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“"Paradise Lost"”

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Portofino Beach Resort
Ranked #21 of 54 Hotels in San Pedro
Certificate of Excellence
Boise, Idaho
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“"Paradise Lost"”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 July 2014

We were greeted by Portofino staff with hot eucalyptus towels once we arrived at the Portofino dock as well as two delicious rum drinks! This seemed like a great start to our honeymoon but unfortunately it didn't last long. Setting up our stay with Portofino we were aware that it was a bit pricey however we had assumed that this meant that the resort provided excellent services (our fault for assuming). We ended up becoming regulars at the resort down the beach, which I think saved us from a ruined honeymoon. The service we were provided at the other resort was phenomenal and we weren’t even guests at their resort!
During our stay we took the complimentary water taxi with a group of 4 other couples into town. We were told to meet back at the dock 8:30pm for our ride back to Portofino. After waiting at the dock for about an hour we finally realized that the boat was not coming for us, we ended up having to find our own transportation back to Portofino, which we all had to pay for.
Breakfast service is extremely poor. Once we were given our food we never saw the waiter again. As we ordered breakfast one morning, we were asked if we wanted anything to drink, we both chose coffee. We told that we could get the coffee ourselves at the self-serve coffee maker near the bar that is available for guests. This would have been fine if we hadn’t paid the extreme amount of money that we did to stay at this resort.
At one point I asked the front desk for two pens/pencils so we could play a board game. The front desk informed me I could only have one pen, since they were “using the other one.” Apparently, there were only two pens on the entire resort?
We watched the individuals that are in charge of the boating/diving activities use the end of the Portofino dock to relieve themselves several times during our stay at Portofino. That was lovely.
The resort allows vendors peddling local wares to come up to the bar and attempt to sell their product to the guests. Unfortunately, this is not limited to cute woven items or wooden carvings. We were offered illicit drugs on three separate occasions while on resort property, sometimes by vendors allowed to roam the property, and at other times by other resort guests. In fact, the scent of marijuana was strong in our bathroom one evening, due to people smoking it directly outside of our hut. We realize that many places worldwide are legalizing marijuana, and we respect everyone’s decision to put whatever substance they want, into their own bodies, but it certainly seemed pretty “low end” for a high priced resort. There are plenty of places in the slums of San Pedro, where you would expect this kind of behavior, and pay a lot less to stay there.
The best services we received were provided by Jessica, Roy, Ivan, and Raul. The rest of the Portofino staff should take some lessons from them. Dinner menu was extensive, and dinner service was well executed, but the cost was prohibitive, expect to spend about $80-100 per night to eat dinner as a couple. The housekeeping staff is phenomenal, and always made sure our room was well stocked and kept very clean. The pool is beautiful and well maintained. Views of the ocean are spectacular.
Overall, Portofino may be a victim of its location. Belize is touted for its beautiful diving, and extensive barrier reef. However, the country is certainly third world, or at best “developing”. The electrical grid is unreliable, producing frequent power outages, at which time, the resort generator is inadequate to power the AC in the rooms. Most of the trash the country produces becomes flotsam on the beach, or is burned directly behind the resorts, in unending, smoldering heaps of refuse. The mangrove swamp behind the resorts is also used to dump tons of resort garbage/plastic, and who knows what else. Belize has not yet embraced the worldwide environmental movement, to say the least. If the country doesn’t clean up soon, it will become “paradise lost”.

Room Tip: A/C in rooms are inadequate, hope you like it hot!
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Reagan L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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624 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 July 2014

If you want to chill out/relax/do nothing, and money and time are no object for you, Portofino is fine. It's way off the beaten path (you pretty much have to take the complimentary boat ride to and from San Pedro to do anything) and, let's face it - Belize is either a third world or developing nation, depending on who you ask. That means the electric grid is unstable (the power went out twice during our three days there, which meant no A.C. to keep cool). Also, the area is so rustic, there I couldn't even find an actual address for the resort, just "6 miles north of the reef."

The menu options at the restaurant seemed interesting, but the food was just far too expensive for this young couple to afford. Thus, we took the boat to San Pedro in the afternoon, two days in a row, for lunch and an early dinner, to then return on the last complimentary boat ride of the day.

Speaking of food, be advised that the bar and restaurant keep separate bills, even if you order a Coke while at dinner. It's a really odd, obnoxious setup that isn't conducive to keeping track of what you've paid for and need to pay for. As for that, be prepared to get double taxed - once for your food order, then again on the added service charge. Funky, funky.... and upon checkout, the front desk tried to charge us for two drinks we had already paid for. Luckily, they believed us, and I still had the receipt anyway, so always ask for and keep your receipt until after you leave Portofino.

