This is an excellent lodging option in San Ignacio for those needing a convenient site to operate from while exploring Western Belize. In other words, this hotel can serve as "base camp" for touring various Mayan ruins and archaeological sites in the region. The hotel is located about 4 miles outside of San Ignacio on the banks of the Mopan River. In my opinion this is a good thing given the unappealing character of the town. Furthermore, there are no other hotels nearby. The hotel itself is not very large and consists of one 3-story building. It is decent-looking and designed like a villa or small chalet tucked away in a tropical forest. While a modern edifice, the architectural style of the building is such that it possesses an old world charm reminiscent of the European colonial era. The staff is friendly and helpful. There are a couple of different room categories and we chose the higher category. We were in the Monkey Pod Suite located on the top (third) floor underneath the roof-line. The windows in the dormers on opposite sides of the room allow a view of the grounds on both sides of the hotel. The room is spacious, as it encompasses the width of the building, and is decorated in a colonial, tropical motif with appropriate trim and furnishings. The teal-colored walls coupled with white ceiling and trim juxtaposed by a dark mahogany floor generates a soothing atmosphere within the room. It is furnished with a large four-poster bed, sitting area, mini-kitchen area and equipped with air conditioning, ceiling fans and other modern amenities. The bathroom is sizeable with suitable décor and has a jacuzzi. However, given the overall quality of furnishings and fixtures in the bathroom, the fiberglass/plastic shower is a disappointment and cheapens the room. One unexpected feature was the extensive satellite/cable TV service available in the room which proffered more channel options than the majority of televisions found in many upscale hotels elsewhere. Because of the placement and spatial imprint of the building on the property, the grounds and gardens around the hotel are somewhat limited in area. However, there is a strip of land between the hotel and the river which has been transformed into a tiered swath consisting of an upper terrace and lower garden area bordering the river. The upper part is basically an extension of the ground floor/lobby level of the hotel and contains the pool, sundeck and bar area. The view over the lower gardens, river and jungle canopy is attractive. Overall, it is an inviting setting and creates a relaxing atmosphere. The staff is courteous and attentive. Not only do they make an effort to be helpful but, they also make you feel welcome. The quality of food and service rendered by the on-site restaurant (Rico’s) is excellent and prices are reasonable. This is important given the fact that it is four miles to town and a roundtrip taxi ride is $20 (US)! Be advised that the lobby also functions as the dining room. The cook is very good and willing to accommodate special requests. I wish to single out Mateo (Head Chef) for special mention. If you decide to eat at Rico’s ask if Mateo is working. You will be in good hands. The front-desk personnel are equally competent and willing to assist you. Their ability to arrange personalized, quality excursions to various archaeological sites, Mayan ruins and sites of natural beauty, as well as facilitating other recreational activities, is particularly beneficial. We had the hotel arrange separate tours of Caracol and Xunantunich and were extremely happy with our experience(s). The hotel seems well-connected and appears to work with reputable tour providers who are knowledgeable and committed to ensuring their guests have a positive experience. We highly recommend coordinating such activities with Marsha (Front-Desk Mgr.). Undoubtedly, you may pay a bit more by booking through the hotel but I think it is worth it. By the way, the hotel is only 20 minutes by car from Xunantunich and about two hours from Caracol by car. Be advised that if you wish to rent your own vehicle to visit Caracol – make sure it has 4-wheel drive. Also, for what it’s worth, I think it may be prudent, safer and more relaxing to simply let others (i.e. tour providers) take you to the various sites. The combination of rough road conditions, unpredictable traffic, various logistical idiosyncrasies, high car rental costs, expensive gas prices and increased risk for vehicle damage (renter’s responsibility) makes a stout case for hiring tour operators/guides to take you around. But, that’s just my opinion! By the way, as an aside, the road leading from the main thoroughfare to the hotel (about 1/2–mile) will definitely test your vehicles shock absorbers and rattle the car’s interior panels, dashboard and related hardware because of the lumpy and rocky surface. After all this positive commentary one may naturally ask – what are the negatives? There are none per se. But, there are a few things you may wish to consider. They are subjective in nature and may be inconsequential for some. This hotel is in a fairly remote part of Belize. The drive from the international airport near Belize City takes about