I am writing a comment, or long review, of Ian Anderson’s (IA) because I think there is a disconnect between viewpoints, particularly between North Americans and many Europeans. It seems to be aiming for a ‘one stop’ all-inclusive. Many (not all) people seemed to do just IA, or just IA and a deluxe hotel on Ambergris package, well isolated from actual Belize.
Ian Anderson seems to primarily aim to provide a safe, protected, environment for adventure trips notwithstanding that the first thing you will do is to sign away all rights for damages due to injury however so caused. If this bothers you check your insurance.
That said, you will be closely supervised by at least two ‘guides’ who are solidly safety conscious at all times. Of course this does not/may not apply to ‘outside’ activities (eg ATM, zipwire, Tikal etc) but I am confident IA leans heavily on these suppliers. You do pay for this, and I suspect staff expect some heavy tipping too (as a Brit, tipping for someone to do what they are paid to do is always somewhat irritating).
For a ‘top flight’ lodge, open all year, there are some caveats. There is no aircon, in fact most/all rooms have most of the walls open to the jungle (no glass) with (well installed) mosquito netting instead of three walls. Actually this is great, fireflies go past, and the odd animal trundles by under the window rustling the undergrowth. In the heat of summer, and despite the fans, I would expect it to be unbearable. This lack of aircon seems to be usual for Belize jungle lodges (unlike those elsewhere), but could seriously impact on a holiday if you can’t get any sleep night after night.
There is effectively no WiFi (even very slow to send emails), and no mains sockets in the rooms (bring a ES lamp adapter to charge cameras, phones and PDA’s). I do not know if mobile phones work (I had drowned mine) and staff seemed to be able to use theirs, although they may be connected to a private booster.
Supplying a restricted 1 amp socket for charging should be well within the capability of the existing generator (could even be only operative at night), so not to supply this is really poor management. Bear in mind that you might well be taking large numbers of photographs (100+/day/camera is not unknown these days) many with flash, so batteries will not last long.
The reason for the aircon is obviously inadequate generator capacity. I don’t know how many rooms they have, perhaps 50, and a modest aircon draws about 3kW which would be a total of 150kW. This might sound a lot but would require a 200kVA units costing around 60k$US each installed. That’s only about $US1k/room – peanuts. Running costs would be significant but not totally out of order, African lodges manage it fine. The ‘sitting’ area of the suites (at any rate) could be insulated and used as aircon bedrooms in the summer.
The communal eating is just great, a major plus. You get to discuss the activities with other people, finding out which suit you, and which are marginal (eg due water levels), whatever the guides say. The food is OK (sometimes good), buffet, and somewhat unadventurous but I think that well suits their target market. You will be asked to ‘sanitise your hands’ with the provided (hospital grade) sanitizer between courses, which probably says it all. The whole place is spotless and bug free (not even a gecko) which is suspicious for a ‘no pesticides here’ policy.
The grounds/pool/communal rooms are to the expected high standard. The gardens are exceptional, a splendid selection of plants beautifully and naturally laid out with many plants labelled.
I suspect pretty well everyone could do any of the activities, so long as they were not afraid and took their time. A really shaky and infirm Texan lady, who struggled to walk to meals managed most of ATM (had a personal guide in the end), to our utter astonishment. One lady found waterfalls unpleasantly claustrophobic but her family loved it.
To be honest if I were to go to Belize again I would only stay at IA's for a couple of nights and do rappelling or waterfalls cave, seeing the Blue Hole and St Herman’s cave in the afternoon (there is time). I would then move to a hotel (aircon in summer) in San Ignacio where its easy/cheaper to book ATM, tubing, Tikal etc (eg Midas, Casa Blanca, Rumours etc: see Tripadvisor!). Then move again and see Crooked tree and the coast etc.