I’m writing this and scratching from the seemingly 100s of bug bites I got while in Belize, I had no idea it was going to be that bad so bring bug repellant! Bugs are expected of course, but this was beyond anything we’ve experienced before and we have been to many tropical places. All of us have been up for the last several nights itching like crazy, including the bottoms of our feet from the sand fleas so watch where you step, don’t sit in the sand if you’re playing with your kids and you’ll be fine! We stayed at X’Tan Ha for a week in April, with our 2 year old daughter. Since we arrived so early, we didn't want to hang around the international airport waiting for a flight, so we took a cab to the municipal one and paid half the cost to fly to San Pedro. We were able to go to a grocery store before we got on the boat to the resort, which was great since we needed some things for the room.
First off, let me say that getting a bottom floor ocean front room is definitely worth it, the pool ones just seem so far away! We were in unit 2D which in my opinion is the best ocean front room, along with unit 2C. These are steps to the water, with your porch overlooking the ocean. The upstairs units overlook the ocean, but we had the ability to just go down a few steps and be in the sand while their stairs were in the back of their unit. These two units are perfect if you are traveling with small children. They have beach toys which we read before coming, however we brought our own and are so glad we did! The toys here were all broken, with buckets that had sharp edges from being so cracked. We left a ton of new toys behind, so hopefully they’ll be in good shape if you do travel here with kids. (which by the way there were no other kids our toddler’s age, the next youngest was 8 and the rest were all couples, something to keep in mind)
They have a pool, which has an area that is perfect for toddlers since it’s shallow and they can walk around without needing to be held. One issue we had with the pool is, we took our daughter in and were there for over 20 minutes before an employee came to tell us to get out because they just treated the pool with very harsh chemicals. Um, why not put up signs warning people of that? They did finally put up signs, which stayed up til the next day which means our child was exposed to some harsh chemicals, since it took so long for the chemicals to clear and the pool to reopen. Also, every single time we would go to get beach/pool towels, they “are in the dryer” is what we would hear. Every time. If that’s not a sign to get more, I don’t know what is! I noticed several other reviewers last year mentioned the same thing, so it’s an ongoing issue.
Also, we both felt like there is no communication between staff and most are completely clueless when it comes to things at the resort. Our drinking water ran out, so we asked for a new one. A full day has passed, and still nothing. We asked 3 times and it was delivered finally the night before we left. The housekeepers are also not very friendly. On our last night, it started pouring while she was cleaning and we were at the beach. We came and sat on the patio, but it was raining so hard that we were getting soaked anyway and the baby was shivering. So I brought her in, only to be told that I can’t be inside because she isn’t done. Yea, I wasn’t going to bring my child outside in the cold rain just so she can finish cleaning.
Before coming, I remember reading reviews about the restaurant and how accommodating and cheap they are. It wasn’t that way for us! The hostess at the restaurant is awesome and very friendly, but that’s about the only good thing about it. First off, the waitress had no idea about anything on the menu. When I asked what kind of fish is in the fish with garlic sauce, the waitress said she doesn’t know and just stood there, instead of going to find out. Our toddler doesn’t eat kid meals, so we ordered the coconut shrimp for her. It comes with chipotle aioli, which she didn’t like, so we asked if they can make her garlic aioli instead and they said no. She ended up eating my husband's coconut curry shrimp instead. The restaurant is also very overpriced for what you get. There were many reviews that mentioned how cheap it was to eat here, but be aware that the average dinner price is about $25/person for not so good food. We met several people at the resort who have stayed here last year and they mentioned that the prices last year were 1/3 of what they are now, and they’re shocked to see such an increase, they weren’t aware til they got here. So be aware if you see the reviews that mention decent prices…they are no longer that. They also apparently took away the free shuttle they used to have to town, basically encouraging you to stay and eat here the entire time, which would be fine except the restaurant has weird hours and they won’t allow you to order anything unless it’s opened (we wanted fries at 4pm and were told no). The bar menu had maybe 4 items, so I wouldn’t rely on that for meals.
We ended up just ordering food from the grocery store (Mata Grande) online (which btw if you do, be aware that when they say it will be delivered first thing in the morning the next day it means after 3pm) and cooking it ourselves. The hotel will give you a grill if you ask, but it looks like they only have one so if you know you need one, ask right away. It came in useful for us, since the power went out twice during our one week stay, something that seems common around here based on what I saw in other reviews.
The beach is nice, and steps from the ocean front rooms (again, worth the cost!). Water was very warm, however we couldn’t go in the first 2 days because the day we arrived, there were tons of jelly fish in the water and we were told to stay out. The trampoline you see on their site was broken our entire week, so we never got to use it. There aren’t enough beach chairs, however, and people were putting out towels by 7am every day. We met several couples/families that were at the beach from other resorts, so they took up a good portion of the chairs as well. We learned quickly and after not having chairs the first day, we put out towels on the chairs directly in front of our place early the next morning. At one point, people were carrying chairs from the pool area because there weren’t enough for everyone.
They have bikes you can use to ride down to the other resorts, which we tried to do one day. They put on a child seat and off we went. Well, I turned back after 5 minutes. If you go to the beach that’s either to the left or right of the resort, it’s a dump! Garbage everywhere, and the smell was horrid. I know it’s not X’Tan Ha’s responsibility to keep those areas clean, but it’s unsettling to see such trash right next to the resort. My husband continued on, but I brought the baby back because it wasn’t possible to bike with her and he said there is no way we would have made it far so it’s a good thing we did turn back. Also, if you go to the back of the resort, it’s a dump. Trash everywhere and huts the size of a closet with people (employees since it said employees only beyond this point?) living in them. I kind of felt like the Belizean people don’t care much about their country, since only the resort areas are maintained and there is trash everywhere else, including downtown San Pedro. You don’t want the last beach front hut (see my photo) because you will have a nice view of trash.
Overall, the place itself is nice with really nice rooms (horrible sulfur smell when you run the water, which many mentioned in their reviews) and beach. I just wish the staff communicated better with each other instead of having to remind them over and over again that we needed something. Oliver the manager is friendly and his dog was a hit with our tot. Also, a week of just beach was a bit much for us, so we ended up taking the coastal express to town twice during our stay and had a blast driving around with the golf cart and eating good local food. Oh, and to reiterate bring bug repellant!! Seriously, you will need it. All 3 of us have welts all over from the giant bug bites we got while here. It’s now been a week since we’ve been home, and the bites and itching isn’t going anywhere, the bottoms of our feet being the most uncomfortable. Also, common sense thought it appears many from colder climates missed the memo, bring sunscreen. We saw so many burned kids and adults, it was ridiculous. We’re from SoCal where it’s warm all year and rains twice a year it seems, so we are used to sunscreen, but apparently others underestimated Mr. Sun and were lobsters on their very first day. Oh, and power outages are planned here and happen constantly, 3 times during our stay one of those times being for several hours. Still not as bad as what the guests at the end of August/beginning of September 2013 experienced! (go read their reviews).