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“Exceptional Staff and a Beautiful Resort” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Portofino

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Portofino
3.0 of 5 Resort   |   6 Miles North | PO Box 36, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize   |  
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Ranked #21 of 53 Hotels in San Pedro
1 review
“Exceptional Staff and a Beautiful Resort”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2014

My fiance and I stayed at the resort. The staff was very helpful and friendly. They booked all of our tours, as well as answered other questions. The restaurant food was great, but a little pricy. The only downside to the resort is that it's rather far away from the center of San Pedro (about 15-20 minute boat ride). But other than that, it was a wonderful place to stay. I would definitely recommend it.

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PortofinoBZ, General Manager at Portofino, responded to this review, May 15, 2014
We do take pride in making our guests feel as welcomed as possible to the resort. We do our best for our guests. We are a little out of touch with the busy town and we try to make guests aware as much as possible. It makes us overjoyed to know you enjoyed your stay with us.
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423 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (118)
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English first
NYC
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 29, 2014

Cons:1) They put my maiden name as my husband's last name on the Tropic Air tickets that they booked for us to get to San Pedro from Belize. This was just unbelievable that they made this mistake considering all the good reviews they have.
2) Dinner entrees were awful and it's crime to charge 30+ for it. We ate dinner there 3 nights. My husband got pasta entrees every time and they tasted like frozen pasta dinners. I got fish two nights and they just tasted soggy. I just felt sick right after dinner.
3) I checked the room charges when I returned back to the states and found that we were charged us for the more expensive vodka (Stoli) for each drink, which I specifically did not ask for since I like Absolut more than the Stoli. And, for some reason, I'm 99% sure that the price of the two vodka were actually the same on the menu. So make sure that you check each charge before you check out, which most people never do (like us) since we were running late.
4) They also booked us for the wrong day-time excursion.
5) Sheets had yellow stains on two nights. This wasn't luxury.
6) Electricity went out on the island, so it took us much longer to get back to Portofino since they were picking up dinner guests from other resorts that did not have electricity. Remember that Portofino is farthest away from the town compared to other resorts. So it was annoying that we had to be on the boat that picked up people from other resorts. Also, that night, it took an hour to get our entrees because again Portofino wanted to make some money from guests from other resorts who wanted to have dinner there when usually they don't go to Portofino to eat dinner.

Pro:
1) Breakfast and lunch were great. The soups and appetizers were delicious at their restaurant.
2) Other than the things mentioned above, the service and employees are amazing.
3) Resort has great views.

Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sellersburg
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2014

I just returned from my 2nd stay at Portofino in less than a year and once again they did not disappoint! The resort couldn't be more beautiful and the staff is AMAZING!! I recommend Portofino to everyone I know because I have no doubt their experience will be as fabulous as mine. I love that the staff learn our names & some of them remembered me from my 1st visit. The fact that the owners live on-site and are very visible is what I attribute the immaculate grounds and unbelievably accommodating staff. They built this resort from the ground up and are very proud of the relaxing environment they offer their guests. The resort manager Mikayla (sp?) is very detail - oriented and goes above and beyond for the guests while treating the staff with the utmost respect. Also, the restaurant on the resort is wonderful! They offer a delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner. I can't say enough about the attentive wait staff!! The rooms are beautiful and extremely comfortable. You really want for nothing at Portofino. They know how to take care of their guests!! I would never even consider staying anywhere else on Ambergris Caye!

  • Stayed April 2014
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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PortofinoBZ, General Manager at Portofino, responded to this review, May 15, 2014
Thank you for sharing your wonderful thoughts on the resort as well as your recommendations. we are happy to offer the best service we can at all times and enjoy making your stay memorable. We look forward to the next opportunity to pamper you as best as possible again in the future.
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Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2014

The staff is very dedicated to their guest's comfort! The view from the restaurant was spectacular! The rooms and property are kept very clean. We really enjoyed our stay. The only exceptions were the air conditioning in our cabana didn't work (but the staff did everything they could to get it working) and the dive shop on property. We booked two days of diving and were told to meet at the pier at 9:30am. The first day we showed up and were told the conditions were not good and to come back at 1:30, we did and were taken out with a boat full of snorkelers. The next day we reported at 9:30 to find no one at the dive shop. We waited an hour until the dive master pulled up in the boat again with a boat full of snorkelers just returning from a tour. He then told us that the conditions were not good again. I have been diving for 24 years and this was by far the worst experience I've had. I recommend staying at the resort but if you are a diver, go into San Pedro to a different dive shop.

