My wife and I just returned from Belize splitting the time between Blancaneaux Lodge and Las Terrazas on Ambergris Caye.
Blancaneaux is a beautiful resort set in a remote location along the Privacion River. The accommodations were rustic luxury, extremely clean and comfortable. Our villa had a beautiful view of a small waterfall in the river that runs along the resort.
The fantastic - the food in the Italian inspired restaurant was excellent. A big highlight was the roasted vegetable panini for lunch prepared with vegetables grown in the resorts own organic garden. Pizza, pastas, and more local food are all outstanding choices. We were not huge fans of the Guatemalan restaurant but it was a nice change of pace one night.
We did take several excursions from lodge:
Tikal (because as a previous reviewer had mentioned the bridge to Caracol was flooded out) - which was a full day trip into Guatemala. This trip was well worth it to explore in depth the Mayan culture and to visit ruins that are hundreds and some a thousand years old. The site is located in the jungle so there is the opportunity to spot some wildlife as well. We saw: Aracaris, monkeys, gray fox, wild turkeys among others.
Big Rock Falls - this is a waterfall that is located down river from the lodge. It is a relatively strenuous hike along a maintained path, or an easier trek by foot or bike on the road. We chose the hiking path and were well rewarded. The falls themselves are great and we had a swimming hole underneath all to ourselves.
Night hike and nature trip with Ronne the on site conservationist - Blancaneaux participates in several conservation efforts. They are one of the few (if not the only) resort with a full time conservationist on staff. We went on a night hike and a half day trip with Ronne who was fabulous. We were able to spot hawks, falcons, a myriad of other indigenous and migratory birds. It was also an opportunity to explore a pine mountain forest which is really a unique ecosystem.
Unfortunately, some of the other trips were called off due to the flooding and passabilty of roads and bridges.
This leads me to a discussion of "the catch." My wife and I have had the opportunity to travel quite a bit over the years including nature trips to Costa Rica, Ecuador, Africa, Alaska etc. I fully understand the unpredictability of weather, nature, and wildlife spotting. So, the following comments does not pertain to these natural events but rather Blancaneaux's staffs response and communication.
The day before we arrived floods (first time ever - in over 30 years) destroyed the resorts hydro-electric power plant and flooded many of the roads and bridges (including to Caracol and virtually all of the cave systems). A generator was delivered and for the most part provided the needed electricity.
But, the problem was how the resort and particularly the front desk staff communicated with us about the current conditions, future possibilities and options. We were greeted immediately upon check in with an option to transfer to Blancaneaux's sister property Turtle Inn. This was a nice gesture but unfortunately way to late, as we just spent three hours in a car getting to the resort and were not about to waste another 4 hours transferring to Turtle Inn. We should have been appraised of the situation when we were picked up at the airport.
From then on, all we got was ambiguous talk about when the generators would be online, circumlocution about when excursions may or may not be possible. The front desk despite REPEATED attempts for information refused to provide anything of value. We had to take it upon ourselves to force out the information and to figure out what are excursion options would be. It took way to long to figure out that Tikal would be a suitable option and replacement for Caracol. The front desk kept saying that maybe we would be able to visit caves during our stay, but the reality was that there was no hope of this during our few days there.
Unfortunately, our communication with the front desk staff was marred by their passive aggressive nature and general failure to provide accurate information and to go out of their way to offer suggestions and alternatives. We were left to pull this out on our own.
While I would absolutely recommend the resort to others based on the resort itself, the outstanding restaurant, beautiful location, multitude of excursion options, I would hope this can be a learning experience for the staff.
- 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