I would like to start by agreeing with the vast majority of the people posting reviews about Blancaneaux Lodge: it is a beautiful lodge in a fantastic location with wonderful service. It was such a treat for us. We didn't expect to be so impressed. We love to travel and had never been to Belize. That tiny country is full of surprises---mostly wonderful! The lodge is nestled in the Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. It surprised us to find pine trees there as we were expecting tropical jungle (the "real" jungle was nearby). But what a beautiful location, even considering that it was hugely affected by the wild fires they had this spring (during the hot, dry season--mostly March and April).
The property is like an oasis in the middle of the pine ridge reserve which only has about 5 lodges that were grandfathered in before the area was protected. In the past 5 years or so, we were told that the government opened up some land for sale to developers so locals are disappointed that in the near future, they might see construction and development spoil their tranquil setting. Regardless of that, it would take a lot to spoil this slice of heaven!!!
The lodge and its grounds are meticulously kept. We stayed in cabana #4 which is one of the honeymoon cabanas overlooking the river and waterfall. We would stay there again in a heartbeat. The cabana is located near the main lodge, main pool, and both restaurants and bar. It was easy to slip in and out for a drink at the bar and bring it back to enjoy on our huge deck. The cabana was spacious and romantic. At night it goes to candlelight to preserve power and it made for a very romantic setting. We never once missed not having a/c, tv, radio, etc. It was so peaceful and beautiful.
I had lower expectations of the food mainly due to reviews on this site and I can tell you that they are being harsh in terms of quality and price. We stayed at the lodge 3 nights and not one dinner was over $130US. And we are drinkers. One night we had a bottle of red wine with dinner but mostly we had a variety of beer, cocktails, or wine by the glass with dinner. Usually 2 drinks each. If you are a drinker on vacation, the beer price was very good. We only drank Belikin (the local brew) and it cost $4US at the resort., compared to $1.50US at the little shacks we stopped at on the way to the lodge. It was nice to break up the trip along the way and have some beers. We stopped twice! Compared to the drink prices at other resorts, we thought this was more reasonable.
Food quality was fantastic. You could taste the freshness of the ingredients as they get most of their produce from their own garden. We had it all: pizzas, soups, shrimp ceviche (twice!), lamb, shrimp, beef, etc. All was wonderful. For breakfast be sure to get the Coppola pancake but order it ahead of time from your room before heading to breakfast. It takes 30 minutes to make since it bakes in the oven. We pre-ordered it on our last morning and it was worth it. And I'm sorry but at $8 for a huge baked pancake for two, breakfast was a bargain. Continental breakfast is included and consists of a basket of delicious baked goods and a fruit plate. I sometimes added a protein or my husband some oatmeal to our meal to round it out. So the most expensive beakfast was the day we ordered the pancake with some bacon! Not bad at all. The Guatemalan restaurant was wonderful as well. It is tiny, just off the main pool, and only has 4 small tables. As soon as you get there make reservations. We tried to go a second time and it was overbooked. It has a price-fixed menu with a choice of a 3-4 entrees. Well worth it!
The weather was wonderful, considering it was the rainy season. It rained early in the morning I think because our deck would look a little damp when we got up. But overall it was sunny and temps in the 80's during the day. One day that we did our excursion into Caracol, it rained a lot on our drive there. It was a hard "rain forest" rain. But we came expecting that and the guide had umbrellas. Once we got to Caracol, it stopped and the sun came out which made it perfect for climbing the structures at the site.
I would highly recommend the caracol combo tour: Rio Frio Cave, Caracol, and Rio Hon Pools. It was a full day and our guide Geraldo was FANTASTIC! I think he said he has been a guide for the resort for 10 years and it shows. He takes his job so seriously and is extremely knoqledgeble. He stopped repeatedly along the way to point out exotic birds with his binoculars. Our excurion was private since no one else had booked it so that was a treat.
The whole time we were there, whether it was hiking, driving through the unpaved roads, or visiting San Ignacio for some shopping, we felt like we were the only tourists. It is a rare feeling to be in a country so beautiful and full of so many natural attractions and not have it be overrun with tourists, vendors, merchants, etc. It is like the whole world hasn't caught on that Belize is worth visiting.
We split our 7-night trip to Belize between Blancaneaux and Cayo Espanto. It was our best trip EVER! (Italy is a close second!).
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- In the early 1980s, Francis Ford Coppola visited Belize, immediately fell in love with the location, and purchased the abandoned Blancaneaux Lodge. For more than a decade the resort was used as a family retreat before Francis opened his tropical paradise to the public in 1993. Tucked away in a pocket of the Maya Mountains, Blancaneaux Lodge is a 20-room luxury resort where waterfalls tumble into turquoise pools above the jungle canopy. Its remote mountain setting makes it a perfect place to relax, rejuvenate and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Blancaneaux Hotel San Ignacio
- Blancaneaux San Ignacio