Going off the grid doesn’t necessarily mean having to camp in the wilderness and battling the elements. Which is fortunate, given that as the country of Belize moves towards reopening fully, everyone wants a getaway. A getaway that hits all the recent buzzwords in travel: privacy, social distancing, and fresh air. Over the past few months, a number of Belize resorts have worked towards Gold Standard Certification, ensuring health and safety in our new normal without impacting guest experience. Personally, the getaway I was looking for was an adventure retreat. After almost six months at home, dreamy white linens nestled amidst the lush jungle greenery filled me with wanderlust. Meanwhile, having the option to do absolutely nothing inside lush lodgings didn’t sound too bad either. One such resort that hits the mark is the Lodge at Chaa Creek and specifically, their Ix Chel Villas.
Wildly civilized—the ethos of Chaa Creek. Before the term eco-resort even became a trend, Mick and Lucy Fleming settled in Belize’s Cayo district during the 1970s. From an old citrus farm on the banks of the Macal River to becoming Belize’s first eco-resort in the 1980s, The Lodge at Chaa Creek continues to grow without compromising any of their green values. The resort is nestled away in the middle of a private 400-acre private reserve, so you really are immersed in the verdant settings of Western Belize. It is remote enough to enjoy the sounds of nature, including the various bird calls; nearly half of Belize’s bird species have been recorded in the reserve.
On arrival, our bags were sanitized and immediately transported to await outside our room until check-in. Benjamin, their Gold Standard Manager, greeted us warmly for a quick briefing and check-in while we washed our hands. Although we both wore face masks, we could still feel the warmth of his smile underneath! The lodge itself offers a rustic chic feel, but there are some pretty incredible suites with direct views of the surrounding lush greenery. Not to mention, your own private plunge pool, outdoor shower, or even private jacuzzi. Stay in an individually thatched treehouse lodging or one of the self-contained villas—all accommodations cover most of the activities from birdwatching to hikes to the on-site Butterfly Farm. And of course, the on-site spa never fails to be a hit with guests.
Sleeping in the jungle just became a glamorous experience, thanks to these luxury villas tucked away at the Lodge at Chaa Creek. The villa comes with a personal butler, who coordinates your room service, housekeeping, food, beverage and laundry services. Although because of COVID-19 measures, this was all done via WhatsApp; the resort may not have dependable phone service, but there is reliable WiFi available on the grounds.
The stunning floor-to-ceiling glass walls flooded the open-floored villa with plenty of natural light; the natural surroundings and colorful tapestry of the interior melted into one singular experience. If you can bear to leave your balcony, there are plenty activities on hand. Don’t miss canoeing the Macal River; regardless of the hour, it is guaranteed to be a socially-distanced experience—with each swishing sound of your paddle drawing to lull you into welcomed relaxation.
What began in the 1980s as a refuge to passer-by travelers, the lodge has revolutionized into an immersive, luxury experience focused on the natural and indigenous history of Belize. All played out on 400 very wild acres. After all, Belize’s product is really two different destinations: inland, lush jungles and classic, beachy outposts like the popular Ambergris Caye and, more recently, the sizzling area of Placencia. Nonetheless, rest and rejuvenate by experiencing it all with Chaa Creek’s new Luxury Explorer package.
Header image courtesy of The Lodge at Chaa Creek. All other photos not captioned courtesy author Carolee Chanona.