This review will attempt to hit on everything about Matachica- We stayed in Belize for nearly two weeks at the end of May 2013. 5 Nights at Matachica, followed by 5 nights at Gaia Riverlodge in the jungle, followed by three nights back on Ambergris at Coco Beach. Read on:
Despite my number of reviews on Tripadvisor (few), both my new wife and I travel the world for a living on the company dime, and get to stay in the nicest accommodations in sometimes very unexpected locations. We've stayed in royal palaces, converted castles, and even hotels that have music being played on a solid gold harp in the lobby (that blew my mind.) Between us both, we have been to every country on Earth (even North Korea! ...neither of us has been to Antarctica though... but that shouldn't count!)
Despite all of that- we STILL chose to travel somewhere to get married- and I don't think we could've picked a better place than Belize.
Matachica for us had ONE downside, and I would like to get it out of the way right off the bat because in the grand scheme of things it’s small potatoes. The wedding planning services provided by the resort were abysmal. They have one person in charge of this, and in my opinion that contract needs to be re-thought. The resort originally stated "if the entire wedding party isn't staying at Matachica, then you cannot have the wedding here." Our small wedding party of 13 guests already booked differing accommodations in San Pedro, as they didn't want to crowd the newlyweds after the wedding was over and our honeymoon was beginning as many of them were staying in Belize for the following week. This resort requirement seemed preposterous- so I challenged it- and the resort came back saying "ok, only 13 and absolutely no more, and the reception dinner MUST be provided by and eaten at Matachica or you cannot have a wedding here." We already had a sunset dinner cruise on a catamaran booked for the reception- so this requirement was also ridiculous. To be clear: our actual wedding lasted less than 15 minutes (I have it on tape). The time with the photographer afterward and guest arrival portion (of which I paid for them to drink at the bar on my room tab) lasted about 40 minutes also. So the entire thing was MAYBE an hour. This wasn't something that was going to bring down the house, and cause a calamity in an otherwise peaceful resort. We used the absolute farthest piece of the beach for the ceremony, right on the property line so as not to disturb anything at all. Well, all of this static was stressing my bride out for no reason, so I told her I would handle it and she could rest easy. I told the resort as nicely as I could how unreasonable I thought they were being, that we were prepared to spend a few thousand dollars for an hour of their most deserted stretch of beach and yet they levied these hard-and-fast rules on us, with ultimatums. I told them that I hoped they would reconsider as we really wanted to use them for our wedding. They would not back down- only replying that they were sorry but rules were rules. At this point I sought an independent wedding planner. I found Iraida Gonzales- who was a godsend. She got us our wedding right on Matachicas beach exactly where we wanted it, without any hassle and none of the crazy requirements. We had a Matachica employee show us where they would recommend the ceremony to be, which was on the absolute farthest piece of beach on the property- and boy, was it GORGEOUS (but even then- someone in management made our set up and flower arrangers move everything twenty feet CLOSER to the resort AFTER they had set everything up already... even the gazebo... because they claimed someone complained about the location. Mind you: this made absolutely ZERO sense as we were truly in front of NOTHING, and then they moved us right in front of someone elses casita AND the first location was where they told us to put it. Not the stress you need on the morning of your wedding. Personally, I think it was out of spite. It seemed awfully strange to everyone involved. Even the locals we hired mentioned how ridiculous it was. We had heard from a local that the Matachica wedding coordinator was talking about us before our arrival saying we were "unbelievably difficult". That flabbergasted me, as the sheer simplicity we were looking for in a ceremony was testament in and of itself to the lack of requirements we were looking for- and in all my correspondence with her right up to the last was in a pleading, defensive tone in response to the offensive tone we were getting. In the end, even though it made the wedding planning 100% more difficult than it needed to be- we laughed it off... that lady is crazy.) As a side note, if you ARE thinking of tying the knot in Belize, you won't find a more beautiful stretch of beach than Matachicas anywhere. I HIGHLY recommend Iraida Gonzales for your wedding planning, and our photographer Jose Luis Zapata was the epitome of professionalism in photography. We are both 1000% happy we went with the sunset dinner/booze cruise as a reception by the way- it was INCREDIBLE. Seaduced by Belize did that for us- Rebecca was our captain and cook. My new wife and I are both professional cooks, and she knocked our socks off with the food. 6 stars out of 5 for Seaduced by Belize. Enough about the ONE bad aspect of our Matachica experience, because honestly- if you aren't getting married there it won't even be a factor for you. On to the good stuff!
