Want the best of both worlds on Ambergris Caye in Belize? At Phoenix Resort in San Pedro you don’t have to give up anything as a trade-off.
Many factors have led to people choosing vacation rentals over hotel rooms, but one of the main ones has been space. When you get an apartment, condo, or villa, you just naturally have more room than you do in a typical hotel. Phoenix Resort bucks that trend, however, giving you a condo with full kitchen in a regular resort environment with all the amenities.
You’ll think you’ve walked into an episode of House Hunters International and you’re having trouble finding fault with the layout or finishes in your “room.” All the 30 units here are one, two, or three bedrooms with a full kitchen, laundry facilities, and a huge terrace or balcony. They tick off the boxes for granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, walk-in closets, separate bathtub, rain shower, yada yada yada. Even the most Negative Nancy would have trouble finding things to criticize in these units, which are stocked with everything you would expect and then some.
“Then some” includes about every kitchen appliance and utensil you have at home, plus a garbage disposal, ice maker, filtered water, a great knife set, and a bottle of rum with club soda to welcome you. The person who walks you to your room will explain how everything works, then hand you a local phone you can use for sending and receiving calls in Belize. There’s a Bose Bluetooth speaker for cranking the tunes and since Belize is an English-speaking country, you’ll be able to understand almost all the channels on the 2+ big satellite TVs. With a giant full fridge and a few grocery stores in walking distance, the party’s on.
You can get it all rolling poolside during the day, when there’s a bar and servers, or wait until 5:00 at head to the complimentary cocktail hour at the open-air bar one level up. It stays open into the evening, or you can stroll beside the water to multiple waterfront places, including some out on a pier. As with much of Ambergris Caye, there’s no real beach to speak of here: the main attraction is the reef that’s so close you can see it from the shore. Book a snorkeling or diving trip to see why most people come to this country on vacation. You can take out a paddleboard or kayak though, or rent one of the free bikes and explore the island.
Phoenix Resort has its own acclaimed restaurant, Red Ginger, which serves a mix of Central American and Caribbean-inspired dishes, plus a few international staples. It was one of the better dining experiences I’ve had in inconsistent Belize and service is more attentive than usual. It serves all three meals except Sunday, when there’s a brunch.
The pool complex at Phoenix Resort in San Pedro is one of the best in the area, with a dedicated lap pool, plus a larger recreational pool with shallow areas and waterfalls. This resort does not have a huge number of guest rooms, so it’s usually easy to find a lounge chair even when occupancy is high. Take a tour and check it out:
There’s a full spa on site for a massage or facial, plus a gym for keeping the exercise regimen going. Staffers can set up all kinds of excursions or provide recommendations on where to eat and go out.
Despite the feel of a secluded resort you get on the grounds of this property, Phoenix Resort is actually right smack in the middle of San Pedro. You can walk out the front door to dozens of bars and restaurants. You can walk less than 10 minutes to catch a ferry to the mainland or even to Mexico. Impeccably maintained and well-designed, the main thing you’ll probably find to complain about is that the Wi-Fi isn’t very fast. But get used to that: this is Belize, where nothing moves all that quickly, no matter where you are staying. Enjoy your vacation and leave the work cares behind.
Prices start at around $250 in low season here and can climb to around $600, but keep in mind the high end is a large condo that can sleep six people. Book a stay direct at the resort – oddly they can’t be found at any of the usual booking sites.
Editor Tim Leffel was a guest of Phoenix Resort in Belize while on assignment for another publication. Photos by Leffel, video courtesy of Luxury Latin America Belize.