Victoria House, Ambergris Caye: The accommodations were adequate for what was charged, looking a little tired and needing some sprucing up. The air-conditioned rooms were dark but had wonderful little porches to put your feet up and gaze at the beach, pier and ocean. When we turned on the air conditioning (which could only be controlled by pulling the plug in and out of the wall with attending electrical spark show), it sounded like we were running a small jet in our room. The temperature control also didn't work so it was full air conditioning and blue noses by morning or the ceiling fan and a sauna. If one can afford it, the suites complete with small living/dining/kitchen area (especially the owner's which can be rented with only one bedroom) seemed awfully nice. The management seemed open to negotiations for long term rentals - two weeks to a month, etc. The beach is lovely and sunning on the end of the pier is particularly nice with fat cushions on the chaises. The only swimming is off the end of the pier since the shore is filled with turtle grass which holds little stinging organisms but this is true throughout Belize so just be prepared to swim from boats or in small cleared areas. The beach bar was pleasant, especially sitting on the front porch to enjoy the afternoon breezes. The dining room does an adequate job with friendly, personable service and an excellent semi-classical guitarist entertaining in the evening. The overall friendliness of the staff makes up for some areas that may be lacking. We would stay at Victoria House again but would negotiate for a suite, rent a golf cart elsewhere and bring in some of our own provisions since the food here is not cheap. Victoria House: B+, Air-conditioned rooms: B-, Suites: A-, Beach and pier areas: A-, Beach bar : B+, Restaurant : B, Service and friendliness: B+. Tel. 501-2-62067.
Nautical Inn, Seine Bight (Placencia): This is a charming, friendly, clean, well decorated small hotel. Since it is quite a way out of Placencia Village, you may want to find transportation around the peninsula but one could be perfectly happy just vegging here for a few days. There are all the usual activities which the owners are more than happy to arrange for you. We had a beautiful king-size bed in a half octagon-shaped room on the first floor just off the beach. The bathroom was quite new and the nautical motif throughout was whimsical and attractive. Meals could be served right on the sand as was the case one night when the hotel was entertaining a large group from a cruise ship or you can be served upstairs cozily in a bar/restaurant overlooking the beach and sea. The owners were charming people who genuinely seemed to enjoy what they were doing, sort of like they were attending their own party each day. The food was plentiful and tasty. This was one of the few places we visited where the morning bacon was cooked to American tastes rather than served undercooked like the English prefer it. The beach here, though small, is quite lovely with the requisite blowing palm trees, and the peace and quiet inviting. Dining: B, Rooms: B+, Service: B+, Ambience: B+, Friendliness: A-. If in this area again, we would stay here. Tel. 501-6-22310. (We did not stay at Serenity Inn but some of those who did were not as happy with it as we were with Nautical Inn. The bar and facilities are attractive, but a word for the staff when we were there would be surly ... and there were other problems.)
Chaa Creek Cottages, Cayo: We have not been to Chan Chich to which Chaa Creek is frequently compared, so unfortunately we haven't that rule stick to use. Our experience here was delightful, and we can now understand the attraction to this magnificently beautiful part of Belize. We arrived by plane from Placencia and so flew over the mountains which were breathtaking. The lodge presented itself very favorably with a staff who couldn't do enough for you, charming rooms -two to a cottage - well- maintained grounds, and lovely main buildings housing the bar and restaurant complex. Even a small gift shop, charmingly placed on top of the laundry and reached by steep stairs, was well stocked with intriguing possibilities and came with an informative staff member. Architecturally the dining room is quite impressive and fits easily into the surrounding countryside. Our dinner by candlelight accompanied with good wine, four interesting and well prepared courses, and smiling, attentive service was a standout. My husband who smokes perhaps two cigars a year, enjoyed his first encounter with a genuine Cuban example quietly puffing away on the outside terrace adjoining the bar area, listening to Belizean music, watching the stars that were so close as to feel within touching distance - not a bad way to enjoy an evening. The rooms have a cool feeling. Whitewashed walls are decorated in bright cheerful Guatemala fabrics and wall hangings. Because they are wide open without screens or glass, be sure you are compatible with your neighbors because you will share whatever they have to say or do. This is a definite downside as was the bat who apparently lived in our rafters and would fly low in and out of our room as it went on its nightly hunting expeditions. It never bothered us but it was a bit disconcerting to feel the low flying "whoosh." The ceilings are very high and beautifully thatched giving the bat a nice place to live and keeping the room cool. There is one double bed and one single in the room with a wash basin against one wall. This is because the bathroom is too small for a basin. We didn't miss having electricity and loved the kerosene lamps in our room and votive candle in the bathroom at night. The on-demand water heater was wonderful. Never-ending fresh fruit and home baked breads made breakfast a good meal. Our rating of Chaa Creek overall is a B+. The food is A-, Bar: A-, Service and friendliness: A-, the room a B+ for appearance, a B for the bat and bathroom and a C for the lack of privacy; the ambience, grounds and appearance of the place an A-. We would definitely return but only if we could have the privacy of the honeymoon cottage or were assured there would be no one in the second half of our cottage. Tel. 501-9-22037.
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