Belize is wild about Harry, that is, Prince Harry of Great Britain who came calling at the Commonwealth country last March, and got right into the spirit of the islands. The Prince’s opening gig was a street fair festival in the capital city of Belmopan that showcased the sights, sounds and tastes of the Creole, Garifuna and Mestizo cultures. The prince enjoyed locally produced Belikin beer, conch fritters and dulce de papaya, a typical dessert. He also traveled to Xunantunich, a complex of Mayan pyramids. But Prince Harry will have to return to go diving (April through June with whale sharks) off Ambergris Caye along the second longest barrier reef in the world; to explore wildlife-richCockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the world’s first preserve established to protect the jaguar; and to go horseback riding and mountain biking in the pine-forested highlands of Mountain Pine Ridge. (travelbelize.org)
What’s New in Belize
✘ Oct. 1 is opening day for El Secreto boutique hotel on Ambergris Caye, 11 miles north of San Pedro Town. The new property has 13 thatch-roof villas, ranging from the 1,188-sq.-ft. Sea Villas to one Spa Villa (2,093 sq. ft.) with its own private double massage cabin, steam room, jacuzzi and pool. All have king beds, full complimentary tech enjoy the services of a dedicated concierge and excursion planning, as well as complimentary sailing and kayaking. (elsecretobelize.com)
✘ What’s new can be old. As part of Belize’s year-long national celebration the Year of the Maya—actually the end of the Maya Long Count Calendar when the world begins anew, happening exactly on the winter solstice on 12/21/2012—the tourism and archaeology sectors are staging a very special event. Travelers (numbers are limited) are being welcomed to take part in the Equinox Celebrations at the archaeological site of the once-mighty city state of Caracol on Dec. 20-21, spending the night camping in the ruins to welcome the morning solstice with a traditional fire ceremony (a ticket for this event costs $150, covering the camping fee, site entrance fee, professional guide, fire ceremony and two meals). (travelbelize.org)
The Lodge at Chaa Creek (chaacreek.com) and Ka’ana boutique hotel (kaanabelize.com) are offering guests special catered arrangements for this overnight.
✘ There’s been a name change: the Machaca Hill Lodge in the Toledo district is now Belcampo Belize. In addition to its world-class offerings for birders and anglers, the lodge has added authentic food and farming to its roster of adventure and indulgence. Newly created is a working farm to supply the kitchen, and a chance for guests to explore chocolate, coffee and rum in a purpose-built facility with expert guides. (belcampobz.com)