The Lodge at Chaa Creek Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Cayo District, Belize

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Rustic luxe thatched-roof cottages with wood and wicker furniture
  • Lovely infinity pool with jungle views
  • Gorgeous riverside setting on a rainforest reserve
  • Budget camping available at Macal River Camp on the property
  • Restaurant serving international cuisine using ingredients from on-site organic garden
  • Friendly service
  • Many outdoor activities and nearby natural attractions

Cons

  • No in-room TVs (a pro for some!)
  • No air-conditioning in most rooms
  • Most rooms lack exceptional views, in spite of the gorgeous riverside location

Bottom Line

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 rustic-luxe, thatched-roof cottages, wonderful service, and modern amenities such as an infinity pool with jungle views and a full-service spa. The riverside setting on a private rainforest reserve is phenomenal, and myriad tours and outdoor activities are offered through the hotel. To top it off, room rates are fair for what you get -- and there are even budget accommodations available at Macal River Camp, located on the property.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

A charming collection of tropical thatched-roof cottages on a well-manicured riverside plot

Grounds
Grounds

Chaa Creek lies a few miles down a dirt road from a turnoff on the Western Highway. The drive to the lodge makes a nice introduction to the property: Visitors will see green pastures bordered with forest that looks something like a tropical Pennsylvania countryside, and then pass the horse stables and spa before reaching the entrance to the lodge. From there, it’s a short walk to the reception desk, where guests are warmly greeted with a welcome beverage. The cottages are dotted across the grounds, built round the pool and restaurant area.

The grounds feature wonderful tropical landscaping. The bar has a cool wooden patio with tables and chairs overlooking the property, and there is also an open-air, thatched-roof restaurant decorated with indigenous artwork. The pool is a large, semi-rectangular, infinity-edge affair, with plenty of lounge chairs and umbrellas around it it. The water tumbles over the edge of the pool and into the shallower kids’ pool below. A few steps above the swimming pool is the conference area, also with a patio containing tables and chairs.

The whole property tends to feel somewhat like a tropical forest version of Disney World. The charming whitewashed cottages look from the exterior like something Snow White and the seven dwarfs might live in. Everything, including the lawns, is well manicured and looks almost artificial. There are wonderful views of the property from the spa building, built at the top of the hill and looking out to the surrounding forested hillsides.

Although the Macal River flows next to the property, guests won’t hear it from the rooms (though rooms 9 and 10 do have river views). Also on the grounds of this large private reserve are the Rainforest Medicine Trail, Natural History Centre, butterfly farm, and the Maya Organic Farm. There’s enough to keep guests busy here for a week, easily, between the numerous on-site attractions and the tours that can be arranged. (Tours for cave exploration, zip-lining, and Mayan ruins are available, among others; sights are a one- to three-hour drive away).

The Macal River Camp, the budget accommodation option also located on the grounds, is decidedly more rustic and makes a fine choice for travelers looking to be in touch with nature (though critters do manage to find their way into these tents, so it may be too close to nature for some). Each canvas-roofed tent is set on a high platform, and shared bathroom and showers are available for the whole camp. There’s a separate thatched-roof dining area, and guests are welcome to use the pool and facilities at the main lodge. It’s definitely more camping than "glamping," though plenty of gas lamps after dark add a certain level of charm.

 Location

About a 25-minute drive from the town of San Ignacio, on 365 acres of hills above the Macal River

Chaa Creek enjoys a gorgeous jungle location in the Cayo District. It feels wonderfully secluded without being entirely remote and inaccessible -- it's a two-hour drive from Belize City. Popular cave tours and Mayan ruin tours are accessible in this region.

