A previous winner of FTF’s Top 10 Getaways for Family Togetherness award, The Lodge at Chaa Creek, Belize was honored along with other hospitality, timeshare and eco-tourism businesses that have made it possible for families to stay, play, relax, and learn together in a creative and enriching atmosphere. This deserving resort gets a fresh look in 2015.
It all started with two travelers who decided not to go home. Mick and Lucy Fleming opened Chaa Creek Cottages, the first jungle lodge in Belize, in 1981 with no electricity. Electricity arrived in 1987, and by the 21st century, the lodge had expanded to include the main cottages, a more rustic camp, a natural history centre, and butterfly farm, a conference center, and a spa, all located in the midst of the lush, 365-acre Chaa Creek Nature Reserve. The owners even raised their own family here, adding to a comfortable, laid-back atmosphere where children are also cherished guests.
If you’ve always wanted to explore Belize and introduce the beauty of nature to your kids, Chaa Creek is an excellent place to stay. Like many of the most family appealing destinations, Chaa Creek positions itself as a launching pad for outdoor activity and adventure.
Families can join guided nature walks in the morning and evening, or hike at their own pace along the reserve’s many trails where scorpions and tarantulas are among the wildlife spotted by the enthusiastic naturalists. Other activities include swimming or canoeing in the nearby Macal River (no dangerous critters to be found, and staff will come pick you up if you simply want to float downstream in your boat), horseback riding, bird watching, and mountain biking, all amidst a dense jungle backdrop.
At the Natural History Center, learn more about the history and geography of Belize and explore interactive displays on natural life cycles and ecosystems. The Blue Morpho Butterfly Farm grants a close-up look at these majestic creatures because one will often perch on an unwitting child’s shoulder. Families may also book inclusive tour packages or join up with a la carte tours to visit Mayan temples, waterfalls, ceremonial caves filled with Mayan artifacts, and other local treasures. Active families can sign up for snorkeling, scuba diving, cave tubing, ziplining and more.
Accommodations at Chaa Creek are cottage-style and built from local hardwoods. Rooms and suites feature Mexican-tiled floors, private bathrooms, and sundeck verandahs—not bad for a place that started so modestly. Those who don’t mind a more rustic place to sleep or want to introduce the family to “light” camping, can book the Camp at Chaa Creek, a more secluded area with 10 fixed tents on raised platforms with two beds. Children under 18 stay free in their parents’ rooms.
Even fussy eaters won’t go hungry, because healthy, simple meals featuring a mix of Caribbean, Mexican, and Belizean flavor are served in the dining room. Kids 5 and under eat free, while those ages 6-11 receive a half-price discount. There’s a spa as well, with many standard treatments available for adults who want to take an hour or two to indulge. Our guess is that you’ll be spending most of your time, however, taking in all that Chaa Creek and the Belize jungle have to offer.
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