Turtle Inn Rating: 4.5 Pearls
One of two resorts in Belize owned by movie director Francis Ford Coppola, Turtle Inn is an intimate luxury resort set alongside a beautiful stretch of the Caribbean Sea near Placencia. The resort offers a peaceful setting and Balinese-style private cottages and villas, each with a fabulous indoor/outdoor bathroom, a screened porch, iPod dock, and a minibar stocked with wine. The hotel offers three solid restaurants that use organic produce grown on-site, two serene outdoor pools, and an authentic Thai spa with a long list of treatments, plus great freebies, including loaner bike cruisers, free Wi-Fi in public areas, and free transfer to the local airstrip. Excellent snorkeling and scuba diving at the Belize Barrier Reef is a short boat ride away.
Blancaneaux Lodge Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Blancaneaux Lodge, also owned by the Coppola family, enjoys a splendidly lush and remote location beside a creek in the country’s Mountain Pine Ridge. This fabulous hideaway features a few great amenities, including horse stables, a spa with great treatments, two pools -- one of which is heated and overlooks the brook -- and an organic garden that provides fresh produce to the on-site restaurant. The wonderful rooms are wooden cabanas with thatched roofs, rustic luxe decor that includes colorful Guatemalan textiles, and solid extras such as iPod docks and minibars stocked with wine and Belikin beer.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Chaa Creek, one of Belize’s first eco-lodges, has evolved from its humble beginnings as a working farm to become a premier luxury retreat. This sophisticated operation includes 23 rustic-luxe, thatched-roof cottages, wonderful service, and modern amenities such as an infinity pool with jungle views and a spa with treatments ranging from collagen treatments to cellulite massages and wraps.
Grand Caribe Belize Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Grand Caribe is one of the larger properties on Ambergris Caye, with 72 one- to five-bedroom condos that appeal to families and groups. Decor is high-end, and includes Brazilian tile floors, mahogany wood, and granite countertops. Upscale in-room amenities include iPod docks, large flat-screen TVs, furnished private terraces, Jacuzzis, and fully equipped stainless steel kitchens. Great amenities include a large pool complex with a swim-up bar; a casual restaurant; concierge services, and free Wi-Fi. Guests can rent golf carts, kayaks and bikes, or arrange day tours.
Chabil Mar Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Chabil Mar on Placencia Peninsula has 22 spacious villas equipped with wonderful amenities, including open kitchens, washers/dryers, 400-thread-count linens, upscale eco-friendly toiletries, and flat-screen TVs. Each villa is individually owned, but they are well-maintained through repairs and annual upgrades, and feature elegant decor ranging from contemporary to upscale island style with mahogany furniture and colorful accent walls. Guests have access to an outdoor restaurant with great food, two pools, free bicycles and kayaks, a lovely beach with a pier for swimming, and room and concierge services. Golf carts can be rented by the day, as Placencia is a short ride away.
Chan Chich Lodge Rating: 4.0 Pearls
When it comes to stylish jungle lodges, Chan Chich is the real deal. Nestled in the remote northwestern corner of Belize, the lodge sits on a private nature reserve located within the 130,000-acre Gallon Jug Estate. Accommodations consist of 12 rustically charming yet comfortable thatched-roof cabanas and one two-bedroom villa set amid the grounds of an ancient Maya ruin, and featuring private decks, stocked minibars, and CD players with MP3/iPod hookups. Modern comforts include outstanding cuisine at a restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating, cocktails in the tropical-themed bar, and a screened-in swimming pool with Jacuzzi.