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“Mixed experience...”
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 5 July 2013

This lodge may be the best in the area but I had a mixed experience. Upon arrival, the place was flooded. This meant that after a certain point we had to travel by boat to the area near the entrance. However, the walkways were submerged so we had to wade through the water to enter our cabin. Upon entering we were greeted by an army of insects in our bathroom. We requested a room change however the new room was in an area even more affected by the floods. Needless to say the circumstances were out of the ordinary-or is it? This area typically floods during the rainy season which is why it was closed. However, I did not receive any kind of heads up about this possibility.

What concerns me more was the response from management about this problem-a kind of what can we do attitude. I had suggested that announcements be made to guests so they could be kept abreast of the situation and left guessing about the situation and the status of their day plans. However, this never happened. Also I suggested that free wifi and laundry be provided as a way for compensating for the inconvenience. This was offered, however only to the guests that complained. In my opinion, this lodge has some strengths:

1. spacious bungalows
2. excellent day tour experiences: Eladio Pop's cacao farm (do not miss and make sure to watch video on his life and family while there), Ixcacao, horseback riding through the jungle to Santa Rosa cave with Mr Chen (a local Mayan and wonderful guide), and Medicinal plant tour with Santiago (learned so much).

However, challenging situations are the true test of management and I felt that this is where Cotton Tree falls short. Hopefully this can be reverse. It was easy making the reservation with Jeff via email, but the situation on the ground in terms of overall management style seriously needs improvement. I had encountered flood related issues prior to arriving at Cotton Tree and the difference in the way it was handled was like night and day (At Caves Branch with Eugene).

  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled with family
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2  Thank bluehornet2009
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
cottontreebelize, Owner at Cotton Tree Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 14 July 2013

This was a very challenging time for us at Cotton Tree Lodge as it is an unusually rare event for our property to flood like this while we are open. We close for the rainy season July 16th to October 31st because there is a higher possibility of flooding this time of year. Unfortunately, the rains came very early this year and we had the biggest flood we ever experienced happened during this guest's stay. My partner and co-owner Chris Crowell personally called the resort where this guest was staying just prior to his arrival and asked for them to pass along the message "we are in a flood situation, there will be extreme conditions, and the guests should be notified prior to their departure". This communication happened 5 hours prior to our scheduled pickup of the guests. Unfortunately, the guests were on a tour at the other resort at that time and apparently were never notified. I can understand how upsetting it can be to not be informed and we strive to set expectations for our guests to help keep everyone happy. It's unfortunate that we were unable to do so this time.

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127 - 133 of 271 reviews

Reviewed 26 June 2013

My boyfriend and I spent a lovely week at the lodge in June. We arrived in the middle of the night and Pablo was courteous enough to wait up for us (well after his shift had ended and the office was closed down for the night) to be sure we were comfortably settled in our room. The entire staff was equally as wonderful throughout the course of our trip. The food was excellent! Sean, the chef, was not only very skilled at his craft but also very conscientious. Most of the food is grown or raised right there on the property. It was really exceptional. The lodge itself is beautiful, built mostly out of locally foraged trees that had fallen during a hurricane and sitting on one hundred acres of beautiful, lush rainforest. The activities were a blast and well organized. All of our tour guides were very knowledgable and fun. It was certainly hot, but we anticipated that. The bugs seemed to really like my boyfriend but didn't care for me too much (luckily). Invest in some bug spray and you should be fine. If you get a chance to do the evening liqueur tasting do not pass it up! All together an unforgettable experience.. We're already talking about returning.

  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Dora S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
cottontreebelize, Owner at Cotton Tree Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 14 July 2013

We're so glad to hear you enjoyed your stay and we welcome a return visit. We offer specials to return guests and would be happy to see you again soon!

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Reviewed 25 June 2013

My girlfriend and I stayed at the Cotton Tree Lodge for 7 nights in June of 2013. We enjoyed every aspect of our stay. The property was beautiful, the staff was very friendly, the food was exceptional, and the experience was unforgettable. Of course, it was hot, and we got some mosquito bites, but these are things we anticipated before arriving. The Cotton Tree Lodge offered a comfortable stay in a remote part of the world, allowing us to truly experience the jungle and the culture of the region, without having to sleep in a tent. Great value, great experience. We have no complaints. Thanks!

