Ka’ana is an eco-friendly jungle oasis, close to storied Maya ruins, mystical caverns and gushing tropical waterfalls in the Cayo District of Belize. Native birds and butterflies flutter above an infinity-edge pool fringed by flowers, and there’s a calming spa for stress-busting massages and kombucha kicks. The contemporary suites feature craftwork and wood carvings; some have hammocks and outdoor showers, too. For fresh-fruit cocktails you’ll want the under-the-stars bar, while at the restaurant you can feast on seasonal produce sourced from the on-site organic farm; if that inspires you to master Maya cuisine, take a chef-led cooking class in the traditional kitchen.
Get this when you book through us:
A tour of the Xunantunich Maya ruins for two, including transport and refreshments
Noon, check-in 3pm, but both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £126.53 ($179), including tax at 19 per cent.
Rates include a daily breakfast, with options such as banana pancakes and egg dishes, alongside juices and hot drinks.
Take a cooking class – there’s a traditional Maya kitchen with a fogon stove, and chefs to guide you through classic recipes such as husk-wrapped tamales and caldo chicken soup.
At the hotel
Free WiFi. In rooms: TV with DVD player, iPod dock, air-conditioning, minibar, free bottled water; each villa has a Nespresso machine.
Our favourite rooms
Go for a Master Suite, for its light and bright ambiance, Belizean artwork, and the private front garden with your own outdoor shower. Or, splurge on a Villa, which comes complete with personal butler service and a garden-set plunge pool.
Water cascades into the 26ft infinity pool, which is flanked by banana plants and tropical flowers in the courtyard.
Organic local products are put to excellent use in restorative spa treatments including reiki, deep cleansing facials, and Maya abdominal massage. Kombucha and fever grass tea are served after every treatment.
Yes, bring swimwear for the seductive pool, but also pack some gear that’s sturdy enough for adventurous activities, like horse riding and trekking to Maya ruins.
All ages welcome. Cots can be added to all rooms for free, and there are highchairs available at the restaurant. Babysitting is available for $20 an hour.
With nature so close at hand, the hotel goes to great lengths to protect it. Everyone from the cleaners to the cooks uses organic products, sourced locally wherever possible – the on-site farm provides fruit, vegetables and eggs; hardwood furniture is commissioned from local artisans.
Cozy up by the firepit, or dine in the privacy of a shaded, log-walled nook.
It’s not formal, but don’t go full Mowgli just because you’re in the jungle – chinos and linens will do nicely.
La Ceiba sources seasonal ingredients from the many surrounding farms as well as the hotel’s organic garden to create traditional Belizean dishes and international favourites. For breakfast, the banana pancakes are a must, or go for chaya with eggs straight from the on-site chicken coop. At dinner, try the local speciality griga sere (spicy coconut curry with shrimp and line-caught fish) or the bean falafel with basil yoghurt and goats cheese. The goats, by the way, live in the kitchen garden – they’re called Rhea and Ceres, if you want to introduce yourself.
The Wallace specializes in fragrant craft cocktails served in the candle-lit lounge or out by the firepit in the courtyard. Jungle Mist is a zingy concoction of vodka, fresh cucumber, sage leaves and lime, while Belizean Nights is a lip-licking combo of gin, salted honey and muddled seasonal fruit. Downstairs in the cellar is western Belize’s largest collection of wine – choose from over 1,000 bottles, including many from small-scale New World wineries.
Breakfast is served from 6.15am to 10am, lunch is from 11am until 3pm, and dinner is from 6pm until 11pm.
You can have selected items from the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus served in your room during restaurant hours.
Ka’ana is in the culturally rich Cayo District of Belize, just a few minutes’ drive from the small town of San Ignacio.
British Airways, American Airlines and Delta are among the major airlines that fly into Phillip SW Goldson International airport in Belize City; if you’re arriving from Europe, you’ll need to make a stop in a US hub, such as Miami. Ka’ana is a 120km drive from the airport, which takes around 90 minutes in a car; the hotel’s transfer service costs $175 for up to four passengers. Call the Smith24 team for help booking all your travel.
Hiring a car will give you the freedom to explore other parts of the country, but don’t expect it to be smooth going. You can hire at the airport, and there’s free parking at the hotel.
There’s something irresistibly ‘James Bond’ about arriving in the rainforest by helicopter; the hotel can arrange it on request.
Worth getting out of bed for
Rise early and limber up for yoga – the deck is open from sunrise to sunset, and you can join free classes on Tuesdays and Fridays. Or take a less active approach to wellness and make an appointment at the spa. Take the Ka’ana garden and farm tour, so you can see where tonight’s dinner is going to come from.
Poolside lounging is great and all that, but when you need a break from the sun, explore Belize’s extraordinary network of caves. You can canoe in the shallows at Barton Creek Cave or marvel at the ‘cathedral’ of stalagmites in the Crystal Cave, but the underground kingpin is Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM for short), which houses an ancient Maya sacrifice chamber. An excursion to Tikal leads you over the border to Guatemala, and through virgin rainforest to a Maya settlement; watch – and listen – for howler monkeys and toucans. For straight up fun, float down the river on a cave tubing trip, or channel your inner Tarzan by ziplining through the jungle canopy. It’s best to book activities through the hotel rather than venturing out independently – after all, they’re the experts in their field (or jungle, as the case may be).
The enchanting Maya ruins at Xunantunich are 1,400 years old, and if you climb to the top of the Castillo pyramid, you’re rewarded with 360-degree views over the lush tropical forest. It’s an adventure just getting there – the half-hour drive takes you over the Mopan river on a chain ferry, or you can go on horseback from the nearby Hanna Stables.
You’ll be deep in the Belizean rainforest, so don’t expect much in terms of restaurants and bars – and besides, there’s a whole menu of excellent farm-to-fork food for you to work your way through at the hotel. If you insist on dining out, your best bet is to head to San Ignacio. Crave House of Flavour can fix you a simple lunch, while The Guava Limb Restaurant & Café does world cuisine, fresh salads, and a decent cantaloupe melon mojito.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this luxury hotel in Belize and unpacked their hammocks and habanero hot sauce, a full account of their Central American break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Ka’ana in Belize…
Ka’ana means ‘heavenly place’ in Mayan, and with good reason – the dreamy infinity pool, fragrant tropical garden and indulgent spa certainly give it an air of ‘jungle paradise’. But there’s more to it than that: beyond the resort gates lies a lush rainforest wonderland of waterfalls, caves and ancient ruins, all waiting to be explored on foot, horseback or in a canoe. The expert guides are among many locals employed by the hotel, and all the hardwood furniture and artisanal crafts are sourced locally, helping to drive the regional economy. Organic fruit, vegetables and herbs are grown at the Ka’ana farm, which also has chickens and goats for fresh-as-can-be eggs and milk. At the restaurant, time-honoured dishes celebrate Maya culture, and ancient wisdom is passed on at small-scale cooking classes (never again will you toss away a corn husk). Sure, Ka’ana lays on the modern luxuries, but it also presents Belize at its authentic best.