One of the smallest, least populated, and newest countries in the hemisphere, Belize is home to luxury hotels and resorts that offer a laid-back escape with plenty of personal attention. Belize's luxury travel market is in its own elegantly rustic class within the Caribbean and Central American regions. For one thing, resorts in Belize are small (70 percent of the country's licensed hotels have ten rooms or less). International hotel chains are almost completely missing in Belize, mainly because of the small size of the market and labor pool. In addition, most Belize hotels are independently owned and managed, resulting in each property being a truly creative expression of its owners' dreams and visions.
Finally, Belize is an active destination and guests at even the most luxurious resorts invariably come to dive one of the world's largest barrier reefs, explore some of the Maya world's most fascinating ruins, and paddle and hike Belize's enormous swaths of wildlife–heavy protected areas. All these things translate to a uniquely intimate and nature–focused experience. Don't expect swift efficiency though in Belize, where the unofficial motto is "Go Slow, Mon!"
Here's our rundown of the best places to stay on Ambergris Cay, the Cayo District, and the rest of the mainland.
Ambergris Caye Region
Cayo Espanto — just offshore of Ambergris Caye
Victoria House — Ambergris Caye
Blancaneaux Lodge — Mountain Pine Ridge
Chan Chich Lodge — Gallon Jug Estate
Ka'ana Resort and Spa — Cayo District
Maruba Resort Jungle Spa — Maskall Village
The Lodge at Chaa Creek Rainforest Reserve — San Ignacio, Cayo District
Punta Gorda - Belize
Belcampo Lodge — Punta Gorda
Stann Creek District
Hopkins Bay Resort - Hopkins
Thatch Caye Resort — offshore from Dangriga
Note: many visitors to Belize choose to spend half their time on the Caribbean's edge, concentrating on ocean activities, and the other half in the inland forests; most of the resorts reviewed here cater to this "surf–and–turf" combo by teaming up with each other. The biggest concentration of luxury resorts is on Ambergris Caye though, where honeymoon couples and moneyed dive enthusiasts come for an upscale vacation. Note that all our luxury hotel reviews are written by experts who are professional travel writers. Rates quoted generally range from low season double occupancy standards to high–season suites in U.S. (not Belizean) dollars. Most quoted rates do not include Belize's 19 percent tax and service charges.