Belize has so much to offer the tourist and traveller: great food, luxury yet affordable accommodation, friendly, English speaking locals, the culture and history of the Mayans, the natural beauty of the Belizean rainforests and sea, and the incredible wildlife that resides in them.
Belize is not a big country and it is possible to run around it and sample all that it has to offer in a short period of time. However, if you’re not the running type then sit back, relax and read on because we’ve found somewhere that brings together the best of Belize into one place.
The San Ignacio Resort Hotel is a gem nestled in the town of San Ignacio near the Guatemalan border. It offers luxury accommodation, great food and something that no other hotel in the world offers… but we’ll get to that later.
Following a long, hot but fantastic day enjoying the Mayan Ruins of Tikal at sunrise and exploring the caves at Jaguar Paw, we arrived at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel. Knowing that I would be tired after my long flight to Belize, the overnight spring to Guatemala and back, I decided to work some much needed rest and recuperation into my hectic itinerary that night.
The San Ignacia Resort Hotel did not disappoint.
We arrived to a friendly reception. The hotel is family owned and run by an entirely Belizean staff who were all very enthusiastic about guiding us around: be it to our room, around the hotel or a tour of the lush green forested grounds at the back of the hotel.
Opened in 1976, the San Ignacio Resort Hotel is known affectionately as “the only jungle in town” as it lies on top of a verdant hillside along the Macal River valley within a 17 acre private estate.
The hotel itself is not particularly large. With only 24 deluxe rooms it is usually completely booked up from November through to April, Belize’s peak season, so will rarely have spare rooms for last minute travellers. We’d recommend you book in advance to ensure that you don’t miss out.
Our room was decorated with locally painted artwork and furnished with sustainable mahogany and exotic Belize hardwoods. It had all the standard luxury hotel features: great shower, very big, comfortable beds, safety box, big TV and maybe most importantly great air con. However it also included some pretty special extras including our own balcony, hammock, rocking chair and private garden! This room managed to make me feel sad when I realised that I’d soon have to return home to normal life. I’m googling hammock distributors as we speak.
The room was fit for a queen. If you don’t believe me, ask Queen Elizabeth as she stayed at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel back in 1994. Due to the official secrets act, the hotel staff could neither confirm nor deny whether she used the private hammock.
After our long day we were famished and headed to another outstanding feature of the hotel: The Running W Steakhouse Restaurant. We met one of the managers, Trinity and sat on the terrace that overlooks the hotel pool and gardens, surrounded by fairy lights and toucans.
Whilst my morning masquerading as a hard-core trekker and explorer of tropical jungles and ancient ruins was fun, the fairy lights reminded me that I deep down I love my creature comforts just a little more than actual creatures.
The beautiful setting, the lights, the grounds; I felt like a princess… a feeling Queen Elizabeth no doubt felt when she dropped by. On a side note, how amazing would the Queen’s travel blog be?
We started with a lovely refreshing ice lime drink, there’s also a lime, ginger and mint blend available as well as a cocktail and wine menu.
Usually it is my mission to try local dishes, but I’m always keen for a recommendation. Trinity explained that their speciality lies in their steaks, hence the restaurant name. I happily accepted the challenged and gleefully awaited to be steaked. The menu has lots of other options including other meats, fish and vegetarian dishes too.
Belize is known for its’ spices and spicy food and the chicken tortilla soup – a surprise pre-starter that didn’t disappoint. The thin, tomato based soup tingled with spices which gave it a light but tasty kick. The soup wasn’t exceptional but was a nice way to start the meal.
The meat and ingredients at the restaurant are home reared and grown on their ranch. For my starter I thought I would put this to the test by going for the grass fed fillet mignon beef carpaccio: a dish that puts the restaurant’s ingredients to the test. To my delight the beef was soft, almost buttery and came in quite thick, quality slices. It was accompanied by roasted red peppers, cucumber salad, local French baguette garlic crostini, herbs and parmesan squares. The beef really was tender and flavourful and the accompaniments really brought the dish together.
The wonderful meat feast continued with my much anticipated main course. Like the carpaccio it was very soft and easy to cut. The thick, marbled Maya rump steak was cooked to perfection. It was quite fatty but very rich in flavour. I chose the creamy mashed potato over the “tasty rice” which really complemented the strong chimichurri sauce. A heavy dish that I would definitely recommend. There were a plethora of desserts available that we had absolutely no room for. Next time I’ll forgo the soup and save space.
Since the pool is open 24 hours we did intend to go for a dip, but instead, like the wild party animals we are, we hurried back to our room to make the most of the heavenly beds for a good night’s sleep. We opted for a quick dip in the morning instead.
San Ignacio has been voted the top tourist destination in Belize and while the town has many amazing things to do within itself, it really comes into its’ own as a base to explore both the Belizean rainforest and the Mayan wonders, including Tikal. Whether you’re trekking through the jungle, climbing temples, zip-lining through the forest canopy or diving deep inside caves, the San Ignacio Resort Hotel is the perfect place to go back to for relaxation, recovery, refuelling and taking a load off your feet and into a hammock.
Plus, it has something special that no other hotel in the world has… check back next week as that is whole other post in itself.
Thank you to the San Ignacio Resort Hotel for sponsoring our stay. However, this was an amazing experience and all opinions in this article are honest and our own.
Last modified: 7th June 2016