Just one hour and 15 minutes by car from Belize City, the Blancaneaux Lodge sits at the northern border of the incredible Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, 106,353 acres (43,040 ha) of protected land. Although the pine forests, small areas of grasslands and wetlands, the Macal River, and recognized Maya sites on the reserve are carefully protected by the government, much of the land has been leased. Privassion Creek runs through the property. It has clear running water, ancient melastome shrubs, toucans, and a small population of crocodiles. While staying here, guests often explore the limestone hills of Noj Kaax Meen Elijio Panti National Park, known for its endangered species and rare flora and fauna. At the lodge you can swim, hike, go horseback riding, or mountain biking. An hour’s drive down dirt road takes travelers to Caracol Archaeological Reserve to explore Maya culture in its temple ruins and ceremonial caves.
One of the Lodge’s top amenities is the property: Privassion Creek’s waterfalls and granite boulders make for some of Belize’s best all-natural swimming holes. The man-made swimming options are excellent as well: the resort’s freshwater infinity pool is inlaid with bright, artistic ceramic tiles and surrounded by handcrafted mahogany lounge chairs.
Attentive servers are always on-hand to bring towels and drinks from the full bar. After working up an appetite swimming and sunning, the Guatemaltecqua Restaurant is just steps away, specializing in the cuisine of Belize, which combines Caribbean, Mexican, and Mayan traditions. The Coppola family is Italian, which may have inspired the cuisine at the resort’s Montagna Ristorante. The chef here consults daily with the gardener of the Blancaneaux’s own organic farm, where guests can see lettuce, carrots, beans, and herbs growing next to exotic fruits. These ingredients add a fresh, healthy taste to the restaurant’s cherished stone-oven pizzas.
Once a private retreat for Hollywood royal family the Coppolas, the Blancaneaux Lodge was opened to the public in 1993, offering deluxe cabanas in different styles. Private cabanas range from honeymoon to artist’s retreat. There are riverfront cabanas, luxury cabanas with their own mini infinity pools, and roomy 2-bedroom villas for guests who want a kitchen. There’s even an “enchanted cottage,” replete with a writing desk and fireplace for artists in need of tranquility. Each of the cabanas is decorated with native woods and local art, private porches, hammocks, and beautiful views.
The king of the dwellings is Francis Ford Coppola’s Villa: the dining room has an antique table that seats 14, which goes well with the espresso machine and wet bar for dinner parties. While all cabanas include Wi-Fi and locally made bath products, the villa takes it up a notch with monogrammed bathrobes, wine glasses, a private barbeque, and even a full-time personal attendant. With two large bedrooms that feature Japanese tubs and Francis Ford Coppola’s personal art and antique collection, a family or group craving serious luxury would be perfectly accommodated here.
The Waterfall Spa at the lodge is just as luxurious as one would expect: the staff was trained in ancient Thai massage at the Sacred Wat Pho Temple in Bangkok. The body treatments include a variety of salts and herbs, and of course, the hot pool overlooks tumbling waterfalls.