two hours. It is an excellent choice for the reasons mentioned at the beginning of this review or for having your own place while visiting friends and family in San Ignacio or other nearby towns, or while doing business in the region. It can also serve as a “lovers’ hideaway” or as an “escape from civilization” for a few days. Beyond that though, it may become monotonous because there is not a lot to do and the hotel’s amenities are limited. Although attractive, the pool is very small and seems to be more of an ornament adorning the grounds. In fact, given the setting, it functions more like a fountain or pond. On the other hand, the river is certainly large enough but it was flowing briskly and seemed rather brown in color. Apparently, the water action and color were the result of the heavy outflow from the mountains following the rainy season. The staff indicated that it was okay (re: suitable) to enter the river. But, I did not feel comfortable in doing so - particularly as I couldn’t determine the depth, composition and terrain of the riverbed. This brings up another issue – the weather. This part of Belize can have lots of rain during the rainy season. We experienced rain every day at some point even though it was supposed to be the dry season. While the hotel has no control over this aspect, it is a factor that prospective guests may wish to consider in planning their trip. Sightseeing in the rain can be unpleasant and will obscure the views and make for poor photographic opportunities. Moreover, this brings up another matter – insects. Bugs exist but, we were not really bothered by them. However, we did experience some pesky flies that were attracted by the food while having lunch at the bar’s outside seating area during the afternoon. It is better to eat in the regular dining room during daylight hours because the downdraft from the ceiling fans drives the flies away. At night this is not an issue though there may be an occasional mosquito. The stairwells and hallways leading to the rooms are a tad narrow and rather plain. (There is no elevator.) Guests staying in suites on the top floor will get a work-out going up and down two flights of stairs regularly and this may be an item of concern for guests that are elderly or afflicted with certain infirmities. They may wish to consider this aspect when selecting a room at this hotel. Moreover, lugging suitcases up and down these steps is a workout so we recommend that you let the staff do it. Lastly, I wish to make a comment about the room rates which are not cheap – particularly with the addition of the lodging tax (9%) and service charge (10%). Let’s be clear, the rates charged by this hotel are on the high end of the spectrum for the locality (greater San Ignacio area) and level of services and amenities. While I have not seen the lower room category to ascertain if the rate charged for that category is fitting I do feel that the rates charged for the higher room category should be a little less. There are several cheaper lodging options in and around San Ignacio. Moreover, I have stayed in hotels and rooms of equal quality and/or higher standing elsewhere in the world for less money. And while I think the rates may be exaggerated, they need to be put in perspective with the rates charged by competitors of comparable rank as well as the cost of constructing, operating and maintaining a high quality hotel in a remote region of a developing country burdened with infrastructural, political/bureaucratic and cultural challenges. At this juncture it is important to recall the old adage that you get what you pay for. One of the benefits of higher pricing is that it generally ensures a better level of clientele. Apropos our stay, the hotel was not full and we enjoyed a certain level of tranquility and intimacy that may not have been experienced at lesser-priced and/or lower grade hotels. Also, the lack of select amenities and features at this hotel is probably a positive because it deters the loud, party-going crowd along with families requiring the hotel to function as an amusement park or daycare facility for their kids. I/we recommend this hotel to all because of its unique setting, restful atmosphere, clean and well-appointed rooms, decent facilities, great food and commendable service.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Air Conditioning. The newly open Mahogany Hall Boutique Resort, which has 8 fully equipped AIR CONDITIONED rooms in a colonial style mansion, nestled on the banks of the mighty Mopan River in the beautiful village of Bullet Tree Falls near the town of San Ignacio in Belize Central America. Mahogany Hall Boutique Resort features an exquisite romantic old world style accommodation reminiscent of days gone past, yet with all the comforts, class, and services of modern life. -Luxurious 8 room colonial style mansion..-Breathtaking spot on banks of the Mopan River...-Bird watching, and Nature walks...-Unsurpassed level of service... 24 hour onsite management/front desk -Gateway for jungle & Mayan adventures…-Romantic getaways and Retreats...Tarzan has nothing on us! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Mahogany Hall Boutique Hotel San Ignacio