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“Hidden Honeymoon Paradise but Very Remote”

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Portofino Beach Resort
Ranked #20 of 54 Hotels in San Pedro
Certificate of Excellence
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Hidden Honeymoon Paradise but Very Remote”
Reviewed July 22, 2014

We stayed at the Portofino Resort June 7-June 17th, 2014. Let me start by saying that the resort was BEAUTIFUL and absolutely what we wanted for our honeymoon. The cabana that we stayed in was close the water and the bar (!) which made for a great trip. We couldn't have been happier with our accomodations. The people who work there are also great. We loved everyone we met and they were very good at making sure our time was enjoyable. It was very clean and well kept. The resort was very slow when we were there and we only shared it with eight other couples which was nice. I couldn't say more about the cleanliness and ambience of the resort...spot on.

There were three main draw backs: First, by being so hidden it is very difficult to get into town. It's definitely not walkable and biking on the beach is a feat given it is about six miles out. There is a water taxi from the resort but the schedule depends of arrivals or departures and they will not pick you up or take you at requested times. If you have a trip that you want to do at a certain you need to pay for the water taxi from town to get you which is $12 per way per person. Not a cheap jaunt into town and it's definitely worth checking out the restaurants in town.

Second, the food doesn't really change much at the restaurant aside from the nightly offering. It was well worth making reservations at other resorts to have them send their water taxi for dinner. We did eat at Portofino quite a bit quite and it was delicious but after seven days we needed something different. The staff was great at giving good recommendations for where to go in town for an enjoyable night out. We loved their recommendations.

Third, it's hard to get to expeditions from this end of the island. They pick you up (most) to get you where you need to go but it is QUITE a bit of traveling. We did Lamanai and the Jungle River Tour and spent a good four or more hours travelling by boat, bus, and boat again. A recommendation would be if you want to do excursions book a few days somewhere on the mainland and THEN move to Portofino for the best relaxation you can get. I loved being on the beach and could lay there forever but my husband is an active guy and was chomping at the bit for things to do after a few days.

This was one of the best trips of my travelling life so far and I've been to quite a few places. I would definitely recommend going for a loved up peaceful vacation!

Room Tip: The cabanas are definitely the best room option.
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  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Rooms
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Helpful?
3 Thank Megan L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PortofinoBZ, General Manager at Portofino Beach Resort, responded to this review, August 16, 2014
Thank you for sharing your vacation experience with us. Our staff truly is part of what makes the resort so unique. The people of Belize on a whole are very friendly and welcoming. We also do our best to make our guests feels as accommodated and comfortable as possible.

In all our advertisements and on our website we make it known that the resort is 6 miles from town, which has it's own pros and cons. Being this far from town, we are able to provide the comfort and privacy many people desire however the travelling back and forth for additional meal and entertainment options does become a navigational obstacle.

The services are available, but all of this because of the distance from the main part of town carries an additional expense.

we hope you are enjoyed your stay with us regardless of these few set backs and hpe to see you again in the future.
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Cordova
2 reviews
Reviewed July 22, 2014

We had been on the mainland for a week and were hot and tired. Arriving at Portofino was like a breath of fresh air. We were greeted personally with a cool wet towel and tropical drink. Ahhhhh. It is small so it is very personal. The staff were so friendly and knew who I was and my cabana number without asking . The food was marvelous. Sitting in the shade by the pool and looking at the ocean was wonderful. We rode bikes, and walked the beach. This was a first class hotel and location. I would stay here again , gladly!

  • Stayed June 2014
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Helpful?
Thank Sara O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PortofinoBZ, General Manager at Portofino Beach Resort, responded to this review, July 29, 2014
Thank you for sharing your experience and we are extremely happy that you enjoyed your stay with us. Our staff is truly an important part of our resort experience and we are glad yo enjoyed the experience.

