My family and I (3 teenage kids) just returned from an 8 day stay at Jaguar Reef (February 14-22, 2014). We had stayed here four years ago. We were in the Orchid Room, which is a 2 bedroom suite next to the family pool with a view of the ocean. First the positives:
1. Great location to base from to do lots of fun excursions with teens.
2. Resort is right on the beach.
3. Staff is very friendly and interested in your stay.
4. Resort is cozy, but, with enough things to do (beach, pools, spa, coffee shop, bars, etc.).
5. We rented a golf cart for the week (around $380 US) in advance, which makes it fun to go into Hopkins or just drive around.
6. Hopkins is off the beaten-path, but, does have a few restaurants and an ATM. So, if you like being out of the hustle and bustle--it is the town for you.
Second, the negatives:
1. Our suite still needs an upgrade. Consequences of this were: minimal water pressure in the showers; wifi in the suite pretty much non-existent (OMG-our teens had to go to the lobby area to access wifi or the hammocks near the restaurant!); the twin beds in one room and the extra bed in the living room were amazingly uncomfortable; the couch in the living room was pretty dated and uncomfortable; cable TV was provided, but, it was an afterthought to the existing furniture, so, is located at a very high viewing angle.
2. The hotel has a lot of manual entry systems for accounting and other issues. Accordingly, things had a way of having lots of little screw ups (at check out, I was mistakenly charged for 5 tours instead of 4 people on one tour; our golf cart that we rent for a week was mistakenly provided to another guest one day; a special birthday cake that the hotel arranged for our 13-year old twins sat undelivered in the kitchen and missed the birthday event). All the problems got worked around and the staff was great and cooperative. So, it just seems that the systems are not as robust as what we are used to in the States.
3. Bugs--there are bugs and you will get bitten unless you cover yourself up or use lots of spray.
Tours: we arranged all of our tours through the hotel. Everything worked great on scheduling, etc. We did the following tours:
Zip-line and Waterfall Rappelling (combined in one day). This is a fun tour. The Zip-lines are good. I have zip-lined at Sky Tram near Arernal, Costa Rica, which, in my opinion are the best in the world (at least that I have been on). These are not quite that--but, they are very good, with one that has a pretty long run. After the Zip Line we were taken by jeep to the nearby waterfall site. We had a short hike to the waterfall. The rappelling is fun. They place a rope between two trees at the top of the waterfall and then you are harnessed and rappel backwards down the waterfall. You maintain contact with the side of the mountain that the waterfall is running down, but, at spots it is easy to lose your balance because of the moss that makes it slippery. But, it was fun. Everyone in our group made it down (55, 50, 16, 13 and 13). However, you need to accept that you will fall a little bit and get bruised a little bit. It took about 10-20 minutes per person in our group to make it down. Two of my kids went down together side by side.
Snorkel-I was the only one in our family who did not due this. Reports were favorable. Good visibility. Kids got a little tired and wished they had taken a ring or something to float on rather than having to swim the whole time.
River tubing-This involves a pretty easy hike, although you have to carry your tube. You then tube down a fairly slow moving river with beautiful scenery. We did this in a complete rainstorm. It was still fun.
Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave. This involves an almost 2 hour ride pass Belmopan (which is scenic along the Hummingbird Highway) and then a transfer to the tour van for about a 30 minute ride to the site of the hike. The hike to the cave is about 45 minutes. At the entrance to the cave is a picnic area. The tour provides a picnic lunch, which they recommend you eat part before the hike and part after, since the cave tour is about 2.5 hours. After your partial lunch, you swim about 20 feet into the cave. They provide you a helmet with a light on it. If you want a life vest, they will provide it. I took one and was glad I had it. It helped with feeling comfortable for some of the swimming portions (into the cave and in the cave--there is a lot of water in the cave) as well as helping to keep warm a bit in the cave. This tour was the most challenging tour I have ever been on. There is about 60 minutes on being in the cave in some type of water (almost always your head is above water--but, a few times, you have to swim--certainly to get into and out of the cave); there is about 20 minutes of really hard rock climbing without any nets, guardrails, etc.; there is about 40 minutes of walking about on uneven surfaces in your socks; and another 30 minutes in the upper chamber (in your socks) that you access through a 12-foot ladder. There are around 5 or so really tight spots in the cave. I can be claustrophobic, but, these are manageable, especially since for the most part the caves are fairly expansive with high ceilings and a lot of air. I am glad I did it, but, for me, it is one and done. My teens did not feel it was quite as challenging as I did. Everyone in our group did fine, although, we had a middle age woman fall into the water as she was trying to climb down from the rocks from the middle chamber (she was fine). Of course, the reward, is that you get to see human skeletons and Mayan pottery and be entertained by your Mayan tour guides.
Horseback Riding-This is great. We did this our last trip too. You ride through an orange orchard and take a break at a river, where you can swim if you like. The guides are great. It is a pretty long tour.
So, in summary: The resort would be considered a 3 star resort in the States. The staff is great and friendly, but, the resort does not have modern management systems in place. Wifi is limited--certainly do not expect much service in the rooms. It is a great place to base for tours and other activities. We also used the spa. Although it is small, we felt that we got good treatments and service.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The enchanting waters and lush landscapes of Belize create a land of rugged adventure, romantic isolationism, and natural coexistence. Verdant rainforests house thousands of species of wildlife and hide ancient Mayan ruins within their depths. The intricate coral reef systems just offshore are renowned for marine diversity and provide some of the best environments for underwater exploration. Taking full advantage of the adventure potential of this idyllic destination, Jaguar Reef Lodge incorporates the comfort of exceptional accommodations into the beauty of its natural surroundings. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Jaguar Reef Hotel Hopkins
- Jaguar Reef Resort
- Jaguar Reef Lodge And Spa Belize/Hopkins