Concierge service to arrange activities and day tours
Kayaks and bicycles for rent
Walking distance to the Palapa Bar, a famous joint
Not the best beach on the island
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; all units have private terraces with pool or ocean views. The resort's action is centered around the three swimming pools -- most choose to hang out here rather than the beach. For dining, guests can head to the two restaurants on-site, or utilize the fully equipped stainless steel kitchens in each villa. Wi-Fi is free, but other freebies are rare. Guests can rent golf carts, kayaks and bikes, or arrange day tours through the concierge.
A resort feel compared to other small hotels in the area, though villas are mostly do-it-yourself
The property looks and feels like a resort: The entrance is watched by security, and the bright, open lobby houses a front desk and concierge office. Outside the lobby, a cluster of four-story buildings creating a semicircle around a large pool complex. Pretty paved walkways wind around to different buildings, and guests can be found enjoying the pool or having a drink at the bar. But though the Grand Caribe has the scale and amenities of a resort, it actually rents out individually owned condo-style units with one to five bedrooms.
There is a lively crowd on the property during the day and early evening, but it mostly quiets down late at night. Nighttime is when guests tend to head out to San Pedro's restaurants or cook a meal in their own villas. In the morning, guests can be seen drinking coffee and enjoying the morning sunrise, or walking towards the pier to wait for one of the tour boats to pick them up. Weddings are a typical event at Grand Caribe, and when it happens, the entire property has a view of the ceremony.
On North Amergris Caye, a short drive or water taxi ride to San Pedro
Grand Caribe Resort is located on North Ambergris Caye, so guests will need to rent a golf cart to drive to the town of San Pedro, or take a water taxi. (Note that there is a small toll to cross the bridge between the north and south sections of the island.) San Pedro is the center of activity on Ambergris Caye, which is the largest island in Belize. San Pedro is filled with friendly locals and expats, and is home to numerous restaurants, nightclubs and tour operators.
Travelers are mostly drawn to Ambergris Caye for the world-class diving and snorkeling at nearby Belize Barrier Reef. To reach San Pedro from the mainland, guests can book flights from Belize International Airport to San Pedro airstrip, or take the cheaper water taxis from Belize City.
12-minute drive to the center of town, and San Pedro airport
15 minutes by flight, or 2 hours by boat to Belize City
Modern, spacious villas with varying decor; all have kitchens, washer/dryers, and terraces with pool or ocean views
The individually owned condo-style villas have varying decor, but all are contemporary. Units feel extra airy due to high ceilings and wide hallways, and some of the bigger units take up two floors. Spacious kitchens open up to living rooms, and contain custom made mahogany cabinets and trim, granite countertops, and stainless steel appliances. Amenities include walk-in closets and washer/dryers. All villas have at least one private terrace with views of the pool area, sea, or both.
The white-sand beach has beautiful views, but few lounge chairs
Grand Caribe's beach area is used as a scenic spot for wedding ceremonies, and is also a part of the Ambergris Caye beach bike path. Therefore locals (and tourists not staying at the resort) can often be seen wheeling by. A pretty stretch of white sand can be enjoyed near the pier, but there are few lounge chairs here; most people stick to the pool nearby.
Seaweed can be a problem in Belize, since the barrier reef blocks natural breaking waves; it tends to be worse during the rainy season. Guests who want to bypass the seaweed that accumulates along the shore can use the ladder at the end of the swimming pier.
Three pools to choose from -- all within easy walking distance from the beach
The large pool complex, surrounded by a semicircle of the resort's buildings, is the hub of the resort. Most villas have private terraces overlooking the pools, toward the sea.
The main pool has plenty of lounge chairs for sunbathing, as well as a walking bridge leading to a shallow section of the pool, and a swim-up bar for drinks. Patio tables and chairs are provided for those who want to order breakfast or lunch from the bar menu.
A few steps from the main pool is a smaller pool that sits slightly closer to the beach.
A third, rectangular pool is tucked away on the northern end of the property. Many guests don't seem to realize it exists, so it remains pretty quiet.