We hope to host you again.
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Boise, Idaho
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed July 5, 2014

We were greeted by Portofino staff with hot eucalyptus towels once we arrived at the Portofino dock as well as two delicious rum drinks! This seemed like a great start to our honeymoon but unfortunately it didn't last long. Setting up our stay with Portofino we were aware that it was a bit pricey however we had assumed that this meant that the resort provided excellent services (our fault for assuming). We ended up becoming regulars at the resort down the beach, which I think saved us from a ruined honeymoon. The service we were provided at the other resort was phenomenal and we weren’t even guests at their resort!
During our stay we took the complimentary water taxi with a group of 4 other couples into town. We were told to meet back at the dock 8:30pm for our ride back to Portofino. After waiting at the dock for about an hour we finally realized that the boat was not coming for us, we ended up having to find our own transportation back to Portofino, which we all had to pay for.
Breakfast service is extremely poor. Once we were given our food we never saw the waiter again. As we ordered breakfast one morning, we were asked if we wanted anything to drink, we both chose coffee. We told that we could get the coffee ourselves at the self-serve coffee maker near the bar that is available for guests. This would have been fine if we hadn’t paid the extreme amount of money that we did to stay at this resort.
At one point I asked the front desk for two pens/pencils so we could play a board game. The front desk informed me I could only have one pen, since they were “using the other one.” Apparently, there were only two pens on the entire resort?
We watched the individuals that are in charge of the boating/diving activities use the end of the Portofino dock to relieve themselves several times during our stay at Portofino. That was lovely.
The resort allows vendors peddling local wares to come up to the bar and attempt to sell their product to the guests. Unfortunately, this is not limited to cute woven items or wooden carvings. We were offered illicit drugs on three separate occasions while on resort property, sometimes by vendors allowed to roam the property, and at other times by other resort guests. In fact, the scent of marijuana was strong in our bathroom one evening, due to people smoking it directly outside of our hut. We realize that many places worldwide are legalizing marijuana, and we respect everyone’s decision to put whatever substance they want, into their own bodies, but it certainly seemed pretty “low end” for a high priced resort. There are plenty of places in the slums of San Pedro, where you would expect this kind of behavior, and pay a lot less to stay there.
The best services we received were provided by Jessica, Roy, Ivan, and Raul. The rest of the Portofino staff should take some lessons from them. Dinner menu was extensive, and dinner service was well executed, but the cost was prohibitive, expect to spend about $80-100 per night to eat dinner as a couple. The housekeeping staff is phenomenal, and always made sure our room was well stocked and kept very clean. The pool is beautiful and well maintained. Views of the ocean are spectacular.
Overall, Portofino may be a victim of its location. Belize is touted for its beautiful diving, and extensive barrier reef. However, the country is certainly third world, or at best “developing”. The electrical grid is unreliable, producing frequent power outages, at which time, the resort generator is inadequate to power the AC in the rooms. Most of the trash the country produces becomes flotsam on the beach, or is burned directly behind the resorts, in unending, smoldering heaps of refuse. The mangrove swamp behind the resorts is also used to dump tons of resort garbage/plastic, and who knows what else. Belize has not yet embraced the worldwide environmental movement, to say the least. If the country doesn’t clean up soon, it will become “paradise lost”.

Room Tip: A/C in rooms are inadequate, hope you like it hot!
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  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank Reagan L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed July 4, 2014

If you want to chill out/relax/do nothing, and money and time are no object for you, Portofino is fine. It's way off the beaten path (you pretty much have to take the complimentary boat ride to and from San Pedro to do anything) and, let's face it - Belize is either a third world or developing nation, depending on who you ask. That means the electric grid is unstable (the power went out twice during our three days there, which meant no A.C. to keep cool). Also, the area is so rustic, there I couldn't even find an actual address for the resort, just "6 miles north of the reef."

The menu options at the restaurant seemed interesting, but the food was just far too expensive for this young couple to afford. Thus, we took the boat to San Pedro in the afternoon, two days in a row, for lunch and an early dinner, to then return on the last complimentary boat ride of the day.

Speaking of food, be advised that the bar and restaurant keep separate bills, even if you order a Coke while at dinner. It's a really odd, obnoxious setup that isn't conducive to keeping track of what you've paid for and need to pay for. As for that, be prepared to get double taxed - once for your food order, then again on the added service charge. Funky, funky.... and upon checkout, the front desk tried to charge us for two drinks we had already paid for. Luckily, they believed us, and I still had the receipt anyway, so always ask for and keep your receipt until after you leave Portofino.