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PortofinoBZ, General Manager at Portofino, responded to this review, May 17, 2014
We are happy to have you share your experiences with the resort. the staff truly is an integral part of the entire experience of the resort and have always made an extra effort to make everyone feel comfortable and welcomed.
As for your concerns with the service provided by the tour company, we had a meeting with Action Divers as we feel all our guests’ experiences are important to us. The weather issues is beyond our control and prefer to cancel a trip than to risk the safety of our guests. Through our meeting we have been working to improve their service and equipment because in the end the experience of you, our guests, is what is important to us.
We hope to be able to make another vacation feel just as memorable again in the future.
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Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 25, 2014

This was our second trip to Portofino in 2 years and we plan to return every year from now on.Staff is amazing, place is breathtaking and the food INCREDIBLE! Great to see owners! :)
Orville, amazing!

Room Tip: Stick with cabanas, they are nicer than the mansion.
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  • Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PortofinoBZ, General Manager at Portofino, responded to this review, May 15, 2014
Thank for sharing your experience here. It is always a pleasure to make all our guests feel welcomed and wrapped in warmth and comfort. We truly look forward to having you again and again!
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1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 23, 2014

I can't understand any of these negative reviews; we were thrilled by Portofino and would recommend to anyone staying on Ambergris. We almost stayed at X'tan Ha Resort -- which is close by, gets similar reviews for a little cheaper -- but after walking up the beach and checking out that resort, Portofino was DEFINITELY worth the extra cost. We also spent a night at the luxury resort Las Terrazas Resort, but we still enjoyed ourselves at Portofino more.

Portofino is more authentic, has more heart, and the beach side cabanas are beautiful. The staff really goes out of their way for you (especially if you do the "intro to scuba" -- the dive master was great; I clung on to him for dear life and he was more than happy to help me through the experience). The vibe here is more upperclass romantic/coupley vs. X'tan Ha, which seemed like loud American families. There could be more food options (we enjoyed breakfast and lunch more than dinner), but if we ever go back to Belize, staying at Portofino is a no brainer.

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PortofinoBZ, General Manager at Portofino, responded to this review, April 25, 2014
Thank you for sharing your concerns about the resort. It is through the opinions and concerns of guests like yourself that we can improve on our service. Allow me to take the opportunity to respond to some of the concerns you expressed.
The beach and swimming area is very shallow and has a lot of sea grass. While this is not necessarily a swimming hazard, we understand it is an inconvenience to our guests. Unfortunately it is important to the eco system of the island and protected from dredging under the laws of Belize. The best available option has always been to go to the end of the pier.
The issue with garbage on the beach is an ongoing battle, some of it stemming from Mexico and residents of the island. The sea grass which washes ashore is just part of the natural cycle on the island. We try to keep our beach area clean and have worked with groups and other resorts to organize beach clean ups in the area from time to time. Unfortunately we are not able to make that effort consistent.
The restaurant has always had rave reviews over the years and still to this day. However, the meals served may not be to everyone’s palette. The staff could have helped you organize trips to neighboring resorts or even to town to visit other culinary options. I hope the staff had informed you that the coastal express service transports guests to resorts from town to north on a two hour schedule. It will mean some waiting but it is a much more cost effective service. Also based on your comments about the food, we are working with restaurant staff to make some changes, however it will take some time before the menu is properly redone.
We are meeting with our maintenance personnel to see why there was a lack in upkeep in the rooms, and how best to address the issues of malfunctioning items in the room. We will be meeting with the tour personnel later this month to rectify issues you mentioned with the service.

