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Belize is loaded with hotels, primarily because demand is always increasing here and virtually all of them are quite small. This is the opposite of nearby Cancun in the sense that there are almost no giant hotel blocks owned by the international chains. With only a few exceptions, hotels in Belize range from perhaps 8 up to about 20 rooms, and some even literally have as few as 2 rooms. If you’ve never been to Belize, you are probably in for a pleasant surprise, as long as you don’t insist on 24-hour room service and a trouser press in every room.
Budget hotels and guesthouses
On the budget end, many Belize hotels call themselves guesthouses. These place usually have 10 rooms or fewer and tend to be rather basic yet are often still charming. In a guesthouse you’ll usually be staying just a few doors away from the family that owns and operates the place. You might even be interacting with them several times a day, whether you want to or not. These friendly little places rarely have brand new furniture and a high-power air conditioning unit, but for these small sacrifices you usually get warm smiles and dependable advice from the owners.
Places that call themselves “hotels” in Belize are usually larger than guesthouses, but are still mostly quite small compared to hotels in most other resort areas. The population of the entire country is only about 300,000, and things tend to work on a small scale here. Very few hotels in Belize are owned by corporations or chains. Even the larger hotels with 40 or 50 rooms here tend to be friendly with a very local vibe.
Going up the scale you’ll find places that call themselves resorts, but don’t assume that a place calling itself a resort in Belize will be a large compound with tennis courts, golf courses, discos, and an activities director. Belize City has a couple of places that are vaguely like that, but elsewhere you’ll find smaller boutique hotels that might have a swimming pool and/or a private stretch of beach, and little else in the way of recreation.
Where to find the nicer hotels
Ambergris Caye and its main village of San Pedro are the places to look for the better high-end establishments in Belize, but even there it’s important to look closely at what’s offered. This tiny Central American country where English is the official language has a very definite Caribbean island rather than Latin feel. Reggae music, or some variation of it, fills the air all day and into the night, particularly on the islands and beaches.
Belize hotels are not like in most other resorts
If you are toying with the idea of going to Hawaii or going to Belize, you need to be aware that they are nothing alike. Hotels on Waikiki all have a certain minimum standard for international tourists, while even some of the pricier hotels in Belize may not have all those features. Paved roads are rare on Belize’s islands and in the beach communities, for example. The pace is slow, the Caribbean breezes are unbelievably relaxing, and even the budget places tend to be long on charm. If this combination appeals to you you’ll have a great time here.