We stayed at Black Orchid for 3 nights, as a family group of 5 adults and 2 children, during the height of the Christmas/New Year holidays. We were very happy we stayed here and hope to return some day.
ROOMS: Our large party took three of the four rooms in what I think is the best-situated building, "Allison", and we were able to compare these rooms. The upper (A3 and A4) were spacious, and have a wide patio with chairs, that look out into the canopy of two gigantic tropical trees (figs?), and the emerald-green Belize River is just a few meters beyond these trees. A3 is adjacent to the pool and may have a slightly better view. My wife and I stayed in A4. The rooms were larger than I expected, even after having seen photos. A3 and A4 each have two queen beds, and a small table plus chairs. The décor was quirky; there are a few brightly-colored paintings, and I liked the several glass conch-shell wall light coverings (on a dimmer so you can adjust the mood/heat output). The bedspreads and pillowcases in A4 were inexplicably decorated with grizzly bears enjoying a Canadian forest. The bedspreads in A2 looked more Belizean at first, but on closer inspection those are Orca whales, not dolphins. That's OK; I admire a quirky personality. A/C in the rooms was robust and as chilly as we wanted; a nice respite after exploring steamy jungles. There are ceiling fans too, which might give the mosquitos a little more exercise as they hunt you down. (It isn't a criticism of Black Orchid that there are mosquitos in the room; I think any lodging in the county with doors will have a few inside. Welcome to the tropics!) The A4 bathroom was large, with generous storage space, a large tiled shower with awesome water pressure, and screened windows that can be opened for ventilation. We spent a little time visiting family in the downstairs room A2. The furniture was a little fancier than the upstairs rooms (glass and aluminum instead of wood), the TV was much larger, and A2 contained a large king bed with a towering rustic head-board. A2 also contained a mini-fridge which we didn't have upstairs. The view of the river itself is a bit better downstairs (not occluded by tree canopy), but I enjoyed the upstairs balcony for bird watching.
MEALS: You will probably dine at the resort, as there are no other options nearby. Fortunately, the food is quite good. We ate breakfast and dinner here three times each. Maybe because the resort was at full capacity, or maybe because this is Belize, food took a long time to arrive – 45-to-60-minutes – so we learned to place our order 45 minutes before we were ready to sit down. My favorite dinner dishes were the whole red snapper and the seafood combo (fish + lobster + shrimp + conch = happy!) My favorite breakfast discovery were the Fry Jacks: this Belizean pastry is like a thin slightly sweet pancake, lightly fried into a puffy triangle of contentment. Stuff with apricot jam and you'll want to sing along with the howler monkeys outside.
LOCATION: The hotel is 15 minutes away from the airport. Black Orchid offers a complimentary shuttle, but we rented a van (from Crystal) and the resort was easy to find from the directions on their website (which were, ironically, a little hard to locate on their website). With a vehicle, you can visit the small groceries in nearby Burrell Boom. You can bike there too with a complementary resort bike, but it will take about 10 minutes to reach, and you will be sharing the road with vehicles. Otherwise, Black Orchid is isolated – in a good way, with a lazy tropical river and a rural atmosphere. While we visited, construction was underway on an additional building that will hold more guests. During the day this was occasionally noisy – especially a generator – but the construction hours mainly coincided with our day-trip adventures, and wasn't an inconvenience.
GROUNDS & WILDLIFE: My favorite aspect of Black Orchid was its jungle atmosphere. The hotel doesn't have a nature walk per se, but there is a buffer of huge old trees and smaller palms between the sprawling hotel grounds and the neighboring properties, and more large trees on the property. It is very scenic; the trees are full of orchids, bromeliads, and other epiphytes, and the buildings blend in with the jungle surroundings. A conference center has a large thatched roof that is being colonized by jungle plants. There are howler monkeys in the neighborhood, but sightings are not guaranteed. We saw them on one of our three days. The trees and river attract dozens of species of birds, and I walked around just after dawn every morning to find them. On the property, I saw: Lineated Woodpeckers, a Great Kiskadee catching a lizard, Yellow-winged Tanager, a Clay-Colored Thrush, American Redstarts, various Kingfishers, Hummingbirds, an Ivory-Billed Woodcreeper, several shy but noisy Brown Jays, and tons of grackles. I saw many Red-Lored parrots and Olive-Throated parakeets, although they were usually in flight. Sadly, there were no toucans; according to staff, they don't generally visit at this time of year (December). A big fat resident Yellow-Head parrot named "Who Da Bird" lives in a tree next to the pool; he's apparently too big to fly. The monstrous trees near the river each have multiple resident iguanas – some very large – but they have many hiding places and may be hard to spot. I also saw basilisks and some small lizards. After sundown the ubiquitous geckos scurry around everywhere, and one evening we had a large tree frog on the wall right outside our room.
ACTIVITIES: We loved the canoeing from the Black Orchid dock. The owner, Doug, helped us pick vests and oars and board two of the complementary hotel canoes. The river is wide, emerald green, and moves very slowly. We passed a few small farms or houses, but the river banks were mainly lush jungle. There were no other boats, and we could apparently travel for miles upstream, but we only spent 2 hours on the water. I wish we had time enough for a half-day river canoeing adventure. We saw plenty of birds, and enormous iguanas perched in the vegetation along the river. On another day, we took a trip to Lamanai we had reserved via Black Orchid. We reserved weeks before we arrived, and advise others to do the same if traveling at peak time; it is much harder for any hotel or operator to guarantee a tour spot at the last minute. As a tour organizer, Black Orchid was a little disorganized around the edges. Black Orchid staff drove us to a boat launch in a vehicle that really wasn't large enough for our group, where a professional Lamanai guide took over, but the handoff was a bit confused; there were several groups milling about not knowing what boat/captain they belonged with. Our main guide (Hilberto) was a great guide, with deep knowledge of the ruins and Mayan culture. We also appreciated all the animals he found for us on the boat ride safari, including a few hidden nocturnal birds.
STAFF: We dealt with many staff members over our three days, and all were cheery and accommodating. Staff were helpful with information about the property, and with driving advice for the day we had a van. Thank you Beverly and Doug and Brian and all the other Black Orchidians who helped make our Belizean holiday so enjoyable!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Belize has such contrasts from the beaches to the jungle to the Mayan ruins, from the rivers to the Cayes, a good base from which to see it all, is the Black Orchid Resort on the banks of the Belize Old River on the outskirts of Burrell Boom Village, just fifteen minutes from the international airport so it’s easy to reach and easy to leave from. Just a short distance away from Belize City and the airport, the resort is also within about an hour’s drive of most of the country’s mainland attractions, making it a convenient launching point for your vacation adventures. We provide accommodations with an ambiance of environmental radiance, alluring air conditioned rooms and immaculate, quiet and safe grounds. We are an excellent alternative to Belize City and gateway to all Belize has to offer; with knowledgeable guides and transportation for snorkeling, deep sea fishing, cave tubing, Maya Ruin tours, complimentary international airport shuttle, free use of kayaks, canoes, peddle boats and free wireless internet access. Your safety is our business. Come let us show you Belize ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Black Orchid Hotel Burrell Boom
- Black Orchid Belize City
- Black Orchid Resort Belize/Burrell Boom