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.
The Phoenix Resort on Ambergris Caye celebrated its 10th birthday in 2018 and is holding its own as the best in-town luxury resort, steps to ferry docks, dining, nightlife, and shopping. It features 30 full condominiums, but has a pool complex, restaurant, bar, and spa. Even though the resort has a modest entrance right on the street, once you're past the lobby and on the lovely landscaped grounds, it has a secluded and spacious feel; city noise does not keep guests up at night.
After check-in and a welcome drink in the lobby, a staffer leads you to one of four modern, three-story buildings that house one-, two- and three-bedroom condominiums. They are immaculately maintained and range 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. (The smallest suites are 1,325 square feet—the size of a large city condo in much of the USA.)
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. There's a coffee maker, blender, toaster, and water filter. 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. Two grocery stores are within walking distance.
Rooms have comfortable beds, good closet space, TVs, safes, robes, and slippers. Large baths with marble counter tops contain plush oversized towels, Jacuzzi tub, separate shower, and good toiletries. All open onto the outdoor space.
Other nice amenities in each condo include a Caribbean-facing veranda or large balcony with chaise lounges, Bose Bluetooth music speaker, and a washer/dryer with provided laundry soap. The resort even provides a cell phone for making or receiving local calls and there are wireless phones in the unit too. There are plenty of familiar channels in English on the satellite TV. The complimentary wireless internet works as well as any other in Belize (not lightning fast, but good enough).
The Phoenix's dramatic-looking Red Ginger restaurant serves an innovative Central American and Caribbean-inspired menu with a few International touches that pulls in many diners staying elsewhere. It's open for all three meals, with breakfast starting at 7:00 and guests enjoying the cocktail menu and wine list until 9:30 in the evening. They also serve brunch on Sundays. There are plenty of other dining and drinking options within a five-minute walk too, including one on the closest pier.
The swimming pool complex here is attractive, with several areas to take a dip or lounge. 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 on-site Sol Spa 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.
Servers can bring a drink or food to your lounge chair poolside during the day, then at 5:00 there's a complimentary happy hour at an outdoor bar up the steps from the restaurant, outside the spa entrance. Domestic beer, wine, and rum drinks are complimentary for happy hour at 5:00 and then it functions like a regular bar after that. There are seats at the bar itself and some lounge-like sitting areas. Since all units have a full kitchen, many end up mixing drinks there and enjoying them on the furnished balcony as the sky changes colors at sunset.
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 resort has an ample collection of bicycles you can borrow to take a spin out to less crowded parts of the island. You can also take out a kayak or paddleboard and there are yoga classes twice a week on a rooftop patio.
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 and those beaches are nothing to get excited about either. The main attraction in San Pedro is offshore: you can see waves breaking on the barrier reef that's great for snorkeling or diving. If you want to combine an Ambergris Caye stay with a great beach, you'll need to head north on the island or fly down to Placencia.
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.
Overall, the Phoenix Resort is well-equipped and well-run, with well-kept grounds and attentive service. With such spacious and fully stocked condos, however, you get the feel of renting a high-end AirBnB place, but with all the staff and amenities of a hotel.
Web Address: www.thephoenixbelize.com
Total Number of Rooms: 30
Published rates: $255 - $575 plus taxes.
Review and photos by Timothy Scott.