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Chabil Mar Villas—Placencia, Belize

2284 Placencia Peninsula Road, Placencia, Belize

Offering a more DIY alternative to service–oriented Robert's Grove (outside of town) and Turtle Inn (a short walk away), Chabil Mar offers large, fully-equipped villas that can be rented by the night and has the most picturesque beachfront in the area.

Chabil Mar

With 20 spacious suites of one or two bedrooms, Chabil Mar offers Placencia visitors a way to stretch out and have a big kitchen without having to commit to a week–long rental. Each unit has a large living room area, a full kitchen with high–end appliances, a washer/dryer setup, and at least one private terrace or balcony. The property functions more like a hotel, however, with maid service, two large community pools, kayaks, and the Kaleidoscope Bar and Lounge, a well–stocked, recently expanded bar area.

Chabil Mar bar

Situated bike riding distance from Placencia village on the way to the airport, the resort sits behind a gated entrance (no non-guests allowed) and has the feel of a small community. Families are frequently found enjoying one of the two infinity pools and the beach with lounge chairs and cabanas or taking out the complimentary bicycles or kayaks for exploring. The six buildings with blue roofs and dark wood balconies are intersected by paths and lush tropical landscaping. The owners continue to tweak and improve the facilities, making the most of their waterfront location by installing oversized lounge chairs on the pier and beach.

Chabil Mar pierSince our last review, Chabil Mar's owners have enlarged the pier to accommodate more lounging and sunning chairs under lit the pier and added more lighting to the landscape for a stunning evening effect. They installed Cafe Mar, featuring beach–side dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner; plus they built a new lounge area complete with chaise lounges and other seating attached to the cafe. The beach now cushioned lounges with umbrellas and mini cabanas.

Dining options at the resort are myriad. You can dine at Café Mar beach side, on your villa's veranda, poolside, on the pier, or at Kaleidoscope Bar & Lounge. They will also cook and serve your day's fishing catch for you. There are also outdoor grills with tables and seating in the beautiful nearby palapas for DIY cooking, making this a good bet for families who don't want to be a in a restaurant for every meal. Each villa has a fully–equipped kitchen for another cooking option.

The resort also offers the option of a private chef and custom menu. During our stay, the staff was always able to find us at the appropriate time and ask what dining option we desired. A nighttime recommendation is on the pier or Café Mar under the stars. Very romantic.

Chabil Mar Hotel

The 400 feet of beachfront is a pretty spot for swimming and sunning. If you don't feel all that comfortable on the water you can take out a paddle boat or kayak, or just play volleyball on the beach. The staff is accustomed to setting up excursions to inland Maya ruins and jungles or working out snorkeling and diving trips offshore. Some of the off–site options are an afternoon or overnight private island party, flats and deep water fishing, and hiking in Belize's Jaguar Preserve.

Chabil Mar beachfrontThe air–conditioned villas here are all furnished in different styles, ranging from Caribbean colorful to Mexican to pseudo-European, with eclectic local art work adorning the walls. Each unit has plenty of sitting room inside and out and most bedrooms are big enough for a queen or king. The honeymoon suite has a huge 4–poster bed and a granite and stainless steel kitchen, plus an additional half bath. The two–bedroom Oceanfront Villas have terrific vistas as well as contemporary baths, stunning kitchens, and several TVs with DVD players.

All have at least a partial sea view. All units have complimentary wireless internet access, more than enough utensils, dining tables, electronic safes, robes, and fine linens. Kitchen appliances go well beyond the basics to include things like blenders, juicers, and coffee grinders. Much of the furniture and cabinetry is made in Belize from local hardwoods.

Transfers from the airport are complimentary for guests and golf carts are available for a jaunt into town. Children 12 and under stay for free but additional guests incur a $50 charge.

Chabil Mar Lounging

For many years this was a runner–up to the full–service Turtle Inn a bit down the beach, but with the addition of more dining options and an expanded bar, in many ways Chabil Mar offers the best environment for chilling out in Placencia.

Web Address:
Total Number of Rooms: 20
Published rates: $275 - $605 1 BR, $355 - $715 2BR without meals or taxes.

Review and photos by John Lamkin