There are also two Jacuzzis on site for guests to enjoy.
Rain Restaurant serves a variety of dishes, focusing mainly on seafood. The indoor area is regarded as semi-formal, while the outdoor terrace is more casual and has lovely views of the water.
Each villa comes with a spacious and modern kitchen, a dining room, and a furnished private terrace for outdoor dining.
Room service is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Entrees are delivered via take-out containers; the cheapened presentation may turn off some guests.
The concierge team can make reservations for nearby restaurants. The resort is situated two miles (and a 12-minute drive) north of San Pedro, where there are plenty of options. Guests can rent bikes or a golf cart to get into town.
Drinks at the pool, Rain, or at the famous Palapa Bar down the beach
Adjacent to the large pool complex is GC's Pool Bar. One half of it is covered -- a nice option during rain or extreme heat -- and the other half is swim-up. A full selection of cocktails can be ordered, as well as wine and local beer.
Rain restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating, serving a wide drink selection.
Drinks can be delivered to the rooms by calling room service, though many guests choose to stock the spacious kitchens with their own drink ingredients.
Just a short walk down the beach is the famous Palapa Bar, which sits on a long pier under a thatched roof. During the day, guests can lounge on the inner tubes and have beers sent down a rope pulley system. Before dinner, the raised bar area above receives a nice breeze.
A front desk and concierge team to assist with golf cart rentals and tours
The concierge desk located in the lobby can arrange half- or full-day tours, overnight excursions, flight arrangements, spa treatments, and restaurant reservations for guests.
Because of the conditions of the roads, golf cart rentals are available to guests, and are recommended (advance reservations are a good idea during peak season). Sizes come in four- and six-seat options, and a map is provided.
Babysitting services are available either during the day or in the evenings.
Bike and kayak rentals on-site, and a concierge desk for active day trips
Bicycles are available for rent. Grand Caribe is located on a beach path with firmly packed sand that is a popular thoroughfare for bicyclists.
The spacious fitness center has cardio and strength training machines, and free weights.
Kayaks are also available for rent. The waves along the shore are calm -- especially in the morning -- providing ideal sea kayaking conditions.
Three pools and a long beach area provide ample opportunities for swimming. The long pier also has a ladder at the end, which is useful for avoiding seaweed wash-up.
The concierge team can arrange a number of tours that pick up and drop off guests from the pier. Day trips offered include scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, bird watching and cave tubing, among others.
Modern villas, a large pool area with swim-up bar, and a relaxed, do-it-yourself vibe
With three pools and miles of beach (especially to the north) for romantic strolls or bike rides, couples should be able to find space away from the families who also stay here. Attractive villas come equipped with huge bathrooms (many have a separate shower and jetted tub for two), private terraces, and modern kitchens.
Honeymoon packages include transfers from the airport or water taxi, a catamaran sail and snorkel tour, and a candlelight seafood dinner delivered to the room.
Weddings are a common event at Grand Caribe, and ceremonies take place in a scenic area between the main pool complex and the beach. The bride's path to the altar extends from the rear of the resort to the front where the guests are waiting. The sea views from the ceremony area -- especially on a clear day -- are spectacular.
Wedding packages start at $1,500, though this does not include accommodations (regular room rates apply). There is a 1,700-square-foot indoor event space called the Grand Room that can be used for a wedding reception. It also has great views, as it is located on the "penthouse level", and a kitchen and bar are available for catering services.
Within a few miles of the property are a number of restaurants that can cater the reception, as well.
Two miles north of San Pedro, with round-the-clock security
Grand Caribe is a large property, and though it feels private, there are security guards located at the entrance, and also roaming the property 24 hours a day.
Belize is a peaceful and friendly nation with fewer than 400,000 residents. Grand Caribe is located two miles north of San Pedro, the hub of Ambergris Caye. Guests can walk along the beach to the nearby Palapa Bar, or ride the bike path in either direction, but they should exercise caution, especially at night. No inoculations are required by the Government of Belize, but it's a good idea to check with your local physician for medical advice prior to traveling in the region.
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