To be fair, the resort does a great job of welcoming new guests. We hadn't even let them know we would be flying into the San Pedro Airport, but the boat captain was there for us right when the plane landed. He hailed a taxi for us, which took us a short distance to the boat dock (maybe a 5 minute ride). From there, he took us to the resort, where we were greeted with lovely menthol-scented towels, our luggage was taken to the room, and the bartender gave us a complimentary "welcome" drink, telling us to let him know when to stop pouring rum in the glass. After that, we were given a choice of locally-made soap. All the flavors smelled wonderful... we were told we would be given new bars daily, but that never happened. Aside from that, the cleaning crew did a great job... the room always felt clean, and they left us nice treats. If they take care of you, take care of them at the end of your trip - we left a tip on the bed a couple times for them, but they always relocated the money. We left them money again when we were heading to checkout.

A couple more things to note.... back to that "third world" thing... it was really nice that Portofino provides some fun things to keep you busy (bikes and kayaks), but it seems like there isn't a single thought of any caution or liability, like there is here in the U.S. During our stay, we had heard from some other guests about a couple of U.S. soldiers who had gone kayaking and had a bad accident near the reef, just a month prior to our visit... the kayak had flipped, one soldier was rescued, and the other has never been found. There was a small craft advisory, due to the high winds, and as the winds were strong during our entire trip, I just recently discovered there was an advisory the day we paddled around for a bit.

Lastly, our room had a big suite upstairs. The neighbors up there were noisy, and their loud footsteps woke us up at 7 AM everyday. That was pretty maddening, not being able to sleep in on vacation at a "resort." Keep that in mind if you decide to book a stay at Portofino.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about Portofino. I'm glad my wife and I got to see what Belize is all about, but I'm certain there are resorts on Ambergris Caye that provide a much better experience.

Room Tip: We had a beautiful, beachfront room, but the noise from the neighbors upstairs was really bad...
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  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank doctoro2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Calgary, Canada
2 reviews
Reviewed July 3, 2014

We spent a week after being in the interior of Belize tramping around the Mayan ruins, so it was wonderful to be on the water. We were very well attended to: from the moment we landed on the island and shuttled to the resort, to our departure. Staff were attentive and accommodating, however, I was frustrated about a number of aspects. First, although there is a nice white sand beach, the water is not conducive to wading or swimming because of all the sea grasses. Also, snorkeling was not available from the shop on the pier unless they had a minimum number of people to participate, and I thought it was a little expensive. The food offerings had sufficient variety but not hot enough to be served on the open veranda where it cooled quickly and became less enjoyable. I also felt it was also overly expensive compared to what we had paid in many other hotel and restaurant locations in Belize. Otherwise, the resort offers great comfort and peaceful nights.

Room Tip: liked being directly opposite the pool
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Ronald H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PortofinoBZ, General Manager at Portofino Beach Resort, responded to this review, July 29, 2014
We are delighted you enjoyed your stay at our resort. Our staff is truly part of the experience and all their attention and kindness is truly genuine.
The sea grass is a protected ecosystem in the country and is prevalent in many areas on the island. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about that feature, however swimming at the end of the pier is possible.
Prices for food on the island on whole is generally slightly larger than the rest of the country because of transportation, and the additional transportation tot he resort also affects our restaurant prices.
We are happy you enjoyed your experience and the tranquility we aim to offer.
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mezzi410
2 reviews
Reviewed July 3, 2014

We stayed at Portofino for our honeymoon, 7 days 8 nights.

The pros: very clean resort, AMAZING food, free continental breakfast (fruit, toast, jam/butter only), friendly staff, very very nice tropical atmosphere and the beachfront bungalow makes you forget about everything else. Massages available on the beach at a price. Clean pool, minimal noise as there aren't that many guests staying at the same time.

