Coppola's latest: Turtle Inn redux on Belize

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PLACENCIA, Belize -- Little inns and resorts dot the Caribbean shore from Hopkins to Placencia on the southern coast of Belize.

The newest in deluxe lodgings along the shore is the Turtle Inn here, which opened this month.

This is a second coming for Turtle Inn, which is owned by movie director Francis Ford Coppola. Two years ago, Coppola opened the original Turtle Inn -- renovated and refurbished -- one mile north of Placencia.

A year later, Hurricane Iris swept the property into the sea.

The Turtle Inn - owned by film director Francis Ford Coppola - was rebuilt in Placencia, Belize, after Hurricane Iris destroyed the original property in 2001. Coppola rebuilt the resort, which now offers visitors to the southern "Belizean Riviera" a new place in the sun.

All of Turtle Inn's cabanas and villas are located on the beach with sea views. There are 11 thatched-roof, Balinese-inspired cabanas, each with private garden and outdoor shower.

Decorated with artisan-crafted furnishings, all accommodations have a private bathroom, queen-size bed and pullout sofa bed as well as spacious decks with hammocks and lounging chairs.

In the six large villas, an indoor/outdoor living room separates the two bedrooms. When Coppola is not in residence, his two-bedroom Pavilion Villa -- packed with crafts from Bali -- adds a private swimming pool to the mix.

Dining options include the Gauguin Beach Grill, which serves fish at the water's edge, and the dining room, whose menu features seafood as well as the choice of traditional Coppola family dishes that include Neapolitan pizza fresh from a wood-burning oven.

Also featured is the sunken, sand-floor bar serving cocktails and Niebaum-Coppola wines.

Turtle Inn's dive shop offers tours to the famed Blue Hole for snorkeling or scuba diving as well as sea kayaking, fly-fishing and sailing. Excursions for nature lovers include the Monkey River Boat Tour and treks to the Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve.

The resort shares a private Inlander aircraft to transport guests from sister property Blancaneux Lodge in Belize City to Placencia. Regularly scheduled flights are available daily.

Nightly room rates, including breakfast, range from $200 to $275 for two at beachfront cabanas; beachfront villas run from $400 to $475 for four; seaview cabanas for two range from $175 to $250; and seaview villas for four run from $400 to $450. The Pavilion Villa costs either $650 or $750, depending on the season.

For reservations or more information, call (800) 746-3743; e-mail [email protected] or visit www.blancaneaux.com.

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