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Articles about Portofino Beach Resort

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FRED REIST: BELIZE TRAVELBLOG #6

Onze boottocht duurt 30 minuten van Caye Caulker naar het ten noorden gelegen Ambergris Caye.  De bestemming met de meeste uitgaansmogelijkheden in Belize. We hebben best zin in wat drukte en zijn blij de eerste nacht door te brengen in San Pedro, de hoofdplaats op het door Madonna bejubelde “La Isla Bonita”.

Ramon’s Village ligt op steenworp afstand van de steiger waar reisgenoot Bob en ik door de watertaxi worden afgezet. Ramon’s Village biedt tropische huisjes verspreid op het strand, een prima restaurant, adembenemende snorkel tochten en een top duikschool. Een leuk hotel voor actieve families en dichtbij de bars, winkeltjes, restaurants en clubs van San Pedro.

Belize heeft het op één na grootste barrier reef ter wereld en na een kwartiertje varen ontdekken wij onder begeleiding van een medewerker van Ramon deze fraaie onderwater wereld. Onze snorkel tocht gaat door het Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Kleurrijk koraal, barracuda’s, zeeschildpadden en talloze andere mooie creaties.  Op de terugweg gaan we nog even voor anker in Shark- Ray Alley.  Een onderwater weg dwars door het barrier reef en de favoriete plek voor haaien en pijlstaartroggen.

In de “Rough Guide” staat ; “Swimming here poses almost no danger”. Het woord “almost” blijft toch een beetje malen in mijn hoofd. Wij lezen ook; “There  is a possibility that a shark could accidentally bite a hand – as has occasionally happened”. Bob merkt bemoedigend op, dat er dus nooit een hand of een ander lichaamsdeel  helemaal afgehapt is en we hooguit een snee kunnen oplopen en verder leven met een stoer litteken. Daar houden we het maar op en enigszins nerveus springen we het water in.

Belize weet ons iedere dag weer te imponeren en uit te dagen. De ene dag voelen we ons als Indiana Jones, de andere dag als Steve Irwin. Zwemmen tussen de haaien en roggen kan op ons lijstje van ervaringen die we nooit meer zullen vergeten.

Nog vol met adrenaline duiken we het avondleven van San Pedro in. De bekendste nachtclub is Jaguar’s Temple en is open van donderdag tot en met zaterdag. Wij zijn er op dinsdag, dus het wordt geen latertje. De sfeer op het eiland is op zijn hoogtepunt rondom zonsondergang en in de vroege uren van de avond.

Het eten in Belize is overal goed en in San Pedro dineren we voortreffelijk bij Elvi’s Kitchen. Een begrip in San Pedro en terecht. Na het eten van de “catch of the day” doen we nog even ons best met wat wijntjes bij Fido’s, maar om een uurtje of tien zijn de gasten ten opzichte van het driekoppige bandje in de minderheid. We gaan slapen.

De volgende dag haalt de boot van Portofino Beach Resort ons op en even later worden we hartelijk verwelkomd door het vriendelijke en professionele team van Jan en Sandra van Noord. De eigenaren van dit sfeervolle “barefoot luxury” resort verhuisden in 2001 van België naar Belize en hebben een paradijsje gecreëerd. Helemaal in de stijl van Belize. Romantisch, culinair, actief als je zin hebt om te kajakken, te snorkelen of te duiken en lui als je zin hebt om helemaal niks te doen.

We voelen ons snel thuis in onze ruime, tropische kamer met alle moderne gemakken. Helemaal wanneer de  ”soap butler” onze veranda op komt lopen.  Wij mogen onze zeep voor de dag uitzoeken en kiezen voor bergamot. De eucalyptus zeep onthouden we voor de volgende keer.

Hun inmiddels bekende restaurant biedt het beste wat Belize en de oceaan te bieden hebben met Europese accenten. Tijdens het diner met Sandra en Jan smult Bob van zijn beef met gorgonzola en ik van een verse krab.

We willen wel weken blijven, maar moeten door naar een volgend en helaas laatste resort van onze reis.  Na een verrukkelijk ontbijt brengt de boot ons naar Las Terrazas. Sandra zwaait ons hartelijk uit.

Belize is zeer populair bij Amerikaanse toeristen. Ze zijn overal. Diverse keren per dag wordt ons de standaard vraag gesteld; “where are you guys from?” Altijd de openingszin voor wat de ene keer aanvoelt als een opdringerig kruisverhoor en de andere keer als oprechte belangstelling.

Ook in de watertaxi is het weer raak.  Een energieke en hartelijke, Amerikaanse dame begint spontaan een heel verhaal. Door de herrie van de boot kunnen we haar niet goed verstaan, maar we vermoeden dat ze het heeft over de begrafenis van haar man. Vredig ingeslapen, omringd door dierbaren en met de nummers; “We are family” en “Ain’t no mountain high enough” op de achtergrond. Pas veel later hebben we door, dat het gaat over het laten inslapen van haar trouwe Maltezer Leeuwtje.  Aangekomen bij ons hotel krijgen we allebei een stevige omarming van haar.