To be fair, the resort does a great job of welcoming new guests. We hadn't even let them know we would be flying into the San Pedro Airport, but the boat captain was there for us right when the plane landed. He hailed a taxi for us, which took us a short distance to the boat dock (maybe a 5 minute ride). From there, he took us to the resort, where we were greeted with lovely menthol-scented towels, our luggage was taken to the room, and the bartender gave us a complimentary "welcome" drink, telling us to let him know when to stop pouring rum in the glass. After that, we were given a choice of locally-made soap. All the flavors smelled wonderful... we were told we would be given new bars daily, but that never happened. Aside from that, the cleaning crew did a great job... the room always felt clean, and they left us nice treats. If they take care of you, take care of them at the end of your trip - we left a tip on the bed a couple times for them, but they always relocated the money. We left them money again when we were heading to checkout.

A couple more things to note.... back to that "third world" thing... it was really nice that Portofino provides some fun things to keep you busy (bikes and kayaks), but it seems like there isn't a single thought of any caution or liability, like there is here in the U.S. During our stay, we had heard from some other guests about a couple of U.S. soldiers who had gone kayaking and had a bad accident near the reef, just a month prior to our visit... the kayak had flipped, one soldier was rescued, and the other has never been found. There was a small craft advisory, due to the high winds, and as the winds were strong during our entire trip, I just recently discovered there was an advisory the day we paddled around for a bit.

Lastly, our room had a big suite upstairs. The neighbors up there were noisy, and their loud footsteps woke us up at 7 AM everyday. That was pretty maddening, not being able to sleep in on vacation at a "resort." Keep that in mind if you decide to book a stay at Portofino.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about Portofino. I'm glad my wife and I got to see what Belize is all about, but I'm certain there are resorts on Ambergris Caye that provide a much better experience.

Room Tip: We had a beautiful, beachfront room, but the noise from the neighbors upstairs was really bad...
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank doctoro2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Calgary, Canada
2 reviews
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 July 2014

We spent a week after being in the interior of Belize tramping around the Mayan ruins, so it was wonderful to be on the water. We were very well attended to: from the moment we landed on the island and shuttled to the resort, to our departure. Staff were attentive and accommodating, however, I was frustrated about a number of aspects. First, although there is a nice white sand beach, the water is not conducive to wading or swimming because of all the sea grasses. Also, snorkeling was not available from the shop on the pier unless they had a minimum number of people to participate, and I thought it was a little expensive. The food offerings had sufficient variety but not hot enough to be served on the open veranda where it cooled quickly and became less enjoyable. I also felt it was also overly expensive compared to what we had paid in many other hotel and restaurant locations in Belize. Otherwise, the resort offers great comfort and peaceful nights.

Room Tip: liked being directly opposite the pool
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  • Stayed March 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Ronald H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PortofinoBZ, General Manager at Portofino Beach Resort, responded to this review, 29 July 2014
We are delighted you enjoyed your stay at our resort. Our staff is truly part of the experience and all their attention and kindness is truly genuine.
The sea grass is a protected ecosystem in the country and is prevalent in many areas on the island. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about that feature, however swimming at the end of the pier is possible.
Prices for food on the island on whole is generally slightly larger than the rest of the country because of transportation, and the additional transportation tot he resort also affects our restaurant prices.
We are happy you enjoyed your experience and the tranquility we aim to offer.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
mezzi410
2 reviews
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 July 2014

We stayed at Portofino for our honeymoon, 7 days 8 nights.

The pros: very clean resort, AMAZING food, free continental breakfast (fruit, toast, jam/butter only), friendly staff, very very nice tropical atmosphere and the beachfront bungalow makes you forget about everything else. Massages available on the beach at a price. Clean pool, minimal noise as there aren't that many guests staying at the same time.

The cons: Very expensive dinner prices, unless you're planning on having lunch and dinner most nights in town at San Pedro, nightly dinner at Portofino can become quite expensive. Boat rides into and back from town at 20 minutes a piece can be quite rough if you're not a fan of boats. No telephone in rooms. Many times we went to front lobby to have dinner be taken to our rooms in the form of room service. Not much else around the resort in the form of restaurants or food. Going into town is almost a must if you do not plan on having lunch and dinner there everyday. No gym or exercise facility. The staff can be a little forgetful at times with some requests but it really depends on who you speak to.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank mezzi410
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PortofinoBZ, General Manager at Portofino Beach Resort, responded to this review, 29 July 2014
we are happy you chose us to be part of your honeymoon experience and are extremely happy that you enjoyed your stay with us.
We know the distance can be a bit of challenge and we often times aim to provide a relaxing comfort at out resort. The restaurant prices have an additional expense because of the transportation associated with the service. As a result, we do need to charge a more than the downtown area.

We will work with our staff to ensure that guests requests are not laid aside. Sometimes other responsibilities can get n the way but our objective is to facilitate our guests as best as possible.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 July 2014

My wife and I celebrated our 40th Anniversary at Portofino and we were very happy with the extra service and personal touches the staff provided for us. The grounds are kept very clean and every evening the staff sprayed the area for insect abatement. The Tree Top room was very comfortable and clean. The in room soaps are awesome!

  • Stayed June 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Tim S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PortofinoBZ, General Manager at Portofino Beach Resort, responded to this review, 14 July 2014
Thank you for sharing your experience with our resort. We consider ourselves privileged to be a part of your special occasion. We are also very happy you enjoyed your stay.

