Movie director Francis Ford Coppola had traveled the world, but when he visited Belize in the 1980s, in search of a “jungle paradise” like the one where he had filmed Apocalypse Now, he was taken by the untamed land and bought Blancaneaux, the first of two resort properties he would eventually own in Belize. (The other is Turtle Inn.) Initially, Blancaneaux was a family retreat, but by the early 1990s, Coppola decided to turn it into a small luxury resort. Today, guests with deep pockets enjoy visiting Blancaneaux for its sense of exclusivity; travelers have to really want to stay here. An hour's drive down a bone-jarring road away from civilization, one doesn't just happen upon the resort. Accommodations are gigantic villa- and cabana-style lodgings lavishly decorated with handmade furniture, textiles, and crafts. Hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and swimming are a few of the activities for guests on-site at Blancaneaux.
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Blancaneaux is in a remote area of northwestern Belize; in fact, it is within the boundaries of Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve, which has whitewater rivers, waterfalls, caves, and, of course, plenty of exotic wildlife and Maya sites. For visitors who want to explore the natural wonders around the hotel, there's a menu of nature- and culture-oriented excursions led by expert tour guides. Some of these day trips focus on bird-watching, while others highlight the architectural accomplishments of ancient Mayas at sites such as Caracol, Xunantunich, and Cahal Pech. Although guests can request transfers to and from the airport in the capital, Belize City, renting a car and driving independently will provide maximum freedom and flexibility. Car rental options are available at the airport.
Need to Know
Rooms: 20 rooms; from $339. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Blancaneaux has two restaurants, Montagna and Guatemaltecqua, which source their herbs and vegetables from Blancaneaux's own organic garden. Montagna specializes in southern Italian cuisine, with chefs drawing inspiration from Coppola family recipes; it also has a brick oven for crispy pizzas. As its name suggests, the poolside Guatemaltecqua specializes in Guatemalan fare (Coppola also owns a resort in the neighboring Central American country), with influences from Mexican, Caribbean, and traditional Maya cultures. Spa and gym details: The on-site spa, Waterfall, is so named because it overlooks cascades. Unlike most Belizean spas, which specialize in locally sourced ingredients and Maya-inspired treatments, Coppola sent the Waterfall staff to Bangkok to study ancient techniques at a sacred temple. Thus, the treatments on Waterfall's spa menu are Thai in origin. There is no gym, but there are plenty of outdoor activities available on the property.
Who’s it best for: Travelers who want luxury in an off-grid location. Our favorite rooms: The FFC Villa (as in “Francis Ford Coppola,” of course), is a splurge, but there aren't many other places where travelers can say they slept in a private villa surrounded by the movie director's own art and antiques collection. There's also a private plunge pool, a kitchen, a Japanese tub, and a personal attendant on call. Central American Safari:Guests who want to experience multiple Coppola hotels can inquire about the Maya Passport and Central American Safari programs, which offer discounts and activities/excursions for booking at two or more of the Coppola's Central American properties. In addition to the two Belizean hotels (Blancaneaux and Turtle Inn), Coppola also owns a property in Guatemala (La Lancha).