The cons: Very expensive dinner prices, unless you're planning on having lunch and dinner most nights in town at San Pedro, nightly dinner at Portofino can become quite expensive. Boat rides into and back from town at 20 minutes a piece can be quite rough if you're not a fan of boats. No telephone in rooms. Many times we went to front lobby to have dinner be taken to our rooms in the form of room service. Not much else around the resort in the form of restaurants or food. Going into town is almost a must if you do not plan on having lunch and dinner there everyday. No gym or exercise facility. The staff can be a little forgetful at times with some requests but it really depends on who you speak to.

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank mezzi410
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PortofinoBZ, General Manager at Portofino Beach Resort, responded to this review, July 29, 2014
we are happy you chose us to be part of your honeymoon experience and are extremely happy that you enjoyed your stay with us.
We know the distance can be a bit of challenge and we often times aim to provide a relaxing comfort at out resort. The restaurant prices have an additional expense because of the transportation associated with the service. As a result, we do need to charge a more than the downtown area.

We will work with our staff to ensure that guests requests are not laid aside. Sometimes other responsibilities can get n the way but our objective is to facilitate our guests as best as possible.
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2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed July 2, 2014

My wife and I celebrated our 40th Anniversary at Portofino and we were very happy with the extra service and personal touches the staff provided for us. The grounds are kept very clean and every evening the staff sprayed the area for insect abatement. The Tree Top room was very comfortable and clean. The in room soaps are awesome!

  • Stayed June 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Tim S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PortofinoBZ, General Manager at Portofino Beach Resort, responded to this review, July 14, 2014
Thank you for sharing your experience with our resort. We consider ourselves privileged to be a part of your special occasion. We are also very happy you enjoyed your stay.

While we understand that the distance from town offers some unique situations when it comes to travelling back and forth, we aim to separate ourselves from the town which we feel makes the resort very unique.
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Additional Information about Portofino Beach Resort

Property: Portofino Beach Resort
Address: 6 Miles North | PO Box 36, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize
Location: Belize > Belize Cayes > Ambergris Caye > San Pedro
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#7 Spa Hotel in San Pedro
#9 Business Hotel in San Pedro
#12 Top resorts Hotel in San Pedro
#18 Romantic Hotel in San Pedro
#19 On the Beach Hotel in San Pedro
#23 Family Hotel in San Pedro
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:3 star — Portofino Beach Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 17
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Characterized by its warm and friendly hospitality, Portofino is the epitome of barefoot luxury, unpretentious and relaxing… for most; it will be an experience of a lifetime. Our small, boutique resort offers just 17 beautifully appointed rooms, ranging from charming beach cabanas to spacious suites, dotted amidst swaying palm trees, in a private setting with unmatched personal attention and the modern comforts of home. It is a haven of tranquility, where guests will enjoy the subtle sounds of the nearby waves lapping over the reef, gentle breeze, breathtaking sunrise, star studded night sky and spectacular views of the crystal waters of the Caribbean Sea. The perfect setting for a romantic getaway, intimate wedding, honeymoon, family and friends.Portofino offers leisure options to suit every taste. Relax in our fresh water outdoor swimming pool; enjoy a great book from our book collection or simply indulge yourself in a massage on the beach under our hand thatched palapa hut. Explore the underwater world with snorkel equipment or skim along the surface in our complimentary sea kayaks. Delicious meals prepared by our resort chef can be served in the privacy or your beach cabana or suite, on our private dock with a romantic setting or at the Portofino Restaurant. Sip on amazing tropical cocktails at the Green Parrot Beach Bar or perhaps a late afternoon snack from the Green Parrot Bistro. Take advantage of our DVD library and unwind in front of the flat TV screen in your room. Or, simply take in the view. In short, relax and enjoy! Reception in the main building is manned by professional and knowledgeable staff. From, activities bookings and directions to itineraries and dining reservations, our friendly and professional staff is eager to assist you. Access to PORTOFINO is by boat only, and therefore we offer a complimentary meet and greet service at San Pedro Airstrip and boat transfer to the resort, an approximately 20 minutes ride. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Portofino Hotel San Pedro
Portofino San Pedro
Portofino Beach Resort Belize/San Pedro

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