While we understand that the distance from town offers some unique situations when it comes to travelling back and forth, we aim to separate ourselves from the town which we feel makes the resort very unique.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
15 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 July 2014

We stayed a full week at the Portofino and was very satisfied with the experience. Our beachfront bungalow was very spacious and clean - actually they were cleaning the room twice a day every day! Staff was very friendly and eager to help. They also went the extra mile when we had to visit the doctor two hours before our flight departure and after we've checked out! Not only they scheduled the appointment but also paid for our taxi transportation to the doc and the airport to make sure we catch our flight! That's what I call great customer service!

Although Portofino it is 6 miles away from the city, we found this to be better as it is much more quiet and personal. You can easily spend the whole day at the resort reading a book or hanging at the pool or beach without people passing by all the time. As with everything else in Ambergris Caye you cannot really swim at the sea (shallow, stale water due to the reef) unless you do a daily excursion by boat or go diving by the reef.

Resort's boat runs back and forth the city usually twice a day but you can always catch the water taxi for $11 USD a person each way, or walk or bike on the coast line if you don't mind 6 miles (we did that a few times and it was fun!).

This is the place where I proposed to my girl (she said yes!!!) so it will always have a special place in my heart! The staff helped me with the logistics and worked with me from before we arrived to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Overall - good value for money, very personal, great hospitality (staff makes you feel like home) and would recommend it without a doubt if you already decided to visit the island.

Room Tip: Go for a beachfront cabana.
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Dino C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PortofinoBZ, General Manager at Portofino Beach Resort, responded to this review, 14 July 2014
Thank you for sharing your experience with our resort. We are truly honored we could have been a small part of this new step in your life. The island and the people are truly what makes this place paradise and we are happy you were able to share in some of these experiences.
The staff is essential to our resort and all of the staff make a genuine effort to make everyone feel welcomed and in comfort. They are an essential part of the resort and the people of Belize are also very special.
We look forward to the opportunity to accommodate you and your fiance in the next step of your life.
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Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 July 2014

We had the best time at Portofino! Wonderful staff, beautiful little tiki hut, great pool, manicured beach. We said when we left that we would be back! Go to Palopa Bar for a fun afternoon outing. We enjoyed drinks a few doors down at rojos and did some amazing snorkeling.

Room Tip: Baracouda was our room- we had our own private tiki hut!
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Allison K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PortofinoBZ, General Manager at Portofino Beach Resort, responded to this review, 14 July 2014
Thank you for your review and we are extremely happy we were able to make your special time memorable. There are many different aspects to enjoy about this country and we hope on your return we can make your second trip around even more memorable.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Portofino Beach Resort

Property: Portofino Beach Resort
Address: 6 Miles North | PO Box 36, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize
Region: Belize > Belize Cayes > Ambergris Caye > San Pedro
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#7 Spa Hotel in San Pedro
#9 Business Hotel in San Pedro
#12 Top resorts Hotel in San Pedro
#18 Romantic Hotel in San Pedro
#20 On the Beach Hotel in San Pedro
#23 Family Hotel in San Pedro
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:3 star — Portofino Beach Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 17
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Characterized by its warm and friendly hospitality, Portofino is the epitome of barefoot luxury, unpretentious and relaxing… for most; it will be an experience of a lifetime. Our small, boutique resort offers just 17 beautifully appointed rooms, ranging from charming beach cabanas to spacious suites, dotted amidst swaying palm trees, in a private setting with unmatched personal attention and the modern comforts of home. It is a haven of tranquility, where guests will enjoy the subtle sounds of the nearby waves lapping over the reef, gentle breeze, breathtaking sunrise, star studded night sky and spectacular views of the crystal waters of the Caribbean Sea. The perfect setting for a romantic getaway, intimate wedding, honeymoon, family and friends.Portofino offers leisure options to suit every taste. Relax in our fresh water outdoor swimming pool; enjoy a great book from our book collection or simply indulge yourself in a massage on the beach under our hand thatched palapa hut. Explore the underwater world with snorkel equipment or skim along the surface in our complimentary sea kayaks. Delicious meals prepared by our resort chef can be served in the privacy or your beach cabana or suite, on our private dock with a romantic setting or at the Portofino Restaurant. Sip on amazing tropical cocktails at the Green Parrot Beach Bar or perhaps a late afternoon snack from the Green Parrot Bistro. Take advantage of our DVD library and unwind in front of the flat TV screen in your room. Or, simply take in the view. In short, relax and enjoy! Reception in the main building is manned by professional and knowledgeable staff. From, activities bookings and directions to itineraries and dining reservations, our friendly and professional staff is eager to assist you. Access to PORTOFINO is by boat only, and therefore we offer a complimentary meet and greet service at San Pedro Airstrip and boat transfer to the resort, an approximately 20 minutes ride. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Portofino Hotel San Pedro
Portofino San Pedro
Portofino Beach Resort Belize/San Pedro

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