  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Michael R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
cottontreebelize, Owner at Cotton Tree Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 14 July 2013

Thanks for your kind words!

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Reviewed 16 June 2013

The Cottontree Lodge provides an interesting vacation in the Jungle. The Lodge and Cabanas are beautifully built using local wood and traditional building plans and techniques. The activities are carefully planned and organized. I really enjoyed the snorkeling! The food is fresh and mostly grown on the property. The Head Chef is very conscientious regarding allergies and likes/dislikes. He is also very unique, well liked and personable.
However, there are a few concerns such as: lack of adequate personnel management and training. These issues manifested in lack of electricity, confusion over times of planned excursions, and what I consider to be mismanagement of animals (the goats).
I suggest that you carefully avoid the rainy season! The other guests and I were bitten up severely by mosquitoes, horse flies and sand fleas (over a 200)! Good thing that I took my malaria medication. The nights were miserably hot and humid! The bedroom fans were basically ineffective due to quality and the occasional lack of electricity.
This is NOT a place for the elderly or very young children.

  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled with friends
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2  Thank bpst16992
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
cottontreebelize, Owner at Cotton Tree Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 18 June 2013

I'm sorry to hear that your stay was less enjoyable than you had hoped. The transition from the dry season to the rainy season does tend to bring about hot nights and lots of bugs for a few nights. Once we're in the rainy season the conditions greatly improve. I will look into what exactly happened with the electricity but in general it has not been a concern. I'm sure that is no comfort when the fans stop working on a hot and humid night! If you would like to contact me directly off line (just phone the US office), I would appreciate better understanding your comment about management and training. We take this very seriously and are always looking for ways to improve.

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Reviewed 12 June 2013

This is an "Eco-friendly" lodge and they have done a wonderful job of building beautiful buildings with only local materials, providing generally very good meals from local ingredients (more meat would be appreciated), having interesting and fun daily activities and very helpful staff.
However, and this is a big however, nothing is much fun if you cannot sleep at night. Several nights the temperature in our deluxe bungalow never went bellow 90 F, even with 3 fans on. The first night that we arrived, we almost left because of the heat in the bungalow; we probably should have. I was in a twin bed in the loft, and it was even hotter. I would definitely not accept a loft bed for either an adult or particularly for a child. I got sick from trying to sleep in the heat.
After talking to the front desk people a couple of times about the night time heat, and getting no useful suggestions, I finally asked them to move my bed to the main floor which they did. that helped, but I spent 5 nights feeling like i was in the Black Hole of Calcutta before then.
My sister was in the main floor bed, and sand fleas had gotten into it. The last morning, I counted 145 bites on only the right-hand side of her back. Two days earlier, when she asked the owner if those were flea bites that she was getting, he replied: " those are sand flea bites and there is nothing we can do". In hindsight, we should have left.

Room Tip: Avoid the lofts at all cost.
  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank jeanlf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
cottontreebelize, Owner at Cotton Tree Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 18 June 2013

I'm so sorry you came during a heat wave. When there is a very large change in the environment with heat or rain, it tends to bring the bugs out for a few days. That happens to us sometimes between late May and mid June. I completely understand how uncomfortable it can be when it is that hot at night. I wish there was something more I could say or do but ultimately we can't control the weather which is unpredictable that time of year.

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Reviewed 9 June 2013

Oh, this place. I have traveled to multiple countries, and Cotton Tree and Belize might be the best experience I've had yet.

The location: Perfectly remote. Not that far from Punta Gorda in terms of actual miles, but the roads are pretty poor so it takes a while to get somewhere. I feel like it was perfect for me. I've always wanted to do some type of jungle trip, but didn't even know where to begin with a place to stay, someone to help me not die (I'm not exactly a jungle-type girl here!), what to bring, etc. CT made it so easy! If you come with the understanding that you are in the jungle (so there will be a bug or two), you will have an absolute blast!

