Celebrations, delicious meals and a family atmosphere were clearly top of mind for founder Escandar Bedran when the San Ignacio Resort Hotel opened in Belize in 1976.
A royal welcome
This 27-room luxury boutique property in western Belize began as a place for the families of San Ignacio to gather. Led by a management team comprising the four Bedran daughters and their extended families, The San Ignacio Resort Hotel is now a five-star property. It overlooks 17 acres of virgin jungle, with a swimming pool, tennis courts, the Green Iguana Conservation Project and a medicinal plant trail.
Editors’ note: Although the COVID-19 pandemic has suddenly changed the face of travel, we hope our stories stoke your memories of past trips and kindle ideas for future adventures. This story takes our readers to sunny Madeira.
In February, 1994, the resort hosted Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her suite overlooking the hillside is now one of the Regal Rooms, and her visit is celebrated every year. Many of the staff who welcomed her still welcome today’s guests at the resort.
When I arrived, after a pleasant hour-long drive from the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City, I was treated like royalty, presented with a frosty tropical fruit drink and a chilled towel before check-in.
The latest additions to the property, ushering in a new era of luxury, are the River and Jungle View Suites overlooking the swath of green jungle leading to the Macal River. Perfect for large families, each accommodates up to six guests and can be connected for extra-large gatherings.
Each has a patio with oversized lounge chairs, ideal for spotting some of the over 100 different bird species that make their homes around the resort, or for relaxing with a book while sunlight flickers through the jungle canopy. The outdoor dining tables and barbecues are perfect for al fresco family get-togethers, and room service is available from the excellent Running W Restaurant, from early morning until late at night.
Rooms and suites are immaculate, with glossy tropical hardwood floors and modern décor featuring comfortable armchairs and four-poster beds, USB plug-ins, mini-fridges, robes and turndown service. Each room is unique. Some suites offer butler service upon request and can include complimentary guided tours of the Iguana Conservation Project and Medicinal Trail.
The Honeymoon Suite has a personal Jacuzzi, piled high with soft towels, tucked under the eaves of its large outdoor patio. Original artwork by talented local artists is hung throughout the resort and is available for purchase if a piece catches your eye.
Out & about
The resort is known as “the only jungle in town” for good reason. Downtown San Ignacio, with its shops, restaurants and busy Saturday open market, is only a five-minute walk away. The first-class concierges, Giovanni and Onil, are on duty every night until 9 p.m., and they can easily arrange for trips to nearby Mayan temples, parks and cascading waterfalls, river tubing and zip-lining expeditions, and more through the in-house tour company, Cayo Gial.
Guests who prefer to stay around the resort may take advantage of early morning bird-watching tours, hourly trips to the Green Iguana Conservation Project, plus an after-dark “Critters of the Night” walk. The pool is open 24 hours, and pool toys and kids menus are available for little ones.
Upgrades over the years have included a new marble clad lobby, with a fairy-tale wrought iron and hardwood staircase leading to the property’s Honeymoon Suite. Many a bride has been photographed on the picture-perfect mezzanine, including the Bedran sisters themselves. The on-site wedding planner and caterer can make a tropical wedding dream come true.
From your first warm welcome to the minute you leave, the San Ignacio Resort will make you feel like you’re part of the family, and have you planning your next reunion, family wedding, or maybe even a baby shower.
What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?
- The resort’s jungle hillside setting makes for quiet days and nights. You’ll awaken to rosy sunrises over the palm trees and the gentle sound of birdcalls.
- The award-winning Running W Restaurant’s international menu features steaks from the Bedran family farm and Belizian specialties like “fry jacks,” a delicious local take on beignets. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dine in the newly renovated air-conditioned dining room or on the open-air patio.
- Belize became independent in 1981. U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere at an exchange rate of 1:2 Belize dollars. Prices at the market are very reasonable and bartering is not necessary.
- Although at first glance the lobby is not wheelchair friendly, the staff are on hand with ramps that provide access to most areas of the hotel.
COVID-19 Update: Belize has not been left untouched by this virus. The first reported case was on March 23, 2020 and as of April 5th, there was a total of five cases in the country. Travel to Belize is not recommended at this time, but the San Ignacio Resort Hotel is looking forward to rolling out the red carpet for you as soon as it is safe to do so.
Previously on Getting on Travel.com:
Photo credits: All photos by Debra Smith unless otherwise noted
The author was a guest of the San Ignacio Resort, however, the opinions expressed here, as always, are her own.
IF YOU GO
For more information visit: San Ignacio Resort Hotel