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“What a trip!!!!”
Review of Cotton Tree Lodge

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Cotton Tree Lodge
Ranked #4 of 18 Punta Gorda B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 2 February 2012

My wife and I just returned from a 4-day "Babymoon" at CTL during the end of January/beginning of February. We had an amazing time. I've really never been on a trip like this. It's not a resort in the traditional sense and it isn't camping either, so I guess it should be in its own category of adventure lodging. I have so many great things to say that it is hard to know where to start.

Accommodations.

Really incredible. The cabanas are very nice inside. If the Ritz is your thing, stop reading now. The cabanas are open with screens all around. There were bugs, but its the jungle! I don't recall any mosquitos in the room, but we did use the net. I couldn't have slept any better at the Ritz. The nights were very comfortable, and the jungle sounds were very relaxing. We considered the howler monkeys a treat because they never carried on very long. The porch out back had hammocks were we relaxed each day, read and watched the iguanas jump into the river.

Adventures.

CTL calls them excursions, but they really were adventures. We elected to do the Blue Creek Cave, Eliado's farm, the night hike in the jungle and horseback riding to the San Felipe Cave. I would do them all again in a second. We also enjoyed kayaking, swimming in the Moho River and fishing off the dock. A light rod with small lures and hooks would be best for fishing. The fish caught were small catfish and another fish that looked like a big shad. We were told that snook and jack crevalle make it to the lodge in the dry season. We never saw another tourist at any of the destinations, and that is what made everything so authentic. Blue Creek was awesome. It was tough swimming upstream to the underground waterfalls, but very worth it. Eliado's farm is an absolute can't miss. We loved seeing his farm, eating lunch with his family and making coco drink afterwards. The horseback ride was great. The horses were some of the best trained I've ridden.

Packing.

We packed waaaaaaaay too much. You need pants and sleeves for hiking in the jungle. No need to bring a bunch of shorts because you won't really use them. Definitely bring water-type shoes and hiking shoes. I think you have to bring rain gear to really enjoy everything in the rainforest - there's a reason no one calls it the dry forest! Bug spray, bug spray, bug spray! The bugs were bad, but are easily held off with some good bug spray. Once the spray went on, the bugs weren't an issue. Once things got damp, it was tough to get it dry. No need to bring dress clothes for dinner, as it is very casual. Waterproof camera/bag. It is helpful to have a water proof bag or case with you to make sure you don't miss a beat if it rains or if you are doing an activity in the water.

Food.

Amazing. Great soups. Great cooking. Simple ingredients, incredible flavor and very local feel. My wife is a picky eater, but she ate everything. The bar was impressive. Great mixed drinks. The staff was great. Everything was set up perfect and they jumped at the chance to help with any little thing.

Room Tip: Get the deluxe cabana!
  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
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11  Thank Blake G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 27 January 2012

I was at CTL for 6 nights 7 days and seriously attempted to make the most of every day. I'm now leaving tomorrow morning (WiFi has worked great btw) and feel I would need to book several more trips to see half of what this area offers. The cabannas are great! The staff, like all belicians that I've met, are extreamly accomidating and are just a true pleasure to get to know. My favorite parts of this trip are hand making chacolate with Cacao at Cyrila's Farm, the river rope swing on grounds along with free kayaking, Rio Blanco Falls, Luban Tun Mayan Site, Tiger Cave, and a few strenous day hikes that turned into night hikes. oh yeah, the nocturnal jungle hike with Armondo was stellar too! Pretty much if your into adventure, especially jungle or Mayan adventure this is the best spot to be! Why can't trip advisor have 6 stars for the really awesome places?

  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank Dain F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 January 2012

We just stayed at Cotton Tree Lodge for 4 nights and wished we could have stayed longer. We had the best time getting to know the staff and on the amazing excursions, part of the all inclusive package. The food was amazing, everyone was super friendly and accomodating, and the location is beautiful. Would highly recommend visiting Eladio's cacao farm, the blue creek cave, swimming in the Moho River, kayaking down the river with equipment provided for free, and chatting with any local you can find. Couldn't ask for a better vacation and can't wait to get back to Belize!

