Often referred to as Belize's original eco-lodge, Chaa Creek opened in 1981 as a simple rain forest hotel. In the decades since, it has become one of the country's most popular options for upscale jungle accommodations, winning awards for its hospitality and its practices emphasizing environmental sustainability. Guests have two main options in terms of room types and price points. Luxurious rooms and suites are in the main lodge, featuring polished wood or tile floors and locally made furniture; the simpler, more budget-friendly casitas sit along the Macal River. The latter are sparsely furnished and offer few distractions. Guests of either room type have access to the property's amenities and grounds, which include a natural history center and butterfly exhibit, a rain forest medicine trail, binoculars for bird-watching, and canoes for paddling along the river.
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Chaa Creek is located in the town of San Ignacio in the Cayo District, an inland location that's surrounded by the exotic flora and fauna of the Belizean mountains and rain forest. It's not at all unusual to see gorgeous butterflies like the blue morpho, colorful birds like toucans, and all sorts of Central American mammals wandering the grounds. The hotel sits on a property that's 365 acres and has been designated a private nature reserve; thus, guests enjoy privacy and plenty of space to roam. Hotel staff can help guests plan excursions on the property as well as to nearby attractions, including Maya sites, other nature reserves, and cultural and ecological institutions, such as the Belize Zoo.
Need to Know
Rooms: 24 units in the main lodge, 10 camp casitas at the more budget-friendly Macal River Camp, located on the same property; from $165 per person (not per room), including breakfast and activities. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The hotel has an on-site restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and features Belizean and international dishes made with locally grown fruits and vegetables. Many of these come from the hotel's own organic farm. Spa and gym details: The on-site spa sits on a hill with views of the Macal River, the Maya Mountains, and a rain forest. Local herbs and botanicals feature prominently in the treatments, many of which are inspired by Maya healing traditions. As for a gym, that “would be nothing less than superfluous,” says co-founder Lucy Fleming, who points out that hiking, cycling, paddling, swimming, and horseback riding are just some of the outdoor activities available on the property.
Who’s it best for: Eco-conscious rain forest lovers who don’t want to sacrifice luxury. Our favorite rooms: Chaa Creek's “treetop villas” feature king-size beds and outdoor Jacuzzis; they were the accommodation of choice for Prince Harry, who visited in 2012. Early check-in: Bag service is available for early check-ins, and showers are always available at the Spa Pavilion.