Las Terrazas is een modern resort op Ambergris Caye met riante appartementen en beachvilla’s. Wit, strak, spa, fusion, lounge….. Het had ook in Europa kunnen zijn, maar biedt ondertussen een tropische plek om de ene avond zelf te koken of een pizza te bestellen en de andere avond te smullen in restaurant O. Dat laatste is wat Bob en ik doen. Andere gasten een avondje naar San Pedro. Je bent er zo met een watertaxi of met je eigen golf karretje. Of hebben on line hun boodschappen besteld en deze laten bezorgen. Alle accommodaties van Las Terrazas beschikken over een ruime keuken en een groot terras.

Ambergris Caye mag dan wel de meest toeristische plek van Belize zijn, het is zeker niet verpest.  Dit tropische eiland is vol met karakter en biedt voldoende actie, zowel onder water als in de bars en clubs, maar ook een relaxte sfeer. Voor ons een mooie afsluiter van een boeiende reis. Madonna heeft groot gelijk; “This is where I long to be… La Isla Bonita”

Link to the article
Author: Fred Van Eijk
Pictures taken by Fred Van Eijk and Bob Heijne

Louis checking in at Portofino Beach Resort #ambergriscaye #belize #louisvuitton

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By Nick Kontis July 25, 2012

When the Belize Tourist Board suggested that I take a trip to explore the ”Central American Nirvana” once known as British Honduras, I quickly jumped at the opportunity. A trip was arranged by the tourist board to visit to the Belize Zoo, and a stay at Cave’s Branch Resort for a “bungle in the jungle.” After three days in the jungle rappelling and spelunking (cave diving), I was off to my next adventure and the reason most travelers come to Belize. A trip to Belize’s barrier reef. A trip to see Belize’s Caribbean underwater wonderland. As much as I was intoxicated by sights and sounds of the jungles of Belize and my tree house room at the Cave’s Branch Resort, it was time to head to the beach for some scuba diving.  A stay at the famous Portofino Resort on Ambergris Caye.

 

Welcome to Paradise Undiscovered – Portofino Resort After a short flight on Tropic Air from Belize City to San Pedro, the airport and main city on Ambergris Caye. I was met by Jan Van Noord, owner of the Portofino Resort. As I have a love for the Dutch, the moment I met Jan, all 6 foot 7 of him, I  knew right away that we would become good friends. Such was the case with Jan and his wife Sandra. The Dutch-Belgian couple left Europe with their two small children for a life in the tropics. I asked, “why Belize? and why Ambergris Caye?” Jan assured me that I would soon understand.


Aerial view of the Portofino Resort


One reason why people come to Ambergris Caye is to dive the Blue Hole


The Portofino arranges fishing trips of a lifetime. Fly-Fish for Permit and Tarpon


Don’t care to dive? Grab a Kayak from the Portofino for a fifteen minute trip to snorkel at ’Mexico Rocks’

Belize is home to the world’s second largest barrier reef. Only the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia is bigger. Close to 190 miles of unobstructed reef run the length of the entire nation. Of the 200 plus islands of Belize, the largest and closest to the barrier reef is Ambergris Caye, a water sports mecca. Discovered by Jacques Cousteau in the 70s, the underwater aquarium of Belize attracts divers from throughout the world who come to dive in the azure waters, and mingle with its lively array of sea life. Scuba divers come to Ambergris Caye from all over the world to plunge to depths of over 100 feet deep into the world famous ‘Blue Hole’ and to dive with the array of rays, sharks, turtles, and colorful fish at the likes of Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley. Belize and Ambergris Caye is also home to one of the best kept secret fishing destinations in the Caribbean. With plenty of saltwater flats, reef, river & deep sea fishing. Fly fishing for Tarpon, Permit, Bone Fish is among the best in the world.


Cute, quaint, and laid back – San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye

San Pedro town boasts a vibrant nightlife filled with restaurants, bars, shops on three main streets. A hassle free town. What I soon discovered was a laid back, friendly Belizean vibe. The Mayan and Caribbean mixture works well. Sprinkle in a few Americans, Canadians and European, and you have the perfect mixture for a trouble free country. All of its citizens seems to get along. I was amazed, living part of the year in Mexico, and being well traveled, I’m quite use to people trying to sell me a time share, tour, or a meal. In Belize there were no pushy sales people at all.After a couple of Belikin Beers, the local beer of Belize at Fido’s Restaurant and Bar. It was off to the Portofino Resort. Although road travel is possible on Ambergris Caye. The main form of transportation is by speed boat, or water taxi .The Portofino Resort is north of San Pedro town. The six mile ride to the Portofino by fast boat takes around 20 minutes. The Portofino also owns its own boat to transport its staff and the guests to and from the Portofino and San Pedro.


Perhaps you just want to spend your days at the Portofino sipping fruity rum drinks by the sea

Upon arrival I was greeted by the very professional hotel manager Lorraine, who had many activities planned for me. She showed me to my room in the Lower Mansion Suite. I soon found out that staying at the Portofino, being a small resort, is like staying with family. The service and hospitality was among the best I’ve had at any hotel I’ve stayed at. They say that exceptional service and the employees attention to detail of every guest are the key components to a most enjoyable hotel stay and vacation, making you want to return again and again. The staff went overboard in caring for all of my needs. The Portofino restaurant, Le Bistro, served up breakfast, lunch and five star gourmet dinners on the second level of the resort with picturesque views of the reef and crystal blue Caribbean water.  The menu is a European-Caribbean fusion and is prepared to perfection by the Portofino European trained head chef. The lobster melts in your mouth. As they say, “hats 0ff to the chef.”


