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“Relax and enjoy the service”
Review of Gaia Riverlodge

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Gaia Riverlodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 12 December 2013

We recently spend three nights at Gaia over Thanksgiving. We stayed in the Waterfall Suite which was absolutely amazing. We cannot speak enough of the exceptional service we received - even before checking into the resort. Gaia arranged a private transfer for us from Belize City International to the Lodge and then arranged a transfer to Maya Flats Airstrip for our flight to San Pedro.

We were uncertain of the options for food in the area so we went with the all-inclusive package. As self-proclaimed foodies, do not stay here only for the food as you will be disappointed. The steak was wonderful while some dishes were mediocre at best. Again, come to Gaia for the scenery, service, and absolutely relaxing experience that is sure to await you.

Tips: Its usually cooler in the mountains so be sure to bring layers if going during the off or rainy season - you will be thankful.
Bring bug repellant! And then pack more bug repellant - you will need it.
Worth a little extra to take the flight on Tropic Air to Maya Flats and transfer from there. I do not recommend renting a car during rainy season.
Buy alcohol at the duty free shop and get mixers on the way - it will be far cheaper then the resort.

Room Tip: The waterfall suite was amazing with a small sitting area downstairs inside and a deck outside. Two...
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  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank JAX1223
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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185 - 191 of 248 reviews

Reviewed 14 November 2013

We spent three nights at Gaia and, overall, absolutely loved our stay. The setting is incredible -- we stayed in a waterfall room and really enjoyed falling asleep listening to the river and jungle sounds. The views from the rooms and the restaurant/deck are amazing, and the grounds are a pristine tropical paradise.

Rooms are luxurious and very comfortable for reading and relaxing. Beds are fabulous, with high-quality linens, and the furnishings in the rooms are lovely. Hot showers with good water pressure, while often not something to expect at remote eco-lodges, were a treat. Overall, Gaia has created a pretty magical atmosphere.

The service at the resort is top-notch. Staff are friendly and go out of their way to ensure a pleasant stay. They make an effort to learn each guest's name, which is a nice touch. We got great service at the bar and from the highly capable front desk staff.

Our only complaint was the food service. The restaurant is overpriced (though this is to be expected at a resort such as this) and the quality of the food was underwhelming aside from the included Continental breakfast. Just about everything we ate there was mediocre at best, particularly for what we were paying. When you're that isolated, you really have to get food service right and make guests feel they're getting good value for their money ... Gaia has a bit of work to do in that regard. Bar service and quality of drinks was very good, however.

Traveling to/from Gaia is a bit of a tricky undertaking if you're driving yourself. We visited at the tail end of rainy season and the roads were tough going. A 4WD vehicle with significant clearance is a must.

Hiking down to the river was also really special. Swimming by the waterfall was a great adventure despite strong current. Our self-guided day trip to Tikal was a bit of a trek (and the border crossing into Guatemala is its own special adventure probably not ideal for those with limited travel experience and/or limited Spanish) but worth the visit.

Overall, we'd absolutely consider a return to Gaia if not for the unfortunate quality of the restaurant. If the food were better, we'd be really delighted to be repeat guests.

Room Tip: Waterfall rooms are worth paying for. We loved our stay in the Stream casita.
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  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank arodriquez
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 November 2013

When experiencing a new place the sights, sounds, and activities in that place are only a portion of the experience. In my opinion the people make the trip and the people at Gaia are tremendous. Nigel and Javier at the check in desk ensure that every detail of the stay is seamless and they do it with class. In the restaurant and bar the girls are friendly and, again, things are taken care of seamlessly.

The lodge itself is stunning and the pictures on the site don't do it justice. Swimming at the base of the falls on day one was the perfect way to unwind after a long journey. The rooms themselves are well appointed though somehow maintain the feel you are one with the nature enveloping you.

A tour to Tikal in Guatemala was arranged through Gaia and was excellent. Our guide in Guatemala was named Hugo and had incredible local knowledge - both of the Mayan site and of Guatemala in general. Having lunch with him at a local eatery was truly a treat. From reading other reviews it appears the tours at Gaia are all excellent. We arranged our own Cave Tubing trip.

The negatives? There's not much to mention. The rough road in that others have complained about in reviews was actually an enjoyable part of the experience for us (aside from a $300 US rock to the windshield). If the road up the mountain to Gaia was paved and easy to drive it would not feel as remote and, for us, that was the point!

The bugs, wildlife, and humidity others have mentioned as negatives in past reviews are part of the deal. If you find such things a nuisance you should probably find someplace else.

The meals at the restaurant were delicious though a bit overpriced for Belize countryside standards. Once you are at the lodge there is really no alternative so be prepared.

Would happily endorse Gaia to any of my friends and family looking for this type of a vacation and would love to make a return trip myself. Without question a 5 star experience.

  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled with family
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3  Thank AJNJ44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 November 2013

My husband and I just got back from our honeymoon and spent 4 days at Gaia. The staff was incredible. We were greeted with delicious rum punch and shown around the property. There were at most only two other couples staying at the resort with us and one night we actually had the place all to ourselves! We stayed in the "River" hut which overlooked the falls and it was so beautiful and relaxing - each night we would fall asleep to the sounds of the falls and it was so soothing. The lodge is very private which made it a perfect honeymoon spot for us. The views are spectacular and we couldn't take enough pictures. The food and drinks were also spectacular. We did an all inclusive package and each meal was delicious, same with their specialty drinks (Oswald is a great bartender!!). We didn't have one bad meal or drink. Definitely try their breakfast burrito, pesto linguine and Belizean favorite at dinner. Before we arrived, the area experienced a lot of rainfall and flooding so unfortunately we couldn't hang out at the hammocks down by the water and our excursions were canceled due to Caracol and the caves being closed but Gaia was so accommodating. They took us zip lining and hiking to a dry cave which was incredible! We also went to a closer, but smaller ruin in San Ignacio - Cahal Pach - and our tour guide, Virgil, was awesome. He took us around town and brought us to a local restaurant where we ate a delicious local dish. It is true about the lodge being a far drive - it took us 2.5 hours from Belize City International. The roads were even worse due to the weather and flooding but it made for an interesting adventure. You are going to the rainforest after all :)

  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Erica C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 November 2013

My husband and I started our 25 Anniversary Celebration here. We were greeted by Javier and Lucy with smiles, a cool towel and drinks. Our room was fabulous and romantic!!!!! Lucy had set a beautiful dinner table for our first dinner. It was more than I ever expected. The scenery is breathtaking. Gaia is located on the side/top of a mountain and you look into the ravine to a beautiful waterfall which the owner has built a gazebo and put hammocks up.

Our guide was Calbert and he was so much fun and funny. We learned so much about Belize and the people. We were his only customers which made it very special. One thing that was so impressive about our outings was the lunches. Gaia staffed packed our lunch but when it was time to eat Calbert pulled out a table cloth and placed it on our table. They go to such detail here.

I slept so wonderfully here as well. The beds are so comfortable and you hear the wildlife outside. It is such a spectacular place to visit. I highly recommend it.

  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank ShannonKraus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 October 2013 via mobile

We visited for three nights before heading to their sister resort on ambergris caye. The resort is lovely and lush, with geckos and birds lulling you to sleep at night. We stayed in two different rooms: a mountain view room called "mangrove" and then the final night in a waterfall room "summit". I'm surprised that so many reviews raved about the falls rooms. We much preferred mangrove. It's secluded, yet close, and cooler for being under the trees. It's lush landscape and sound of the birds lulling us to sleep was exactly what we pictured for a jungle escape. It was also bigger than summit. Highly recommend.
Our package included meals and a trip to caracol. Food was excellent- we loved the belizean breakfast, the fajitas, steak dinner and the hot sauce at the table. We at every meal overlooking the falls. The menu was extensive enough for us, and we never had a bad meal.
The trip by car from the airport was very long so we broke it up with a stop at the Belize zoo. If you choose to drive its worth the stop to see this place. We also had a great lunch along the way.
The staff at gaia go out of their way to make you happy. I suggest going with a full itinerary of day trips because there is nothing to do at the resort itself besides walk down to the falls and take the little funicular back up. As others have mentioned there is nowhere else to hang out other than the bar/lobby area with limited seating or the restaurant. There is no pool- I'm told people swim at the falls but I wasn't game for that. The hammocks at the falls are great too, but there needs to be more places to relax up near the rooms.
The rooms themselves feature huge screened windows with a table and two chairs to enjoy the view. Everything is made out of beautiful wood but I found the chairs rather uncomfortable. The beds are lovely, as are the bathrooms. No air, tv or phones- none of which were missed. It cools off in the evening and can even be a little chilly in the am.
Do note that gaia is on the edge of the mountain pine reserve area- meaning its not the kind of jungle you picture. It's a lot of Caribbean pine trees. The resort itself is landscaped with tropical trees and plants but the surrounding area looks much different. You will not see howler monkeys here.
I would recommend gaia with the caveat that one should plan ahead to do activities every day. We did caracol and an added trip to xunantunich on the way to the maya flats airstrip. Both were wonderful in their own way. Wish we had booked something for our first day but we were exhausted and needed to sleep in.

Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
5  Thank maynecorse
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 October 2013

It’s horrible to travel so far and get so excited about your vacation only to be so disappointed.

The ride from the airport to Gaia is about 3 hours. The last hour being uphill up an unpaved and very bumpy road.

Once you arrive you are greeted by the only great thing about Gaia, the staff. Javier and Nigel in particular were lovely and welcoming.

The rooms are pretty but very basic. Which given what they charge is very disappointing. I have paid considerably less for far superior rooms all over the world.

The lack of air conditioning isn't so much of an issue for the heat as it is for the humidity that is trapped in the rooms. The sheets are actually moist and some of the furniture was wet.

Again at this price range this is unacceptable. There is also the issue of the bugs. Lots of bugs of varying sizes and appetites. We were so afraid of attracting bugs that we didn't want to keep the light on at night for any amount of time.

But the biggest problem with Gaia is that there isn’t much to do. You can walk down to the waterfalls and walk around the property but once it gets dark there isn’t anything to do. This is it. You can eat and sit at the bar. And to top it off the food is bland, boring and expensive for Belize. The drinks are watered down and overpriced. For example, they sell the local beer for $7US, the same is sold elsewhere at three for $5US.

Gaia is a rip off. Save your money and go elsewhere.

  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank eecp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Matachica, Owner at Gaia Riverlodge, responded to this reviewResponded 25 October 2013

I was disappointed to learn that you didn't enjoy your experience at Gaia Riverlodge. It sounds as though the choice of a rainforest experience itself might not have been suitable for you. Indeed, Gaia is somewhat secluded, nestled on a sixteen acre property set upon a river in the mountains of the Belize Rainforest. As such, the initial effort to reach the property is indeed a bit of an adventure, but for most of our guests, that is the point! We celebrate our location rather than apologize for it.

Gaia is a quiet property surrounded by flowers, birds, butterflies and the subtle sound of the wonderful waterfalls below. We offer an opportunity to escape from life back home and settle in to a temporary home from which you are encouraged to take part in the many activities of the surrounding area.

Horseback riding, mountain biking, caving, canoeing, zip-lining, hiking and Mayan Ruin exploration are just some of the activities that we offer. While not all of these activities are available 'on site', they are accessible from Gaia with our own tour guides and new tour vehicles. We have our own canoes, bikes, land cruisers, van and experienced certified guides to ensure a great guest experience. For access to the onsite waterfalls, we even offer an electric tram in addition to the walking path.

While Gaia can be humid and the rainforest does indeed have insects as part of the habitat, we rarely receive complaints as guests expect those elements on a rainforest adventure.

We draw our energy exclusively from a hydro-electric plant on site supported with a battery back up system. As such air conditioning is not possible. Nor is it necessary as the evening is cool and our in room overhead fans do a fine job.

With respect to your comment on the price of beer, you are simply incorrect. The 7.00 quoted is in fact in BELIZE DOLLARS, and as such is actually 3.50USD for a beer. I would suggest that if you find that overpriced for a beer, you probably chose the wrong hotel.

Again, I am very sorry that you did not enjoy your experience with us.

Most Sincerely,

Daniel Lighter

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Gaia Riverlodge

Address: P.O. Box 173, Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve, Belize
Phone Number:
Region: Belize > Cayo > Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve
Price Range: £163 - £209 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Gaia Riverlodge 3.5*
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Our Eco-Lodge is located in the Scenic Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. We offer earthy yet stylish thatch roofed cabanas with excellent views of our waterfalls or Mountain Range, amazingly comfortable beds, Frette and Matouk linens and towels and bathrooms with hand painted Mexican tiles. Among our amenities are our natural fresh water pools, waterfalls, authentic Belizean cuisine, nature trails, day tours to the many Maya archaeological sites and adventure trips. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
5 Sisters Lodge
Five Sisters Hotel San Ignacio

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