After spending three great nights at Coppola's other resort, Blancenaux, on the recommendation of other guests we decided to try out turtle inn. Beware, this is somewhat of a comparative review. Turtle Inn is larger than Blancenaux, and is a generally more expensive property with the focus being the beach. The rooms are larger, with the property having a bit more of the "Playa del Carmen" feel (for those who have been there). While not nearly as large as Mexico, It has the typical grand central building (thatch roof), with open restaurant and bar.
Cabins: We checked in and sat down with the manager who gave us the run down on the property, made us sign a few things, and showed us to our cabin. The cabin was fantastic. It was probably 20ftx30ft, with a fridge, couch, work areas, safe, and small table for eating. As with all Coppola properties, there was a reasonably nice double bed and no a/c. The porch was screened in, with some rough-hewn and wicker furniture. Hardwood floors, and high loft ceilings (with fans of course). We were in the 3rd row back from the water, a "partial" ocean view... I suppose we could see the ocean if the bushes were cut back, and we stood on our tippy-toes. but that was not a problem, there was good breezes, and the 50 or so feet we needed to walk to the shore was not a problem. The cabins on the beach (which are at a premium), appear to be beautiful.
As with Blancenaux, the attention to the bathrooms was great. Japanese style, with open screens to the private courtyard. Inside the bathroom is a small garden, and the courtyard itself was full of hibiscus and small palm trees. Additionally, there was a outdoor shower with lots of water spilling out of a bamboo pipe. Very nice, and private.
There are two pools at Turtle Inn. One is between the main building and sea. I did not swim in this one. The other is in the "newer" area, and is a neat triangular shaped salt water pool. It was always clean and nice. Because it was low season, there was almost never anyone in this pool.
Food: We tried two of their three restaurants. The first, the restaurant in the main building which is basically Italian. We tried had a salad and calzone. The Salad was big enough for two, which they did not tell us. We asked about the size of the calzone, and they had said it was medium. I'm a big eater, and it was definitely a large calzone. The prices were moderate for this class of resort. I think the calzones were around the equivalent of 15-20 US, with the salads around $8 US. Not bad price for the quality and quantity. The food was good quality, and as much as possible grown on the resort itself. Again, not necessarily the best food you have ever had, but good enough that only the most picky eaters would be dissatisfied. We also ate at ?Mama Luba's? across the street, It is considered one of the Inn's restaurants, however it appears to be run by locals making Belizean food. We had the chicken curry, and chicken stew. As with most Belizean dishes, it came with rice, beans and coleslaw. The food there was deliciously home cooked. Probably the best Belizean food I'd had (think of a slightly less spicy and slightly differently spiced take on Jamaican food). The restaurant itself was quite charming, basically a shack with screens and a small kitchen that you can look into while you eat. Also, you can eat on a nice patio and watch the lagoon (well, I assume the view is nice as we ate there after dark, so could not see much). We also ate in town at Wendy's, Fodor's choice. It was good, but not as refined at Mama Luba's.
Sports: Because it was low season, there was not a lot of activities going on, but the coordinator was very eager to help. So much so, that I wondered if she was new to the job wanting to prove herself. It's worth noting if you are a diver that in low season, there may only be a dive or two going on in a week.
They have kayaks and trimaran for use (free). We took out one of their two sailboats. It was an interesting design, where the "captain" sits in the center hull, manning the sail and operating the rudder with pedals. Unfortunately, the sail was in rough shape (patched and a little spent). The rudder pedals had a nasty habit of falling out of the broken track, and the hammocks between the outriggers where torn and saggy. That said, it was still fun, and we could get it to work... just unfortunate that a high end place like this did not take better care of their equipment. Maybe the other boat was better, but it had no hammock on it. The guy who took care of the boats said that parts were on order, but it sounded like they were dragging their heals a little.
Staff: Overall, nice with some very nice standouts. The manager is relatively new to the job, something like 6 weeks. She seemed nice, but perhaps a little phony (which stood out. One of the nice things about Belize is the people, they seem more or less to be genuine and interested in getting to know you... she was American). I suspect, and this is just my gut, that the place might have been trying to improve its management. But note, that said, the place was very well run.
Grounds: The grounds around the cottages were very nice, mostly coarse sand with lots of bushes, rough stepping stones, the occasional palm tree, and flowers. Each morning I noticed the staff raking the grounds (particularly if there was an evening/night storm - Very intense btw). It's not a large place, and around 1 yr ago they expanded to the North adding around 6 additional cabins. Strangely, there is a fellow who owns a house between the two sections of the resort. Apparently it is a real bone of contention with the ownership, as they wanted to buy it, but they could not agree on price. They have done a good job of masking the fact that it is there, and depending on where you stay you may not even realize that it's there at all (or assume it was just the managers residence).
Beach: One day I tied snorkeling, and to be honest it was not a great experience. As with almost all of Belize, there is sea grass, and small reef growths right off the shore. Where I was is not a great place for swimming (I think there is an area that they cleared for swimming further down). It had been stormy the night before, and I found the sea was murky, and there was some garbage on the bottom. This was unfortunate, but hard to control as the area is really a small town with lots of private houses. There was some aquatic life, but I did not see a lot. Perhaps it was just the day.
Overall, this is a very nice place. There was not really anything wrong (besides the sailboat), and most things were very, very nice, but somehow I was less impressed by it than Blanceneaux. Although, to be fair, some other guests who came from Turtle Inn saw it the other way around. I guess it depends on what you are looking for. If there is any complaint against the place is that it is somewhat expensive when you compare to Mexico, Dominican, etc. When you compare it to other high end places in Belize (where 4 or 5 star tend to be more expensive), it is only a little more or around the same. If you are interested in a great luxurious beach get away in Belize, with a lot of local flavor, and it's in your price range, you really can't go wrong here.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Luxury and unspoiled beauty on a pristine white-sand beach.Turtle Inn is a true labor of love. Less than a year after Francis and Eleanor Coppola acquired this beachside refuge in 2001, it was swept out to sea by the forces of Hurricane Iris. Turning disaster into triumph, the Coppolas led a two-year reclamation project, creating a magnificent resort that is consistently ranked among the best in Central and South America.This 25-room seafront hideaway combines natural wonders with luxury style. Accommodations are in individual thatched cottages, decorated with handcrafted Balinese furnishings and naturally cooled by the ever-present sea breezes. Just steps beyond your private deck, the white-sand beach dissolves into the clear Caribbean ocean. In addition, the resort has two infinity swimming pools for enjoying the day. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Turtle Hotel Placencia
- Turtle Inn Belize/Placencia
- Belize Turtle Inn