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Maya Beach Hotel – gourmet serenity on the Placencia Peninsula

Maya Beach HotelIf you’ve ever dreamed of leaving the rat race and opening up a hotel, restaurant, or bar in a tropical paradise, you are not alone. To do some in-depth research you might want to book yourself into the Maya Beach Hotel on Placencia Peninsula in Belize and ask John and Ellen Lee exactly how they pulled it off.

The Maya Beach Hotel has five rooms of its own, but they also manage five other nearby properties of different shapes and sizes, and those are also available for short-term bookings most of the year. They are about midway on the 17-mile-long Placencia Peninsula that has its only real village at the extreme tip. But the hotel is walking distance from several small restaurants and a small local store, so this isolation comes with a sprinkling of variety.

Both John and Ellen are world travelers who’ve lived and worked around the globe before they decided to chuck it all and give up their engineering and advertising careers, respectively. Now Ellen runs the hotel operations and John is the chef at the Maya Beach Hotel’s own acclaimed restaurant. The place is definitely a popular stop for seasoned travelers wanting to trade stories with each other as well as with the Lees, but of course everyone is welcome.

Their basic rooms start at US$60 in low season, but the quality of everything is still quite high for the area. Their most expensive accommodation is a full 3-bedroom house, which goes for over US$400 in high season, so they’ve got quite a broad spectrum covered.

Placencia is the best destination in Belize for beaches, but there is plenty more to do. The small Maya Beach area has its own little island – known as False Caye – about a mile away. You can use one of the Maya Beach Hotel’s complimentary kayaks to paddle out to the island in about 45 minutes, and then set up shop for your own snorkeling adventure in the area before paddling back to Maya Beach. They’ve also got a few bicycles available free to guests wanting to cruise up and down the long, narrow peninsula on their own without fear of getting lost on the peninsula’s single road.

Of course Belize might be most famous for its diving, snorkeling, and fishing, and they’ve got you covered here as well. You can book yourself into a tour for any of those activities right from the Maya Beach Hotel itself.

In addition to the attention to detail at the hotel itself, another thing that sets the Maya Beach Hotel apart from so many other places in Belize is they have an excellent website. If you’ve searched for information on Belize hotels much you already know that most of them have websites that look like they were all made by the same high school student in 1998, but the Maya Beach Hotel’s site is refreshingly different because it has loads of information about the hotel and the area itself. I have to avoid spending too much time going over their restaurant’s menu right before my own lunch because my tuna sandwich doesn’t need any help in seeming bland in comparison.