PLACENCIA, Belize -- A trio of properties, Turtle Inn, Kanantik,
and the Inn at Robert's Grove, is shining the vacation spotlight on
Belize's up-and-coming Caribbean Riviera here.
For a little over a decade, this southern coast area has been
gaining recognition for its small-scale, laid-back resorts that
offer a mix of such water sports as scuba diving, snorkeling and
• The newest of these three south coast properties, Turtle Inn,
opened last December. This is filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola's
second resort in Belize; the first is Blancaneaux Lodge in the
highland Cayo District.
Turtle Inn's 11 cabanas and villas are located on the beach.
Some are steps away from the sea, others farther back, with less of
a view of the water. Their design is Balinese-inspired, with
artisan-crafted furnishings and thatched roofs.
Each unit features a private garden with an outdoor shower, a
screened deck with hammocks and comfortable chairs, a queen-size
bed and a large bathroom.
When owner Coppola is not in residence, his Pavilion Villa
provides a two-bedroom deluxe suite option with its own pool.
The dining choices at Turtle Inn include the Gauguin Beach
Grill, serving up local seafood under the direction of Italian chef
Antonio Fecarotta, who opened Coppola's Cafe Niebaum-Coppola in San
Before dining, guests can enjoy cocktails in the sunken,
Turtle Inn has its own dive shop, offering certification courses
for both beginner and experienced divers and operating scuba diving
and snorkeling excursions to reef sites.
Other offshore activities include sea kayaking, fly-fishing and
For further information, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.turtleinn.com.
• Kanantik is the Mayan word for "to take care," and the
Kanantik Reef & Jungle Resort, open since early 2002, is
distinguished by a caring staff that aims to please.
The property is actually located north of Placencia, on a
secluded spot along 1,300 feet of palm-studded private beach,
surrounded by 300 acres of pristine, forested land.
Two observation towers permit guests a bird's-eye view of a rich
variety of flora and fauna.
Wooden walkways fan out from the main building and pool to 25
thatch-roof cabanas with verandas, featuring chaise lounges. Kayaks
are nearby for guest use.
Cabanas are spacious and air-conditioned, fitted with double or
king canopy beds, a separate dressing room and large bathrooms.
The resort is owned, designed and operated by Roberto Fabbri,
whose Italian origins inspire an interesting menu of Creole and
Mediterranean specialties as well as a selection of pizzas from a
wood-burning oven. Pasta and gelato are made on the premises, and
coffee is poured fresh from the espresso machine.
Kanantik offers a complete dive shop, with a Newton 42-foot dive
boat for the 45-minute run to the coral reef of Glovers Atoll, as
well as a Newton 32-foot boat for bill-fishing and a 23-foot skiff
Other sporting activities include Hobie Cat sailing, river
canoeing and a boat excursion to see the manatees in Sapodilla
Kanantik is positioned as an all-inclusive resort, with one
price covering lodging, meals, drinks (including Belizean beer and
rum)and daily excursions that range from scuba diving to jungle
trips. Guests are charged extra for fishing charters.
For more information, call (800) 965-9689, e-mail [email protected],
or check out the property's Web site at www.kanantik.com.
• The oldest of this crop of properties, the 5-year-old Inn at
Robert's Grove, covers 15 acres of land between the sea and
Guests are accommodated in two-story buildings, scattered among
the gardens and facing the sea; there are 32 air-conditioned,
beachfront rooms, each with king-size beds and cable TV.
The pick of the pack are the 12 one- and two-bedroom suites,
each with a rooftop terrace, Jacuzzi, Mexican-tiled floors,
handcrafted furniture and original artwork.
Since its opening, the inn's Seaside restaurant has drawn praise
for dishes starring local seafood and U.S.-imported beef.
A weekly Saturday-night barbecue, held under the stars, features
Just opened is a second restaurant, the Habarero Mexican Cafe
& Bar, at the hotel's lagoon-side marina.
Another new facility is the Sea Spa, now offering massages and
body wraps; there's also a new executive conference room that can
accommodate 70 people.
Sporting facilities include two swimming pools, tennis courts,
sailboats, kayaks, canoes, bicycles, a fitness room and a
Pride of place on the sporting scene goes to the property's PADI
International Dive Center, whose boats speed divers and snorkelers
to such offshore locations as Glovers Atoll and the Spaodilla
Exclusive to this inn is its new offshore property, Ranguana
Caye, available for day trips and overnight stays.
Located a half mile off the barrier reef and 18 miles out from
Placencia, the 2-acre private island accommodates overnight guests
in three cabanas on stilts, with a housekeeping staff and chef in
For details, call (800) 565-9757, e-mail [email protected] or check out www.robertsgrove.com.
Each of these resorts offers guests a variety of standard
excursions. These include visits to Cockscombe Basin Wildlife
Sanctuary, the world's first protected area set aside to shelter
jaguars; Monkey River, a birdwatcher's paradise; and the pyramids,
plazas and ballcourts of the ancient Mayan ceremonial centers of
Lubaantum and Nim Li Punit.
Getting there: Placencia is the air gateway to the south
Here, a new airport receives several flights a day on Maya
Island Air or Tropic Air. Both airlines connect with domestic or
international flights from the main airport in the country's
capital, Belize City.
Passengers bound for Kanantik are dropped off at the resort's
air strip or in nearby Dangriga. For clients arriving overland, the
drive from Belize City takes about three hours.
For more information, call the Belize Tourism Board at (800)
624-0686 or visit www.travelbelize.org.