Belize luxury at San Ignacio Resort Hotel

Remote tranquility and center-of-town convenience: it’s not often travelers get the best of both worlds. At San Ignacio Resort Hotel, however, guests are immersed in the wilderness of the Belizean jungle on one side and in the hospitality of town in the other. Sitting on our suite balcony, my son and I were level with the treetops, where we watched green iguanas, listened to bird song, followed the path of the clouds in the blue sky. We could enjoy our meals on the open-air patio while our server pointed out toucans, and yet, whenever the mood struck, we were only a five-minute walk from downtown San Ignacio, with its shops and restaurants.

San Ignacio Resort Hotel is the town’s luxury boutique resort option, sitting atop a hillside overlooking town. With only 30+ rooms, every guest enjoys personalized attention. Situated on 10 acres (guests have access to five of these acres), the grounds are green, lush, and peaceful. From every outdoor space, from the hammocks on the pool deck to the patios, you’re in a wildlife-viewing location. This award-winning hotel has been a mainstay in San Ignacio since 1976, is family-owned and operated, and has deep roots in the community.

Resort lobby

Resort amenities and on-site activities:

San Ignacio Resort Hotel is home to the Green Iguana Conservation Project, an iguana rescue program with facilities on-site. Families can tour the rescue habitat for the iguanas, where they’ll learn about these animals, their endangerment, and their behaviors in their natural habitat. We learned about the project’s incubation, hatching, rearing, and releasing process, and were able to feed and hold these gentle reptiles, which was so much fun…after we got over our intimidation! Tours are under $10 per person, and you can combine it with a hike along the hotel’s medicinal trails.

Iguana on property

The Medicinal Trail is about half a mile (though there are additional loops to lengthen or shorten your hike) and your guide from San Ignacio Resort Hotel will stop often to point out and describe the various medicinal plants this jungle has in abundance. We smelled, tasted, plucked, and identified dozens of medicinal plants, and learned far more than we could retrain! You need to tour the trails with a guide, and this tour can be combined with a tour of the iguana project.

There is also early morning birdwatching programs at the hotel, with binoculars provided, as well as a swimming pool, hammocks, lounge chairs, and a bar on-site. There is also a tennis court, with rackets and balls provided upon request, but note that there is no netting around the court. This means you need to be quite skilled at keeping your ball in play, or you’ll lose it to the jungle!

Street market in San Ignacio (within walking distance of the hotel)

Of course, you can also walk downtown to shop or dine (it’s literally a five-minute walk down the hill, which translates to a 10-minute walk back up!). The main street in town, Burns, is pedestrian-only, and you’ll find restaurant options ranging from Chinese to Indian to traditional Belizean. Our favorites included Ko-Ox-Han-Nah, serving up Belizean favorites plus curries and seafood in a casual, bustling environment, to Crave (upscale pasta and seafood) and Irva’s (incredible fish and shrimp!) just a block off the main drag. The fruit and vegetable market in San Ignacio is also within easy walking distance, and is liveliest on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays but open every day of the week. In town, we also enjoyed AJAW Chocolate and Crafts, where the cultural and historical story behind Mayan cacao is demonstrated (and tasted!).

Tour offerings throughout the Cayo District:

In addition to its beautiful grounds and luxurious accommodations, San Ignacio Resort Hotel shines in its tour offerings. Their tour guides are among the best in the region, and their concierge makes booking and executing each day’s adventure seamless. Just sit down with one of San Ignacio Resort Hotel’s concierges and you’ll know you’re in good hands right away. They offer dozens of tours ranging from half-day cultural and Mayan archeological site tours to outdoor adventures ranging from hiking to cave spelunking to canoeing to swimming. We kept ourselves busy each day, starting with tours of Xunantunich and Cahal Pech (located nearby) and downtown San Ignacio and then venturing further abroad for tours of Cayo District’s stunning St. Herman’s Cave and Blue Pool and the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve.

San Ignacio Resort Hotel’s policy is to keep tours small and personalized, and they make a concerted effort to provide private tours for just your group. Shuttle van transportation is included, as are gourmet packed lunches for all-day tours. We were lucky enough to have the same guide every day; Cruz was a wealth of knowledge and so fun to spend time with! It is obvious that he takes pride in his job and goes the extra mile to know this region inside and out. There are a few additional reputable tour services in San Ignacio, but I’d never venture farther than the hotel’s offerings, as I know I can trust in the team here.

San Ignacio Resort Hotel room options and types:

Three suites comprise the upstairs level at San Ignacio Resort Hotel: the Royal Suite (where Queen Elizabeth II once stayed), the Honeymoon suite, and the Master suite. We were pampered in the two-bedroom Royal suite, with its four-poster bed, separate private bedroom, kitchenette with microwave, fridge, and wet bar, living space, and ample outdoor space on the balcony. We spent most of our time outside, where we watched the iguanas in the tree at eye-level and waited for toucans to come visit us. (Suites include daily breakfast.)

The suites are the definition of luxury, but the garden rooms and balcony rooms aren’t far behind, for a very affordable price point. The garden rooms feature outdoor terrace space with hammocks, and the balcony rooms overlook the jungle canopy.

Dining at San Ignacio Resort Hotel:

The main dining room serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with local beef from Running W Ranch, located just outside town. All meals are casual, and are served in the open-air dining room or on the spacious patio overlooking the jungle. There is a full bar as well, which serves signature cocktails before dinner and drinks throughout the evening, plus a limited bar menu with poolside service as well. It’s worth noting that this resort is committed to eco-friendly measures; there are no plastic straws. Guests are instead offered macaroni straws, which are both fun and sustainable. Well done!

We ate breakfast daily (which can also be ordered to your room or suite), and either ordered a packed lunch as part of our tour or ate lunch in town. Dinners we ate at the resort dining room or in town, and we enjoyed the daily specials and specialty nights that changed things up during our stay. There’s a limited but quality wine list by the glass and by the bottle, and always save room for dessert!

Birdwatching at breakfast!

From the San Ignacio Resort Hotel, you have all of the outdoor adventure of the Cayo District at your disposal. It’s central to all the Mayan sites and swimming holes, caves, and hikes that dot this region. Airport shuttle van transfers can be arranged; we found this to be the most convenient way to get to the resort. Otherwise, you’ll need a rental car for the 1.5-2 hour drive from Belize City. Bus service is also possible, but not the most luxurious. The great news: once you’re at San Ignacio Resort Hotel, you won’t want to be going far!

Disclosure: we tried out the hotel as guests of San Ignacio Resort Hotel, for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own.

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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