  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Erika A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 January 2012

My family (wife, three adults children and my son's wife) and I spent a fantastic week at the Cotton Tree Lodge in mid-January. The weather was perfect--not too hot or cold--and it only rained toward the end of the week. January is a transition month from wet to dry. The amount of rain you can expect is dramatically high in the wet season and dramatically low in the dry season so check the monthly averages before you go. It's a 45-minute drive from the Punta Gorda airport to the Lodge, a good part of which is over a bumpy dirt road. Except for a few major paved roads, bumpy roads are how people get around in Belize and it's part of the experience. The Lodge itself is in a spectacular location (check out the visitor pictures) and the eponymous Cotton Tree is huge! The grounds, cabanas and lodge are beautiful, spacious, and hit the right balance (for me, anyway) of being authentic, ecologically sensitive, and comfortable. If your idea of luxury is tropical flower blossoms in your cabana when you check in and staff who are genuinely friendly when they see you, you've come to the right place. The river is a great place to swim, kayak, and bird watch, with truly amazing views. Our visit included horseback riding, hiking the jungle at night, and quiet reads in a hammock. We toured the Mayan ruins at Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit, swam the Blue Creek Cave, snorkeled on Snake Caye, and took the inspiring tour of Eladio Pop's Agouti Cacao Farm (I didn't know what could be so great about a cacao farm either, until I met Eladio Pop and learned how he created his farm from scratch and raised/is raising 15 children!). The tour guides were outstanding, and the obvious pride they felt in sharing their Mayan heritage and local attractions with visitors was a real delight. The Cotton Tree Lodge is a leader in promoting eco-tourism and sustainable agriculture in the Toledo District, and is working in partnership with farmers like Eladio Pop to build the local economy in a way that protects, rather than exploits, natural resources. Belize is an incredibly beautiful country, and visitors to places like the Cotton Tree Lodge help show the value of protecting that beauty. I'll finish with a shout-out to Becca and Jay, the co-managers of the Cotton Tree Lodge, who arranged a special cake for my daughter-in-law's 30th birthday and provided after-dinner entertainment from a traditional Belizean drummer who taught us rhythms stretching back to his African ancestors. While that evening was special, everything about our visit to the Cotton Tree Lodge and Belize was wonderful! I highly recommend that you see it for yourself.

Room Tip: If you like river views and seeing even more birds and animals, ask for one of the cabanas that are...
  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled with family
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5  Thank Bionysus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 January 2012

The Cotton Tree Lodge is one of the most unique vacation experiences I've had. The facility and it's surroundings are beautiful, the staff was extremely friendly and helpful, and the food and drinks were always excellent. I highly recommend opting for the all-inclusive package, which includes all meals, non-alcoholic drinks and one tour per person per day. The money you'll save on paying for individual tours is substantial, and there are no other restaurants anywhere near CTL, so you'll want to eat all your meals there, anyway.

I loved that meals were served from a buffet setup, and that the dining tables were setup family-style. This made it much easier to get to know other people staying at CTL, and I made some great new friends because of it. The food was always fresh and ingredients were locally-sourced whenever possible. Each meal consisted of one entree offering which was posted on a board outside the kitchen every morning. In the event I wouldn't eat the main dish, the kitchen staff would always go out of their way to accommodate me with something else...and the alternative meal was always just as impressive as what they'd cooked for everyone else. Drinks at the bar, especially those which included tropical fruit juices, were excellent if a bit overpriced at $7 US each. On the plus side, they were always strong and never watered-down.

I stayed in the "honeymoon" cabana, which boasts it's own private two-person hot tub overlooking the Moho river (more on this later.) The room itself was quite large, with a king-sized bed, a table and chairs, a large dresser/closet and plenty of space for luggage. I really enjoyed that the interior was constructed completely from local wood, and the soaring thatched ceiling was beautiful. The cabana also had a private terrace with it's own ceiling fan, a very comfortable hammock, two outdoor chairs and a cushy sofa. The inclusion of a ceiling fan was a great idea, as it keeps you cool while you're lounging in the hammock while also keeping the bugs away. The bed was surrounded with a mosquito net, had it's own ceiling fan and was flanked by plenty of power plugs for charging cameras, laptops, etc.

Speaking of laptops, Cotton Tree offers WiFi internet access for a daily fee. The connection certainly isn't lightning-fast, but it was more than adequate for posting photos online, surfing the web and checking e-mail. The fact they can offer it at all in their remote location is pretty amazing, and a very nice perk for guests.

