- Category: Visitors Review
- Published on Sunday, 04 March 2012 14:57
- Written by Trys
- Hits: 688
Our stay at the Orchid Garden far surpassed our expectations even after reading the glowing reviews here on TripAdvisor.
Months before our arrival we made arrangements with Jason who was always very quick to respond to our questions. He prepared, with our input, an itinerary that suited us perfectly.
We took an instant liking to Alvaro who greeted us at the airport and drove us to the hotel. He is a gentle and kind soul who would, in the days to come, teach us so much about Belize. We also met three of his wonderful daughters who also work at the Orchid Garden.
Lucretia, one of Alvaro’s daughters, greeted us with a big smile and escorted us to our room stopping by the business centre on the way. The computer room is filled with books and a laptop with Internet access (there is Wi-Fi in that room and in the reception/ dinning area).
The rooms are clean and uncomplicated. They suit the purpose; we hadn’t come to Belize to spend time in our room.
The food is simply amazing. Christine goes through great pains to prepare meals that are unique and appetizing. The homemade teas made of various flowers and fruit served every night before the meal are delicious. We soon realize that we had made the right choice in coming to the Orchid Garden.
Christine regularly came to see us after a meal to make sure that it was to our liking. You can see that she really does care about the well being of her guests. She made sure we knew what to expect and what to bring for the next day’s adventure (more on that below).
Alfredo gave us a very informative tour of the hotel grounds. He is very knowledgeable. He gave us a brief history of Belize as well as the country’s native plant life and wildlife. He took us to the butterfly house and showed us the owl butterflies, explained the extensive collection of plants on the grounds. We also visited the museum.
The ATM Caves. This is a must! Christine arranged to have two bottles of water and two towels in a cloth bag for us. Bring socks and water shoes or old running shoes. Martin, our guide was excellent - we highly recommend him. The 45 minute hike to the cave is not difficult. There are 3 river crossings. Martin takes the time to explain things as we move along - his tour of the cave and his passion for the Maya and their beliefs only help to elevate the experience inside the cave.
The Zip lines and Cave tubing are fun. Not technical - just follow along. We had asked Jason beforehand to make sure we were scheduled to go on a day where there are no cruise ship crowds. Alvaro drove us there and made sure we had a guide who would bring us to the 4th cave. It’s a bit further but definitely worth it. Many guides at this park don’t go further than cave 3. We had a buffet lunch at the park - the food was good - we especially loved the sweet fried plantain.
The Lamanai ruins and the river cruise are also worth it. Alfredo took us - he gave us more history of the Maya in Belize as we drove to the river dock. The cruise on the river is filled with wildlife. The ruins are worth seeing. Before going up the tallest pyramid, Alfredo asked if he could take one of the two cameras we had brought so he could take pictures as we made our way - how thoughtful of him. On the drive back, Alfredo took us to Belize City - he bought us some ice cream made with local fruit. The city does not have the same feel as the rest of the country - we did not feel safe there and we did not feel welcome.
Tikal and Flores - This was a must for us. Tikal has been on our list for a long time and we were not disappointed. Alvaro drove us to the border. On the way we stopped at the market in San Ignacio. At the border Alvaro made sure we felt safe and made sure to point out our driver, who was waiting for us on the Guatemala side. The whole process was very smooth. The hotel that Jason chose for us there was excellent.
We ended our trip with several days in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. There we stayed at the Banana Beach - again all prearranged by Jason. We loved it there. Before we left Christine handed us some money for the park fees for the Hol Chan marine park and Shark Alley Snorkelling - she really does think of everything.
Belize feels safe (with the exception of Belize City). The people are so kind.
We were sad to leave as we really came to enjoy the company of the people at the Orchid Garden, Christine, Alvaro, Alfredo, Lucretia and her sisters. It really did feel like we were visiting family. Their kindness did not feel forced nor did we feel like they were doing it for tips. They are genuinely nice people.
Go to the Belize and stay at the Orchid Garden - you will not regret it!
Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple