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CHAA Creek

by Liz Krieger

CHAA Creek


Welcoming guests since 1981, the resort is teeming with life: there’s a stable with 24 impossibly gentle horses, well-marked trails to explore, a butterfly

 farm, a natural historic center, an organic farm and of course, 

the Hilltop Spa, overlooking it all. 

It’s nearly impossible to not feel at one with nature at Chaa Creek Resort, tucked down a long dirt road near San Ignacio, Belize —about two hours from the airport in Belize City, in the Cayo district. Perhaps it starts upon your arrival, where a perfectly green butterfly chrysalis has been placed in your room (with instructions to release the staggeringly blue creature when it emerges within a day or two). Or maybe it becomes obvious later that night, as the sound of howler monkeys accompanies your slumber. 

On my recent stay at this luxury jungle retreat, I walked through the peaceful grounds, nestled up against the calm Macal River on 365 lush, rolling acres, eyeing the palm-thatched, white-washed cottages tucked discreetly amongst the trees. (There are a total of 23 cottages, suites, and villas—including Tree Top Villas that are high in the canopy and have their own plunge pool and outdoor shower.) Many of the wooden furnishings may have been made on site at the wood shop, from mahogany trees grown nearby. 

Welcoming guests since 1981, the resort is teeming with life: there’s a stable with 24 impossibly gentle horses, well-marked trails to explore (including a rainforest medicine trail), a butterfly farm, a natural historic center, an organic farm (which grows a great deal of the resort’s fresh produce, featured on menus daily) and of course, the Hilltop Spa, overlooking it all. 

 Aside from your room, there are few completely indoor spaces at Chaa Creek – the bar, lounge and dining areas are all without enclosures, although amply covered and shaded from the sun, and somehow, I experienced zero mosquito bites over my four-day stay. The effect is that you feel completely ensconced in the lush surroundings, not set apart in sterile spaces. At the spa, too, your treatment space is entirely private, but often not behind a shut door—just a gently swaying curtain, so you can feel the breeze and hear the birds as you relax.

There are adventures on and off-site to be had: a guided canoe paddle downriver, to the town of San Ignacio; intrepid cave tubing or cave kayaking; leisurely ATV or horseback rides around the property; early morning birdwatching and after-dark wildlife tours; exploring Mayan ruins at Xunantunich, which is mere miles from the border with Guatemala. 

But you needn’t go anywhere to feel like you’re exactly in the right place. I spent a few later afternoons just hanging around at the saltwater infinity pool, which looks out at the treetops and over the meticulously manicured grounds—an opportunity to spot and listen to birds like the Keel Billed Toucan (aka Belize’s national bird) and other wildlife. (Keep an eye out for iguanas, tapirs, and agoutis, as well as various friendly dogs belonging to the property’s owners.) At the end of my stay, I wanted for just one thing: to know when I’d be able to come back. chaacreek.com

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