Once again thank you for your review and we hope to continue improving.
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Calgary, Canada
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2014

My wife and I spent four nights at this resort with another couple. We stayed in a room adjacent to the pool. Perhaps the best way to start our disertation is with the positive aspects. The weather was great during our stay. Now we can talk about all the other things.

The beaches are a public area and as such they see constant traffic from bicycles, pedestrians and motorcycles. There is no private place to sit and look over the beach and the water. The resort provides a few reclining deck chairs along the beach front and the pool. These are the only comfortable place to sit and must be shared by over 100 guests. The chairs and hammocks provided with each room look nice but they put your bottom to sleep in five minutes. Thus staying around the resort is not going to be comfortable or private.

During our stay the hotel hosted a wedding on the beach. This forced all the beach traffic to the path between the pool and our rooms. And of course there was nowhere to hide from the party and noise of the wedding. The staff reinforced that the comfort of their guests would not be compromised by the wedding activities. This was just one of many lies we discovered during our stay.

The food was expensive and offered little variety. If the owners decided to have staff serve their family for dinner then you can forget about timely service. The owners constantly utilize staff and services for their personal benefit and guest service is compromised as a result.

The resort is a long way north of San Pedro. It is only accessible by boat. A road has been built that goes past the resort but it is so rough that the cabs will refuse to travel on it. Transportation between the resort and other locations is thus only available by boat. A water taxi runs about every two hours up and down the coast. That sounds like it should work out but it is not suitable to connect with schedules of other trips. The resort says it provides shuttles and it does that as long as it suits their purposes. We found that the schedules were posted but arbitrarily modified. We could not rely on the service. In fact we waited two hours to get on the boat on our arrival and then we sat on a boat load of tables and supplies for the aforementioned wedding. The only exception to this was the trip out to catch our departure flight. They do make this trip as advertised. Their boats are open pangas and you will be exposed to rain or high winds on this trip which will ensure a damp trip home.

The town of San Pedro is small and an hour will suffice to see whatever interests you. That leaves a lot of time to wait around for transportation, normally while baking in the sun. So if you want to do some things other than diving, snorkelling or walking down the beach then you are trapped using the resort's staff and services. We were disappointed to discover that the staff is not competant enough to arrange these services so eventually you give up on those options.

We did not feel comfortable staying in the room because the only place to lounge was on the bed. We also found the room dirty. A mushroom was growing from the baseboard next to the bed. Clearly that needs more than a day to grow so it represents a consistent lack of attention to the quality of the cleaning services.

We visited several regions in Belize and had expected our stay at the Portofino too be the highlight of our trip. As it turned out it was the most expensive and least pleasant part of our trip. We were happy to leave. Don't stay here.

Room Tip: The premuim rooms are adjacent to the pool. If you desire privacy then try to book something farther...
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PortofinoBZ, General Manager at Portofino, responded to this review, April 29, 2014
First of all we would like to extend our thanks to you for submitting a review. We do value all of the opinions of our guests. We take all concerns from our guests very seriously and look to address such issues as urgently as possible.
To begin, the beaches in all of Belize are public (including private islands). The control of traffic is limited in some areas but not restricted. Most of the Traffic comes in the mornings (around 8:00am) and evenings (after 5:00pm), when people commute back and forth for work purposes. Guests of the hotel and neighboring properties will also go back and forth to explore different parts of the island and is very common. Generally people travelling up and down the beach don’t interfere with guests and the resort staff would intervene if they see it becoming an issue. The lounge chairs on the beach and around the deck of the pool offer guests the opportunity to sit back and enjoy the view of the ocean and beach. The chairs around the pool would have offered some separation between the beach and yourselves.
In all our representation, we advertise that the resort is 6.5 miles North of San Pedro Town and only accessible by boat. Some people prefer to be secluded, but this may be an inconvenience to others. The 2 hour schedule for the most part allows for people to plan and move around based rather than be rushed. The heat/temperature is part of the climate. The quaint town of San Pedro is very small and offers a variety of options for the night life. The guests who stay at Portofino look forward to being able to still visit the downtown area without having to stay in there.
When you had checked in the front desk was directed to inform you of the wedding event so as to prepare for what will be. As to the number of guests attending, we accommodated at best 50 guests for this particular wedding. Also the resort is not capable of accommodating more than 50 guests. The event venue was changed at the last minute, as the bride and groom decided not to host the event at their original planned location. Because we make an effort to make their wishes to be married in Belize come true, we accepted to host them at the resort. We do apologize for the inconvenience of having to listen to the party goers.
In regards to your issue about the food, the restaurant has had rave reviews over the years and service has always been top notch however the palette may not suit everyone. On extremely busy nights, it takes a little longer to than usual to provide food service but it is always done with utmost importance and care. If guests look for more variety we offer suggestions that are available in downtown San Pedro or neighboring resorts.
We thank you for pointing out your concerns about the cleanliness of the room. We have done a thorough inspection of all the rooms and did not come across any evidence of mushrooms. We do however, emphasize cleanliness at the resort for our guests and have daily housekeeping service along with the rooms being refreshed in the evening. Our purpose is to ensure a clean environment for guests and their family to enjoy in so much that this incident seems extremely out of the standard.
In regards to the service of the boas for tours, we will look further into this matter as we have always made an effort to ensure that guests can make their tours and travel desires. If the tours were booked from through our staff the arrangements for the boats are always met the travel times required for your trip.
We do wish to express our appreciation to your attention to details. We value all the comments and concerns of all our guests. We strive to ensure that every guest, who visits our slice of heaven, have an enjoyable stay and we are dismayed you did not enjoy your stay. All of your comments are being reviewed with all those in the resort to ensure that service and quality remain impeccable.
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Additional Information about Portofino

Address: 6 Miles North | PO Box 36, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize
Phone Number:
Location: Belize > Belize Cayes > Ambergris Caye > San Pedro
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#4 Business Hotel in San Pedro
#6 Spa Hotel in San Pedro
#11 Top resorts Hotel in San Pedro
#17 Romantic Hotel in San Pedro
#19 On the Beach Hotel in San Pedro
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:3 star — Portofino 3*
Number of rooms: 17
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Characterized by its warm and friendly hospitality, Portofino is the epitome of barefoot luxury, unpretentious and relaxing… for most; it will be an experience of a lifetime. Our small, boutique resort offers just 17 beautifully appointed rooms, ranging from charming beach cabanas to spacious suites, dotted amidst swaying palm trees, in a private setting with unmatched personal attention and the modern comforts of home. It is a haven of tranquility, where guests will enjoy the subtle sounds of the nearby waves lapping over the reef, gentle breeze, breathtaking sunrise, star studded night sky and spectacular views of the crystal waters of the Caribbean Sea. The perfect setting for a romantic getaway, intimate wedding, honeymoon, family and friends.Portofino offers leisure options to suit every taste. Relax in our fresh water outdoor swimming pool; enjoy a great book from our book collection or simply indulge yourself in a massage on the beach under our hand thatched palapa hut. Explore the underwater world with snorkel equipment or skim along the surface in our complimentary sea kayaks. Delicious meals prepared by our resort chef can be served in the privacy or your beach cabana or suite, on our private dock with a romantic setting or at the Portofino Restaurant. Sip on amazing tropical cocktails at the Green Parrot Beach Bar or perhaps a late afternoon snack from the Green Parrot Bistro. Take advantage of our DVD library and unwind in front of the flat TV screen in your room. Or, simply take in the view. In short, relax and enjoy! Reception in the main building is manned by professional and knowledgeable staff. From, activities bookings and directions to itineraries and dining reservations, our friendly and professional staff is eager to assist you. Access to PORTOFINO is by boat only, and therefore we offer a complimentary meet and greet service at San Pedro Airstrip and boat transfer to the resort, an approximately 20 minutes ride. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Portofino Hotel San Pedro
Portofino San Pedro
Portofino Belize/San Pedro

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