  • 2-hour drive from Belize International Airport
  • 15-minute drive to Belize Botanic Gardens
  • 25-minute drive to San Ignacio town
  • 30-minute drive to Xunantunich Maya ruins
  • 30-minute drive to Cahal Pech Maya ruins
  • 30-minute drive to Guatemala border
  • 60-minute drive to Barton Creek Cave
  • 60-minute drive to Belize Zoo
  • 90-minute drive to Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave
  • 90-minute drive to Phillip S.W. Goldson International Airport (BZE)
  • 2-hour drive to Rio On Pools
  • 2-hour drive to Rio Frio Cave
  • 2-hour drive to Hidden Valley Falls
  • 2-hour drive to Tikal Maya ruins (Guatemala)
  • 3-hour drive to Caracol Maya ruins

 Rooms

Charming whitewashed stone cottages with thatched roofs and many comforts inside

The Macal Cottage
The Macal Cottage

The rooms are as charming and stylish on the inside as they appear to be from the outside. All rooms are screened in to provide protection against insects, with one side fully composed of mesh screen with wooden frame, and the thatched roof materials visible above. Though decor varies from room to room, the style and materials are consistent throughout: Common elements include Guatemalan fabrics, Mexican tile floors, wood accents, and tribal art.

Rooms are cooled by ceiling fans, a standing fan, and breezes coming in from screened windows. Most rooms lack air-conditioning, though you probably won’t miss it unless you’re staying during the warmest months between March and May. The comfortable beds feature a variety of pillows and feather duvets accented with Guatemalan weavings. Private wooden patios have chairs for relaxation, and some have Jacuzzi tubs.

Bathrooms are spacious and feature walk-in showers with Mexican tiles, along with double sinks.

The Macal River Camp consists of canvas tent structures on raised platforms. Inside are two to four twin beds, a nightstand, and a gas lamp. There’s a small wooden patio with chairs.

  • Wooden patios
  • Extremely comfortable beds
  • Ceiling fans
  • Floor fans
  • Walk-in showers with Mexican tile, and double sinks
  • Coffeemakers
  • No in-room TVs
  • No air-conditioning (except in the Spa Villa)
  • Macal Cottage and Treetop Suites have outdoor Jacuzzi tubs.
  • Treetop Suites (Cottages 9 and 10) have Macal River views.

 Features

Full spa, beautiful bi-level pool, horse stables, and natural attractions

Canoeing at the Lodge
Canoeing at the Lodge
  • Bi-level infinity-edge swimming pool with kids’ pool at bottom
  • Gift shop with one-of-a-kind Guatemalan knick-knacks and Belize souvenirs
  • Horse stables and riding tours
  • Maya Organic Farm
  • Natural History Centre
  • Butterfly Farm breeding Blue Morpho butterflies
  • Rainforest Medicine Trail showcasing wealth of tropical flora
  • Full-service spa
  • Variety of activities, including hiking, mountain biking, canoeing and bird watching
  • Conference center
  • View full list of amenities

 Food

Tasty international cuisine prepared with ingredients from the on-site organic garden; lighter fare served poolside

The Bar
The Bar
  • Main restaurant with open-air, thatched-roof dining room serves a la carte international menu for breakfast and lunch; set menu with two main course options for dinner
  • Poolside dining area with lighter fare available throughout the day
  • Well-stocked bar with seating under thatch roof or outdoor patio, and cool indigenous art

 Bottom Line

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 rustic-luxe, thatched-roof cottages, wonderful service, and modern amenities such as an infinity pool with jungle views and a full-service spa. The riverside setting on a private rainforest reserve is phenomenal, and myriad tours and outdoor activities are offered through the hotel. To top it off, room rates are fair for what you get -- and there are even budget accommodations available at Macal River Camp, located on the property.

Things You Should Know About The Lodge at Chaa Creek

Address

  • Macal River, San Ignacio, Belize

Room Types

  • Cottage
  • Garden Jacuzzi Suite
  • Macal Cottage
  • Orchard Villa
  • Spa Villa
  • Treetop Suites

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Hotel Features

Pool: Yes
Spa: Yes
Internet: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Cayo District, Belize
Address: Macal River, San Ignacio, Belize
(See Map)
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