EVERYTHING! Everything else is FANTASTIC here!
Irene runs the front desk often, and she is just aces. She was always incredibly helpful.
Chris the boat captain heard we were renting a third-party boat captain and his boat from San Pedro for the day to go out snorkeling and fishing- maybe even to the Blue Hole. When he heard of those plans he became concerned- and jumped into our water taxi to investigate who this captain was. He personally eyed up the vessel we would take and gave us the green light. This really made us feel safe, and that we were being looked after by the staff. He really didn't have to do that, but it was very cool that he did.
Israel is one of the bartenders- and he really does a fantastic job. Bartending is a hobby of mine, and he earns big points with me. Get a coconut mojito- you won't be disappointed.
Giovanni hangs out by the kayaks and snorkels, and was probably one of my favorite of the staff members here- even though I didn't see him a bunch. He was always genuinely friendly, helpful, and funny.
A small story: When we arrived on Ambergris my soon-to-be wife accidentally left a bag containing her bouquet at the airport in the baggage claim. We didn't realize the mistake until we were about to board the boat to Matachica- which is far enough from the airport that it would've been a big hassle to drive back to rectify. The employees said "no worries". And we went on our way, getting free drinks in the lobby- checking in and jumping on the bed :) Behind the scenes- the staff drove back to the airport, located the bag, drove back to the dock, put it on a boat, and got it to our room while we were just bellying up for a drink at the bar. We were so grateful!
Jade spa is their on-site relaxation center, and the couples massage we got there was great- I would recommend you do it too. I don't often get massages but my wife does, and she also recommends it. The setup was fast (as in, get undressed and lay down) but once you were down you were in relax mode big time. Our masseuses did a fantastic job!
The pool is great- with a hot tub right inside of it and a "shelf" area where you can lay on a lounger right in the water. The bar will send drinks out to you while you are in the water too which although it took a while between drinks to see the waiter again, was still a very nice addition to service. We met two other couples in the hot tub one night, and sat out there having drinks until late in the evening. It was really fun.
They have single and double person kayaks just sitting on the beach waiting to be grabbed, along with snorkels, fins, and life jackets- all free. The reef is a short paddle from the beach, and you can tie up the kayak to a buoy out there and snorkel to your hearts content. Some of their single kayaks even have glass bottoms, and I was able to find a bunch of lobsters while paddling! I also tied a small waterproof ipod speaker to my kayak and had tunes for the whole ride.
The gym is small, but it fits the bill. I didn't use it, but I checked it out for the purposes of this review. If you want to exercise while you are here- you'll be fine with the gym they have set up.
The beach is absolutely GORGEOUS. Something to know however, is that in Belize it is illegal to remove the "eel grass" in the water, as the fish depend on it for food and protection. Matachica is no exception to this law- and so this grass is in their water just like everywhere else. What ISN'T like everywhere else is how meticulous Matachica is in combing it and keeping it off the beach when it washes up. Walk off the property to unkempt beaches and you will see how much work they really do to keep it in the shape it is. It's no big deal really- it's just sea grass... it's not like giant strangle kelp or anything, and it doesn't even continue very far away from the shore. Just walk through it to swim, the grass is only like 4 inches high, and it's entirely underwater.
