We have just returned from a trip to Ambergris Caye, aka Paradise on Earth. We stayed at the Grand Caribe and had an amazing experience. We stayed in the 3 BR ocean view suite, about $1000 cheaper than ocean front. The view was amazing. The only reason to spend the extra money would be if you did not want to also look out over the pool area, but since I have kids, I appreciated being able to scan for where they were. This seems to me a very family oriented placed. It was definitely getting more crowded the day we left (Dec 25) - which is to be expected for Christmas week - but since there is so much space I cannot imagine this being the issue. There are actually 5 swimming pools - 2 large adjoined with a little baby pool over this and a waterfall bridge, and two lap pools, also 2 hot tubs. Plenty of space for everyone. My kids loved the pool and the beach. If you want to swim in the ocean off the beach, you should bring water shoes, but the water is calm and clear. You can't really see much marine life close to the shore. I know there are places you can snorkel right from the dock, but in Belize you do better taking a boat out (more on that later). The staff is wonderful. I don't understand one of the reviews complaining about housekeeping. Our place was immaculate. They loaded the dishes and ran the dishwasher every day. If you leave laundry by the door to the laundry room, they will wash and fold for you. We could have packed much lighter with this service. The rooms are gorgeous - and we had two balconies where we could eat, relax, read and feel the breeze. We had one small problem with our door knob not working, and it took a few efforts to fix it, but they always sent someone right away - this is not the US, and a few quirks are to be expected. My kids (9 and 11) said this was the best vacation they have ever taken, and we will definitely go back to Grand Caribe. We biked up north on the island (a fun thing to do and bike rentals are reasonable) and checked out some of the other resorts, and I liked Grand Caribe best for our needs. I also got quotes from several places, and I think GC is by far the best deal - though this will not last as it gets discovered. It is so new it is not in any guide books yet. BTW I know the Phoenix is rated highly by TA, but it is right in town and seemed like one of the least appealing places. Mata Chica is beautiful - not for kids - more of a romantic couples get away. Coco Beach and Belizean shores also looked nice, but not as many pools and only some units had a view. Some things I wish I had known: the kitchens are very well equipped, but food is expensive on Ambergris. I would bring pasta/dry goods/cereal from the states (and less clothes). I would also spend a day or two either in Belize City (which is not supposed to be so nice) or San Ignacio to cave tube and see Mayan ruins, since these trips are expensive from Ambergris. I would take this time to buy food on the mainland where it is much less expensive, and then take a boat to Ambergris rather than a plane to have more room for groceries. The restaurant at Grand Caribe is just OK - certainly not fancy - more of a poolside bar. I think they assume everyone will go right next door to Aji's which is lovely - right on the beach with strings of lights and rustling palm leaves - but would be very small if there was rain. It is expensive to get into town, and you can't walk or bike after dark, and it gets dark around 5:30. You can take a cab (about $20) or water taxi for $5 each way ( you can buy a week's pass for $25). People also rented golf carts, but apparently there had been a lot of rain the week before, and the roads had deep pot holes and were muddy, so we didn't trust ourselves with these in the dark. The restaurant at Mata Chica (where we did not eat) will send a boat for you (but they make up for it with their prices - though it is supposed to be worth it). In town we ate at The Reef (recommended by locals - we were not impressed) and Elvi's (which everyone recommends and is great and cheap). DO NOT Miss the ice cream and DandE's in town. To the left of the Grand Caribe is a yoga retreat - we did a very nice class here (drop ins are welcome) and had a lovely lunch with yummy smoothies. We snorkeled almost every day, and you MUST go with Little Alphonse (his number is in the Frommer's or Fodor's guide book). Arrange it directly - not through the hotel - to save money. Alphonse and his cousin Russell are the BEST guides. They made us feel like family - truly - and kept us safe. They swim with you and bring up sharks and rays for petting, show you all the cool fish (puffer fish, angel fish, grouper, lion fish, sea turtles, rays, sharks, anemones and urchins.... it is amazing!). We did one all day snorkel with just our family (since there were 6 of us) and went to Caye Caulker - a quiet little island that apparently is what Ambergris was like 15 years ago, definitely more mellow and less built up). We also did a full day excursion to cave tube and see ruins. This was EXPENSIVE - and we should have booked directly. The advertised price was $190, but we ended up paying $240 a person once you added in admissions and boat. Inland Tours had a brochure that said they still charge $190 including boat and admissions, so that would have been a big savings for 6 people. Still it was well worth doing, even if it was a lot for one day, we were somewhat rushed through the ruins and the tubing. Alphonse and Russel don't do this tour, unfortunately. There are several ruins to see, and they are all supposed to be fascinating. We did Xuantatich and it was spectacular. Our guide was very knowledgable. I would have loved to do the ATM cave, but with hiking and swimming I think it would have been too much for the kids. I am reluctant to share all this since I sort of want to keep all this for myself, but have at it Trip Advisorees.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The unique layout of this premier resort provides the entire 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom condos with an unobstructed panoramic view of the second largest Barrier Reef! The residences are beautifully appointed with spacious, fully equipped kitchens. The living rooms and bedrooms have flat screens and all accommodations also have ipod docking, DVD and internet service. Concierge can arrange local flights, golf cart rentals, all tours including snorkeling, diving, fishing, sailing, mainland excursions, private charters, private chefs and babysitting. Contact us for your next vacation, honeymoon or any special occasion! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Caribe Belize Resort And Condominiums Hotel San Pedro
- Grand Caribe Belize Resort And Condominiums San Pedro