Downtown San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize
Delivering the best of all worlds, The Phoenix Belize offers spacious condominium accommodations and resort services in an oceanfront location that’s smack dab in the middle of San Pedro, just steps away from town’s best shopping and dining.
This built–from–scratch new resort, which opened to guests in late 2008, features 30 individually owned condominiums and a rock–star location in San Pedro town. It has many of the same top–notch amenities that other Ambergis Caye resorts do, with the additional convenience of being within short walking distance to San Pedro’s restaurants, stores and nightclubs. Even though the resort is decidedly in town, once you’re past the lobby and on the lovely landscaped grounds, it has a secluded feel; city noise does not keep guests up at night.
“Rising from the ashes” of the former Paradise Resort Hotel with its funky thatched cabanas, the oceanfront Phoenix Resort was built with luxury in mind. Four modern, three–story buildings house one–, two– and three–bedroom condominiums ranging in size from 1,325 to 1,825 square feet. Two couples or a family of four could easily share a two–bedroom, two–bath condominium and not feel crowded at all.
Each room configuration includes a huge kitchen with full refrigerator, dishwasher, range, granite countertops and breakfast bar with custom-made chairs. New dinnerware, glassware and cooking utensils are found in the modern, light–colored cabinets, made from Belizean hardwood. (Even if you don’t plan on cooking meals while on vacation, the kitchen is great for preparing easy breakfasts or storing late–night snacks and picnic fixings.) Other nice amenities in each condo include a Caribbean-facing veranda with chaise lounges, marble countertops in the bathroom(s), super–plush oversized towels, Jacuzzi tub, iPod docking station and a washer/dryer (with provided laundry soap).
The Phoenix’s intimate Red Ginger restaurant serves an innovative Caribbean-inspired menu. It’s open for lunch and dinner; to eat out for breakfast, you’ll have to go off property. Sister eatery the Blue Water Grill is a five–minute walk down the beach and serves hearty breakfasts.
There’s no real bar scene at The Phoenix, save for the outdoor pool bar that’s open when the hotel is at capacity. You can order drinks at the small Red Ginger bar (no chairs here) and enjoy them while sitting on the couch in the lobby, on your own veranda or poolside. As with many condo hotels (like Chabil Mar in Placencia), what you get in space you give up a little in staff-to-guest ratio, but there is pool service from 11 to 5.
Pack your goggles and swim cap if you want to exercise in the resort’s lap pool. Otherwise, there’s a multi–level leisure pool with different water depths. One area is as shallow as eight inches, intended so guests can relax on a lounge chair in the water, but it’s also great for young children to splash around in. (Kids also like to play in the six spouting water jets.) The Phoenix sub–contracts space to the on-site Sol Spa, which offers traditional massages, body scrubs, facials, waxing and nail treatments, and specializes in the unusual Maya Abdominal Massage. Ask the personable spa gals for details. You’ll find cardio equipment, exercise balls, mats and weights in the resort's fitness center.
An in–room guest–services binder is full of recommended area restaurants and activities, but you can also pick the brains of the front–desk and management staff, who are longtime Ambergris Caye residents and a wealth of information. Front–desk staff can also book area dinner reservations, as well as snorkeling, parasailing, fishing and other excursions for you. Luggage porters are affable, as are the security guards who are posted at the beach–side entrance of the resort 24 hours a day.
The one drawback of The Phoenix is that it does not offer guests immediate sandy beachfront access. A sea wall protects the property from ocean surges. To actually swim in the ocean or lounge on the beach, you must walk a bit north or south of the property; all beaches are public, so any sandy area is fair game.
Also regarding its location, the resort is adjacent to a cemetery that’s surrounded by a tall chain-link fence. Guests in the A building might notice it when entering through the room’s main door (as opposed to the French doors on the veranda facing the pool deck), but otherwise you likely wouldn’t know it’s there.
The lack of swimmable beach and potential gravestone viewing shouldn’t stop anyone from booking The Phoenix Resort. Attentive service, well–kept grounds, free San Pedro airport transfers, beautiful and big condominiums with daily maid service, free wireless internet, and multiple swimming pools far outweigh these inconveniences.
Web Address: www.thephoenixbelize.com
Total Number of Rooms: 30
Published rates: $255-$450 low season; $325-$540 high season.
Review and photos by Kara Williams.