The resort: This is an eco-lodge in the jungle, so understand it is different. Especially for us Americans. But don't despair! My husband isn't very open to new experiences or the super adventurous type, but he LOVED CT. We've been home for a couple weeks and he still is saying, "Remember when we did X at Cotton Tree?" Here is what you need to know that we didn't realize when we arrived. This is like uber-luxury camping. Your room is much more outside than inside. The "windows" don't really close, so you hear all the bugs at night. One night it began storming, so I got to watch it lightning and listen to the rain as I fell asleep. Beautiful! There is no air conditioner, but there is a ceiling fan and a fan plugged into the wall by your bed. It was HOT when we were there in late May. Even some of the staff commented that it was hotter than normal. If you can't handle hot weather with no air, I would still suggest going but perhaps at a time of the year when the temperature is a little cooler. The hot water in the shower is pretty hit or miss. It is either scalding hot or freezing cold. But we were sweating so much that the cool shower felt pretty good. Another reviewer commented that a lamp in the room would have been nice. There was one in our room, which we used every night! The bed was a little uncomfortable and there are only two pillows. (I'm a pillow person!) But we were so tired by bedtime that we hardly noticed the mattress.

The food: Amazing. AMAZING! Another recent reviewer said the food was average. I couldn't disagree more! My husband and I are still talking about this food. The meals are family style, which means all guests eating sit together. We really enjoyed this. We got to talk with others about what we did that day, hear their stories. I do know CT does a buffet style one night a week, but that didn't happen during the 4 days we were there, so I don't know how that was. You don't get to pick what you eat, but it was all so delicious! There were some there that were pretty picky (and it seemed it wasn't for dietary reasons, just plain unwillingness to try something), so they didn't really enjoy the meals. If you are a bit open-minded, you will really enjoy the food. You get to try things you don't get at home: vegetables steamed in banana leaves, miracle fruit, etc. It is all so fresh and delicious. We had the all-inclusive package (which I highly recommend), but if you don't I still say paying for the food is worth it.

The activities: Go with an idea of what activities you want to do, but don't get your heart set on anything or you might be disappointed. The draw back to going in the shoulder or off season is your activities are more determined by what other guests want to do. When we were there, there were probably 20ish other people. Not all of them were all-inclusive, so they didn't all do activities every day. Since every activity requires a minimum of 4 people, you can see how you might not get to do something you want to do. I did ask one of the staff how many people they typically have during the busier season and he said as many as 60. That being said, we did get to do everything we wanted to do and we had a blast! We did Mayan ruins, the zip line, and river tubing the first day, the Tiger Cave the second, and Eladio Pop's farm tour the third. They were all amazing! Each were pretty different and showed us a different part of Belize and its culture, so I can't say which was my favorite. However, if you want to get to know some locals, eat good local food, and have an amazing memory, do Eladio Pop's. Eladio might be my favorite person on earth, no exaggerating. He has so much passion for Belize, its culture, and life that it is inspiring. You get to eat lunch at his house (his daughter's taught me how to make my tortillas round!) then see a demonstration with cacao. It was such a memorable day.

The rest: I think the best part about Belize is how welcoming they are of tourist. Everyone just wanted to tell us their story. They are such a beautiful people! The staff at CT are simply amazing. We ate in their homes, met their families, and really got to know them. What CT does better than anywhere else I've been is really connect you with Belize. We spent our time in villages, not big cities. And I never felt like we were intruding. If you come to learn, they are dying to teach you!

When I visit a country I want to see a little bit of everything. I want to leave it feeling like I experienced it all and don't need to return to experience something I missed. CT lets you do that, see and experience it all. The idea is that I can say I've done Belize and move on to the next place on my (incredibly long) list of places to see. The rub is that CT does it so beautifully that I can't wait to return. Which isn't such a bad thing I guess.

Room Tip: We loved our Standard Cabana. It was perfect for two people. I don't think (but can't be too...
  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank wanderlust4sarah
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
cottontreebelize, Owner at Cotton Tree Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 18 June 2013

Sounds like a perfect vacation in the jungle indeed! If you do come back, I'm sure we can send you on another half dozen excursions that will be completely new and different. I appreciate hearing that your husband enjoyed his time when a jungle trip was a little outside his comfort zone.

