We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Long comment on Ian Anderson's cave branch

OzS
South England
Level Contributor
105 posts
256 reviews
Save Topic
Long comment on Ian Anderson's cave branch

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.

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
Level Contributor
11,278 posts
326 reviews
Save Reply
11. Re: Long comment on Ian Anderson's cave branch

You're so right, Katie - whether they're choosing a budget haunt like the Trek Stop or Glover's Atoll Resort or a higher end place like Caves Branch or Chaa Creek, if folks' expectations don't match reality they'll tend to be disappointed or find fault. I think that's especially true when they're paying hundreds/night and assume that expense in a Latin American country will buy them perfection.

OzS - I'm not faulting you for wanting ac in the tropics - we make that choice occasionally, too. Clearly you expected a very high standard in all areas and CB only met your expectations in terms of some - better luck next time.

OzS
South England
Level Contributor
105 posts
256 reviews
Save Reply
12. Re: Long comment on Ian Anderson's cave branch

Have you actually read what I am writing?

Honestly its not "high standard" to expect a mains socket in a room, nor rudimentary free WiFi. Actually the former is expected in ANY room, and the latter in any but the trashiest hostelry. For (your words) a “Higher End like Caves Branch”, NOT to have aircon is surprising.

Which is why I mentioned these in my comment, so others are NOT surprised.

Looking at the other reviews you wouldn’t guess these, and that’s unexpected!

After all a review is supposed to inform potential travellers what to expect, so they can make a judgement, not just to rave about the good points, no matter how much you liked the owners/staff whatever. Had I read reviews like the ones I wrote, I would probably have chosen differently and had a better time. However that’s life and I had a pretty damn good holiday which is good enough for me.

San Ignacio, Belize
Level Contributor
4,753 posts
276 reviews
Save Reply
13. Re: Long comment on Ian Anderson's cave branch

I've found that AC isn't needed enough to cause many inland places to have it. It is certainly not the norm here. Then again, Belize is not normal. CB wasn't your cup of tea, understood. For many it is. Glad your holiday was a good one. Be sure and review CB on their TA page. Thanks!

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
Level Contributor
11,278 posts
326 reviews
Save Reply
14. Re: Long comment on Ian Anderson's cave branch

OzS - Yes, I read your posts. I agree that Trip Advisor reviews and this forum and others are places to post and to read reviews so we can help ourselves and others align our expectations with reality. You're entitled to your opinions and I'm sure this information will be taken into account by others, which is why you posted.

That said, I think you're out of the loop when it comes to budget and midrange lodging in Central America. I spend 4-6 weeks in CA every year. I generally spend $15-30/double for cute, clean, safe, well-located places with great customer service. They generally have room plugs (sometimes just antiquated 2 prong instead of 3) and rarely wifi, although sometimes it's available in the lobby or there's a café close by. It's simply not true that "Pretty well every tinpot boarding house has this these days" or that either one "is expected ... in any but the trashiest hostelry". Happy trails!

OzS
South England
Level Contributor
105 posts
256 reviews
Save Reply
15. Re: Long comment on Ian Anderson's cave branch

Dr Feelawesome:

I have already reviewed IA (and everywhere else). I always do that in gratitude for the people whose reviews enhanced my holidays in the past. I note there are a lot of places in San Ignacio with aircon, not that we were picking aircon given the time of year we were going. I'm not quite sure why we chose jungle lodges, looking back on it, perhaps because we had a good one in Cambodia (not at all like the Belize ones!). I think it was in part laziness, because looking at the alternatives, there were plenty in or near town. A bit of both would have been better.

I am pretty amazed that daytime ave max of 32C and high humidity (summer) would not be a problem to an unaclimatised (from say 15C low humidity) tourist when night fell and hunidity soared.

OzS
South England
Level Contributor
105 posts
256 reviews
Save Reply
16. Re: Long comment on Ian Anderson's cave branch

Hopefullist:

You have just agreed that 'any tinpot hostelrie', costing $15-30/night has mains sockets and mostly wifi (in reception) or close by. My point precisely because CB is definitely in the $250 bracket and hasn't.

I would agree that we needlessly went too far upmarket. This didn't enhance the Belize experience. A few days in a lodge would be OK, the rest in a nice place in town. I didn't get the impression that San Ignaco was very hazardous for careul foreigners.

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
Level Contributor
11,278 posts
326 reviews
Save Reply
17. Re: Long comment on Ian Anderson's cave branch

You missed my point entirely. My point is that room plugs and especially wifi are not as common in Central America as you've stated. I don't doubt you expected them at that price point or were disappointed to go without and I agree that letting others know is a good idea; I post reviews, too.

You say that pretty much every tin pot boarding house and all but the trashiest hostelry have them. I don't stay in trashy hostels or tin pot boarding houses, whatever those are. I stay in cute, clean, safe, well-located places with great customer service that often don't have them which shows they're not as common in Central America as you think they are. It's good that you reviewed the places you experienced in Belize but I don't want to leave future readers of this forum with a false impression about how low you have to sink if you wish to do without them. ;-)

OzS
South England
Level Contributor
105 posts
256 reviews
Save Reply
18. Re: Long comment on Ian Anderson's cave branch

OK, lets say that in the $15 and above in tourist areas (which is a fair point) room plugs and reasonable wifi access can reasonably be expected. We won't argue about the definition of 'tin pot hosteltry' as for some that consitutes sleeping under a bridge. Mind you I didn't suggest such a hostelry is not clean and safe and sometimes cute.

That's what you said before.

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
Level Contributor
11,278 posts
326 reviews
Save Reply
19. Re: Long comment on Ian Anderson's cave branch

Sometimes I stay in higher end, higher cost places with zero wifi. Sometimes I prefer to be off the grid and I'm not alone in that. I think you shouldn't jump to conclusions about what amenities will or should be included at a given cost point; that just doesn't hold water in CA, though it might in S. England or Cambodia - I don't have recent experience either place.

I think the main point of all of this including your original post is that, if things like room plugs, strong wifi, and aircon are important to you, read these forums and the review pages before you book; if you can't find the info you need, contact the hotel or reviewers directly.

20. Re: Long comment on Ian Anderson's cave branch

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 12:16 am, March 18, 2014