The highlights of my stay were the local tours offered by CTL, which included swimming in the Blue Creek Cave, a visit to two local Mayan ruins, and a visit to Eladio's cacao farm. If you can only choose one, go see Eladio and let him show you how amazing the jungle is (and feed you nonstop along the way.) I've traveled to destinations all over the world and had more than a few amazing cultural experiences, but the day I spent with Eladio and his family is easily one of the most memorable of my life. Swimming through the Blue Creek Cave was also quite fun, and I'd highly recommend it as a second option.

As wonderful as my experience at CTL was overall, I did experience a few things that could use some improvement.

I love the idea of a hot tub in the honeymoon suite, but in reality, the eco-friendly setup at CTL just doesn't support this feature. The tub is gigantic and the water pressure, which is more than sufficient for a shower, is too weak to fill a tub of that size in a reasonable amount of time (it took well over two hours to fill.) This wouldn't have been a huge deal if I could have turned the hot water on, left for dinner, and come back to a full tub. But the gas-powered on-demand hot water heater automatically turned itself off after 15-20 minutes of operation, which meant the water going into the tub turned cold unless I cycled it on and off at the tap from time to time. When I finally got the tub filled, the water was brown and murky. This is something I'd expect in the middle of the jungle, and after I threw in some soap to make bubbles, I didn't notice it one bit. But many travelers would be put off by brown water in their bathtub. My advice is to skip the honeymoon suite and go for a less-expensive cabana with a traditional shower. CTL staff, if you're reading this, rip out that hot tub and install a large two-person steam shower in it's place (or, better yet, a private water slide from the terrace into the Moho river!!)

Another issue involved the "Magic Jungle Bus" used to transport guests for tours. It has an amazing paint job which basically exists to cover up the incredibly bad condition of the bus. Most exterior lights were broken and the entry stairs were badly damaged. Every time we turned a corner, the drivers door popped open and had to be slammed shut while he steered the moving bus. The passenger door also wouldn't close completely. The bus was very noisy, and the seats were old, uncomfortable and placed so closely together that most passengers didn't have room for their knees behind the seat in front of them. On paved roads the bus was uncomfortable but tolerable. On the heavily-rutted and bumpy unpaved roads leading to and from CTL and to many of the sites we visited, it was downright painful to ride in. As a finale, it broke down (blown transmission) and stranded our group by the highway for more than an hour while we waited for CTL staff to collect us in another van. The driver knew the bus was broken and immobile before we started our second tour, but instead of calling for another van to meet us afterwards, he waited until we were finished, eating 90+ minutes out of our day waiting for a rescue. The staff at CTL were very apologetic about the problem and offered us a complimentary cocktail when we returned, which certainly helped smooth things over. Regardless, that bus is uncomfortable and unsafe, and I certainly don't think it should be used to transport clients staying at a fairly high-end resort. Be sure to ask if your tour will be using the "Magic Jungle Bus," and request a different form of transportation if so.

Lastly, the bed in my cabana was quite uncomfortable. I sleep on a platform bed at home so I'm used to a mattress with no box springs, but the mattress on the bed was pretty worn out. I could feel the springs on my back when laying down on it. Not a good thing. The pillows were fantastic, however, making it easier to get some good sleep.

In the grand scheme of things, these were small problems during an otherwise fantastic stay at CTL. If you're thinking about booking a stay here, keep in mind that this is not the same kind of experience as you'd have staying at a traditional hotel. The rooms are spectacular, but they have no windows and are open to the world. This means you'll hear every noise of the jungle, including the extremely loud howler monkeys. If you're a light sleeper, I'd definitely suggest packing a set of earplugs to wear when you go to bed.

I'd also suggest bringing at least two or three cans of bug spray. You're going to the jungle, after all, and the jungle has lots of insects that enjoy biting humans. Deep-Woods Off did the trick for me, and I left almost completely unbitten even after trekking through the jungle on multiple days. Others who arrived without bug spray weren't so fortunate. If you're prone to itching a lot when you're bitten by insects, bring along a box of Benadryl tablets and some Cortisone cream in case a bug gets through your line of bug spray defense.