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Reviewed 3 June 2013

My teen aged daughter Carsyn and i returned last night from our 1st visit to Belize, I chose Cotton Tree, for many reasons, i really wanted my daughter to see that the world is so much bigger than the upscale lifestyle she is accustomed to and the Jungle trip was an eye opener for both of us,
Yes i spent more money than i had expected, but i can not put measure on what i received in my spirit and hers in financial value,
my mistake was not realizing that this was more of a couples lodge than a divorced mom w/daughter, the 1st 3 days we were pretty much isolated, even though we took a tour with a group from the lodge at dinner we were not included in conversations much, and we sat at the same table with all guests family style, The chef Shawn always checked on us to make sure we liked the food and i was amazed that a man who is legally blind was so gifted as a chef and a human, he cared if my teen who was having a challenge learning to eat more fresh organic vegetables and had no one of her age to talk to needed anything, one day we were given a pbj sandwich just to help her adjust, i found the food delicious , and very creative, i even talked to Shawn many times about the organic cooking he does, the stuffed pork tenderloin stuffed with a local green plant, mixed with herbs and goat cheese could easily be added to any fine dining menu of the many high end restaurants i enjoy in Atlanta,DC and even NYC, and LA , i have traveled all over the us, Hawaii , mexico and Canada as well as the Bahamas, the organic food and the ecolodge had me captivated,
3 days into our trip i had a special request to attend a local church so my daughter may enjoy the youth program as there were no young people at Cotton Tree except some staff, and i was told they usually do not provide that service , but we were provided transportation for 100.00 us money for a trip there and back, it was the most amazing experience and no amount of money was too much for our trip to the Church to immerse with the families of the locals and the children, we were greeted with love and my daughter performed a song on the guitar and sang at that tiny church in the jungle, the children surrounded her and loved her so much, it changed my whole trip.
i have battled Breast Cancer and had many surgeries in the last 2 years, our trip to Belize was the 1st vacation in a very long time together, i could feel the strength in my body return, eating fresh fruits and vegetables that came to the table same day as picked was amazing, visiting the kitchen and having Shawn explain what herbs he doesnt have, what vegetables he can not grown due to the soil content made me appreciate every meal i ate, i only wish Breakfast was more creative, farm fresh eggs are amazing but i was quickly boredby the 2nd morning,, my teen does not eat eggs, the same cereal everyday was difficult for her, the fruit was always a welcomed addition, the banana bread amazing, and 1 one day we had pancakes she was thrilled.
The staff was amazing and very helpful if i had a special request, our only neighbors in the Garden View building were friendly and always sweet to us, but until we went on a snorkeling trip with some new guests who showed up half way through our stay we were pretty isolated ,as the married couples that were there before us had already bonded and we were kinda the outcasts, we did visit Eladios Farm, had a wonderful meal with his family, the Blue Cave tour with Pops was also a life time experience , visiting the horses and goats daily, Kayaking up and down the Moho river daily, going off the rope swing on a daily basis at my age (50 ish) was a renewal of spirit.
Carsyn and i became attached to the staff and the lodges mascot Tucker the guard dog, they accepted us , immediately and we felt their joy and it will forever be a memory my daughter will cherish, long after i have transitioned on to the next adventure in the heavens, i hhope to return to Cotton Tree after the rainy season ends with a youth mission trip from Carsyns private school, and bring the kids of the jungle many needed school supplies , and hopefully can visit our new friends at The Church of the Nazarene in Big Falls as we promised those beautiful children we will.
I woke up this morning and even my coffee tasted different, my palate already dislikes the chemicals we have in all of our foods, i miss everyone in Belize already! And the dinner at night Shawn prepares .
we used the chemical free ointment that is sold at the lodge to keep bugs away, and have returned home free of bites!

Room Tip: go with friends, or family members, or couples only, i do not suggest a divorced Mother traveling...
  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled with family
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3  Thank hippiemom8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
cottontreebelize, Owner at Cotton Tree Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 18 June 2013

Cotton Tree Lodge is a very unique experience which changes with each group of guests we have. I do agree that there are times when there is only one child around it can be a bit more challenging for the child. Most guests with children visit us during school break times or during the summer and at those times there are more children around. I'm glad our chef went the extra mile for you!

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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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Also Known As:
Cotton Tree Hotel Punta Gorda
Cotton Tree Lodge Belize/Punta Gorda

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