The clutch of bright palapas scattered on a secluded swath of white sand at Matachica hotel in Belize are the stuff of beach holiday dreams. Hammocks on every private porch, a spoiling spa with coffee scrubs and fruit facials on offer, kayaks and snorkel gear on loan and tropical cocktails at every turn will have you angling to make this your new reality.
Get this when you book through us:
Full American breakfast daily and one Papaya or Banana Facial at Jade Spa (for one person only)
Double rooms from £270.12 ($351), including tax at 19 per cent.
Rates include a Continental breakfast of fresh fruit, baked goods, cereal and eggs.
At the hotel
Beach, spa, gym, concierge, DVD/film library, books to borrow and free WiFi in communal areas. In rooms: purified water in reusable jugs, L’Occitane bath products and free WiFi.
Our favourite rooms
Let the sound of the crashing surf lull you to sleep each night from the pink-hued ‘Melon’ Deluxe Beachfront Casita just a stumble away from the sea. As with all of the the casitas, this thatched roof palapa has a private porch and is tastefully styled with locally crafted artwork and furnishings. This casita also has double mosaic sinks in the ensuite – the key to harmony in some relationships.
Take a break from the beach with a dip in the freshwater unheated outdoor infinity pool or a soak in the Jacuzzi. Recline on one of the double sun loungers dotting the terrace and order a fruity cocktail poolside.
Release further into deep relaxation mode with an all-natural papaya facial or sea salt and sea clay body massage at resort’s Jade Spa. There are two treatment rooms and a enticing menu of signature treatments.
Leave the bug spray behind. You’ll find insect repellent stocked in every room. Also, there is a small gift shop in the lobby if you forget any essentials.
This is really an adults-only escape. Children over 14 are welcome but not especially catered to.
Dining outdoors in the glow of the moonlight never gets old.
Cool, comfortable and colourful – you can’t go wring with lightweight linens for the men and tropical print sundresses for the ladies.
The interior of Mambo – breezy plantation shutters, dark wood tables and chairs, bright paintings and hand-carved sculptures set beneath a soaring thatched palapa rooftop – opens onto an outdoor terrace set with white-cloth draped tables shaded by white umbrellas. No matter if dining inside or outside, you’ll be treated to Caribbean-fusion dishes like jerk seared sea scallops, a robust curried island shrimp and simply prepared catch-of-the-day.
Perched just steps from the sea, Red bar patrons can almost dip their toes in the ocean as they sip their potent Jungle Juice concoction (a blend of rum, vodka triple sec and mélange of fruit juices) or fruity Mangotini. As the name indicates, deep red walls set a romantic tone and Moroccan lamps, a red felt-covered pool table and wicker seating with leopard print cushions make for a clubby after-dark scene.
Breakfast is served from 7:30am to 10:30am, lunch is noon to 3:00pm and dinner is available from 6:30pm to 9:00pm.
Dine in on delicious dishes from the breakfast, lunch or dinner menus during restaurant hours.
Matachica Resort & Spa is perched on a private stretch of sand facing the Caribbean Sea on Ambergris Caye, a 25-mile-long tropical isle that is also Belize's largest.
Phillip SW Golden International Airport (PGIA) in Belize City is the country’s main hub for international and domestic flights. Once in Belize City, the quickest way to reach San Pedro is by hopping a 15-minute flight on Maya Island Air or Tropic Air.
There are only a few roads on Ambergris Caye, and those are best left to the locals to navigate. Taxis are available around San Pedro, but otherwise people travel on foot, by bicycle or golf cart.
If travelling in a puddle-jumper plane is not for you, you can also connect from Belize City to San Pedro via a 90-minute boat ride via Belize Water Taxi. Regardless if you arrive in San Pedro by air or sea, the hotel can arrange transfers from San Pedro via a zippy 10-minute boat ride to the resort.
Worth getting out of bed for
If your aim is to keep things mellow, Matachica will not disappoint. Spend a day at the infinity pool or unwind in the Jacuzzi before booking an appointment at the Jade Spa. With an assortment of treatments from banana and papaya facials to coffee scrubs, you’re in for a true Belizean experience.
Paddle out in the Caribbean Sea on a complimentary kayak or snorkel with a Matachica guide as they lead you along the barrier reef in a private or group tour. Fish with a Matachica captain and catch snapper, grouper and barracuda on a private or group tour, and – the best part– a Mambo Chef will prepare dinner that night with your day’s catch.
Scuba diving in the world’s second-largest great barrier reef is a must. The concierge at Matachica will set you up on a tour at Lighthouse Reef where you can dive at the Blue Hole or head to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and swim with more than 100 species of tropical fish.
If you’re curious to explore beyond the resort, hop on a shuttle at the hotel or a catch a ride on a water taxi and venture into the nearby town of San Pedro for local shopping and dining.
One of the area’s most renowned restaurants, Mambo, is right in your backyard. Throw on your lightest sundress or tropical shirt at dine on local Belizean cuisine with an American twist as you sit outside on the deck overlooking the turquoise water. Leave the resort for a night and head into San Pedro to Elvi’s Kitchen. The tropical-themed restaurant is a local favourite and known for the best ceviche on the island. Every Friday night they host a Mayan feast with traditional dishes and live music.