Flip-flops have absolutely no place at CTL or in any other location in Belize, including the beach. Water shoes are must, however, and when I say water shoes, I mean those outdoorsy semi-open sandals that look like hiking boots with holes in them. If you don't own a pair, buy one before you come. You'll be glad you did.

Another little info nugget is that visitors to CTL are asked not to flush toilet paper, as it wreaks havoc on their eco-friendly waste composting system. Instead, visitors are asked to put their used toilet paper in a trash can next to the toilet, which is emptied daily. I'm not a fragile kind of guy, but this was a very strange adjustment to make. It became second nature after a few days, but pre-arrival heads-up before I arrived might have been a good thing. I certainly don't count this as a "complaint," especially seeing as how CTL prides itself on being ecologically friendly. I bring it up only so people who visit CTL in the future will know what to expect.

As I've said multiple times, I loved almost every minute of my visit to Cotton Tree Lodge, and if you make sure you know ahead of time (and prepare yourself for) the quirks that accompany staying in a remote, eco-friendly jungle lodge, you'll have an amazing experience. I would highly recommend Cotton Tree Lodge to anyone looking for a unique, "once in a lifetime" kind of vacation experience.

Room Tip: Skip the honeymoon suite, as the hot tub is a pain to deal with. The jungle cabana is VERY remote an...
  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled with friends
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9  Thank jacobpalenske
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 January 2012

Stayed for four nights and participated in three tours. 1 - Mayan ruins, 2 -the tortilla making with kayak trip back to the lodge and 3 - the cave swim. The service was great, guests were all nice and we really enjoyed the beautiful grounds, river and animal life. They have knowledgeable and interesting guides for the day trips that we really enjoyed. It's a place I would definitely visit again.Food was acceptable. After traveling around the southern part of Belize and would say you don't go there for the food but the beauty and interesting sights, friendly people, and activities.

Room Tip: Ask for a room with a view of the river. Very nice. `
  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with friends
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2  Thank SantaCruzCarol
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 January 2012

We stayed in December '11. Reception greeting and service set up negative vibes - and she didn't improve. Bar and food service was more friendly. Food was ok, but on an all inclusive deal they charge more for extras like sausages at breakfast...which leaves a bad taste...

Setting and accommodation is great (quite jungly but tame enough) - lovely rooms, most overlooking the river and with a balcony (make sure you ask for one of these...we didn't!).

This was the second of our two more premium hotels we stayed at in Southern Belize and, like the other, didn't quite hit the mark - in particular the friendliness of the service let (both) down.

Room Tip: ask for river view and balcony when you book
  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Sailfintang
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
MohoRio, Interim Marketing Manager at Cotton Tree Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 19 January 2012

We'd like to thank these guests for taking the time review their stay at Cotton Tree. I was very sorry to hear about the sub-par reception that they received. At the time of this review's posting, our management team had already recognized that there was a problem with some of our staff. The management has been working with the relevant staff members to improve this. We absolutely want all of our guests to feel warmly welcomed at Cotton Tree!

Additionally, at the time these guests stayed we were working out new a la carte menu options at breakfast and had not yet smoothed over the details with our staff. The error was on our end. All-Inclusive guests should expect a full buffet each morning.

Finally, we are so glad to hear that these guests enjoyed both the accommodation and the location. We think we've got a truly special spot in the jungle, and we look forward to sharing it with you!

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Cotton Tree Lodge

Address: Moho River, Punta Gorda, Belize
Phone Number:
Region: Belize > Toledo District > Punta Gorda
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Spa Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 18 B&Bs / Inns in Punta Gorda
Price Range: £131 - £250 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Cotton Tree Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 16
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Our eco-lodge is hidden between the Moho River, the rain forest, and Mayan villages in southern Belize. Stay in beautiful thatch cabanas with private bathrooms and verandas. Enjoy delicious cuisine prepared with organic produce from our garden. Try kayaking, birding, swimming, and horseback riding on the grounds. Connect with the people and culture of Belize on daily tours to villages, Mayan ruins, cacao farms, caves, waterfalls, and more. Or simply relax in a hammock all day. ... more   less 
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TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Hotels.com, Booking.com, Evoline ltd and 5viajes2012 S.L. so you can book your Cotton Tree Lodge reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
Also Known As:
Cotton Tree Hotel Punta Gorda
Cotton Tree Lodge Belize/Punta Gorda

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