, and swimming pool refreshment for guests.

Strategically located in Belize's center, myriad activities are available at Banana Bank, including a state of the art Equestrian Center for all levels of horseback riding and learning. Says one recent guest: "I can say with conviction that I have NEVER ridden a better horse, and I have ridden about 60 to 100 different ones of all levels of training."

Day trips include horseback riding into the jungle, visiting Maya ruins and caves, canoeing, star gazing, trail walks, birding or simply relaxing and enjoying the tranquil grounds of the lodge.

Banana Bank is especially well suited to accommodate groups and families with children. The lodge often hosts groups as well as students with special interests, such as photography, birding, horses, and art.