The rooms here are referred to as "Casitas" and are all cleverly named to match the color they have been painted, based on tropical fruits. There are no losers here- but some offer a different experience than others. They are all a little different internally as far as I saw. We stayed in Banana, but my Aunt and Uncle in laws stayed in blueberry the week before the wedding and I got to see that room as well. Banana is in the third row of casitas, and thus had no breeze from the ocean to speak of. Even though I grew up in Northern Michigan, I have somewhat of a mosquito-aphobia and I was very apprehensive about staying in a breeze-less casita after reading reviews of others. In our entire stay at Matachica, I saw one mosquito- and it was by the pool. Maybe we got lucky with the timing of our stay, but I was happy about it nonetheless. Blueberry is directly in front of Banana in the second row from the beach, and it had a wonderful breeze. Blueberry also had a slightly better air conditioner than Banana, but once I finally figured out how to work the strange controls on ours- the Banana one performed just fine as well. Additionally, Blueberry had an odd two twin bed setup. I'm glad we didn't get that in Banana- as it would've made us feel like Fred and Ethel from “I love Lucy”. Banana had a big king bed which was very comfy. The casitas right on the ocean that were really spectacular looking were strawberry, melon, pineapple, peach, and plum. Mango is right next to the bar, and even though we are both still in our twenties, I don't think we would've liked the noise or lack of privacy in Mango. Banana had ultimate privacy, as well as some of the ones situated in the third row back behind the pool. The in laws mentioned that their bathroom window in blueberry wasn't very private, and had a light that would come on with movement and shine right in on them! The solution: they chose to forgo the ocean view in the bathroom, and keep the window slats permanently shut. Just a minor thing really.
The gift shop was pretty skimpy, but there are some shirts you can buy. I'm a magnet guy myself- and there was none to be found.
The free water taxis to and from town were convenient and fast- not to mention a fun little ride. The schedule changes daily but is posted in the lobby and there is a boat leaving constantly it seems.
Top notch. Music selection was constantly fresh and set the tone perfectly. As previously mentioned- the staff are all-stars. The sand is raked like a zen garden every morning- resort wide. There are lizards and crabs hanging out. (one time at the bar- a little lizard fell from the ceiling WAY above and landed right on my hand! Dazed, he sat there for a second, then jumped off and scurried through the floorboards. I found it really fun, and it really brought the bar together laughing and talking.) At night there can be a lot of crabs running around outside. We had fun chasing them off on the way from the bar to our room :) The beach and ocean reef out front is the best anywhere.
The food here was some of the best we ate anywhere in Belize. Mambo is the name of their restaurant and it is recommended island-wide, for good reason. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner- I think you'll be pleased. Huevos Rancheros for breakfast was a fave, tequila fish tacos for lunch is king, and dinner is full of winners too. Right next door is "Rojo Bar". They are closed Sundays and Mondays- but they have incredible conch fritters there. It's one of the only things I tried, but it was phenomenal- and their drinks were superb. If you like a spicy drink sometimes- ask for a drink called "The Mexican". It's a yellow tequila drink with a slice of jalapeño floating in it- I loved those things.
All in all- Matachica will forever have our glowing recommendation. They are simply the best. If you are looking for rustic beach relaxation, privacy, and top notch service- look no further. On a side note- if you are looking for more of the social-y beach party scene, Coco beach is your place. I'll be writing a review of that resort, as well as Gaia Riverlodge, Seaduced by Belize, Jose Luis Zapata, Baby Boy Tours, Iraida Gonzales, Tropic Air, the local bars, and San Pedro itself in the coming days. If you are interested, I hope you look me up for them!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Matachica Resort & Spa is an extraordinary, secluded and peaceful resort that sits on the beach facing the Caribbean Sea and the second largest barrier reef on the planet earth. The resort has 27 single unit casitas, each air conditioned with private porch. All rooms except SeaView Cabanas have one king sized bed, SeaView Cabanas have two queens. We also have one two-bedroomm 2-bathroom SeaBreeze Villa. All with beautiful Frette and Matouk linens, and exquisite decor. Swimming pool, Jacuzzi, spa, small gym, sea kayaks, snorkel gear, pedal boats, paddle boards, bicycles, complimentary internet access. A minimum age requirement of 14 years for children applies. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Matachica Beach Hotel San Pedro
- Matachica Beach San Pedro
- Matachica Resort & Spa Belize/San Pedro