Belize resorts team up to reach eco-adventurers

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SAN IGNACIO, Belize -- As soft adventure travel continues to pick up steam and lure participants, several hotels in Belize are ahead of the game in terms of one-stop shopping for adventure programs.

In the late 1990s, a group of eco-minded local hoteliers formed Rainforest and Reef Resorts of Belize to tap into this niche market to promote, protect and access the destinations natural attractions.

Each of the 11 member properties -- nine are in Belize, two are actually in Guatemala -- is independently owned and operated, but all are marketed and take reservations through a central office. For information on the properties, visit www.rainforestreefbelize.com.

Tours, eco-adventures, Birds in Belize are attracted to thatched-roof feeding stations that offer close-up views of rare species. TW.com photo by Gay Nagle Myersaccommodations, transfers and domestic air arrangements are handled through the central office.

By working together, we maintain high standards and offer a network of small properties that offer outstanding adventures, said Mick Fleming, owner of the Lodge at Chaa Creek near San Ignacio.

We constantly monitor ourselves, he said. We know that it is a detriment to the whole group if one property is not up to par at all times.

While travel agents book and pay through the central office, commissions are paid by each resort individually.

The following are the groups members in Belize:

" The Lodge at Chaa Creek is a mix of 18 cottages and suites. Some thatched-roof cottages sit on stilts among the trees. A treehouse villa has its own Jacuzzi.

Lodge rates start at $105 per room, per night, double, through May, or $177 per night for a three-night inclusive stay with meals and activities.

Accommodations in tent cottages at the Macal River Camp start at $55 per person, per night, year-round. Dining is family-style at picnic tables. A bonfire at night draws guests for storytelling. Campers can go horseback riding or access mountain bikes and facilities at the lodge.

Expeditions can be arranged to the Belize Zoo, Xunantunich ruins, overnight tours to Tikal in Guatemala and excursions to Vaca Falls and Chumpiae Maya Cave, Belize.

" Turtle Inn, near Placencia, has 23 cottages, villas and suites, with rates through May from $335 per room, per night, double, with continental breakfast.

" Blancaneaux Lodge, near San Ignacio, has 17 thatched-roof villas, cottages and suites, from $225 per night, double, through May. Breakfast is included.

Blancaneaux and Turtle Inn are owned by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola.

" Inn at Roberts Grove, in Placencia, has 40 rooms, priced from $189 per night, double, through May. The inn has three pools, tennis courts, Jacuzzis, a gym, kayaks, canoes and trails. The Monkey River is nearby.

" Radisson Fort George Hotel and Marina, a Belize City hotel, has 102 rooms. Rates are $118 per night through May.

" Victoria House, in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, has 35 casitas, rooms, suites and villas from $170 per night, double, through May.

" Turneffe Flats, 30 miles offshore on Turneffe Atoll, offers fishing, diving and snorkeling.

" El Pescador Punta Gorda, in Belizes southern Toledo district, has rates from $200 per night through Aug. 14. Fishing, diving and nature plans are available.

" El Pescador Ambergris Caye has 14 beachfront rooms, with rates from $200.

The hotel offers packages for flats fishing and eco-adventures for three-plus nights. Combination programs are available at both El Pescador resorts.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].

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