Belize is best known for its lush rain forests, Mayan ruins and gorgeous barrier reef -- one of the world's best sites for snorkeling and scuba diving.
As so much of the country's tourism is dependent on its breathtaking natural surroundings, a determined commitment to eco-friendly practices can be found in most hoteliers throughout the country, and Oyster has stayed in everything from compact eco-lodges to rustic-luxe hideaways during our visits to this small South American country.
First up is the Xanadu Island Resort, a simple, relaxed property with 18 spacious units on a lovely stretch of beach along Ambergris Caye, just minutes from central San Pedro. All of the domed buildings are energy efficient and the owners have continued to make the property more sustainable over the years. They have also won the First Green Globe Island Certified Property in Belize by the International Center for Responsible Tourism in the past. <a href="http://www.oyster.com/belize/hotels/xanadu-island-resort/" target="_hplink"><strong>See more beautiful photos of the Xanadu Island Resort</strong></a>
Turtle Inn, owned by the Coppola family, is an intimate luxury resort set alongside a beautiful stretch of the Caribbean Sea near Placencia. The resort offers a peaceful setting and Balinese-style private cottages and villas. Plus, the Turtle Inn is Rainforest Alliance Verified, and the Coppola family and staff remains committed to environmental causes, sustainable practices (as seen at work at this on-site organic garden), and local conservation. For a full list of the property's eco-friendly initiatives -- of which there are many and more -- click <a href="http://www.oyster.com/belize/hotels/turtle-inn/#eco-friendly" target="_hplink">here</a>. <a href="http://www.oyster.com/belize/hotels/turtle-inn/" target="_hplink"><strong>See more beautiful photos of the Turtle Inn</strong></a>
The sister property of the Turtle Inn, the Blancaneaux Lodge enjoys a splendidly lush location beside a creek in the country’s Mountain Pine Ridge. This fabulous hideaway features decent amenities (including horse stables), and wonderful wooden cabanas with thatched roofs and rustic luxe decor that includes colorful Guatemalan textiles. As with the Turtle Inn, the Blacaneaux Lodge is Rainforest Alliance Certified and continues the Coppola family's dedication to sustainable practices. In addition to a long list of green initiatives, the Coppola family also installed a hydro-electric plant in 1993 which harnesses the energy of Privassion Creek to provide renewable power to the property. <strong><a href="http://www.oyster.com/belize/hotels/blancaneaux-lodge/" target="_hplink">See more beautiful photos of the Blancaneaux Lodge</a></strong>
One of Belize's many eco-lodges, Chan Chich is nestled in the remote northwestern corner of Belize atop a private nature reserve within the 130,000 Gallon Jug Estate. The 12 rustically charming (yet comfortable) thatched-roof cabanas and villas are built amid the grounds of an ancient Maya ruin. <a href="http://www.oyster.com/belize/hotels/chan-chich-lodge/" target="_hplink"><strong>See more beautiful photos of the Chan Chich Lodge</strong></a>
Chabil Mar on Placencia Peninsula has 22 spacious villas equipped with family-friendly amenities: open kitchens, washers/dryers, closet space, and one to two bedrooms. Each villa is individually owned -- so decor varies between units -- but they are well-maintained through repairs and annual upgrades. Each villa is provided with eco-friendly bath products and there is LED lighting throughout the resort's interior and exterior. Chabil Mar is also affiliated with Project Planet, an initiative in the hospitality industry that encourages linen and towel reuse. <a href="http://www.oyster.com/belize/hotels/chabil-mar/" target="_hplink"><strong>See more photos of Chabil Mar</strong></a>
Chaa Creek, one of Belize’s first eco-lodges, has evolved from its humble beginnings as a working farm to become a premier luxury retreat. This sophisticated operation includes rustic-luxe, thatched-roof cottages, wonderful service, and modern amenities such as an infinity pool with jungle views and a full-service spa. The riverside setting on a private rainforest reserve is phenomenal, and myriad tours and outdoor activities are offered through the hotel. <a href="http://www.oyster.com/belize/hotels/the-lodge-at-chaa-creek/" target="_hplink"> <strong>See more beautiful photos of the Lodge at Chaa Creek</strong></a>
Pook’s Hill Lodge isn't as evolved as other high-end Belize eco-lodges: It feels like it's about where its competitors were when they first opened some 25 years ago. It’s a perfectly fine place to stay in a wonderfully remote location; just don’t arrive expecting luxury on par with that found in other long-established properties such as Chaa Creek. Adventurous travelers looking for rusticity might like it; other travelers may want to reconsider. <a href="http://www.oyster.com/belize/hotels/pooks-hill-lodge/" target="_hplink"><strong>See more beautiful photos of Pook's Hill Lodge</strong></a>
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