Trip Review - Somerville, Massachusetts, USA - Len Granowetter - October 2009
our three-year-old son Jack: The location, the layout, the pool, the
food, the spacious room, the immaculate grounds, and of course, manager
Karen and her great staff.
We chose the Jungle Dome for our first two nights in Belize largely
because of its location (and great reviews on Trip Advisor).
We were looking for someplace nice that was "on the way" to the activities and
sights of the Cayo district, but that wasn't *too* long of a drive from
the airport after flying all day (we had a rental car). The Jungle Dome
location was perfect - I'm not sure anyplace else is quite as centrally
located! It's about an hour to the West to the Xunantunich ruins, 1/2
hour East to the zoo, maybe an hour or so South to Barton Creek Cave,
less than an hour to the inland Blue Hole National Park, and 10 minutes
to Guanacaste National Park.
And although the Jungle Dome is 5 miles off the highway, it's one of the
easiest "5 miles off the highway" locations in Belize. Although it's
not a paved road, it's one of best unpaved roads we saw in all of Belize
- recently greatly improved and in great condition.
The place only has about 4 rooms, and during our low-season stay, we
were the only guests! So Karen upgraded us to a poolside suite. It was
huge! A large bedroom, separate living room/kitchenette, big bathroom,
walk-in closet/dressing area. Oh yeah, and a private outdoor patio with
comfy chairs to just sit and listen to the sounds of the jungle.
The place is absolutely perfect if you have a young child, as we do,
because everything is right outside your door. We had our meals on a
patio 5 feet outside our room door, the pool was 10 feet away, etc.
Everything was "in view", so Jack was able to roam the grounds, play,
and explore, while we could be relaxing in a hammock, or finishing a
leisurely breakfast. The pool has a terrific shallow area where Jack
could wade and play. He must have spent 2 hours a day in there!
The cool thing is that although it was great for young kids, it also
would have been great as a romantic hideaway if we were traveling alone,
or as a fun hangout if we were there with a group of friends. The nice
thing about a small place like this, is that its character is largely
what you make it. And Karen seems just as comfortable hosting various
types of guests, from those who want to hang out in the evening at the
treetop cafe overlooking the pool tossing back Belikin beers and
Caribbean drinks, to those who prefer playing hide-and-seek and
The food was excellent - we ate breakfast and dinner there each day. It
was interesting being asked via email before we left home what we wanted
for dinner when we arrived in Belize! My wife replied: "I'm mostly
vegetarian, my husband's not picky, and Jack would love just plain
noodles." No problem! We had a great meal waiting for us when we
arrived, and everyone got exactly what they wanted. I would call the
food "homestyle" - not "fancy", but excellent, and plentiful. The kind
of food the cook Juani would serve you if you were a guest in her own
home, and always served with a friendly smile.
After leaving the Jungle Dome, we stayed at two other excellent places
in different areas of Belize (HIdden Valley Inn and Hamanasi). And
although we all had a great time at both, our son Jack kept saying "I
really liked Karen's hotel. Can we go back to Karen's hotel?" We
hadn't booked the last two nights of our trip - leaving it open
depending on where we wanted to spend more time. We thought about
staying someplace else, like Jaguar Paw, for variety. But Jack loved
"Karen's hotel" so much (and so did we), that there was no reason to go
anyplace else! So we came back for our last two nights.
Coming back to the Jungle Dome felt like coming home after 5 days away.
It was fun coming back to people we now knew - Karen, Juani, guide
David, the house dogs Max and Phoebe, and the familiar pool and grounds.
It was fun telling everyone about our week's adventures, and Karen was
visibly touched by our "I liked Karen's hotel" story.
A couple of other anecdotes:
1) On the last night of our stay, I had the opportunity to do a "night
jungle walk" with guide David. I highly recommend it. David drove me
and a couple of Karen's friends down a ridiculous overgrown dirt and
grass track, then onto a barely visible "path" through cornfields and
brush, to a great little trail through the jungle along the Belize
river. There, we hiked with headlamps, and got to see glowing eyes of
kinkajoos and opossums hiding in the trees, a crocodile swimming in the
river, giant frogs, and lots of large spiders quietly spinning their
webs. The jungle is alive at night! At one point, we stopped, turned
off our flashlights, and sat silently in the dark on the jungle floor
for 5-10 minutes listening to the sounds of the jungle. A surreal
2) On most of the mornings, I went for an early run along the dirt roads
around the lodge. Past the Banana Bank Lodge and its horses, past
groves of fruit trees, and through large clearings and pastureland
surrounding by trees. So peaceful and invigorating. And each time,
house dogs Max and Phoebe accompanied me the entire way - usually joined
by a couple of other neighborhood dogs from the Banana Bank Lodge or
local homes. At one point, I was running down the road surrounded by 5
dogs and a white horse(!) which ran a few yards with us as one of the
dogs was nipping at his heels. What a sight! (And normally I don't
even *like* dogs!)
3) On two mornings, we woke up to the sounds of howler monkeys roaring
in the trees just across the river, tropical birds chasing each other
around the huge Guanacaste tree just past the pool, various other
tweets, and what sounded like a woodpecker right outside our door. Jack
sat up and asked "Daddy, why are all the animals talking at the same time?!"
Anyway, if you like the idea of a small modern lodge, with beautiful
grounds, a great location, and friendly people, then I'd highly
recommend the Belize Jungle Dome!
Len Granowetter and Amy Roscehelle - Somerville, Massachusetts, USA