Francis Ford Coppola – what a legend, eh? Not only because he’s responsible for some of the greatest gangster movies ever to grace our screens, but also because he’s a pretty hip hotelier, too. Top of our list of Coppola-backed boutique boltholes to visit (and possibly never leave) is Turtle Inn in Belize…
Why this week?
Clearly feeling the pre-Valentine’s love, Turtle Inn is offering Smith members a seductive 25 per cent off stays of two nights or more, valid from 1 May to 31 July 2010. On top of that, you’ll still get the normal Smith offer – a half-hour Thai massage each.
Our favourite bits Are we allowed to love it all? The brightly coloured hammocks slung between slanted palm trees, Balinese-style beach huts capped in thick thatch, and the sun-sparkled waters of the Caribbean add up to a blissful, blue-sky paradise. All of Turtle Inn’s villas and cottages are roomy and boast rustic Balinese decor, but for sheer romantic grandeur, the Chinese Matrimonial Suite is the hands-down winner, with a tranquil setting steps from the sea and a 200-year-old hand-carved four-poster fertility bed.
You’re spoiled for choice in terms of feasting – The Mare restaurant serves up classic Italian dishes and pizza from a wood-fired oven, there’s succulent, char-grilled seafood at the beachfront Gauguin Grill, or Auntie Luba’s traditional Belizean cuisine. Mariachi bands and Garifuna dancers perform weekly. Where to drink will also be a matter of deliberation – the Laughing Fish beside the pool is a laid-back beach bar with a barefoot, sand-floored vibe and the Skip White, attached to the Mare restaurant, is a little more formal, with Coppola’s own wine labels and an array of lime-spiked rum cocktails.
Mr and Mrs Smith say ‘Our three-seater Cessna plane dandles dangerously as our pilot enthusiastically points out the rainforest-covered Mayan Hills, banana plantations and hectares of orange groves nearing the coast.
By the time we’ve passed the vast inland shrimp farms and approach the long sandy spit of the Placencia peninsula, we’ve had a lesson in the history, geography and politics of Belize. It’s a crash course with a happy landing though, as we gently skim over the sea to arrive at the toy-town runway framed by the limpid Caribbean on one side and the manatee-filled mangroves on the other…’
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