Belize
Blancaneaux Lodge, Belize

Originally created by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola as a writing retreat, this charming lodge has all the hallmarks of a forest sanctuary.

An avenue of palm trees heralds your approach, the hillside location offers fabulous river views, and the pretty thatched cabanas provide a delightful escape from modernity without compromising on comfort. Food is excellent, activities are plentiful and service is unobtrusive.

Facilities & Activities

The lodge offers an array of activities in the immediate area, such as horseback riding and complimentary birdwatching. Cycling is a great way to explore the orchid trail and pine forest, and bikes can be rented for free. Other activities include cooking classes, guided bike tours and an hour-long self-guided walk to Big Rock Falls.

Wellness is also on point. The resort has a small spa offering treatments that feature divine-smelling local produce, such as coconut and coffee. Yoga classes are available, and you can swim in both the tranquil outdoor pool or the hot water pool.

The gardens are splendid and there is a picnic area, outdoor fireplace and gift shop. Staff can organise excursions, including hiking trips to nearby caves and a trip to see the mighty Mayan ruins at Caracol.

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Dining

Most meals are eaten in the main Mongagna Ristorante, which has a jungle feel with its thatched roof, open veranda and lush green surroundings. Inside, tables are candle-lit and the room is decorated with handmade wooden furnishings and Guatemalan fabrics.

The decor may be Central American, but the cusisine is firmy rooted in Italy – a nod to owner Coppola’s Italian heritage. Think fresh pastas, fish, and grilled local meats, with herbs and vegetables from the lodge’s own organic garden. The restaurant also serves made-to-order pizza, cooked in an authentic brick oven.

The poolside restaurant, the Guatemaltequa, specialises in Guatemalan cuisine. Highlights incluide salpicon (a shredded beef salad garnished with sour orange and coriander) and pepian (a root vegetable stew).

The à la carte breakfast – which can be delivered to your room at no extra charge – includes fresh local fruits and egg dishes

Rooms

Don’t expect bling, but do expect luxury in the form of privacy, space and thougtful touches. The palm-thatched cabanas are scattered through the trees, with wide, hammock-strung decks overlooking the river. There are no TVs or air conditioning, but you do get open-air living spaces, parquet floors, fans and coffee machines. Native art, local textiles and hand-painted tiled bathrooms complete the Central American feel.

There are plenty of options for groups of all sizes, from Riverfront Cabanas (sleeping up to three guests) to Two-Bedroom Villas that can accommodate six people. A honeymoon suite and family rooms are available, while two luxury cabanas have their own plunge pools.

 

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Family

The lodge is geared up for families, offering indoor and outdoor play areas, babysitting services and children’s menus. There is a kids’ club, and activities can be arranged for children aged three to 11.

Smaller families can book a Cabana or Cottage, which both sleep up to three people (cribs and rollaway beds are available on request). Sleeping up to six guests, Two-Bedroom Villas offer more space for larger broods and have two bathrooms. They also give some self-catering flexibility, as they feature a small kitchen, ideal for feeding hungry children between restaurant opening times.

Sustainability

Blancaneaux can be considered an eco-lodge in every sense of the word, the team have made huge efforts to support and assimilate into the surrounding natural environment. the architecture of the lodge was designed in a way as to remove the need for air-conditioning, with large, vaulted ceilings which effectively channel cool breezes throughout the property. The lodge also possesses a hydro system which utilises the nearby privation creek to generate 26KW of power in a clean sustainable way, which is equivalent to 85% of the lodges energy consumption. The lodge does not use any single use plastics with all items used being biodegradable.

The Lodge boasts a 3.5-acre organic garden which produces the majority of produce that you can expect to enjoy during your stay, with the rest being sourced from local farmers. the Lodge has also taken on several initiatives to support the environment in the area, guests are encouraged to participate in a replanting scheme of mahogany and pine trees, in which seedlings are collected in the dry season to be nurtured and grown in the on-site nursery. The lodge has now also ventured in bee keeping, with these essential creatures becoming the heart of their organic garden and ensuring a healthy biodiversity in the surrounding area. Therefore, guests can enjoy the beautiful setting with the knowledge that their accommodation is doing everything they can to keep it that way.

Location

The lodge is set ​​within the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve in the Cayo District of southern central Belize. The reserve is dotted with creeks and caves, and home to everything from cougars and tapirs to parrots and falcons. The lodge is located at an altitude of 1,500ft, so bring warm layers for evenings.

 

With its Mayan ruins and fascinating museum, San Ignacio town is around an hour’s drive northwest of the lodge. The international airport in Belize City is a two-and-a-half-hour drive away, though you could shorten the journey by taking a 30-minute flight from Belize City to the nearby airstrip.

 

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