Stop by Palapa Bar & Grill set on the bay and float in the bay on inner tubes as you sip a locally brewed Belikin, or grab a seat on the sundeck and feast on fresh fish tacos. Another excelleint water hole is Rojo Beach Bar set next door to the resort. Order a rum punch, try the lobster pizza and dig your toes in the sand – it doesn’t get more laid-back than that.
Research says you need eight days to truly relax on holiday. According to the experts, that’s how long it takes to forget about your job, your home and any nagging to-do lists before you can let your mind drift into a state of utter bliss. So when Mr Smith and I made a last-minute decision to jet to Belize for a mere 48 hours of restful respite, we knew we had our work (or anti-work, rather?) cut out for us. Could we reach maximum mellow in such a short amount of time?
Fortunately, we had two things working in our favour: first, we are both wildly efficient at kicking back. In the time it takes most couples to ask each other, ‘What should we have for dinner?’, Mr Smith and I have already prepared a cheese plate and slipped into some sweats with a glass of chard in hand. Second, we were headed to Matachica Resort & Spa, a hotel with pool loungers, beachside beds and a 2:1 human to hammock ratio for most rooms. We were in very relaxing hands.
After a red-eye flight from Los Angeles, we touched down in Belize City on Saturday morning around 6am. From there, we flew 15 minutes on a puddle jumper to San Pedro Town, where staff from Matachica met us with a golf cart to sweep us to a nearby boat that zipped us to the hotel. I realise that sounds like every mode of transportation imaginable, save for hot-air balloon and camel, but the journey only confirmed that we were headed far from the reaches of our everyday lives. Plus, I had to hand it to our new Matachica friend, who not only gathered our luggage, drove the golf cart and captained the boat, he also didn’t so much as bat a judgemental eye when I requested a piña colada at 8am.
Once at the hotel, we grabbed a table at Mambo Restaurant and scarfed down pancakes and huevos rancheros with a side of bacon – we’d need every calorie to kickstart our day of lethargy. Turns out it didn’t take much: at the end of the meal, I caught myself staring into the remnants on my plate, a lone nibble of pancake floating lazily in a sea of maple syrup. For a split second, I swear the pancake morsel morphed into me and the syrup puddle became Matachica’s infinity pool. Now, I know psychics can divine the future based on tea leaves, but does anyone make predictions according to pancake platters? The cosmos were clearly telling me I needed to hop to it with my holiday-ing.
Just then, as if by slothful intervention, an employee from the front desk appeared to tell us our room was ready. The bungalows at Matachica – some directly on the beach and others tucked back into the property’s tropical foliage – are all named after fruit. No offense to Mango, Watermelon or Banana, but I knew we hit the jackpot with Grape, which we all know is the fruit of wine – an excellent omen for an indulgent weekend to come. And though our piece of palapa-covered paradise was one of the smaller room types on the property, a Sea Breeze Bungalow, we didn’t find anything lacking from the king bed with canopy and generously-sized rainfall shower in the bathroom.
With that we quickly unpacked – the last spritely action we’d have for a while – and Mr Smith climbed into that mammoth bed while I made my way to the pool. From there, we embarked on eight hours spent almost entirely horizontal. Mr Smith moved between the bed and the hammock on our private porch, while I sauntered between the pool, a pier dotted with daybeds, and the Jade Spa, where I spent a glorious 90 minutes in a massage.
Soon soothing afternoon turned into easy-going evening and though I briefly considered heading to dinner in a robe, I did end up showering and dressing myself. While washing my hair I took note of the shampoo – a concoction of botanicals from British beauty brand Haeckles. Called Bio Energiser + Broccoli Hair Cleanser, the shampoo had more get-up-and-go than I did, a detail that made me chuckle.
Bathed and presentable, Mr Smith and I made our way to dinner, where we melted into our seats and feasted on fresh ceviche (to start), lobster covered in creamy coconut (for me) and mango-pineapple chicken (for him). At the next table we heard a family discussing plans to rise at dawn and head out on a diving excursion. ‘Should we try to be up by noon?’ Mr Smith asked me. ‘Sounds about right’, I said and ordered another martini.
We filled the next day with even more relaxation. More piña coladas, more hours clocked in loungers, more seafood and more appreciation for doing absolutely nothing. In one burst of energy I did jump from the pool to my chair to grab my iPhone when I spotted a pair of iguanas doing some sunbathing of their own. However, I soon realised there was no rush; the lizards were just as languid as I was. ‘Do you mind sending me a copy of that?’ a woman in the hot tub asked me. ‘I’m too lazy to reach for my own phone’, she explained. Clearly I was surrounded by kindred spirits, both reptilian and otherwise.
There’s a place for activity – a hiking retreat in Peru, for example – and there’s a place for recharging. Matachica is basically the Machu Picchu of restful retreats. As the weekend drew to a close, I congratulated Mr Smith and myself for doing the impossible: we had reached full-fledged release in just 48 hours. When the boat pulled away from the hotel to bring us back to San Pedro Town, I considered tracking down those researchers to let them know what we had accomplished. Is there a Nobel Prize for leisure? I wondered. But instead I slid my phone back into my purse, rested my head against Mr Smith’s shoulder and soaked up those sublime last moments of utter inactivity.