Most Romantic Hotels in Central America: Blancaneaux Lodge. Also a bit of its history
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Saturday March 17, 2012

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Blancaneaux Lodge 1971. Photo by Gerald Leaman
Website of the Day
When I first visited Belize, i was searching for the same jungle paradise i enjoyed while shooting Apocalypse Now in the Phillipines. I discovered it tucked in the Maya Mountains and invite you to do the same - Francis Ford Coppola
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Most Romantic Hotels in Central America: Blancaneaux Lodge. Also a bit of its history

Honeymoons, anniversaries, engagements, make-ups — there are plenty of reasons to be amorous. Find love in all the right places with this list of romantic destinations throughout Central America.

Blancaneaux Lodge

Where: San Ignacio
What's to Love: Francis Ford Coppola converted a gorgeous family vacation home in the Mayan mountains into a serene and romantic hideaway with waterfalls, magical walking trails, and a great spa.
Good to Know: You'll be tempted not to leave, but do. The hotel can arrange horseback riding, canoeing in caves, and trips to the Tikal ruins.


A Canadian built the first lodge and apparently walked away. Eric Bowen was married to Emilie Josephine Blancaneaux, whose father was Dr. Francoise Blancaneaux, originally from France who lived and died in the Cayo District. Their eldest child was Barry Bowen. The Lodge in the Pine Ridge was named after Emilie Blancaneaux. She is the youngest child in the picture above. Francis Ford Coppola bought the Lodge Blancaneaux from the Bowens

Jenny Wildman: Back in the sixties and early 70's the owners of Blancaneaux Lodge were Beverley Larsen and can't remember the man's name,, they had a daughter Melanie. It surprised me when i heard that the property had been actually sold.

Nancy R. Koerner - Junglepixiebelize: There was another owner of Blancaneaux before Coppola. He was a Hungarian guy named Peter (can't recall his last name), bought the Lodge from the Canadian, and ran it with his Romanian wife, Zoya, for several years. We were friends with them. But they were the ones who sold it to Frances Coppola. Initially, Frances lived in a bus up there on the property during the initial renovation. (The bus said "Zoetrope Studios" on the front.) In later years, that old gray-blue abandoned bus still sat there, rotting away under the pine needles. We used to pass by it when we took our Mountain Equestrian Trail horseback tours up to Blancaneaux Cave.

Blancaneaux Lodge is located in the Northwest corner of the 107,000-acre Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve in western Belize’s Cayo District. The lodge itself is nestled on the banks of Privassion Creek and is set among tropical pines, oaks, palmetto, craboo, and ancient melastome shrubs. Within a couple of miles of the lodge lie the steep limestone hills and valleys of the 13,000-acre Noj Kaax Meen Elijio Panti National Park. The dense jungle, steep ravines, spectacular waterfalls and fast flowing rivers are home to many rare or endangered species of flora and fauna. Beyond the Mountain Pine Ridge lies the vast uninhabited network of 14 protected areas that comprise the 1.2 million acre Maya Mountain Massif. Less than an hour's drive along dirt roads to Guacamallo Bridge, the granite bedrock and red soils of the Mountain Pine Ridge meet the karst limestone and moist tropical broadleaf forests of the 264,000- acre Chiquibul National Park and the Caracol Archaeological Reserve.

Francis Ford Coppola discovered Blancaneaux Lodge in 1981 while searching for a jungle hideaway in the Maya mountains of Pine Ridge. When he came upon the Lodge, it was abandoned. He jumped into the falls of Privassion Creek and thought it was a wonderful place to write. For more than a decade Blancaneaux was used as a family retreat before Francis opened his tropical paradise to the public in 1993. Blancaneaux Lodge is a 20-room luxury resort. Privassion Creek flows through the property with tumbling waterfalls that create refreshing swimming holes. Blancaneaux Lodge offers modern comforts in an entirely self-sustained jungle sanctuary. Its remote mountain setting makes it a perfect place to relax, rejuvenate and enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

Since Blancaneaux Lodge opened in 1993, Francis and Eleanor Coppola have seen their role as that of conservators, preserving the pristine environment. They strongly support Belize’s commitment to ecotourism and continue to explore new technologies and practices that benefit the environment. The Coppolas installed a hydroelectric plant in 1993 that harnesses the energy of Privassion Creek, supplying the property with a large amount of renewable power. Excess energy that is generated is used to heat the hot pool at the Waterfall Spa. The property’s 3 1/2 -acre organic garden supplies all the vegetables and most of the fruit used in the two restaurants.

Blancaneaux Lodge is a leader in conservation and preservation efforts of the surrounding region. In an effort to keep the environment pristine for wildlife, we partner with local NGOs and researchers to help with data collection and logistics for biodiversity research and conservation efforts.

Designed by Mexican architect Manolo Mestre in a joint effort with Francis, the decor is based loosely on indigenous designs he had seen in the Philippines while filming “Apocalypse Now.” The resort is comprised of a series of stand-alone villas and cabanas that rise from the jungle on stilts and have soaring, hand-woven thatch ceilings. Furnishings for each villa were personally acquired by Francis and Eleanor Coppola from Mexico and Guatemala. The mahogany furniture on the decks and in the restaurants is handcrafted in San Ignacio, the closest town to Blancaneaux Lodge, and a Belizean artisan created the main lodge’s slate bar carved with ancient Mayan symbols. There are bright splashes of tropical color - hand-woven bedspreads, carved animals and masks, set against warm wood tones. The spacious bathrooms feature luxurious tiled Japanese baths and local herbal soaps. Pictures of past archeological digs from various Maya excavations in Guatemala and Mexico adorn the walls in the main lodge along with recent images of the elusive jaguars in the surrounding forest, taken by the property’s infrared, motion sensitive cameras.

Blancaneaux Lodge's 20 individual mountainside cabanas and villas offer guests a relaxing escape deep within the Maya Mountains.

Virtual Vacation - Blancaneaux Lodge

Allow us to virtually transport you seaside for a culinary lesson in gaspacho, wine + cocktail pairing inside the jungle at Blancaneaux, a luxury lodge!

Photograph courtesy Blancaneaux Lodge

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