Portofino’s – Honeymoon Suite


Portofino’s Sunflower Villa

The reason you come to Ambergris Caye is to enjoy the surrounding waters. Lorraine and her assistant, Sandra planed my stay by arranging day trips from the Portofino to the local sights to snorkel, dive, fish, sail and more. The Portofino staff takes care of every detail, and guides you to the best trips to make your Belizean adventure an unforgettable experience. The Portofino only uses the most trusted operators for your excursions. Having my base at Portofino Resort made the trip a breeze. Normally on travels I have to do all the ground work to plan my trip. But staying at Portofino, the goal was to relax and dive. My goal was to go on as many dives as possible, and my new friends took care of everything.

The beauty of being a diver in Belize and staying at the Portofino on Ambergris Caye is, with the exception of the Blue Hole dive, which is a four hour boat ride in each direction, the distances to any dive spot can be no more than an hour. The barrier reef almost touches Ambergris Caye. One spot, ‘Mexico Rocks’ is accessible by taking a 15 minute kayak ride, right off the Portofino Resort beach. The beauty of these turquoise blue waters is that a snorkeler can almost view as much sea life as a diver, and have as much fun.


Meals fit for a king – Five star dining at Portofino’s –  Le Bistro

At night, you can hang out by the Portofino bar and have your meal at one of the best restaurant on the island, Portofino’s Le Bistro restaurant overlooking the Caribbean or take the Portofino boat or a water taxi into San Pedro for a bit of local flavor.After five nights at the Portofino sadly it was time to say good bye to the Portofino and say good bid farewell to Belize.As I told Sandra and Jan as I left, and to quote Arnold Schwerznegger, “I’ll be back.”


Special thank you to the skilled pilots of Tropic Air for getting us to and from the mainland to Ambergris Caye

Getting There:
American Airlines, Delta, Taca and United are the major airlines flying to Belize City.
Feeling adventurous? San Pedro Ferries offers a daily two hour speed boat from Chetumal, the southernmost Mexican city in the state of  Quintana Roo to San Pedro Town on Ambergris Caye. Tropic Air and Maya Island Air fly within Belize.
www.tropicair.com
www.mayaislandair.com
www.sanpedrowatertaxi.com


The Portofino Resort at night

Where to Stay:
The Portofino Resort is the perfect place to call home on Ambergris Caye.
www.portofinoresortbelize.com


Jaguar’s Temple Night Club is a favorite spot for island nightlife

Where to Eat:
Le Bistro restaurant at the Portofino Resort if you wish to stay at home.
For a night in town try Elvi’s Grill for their Mayan Buffet, Caramba for Mexican specialties, Blue Water Grill for sushi nights and grilled fish, Fido’s Restaurant and Bar for pub grub in a friendly atmosphere including live music. Jambel Jerk Pit for spicy and flavorful, but not too hot Jamaican Jerk, Mangoes for Caribbean and Cajun fare.


Many a graceful Blue Spotted Stingray at Ho Chan, Shark Ray Alley

Tour Operators: Professional and Trustworthy
Searious Adventures:
www.seariousadventures.com

Amigos Del Mar – Diving
www.amigosdivebelize.com

Ambergris Divers
www.ambergrisdivers.com


Nick and Dive Master Elvis

About the Author:
Nick Kontis – Travel Expert and Founder of the World Travel ListNick Kontis started out as a world traveler at an early age traveling back and forth between California and Greece every summer. But it was a backpacking trip around the world at age 24 that proved to be a life changing experience. After traveling by car, train, plane, bike and, boat around the world, it would be this trip of a lifetime that would lead to a life as a travel entrepreneur and world traveler. Nick has been on both radio and television. Featured on Arthur Frommer’s television show, and referred by Lonely Planet writers. Frequently mentioned as the “father of around the world airfares.” Arthur Frommer once said, “If Jules Verne were alive today he would use Nick to go around the world in 80 days.” Nick and his various travel companies have sent over 10,000 people taking their dream trip through airfare discounts of as much as 50% off the airlines published fares. Now Nick promotes travel through his World Travel List and ‘Trip Rambler’ by World Travel List. Having traveled to over 80 countries Nick hopes to inspire others to travel the world. Follow Nick’s “passion for travel” on the World Travel List.

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In 2010 TripAdvisor gave Portofino Beach Resort an Award with the recognition to be the #1 Romantic Hotel, and yesterday we received again some great news from them, informing us that we have received a 2012 Certificate of Excellence!

With this message we want to thank all our guests who have helped us receiving this Certificate! As well we would like to thank our Portofino Staff, for all the hard work they do! Below you will find some latest reviews we received from our guests:

 

“Fantastic vacation spot!”
Reviewed May 17, 2012

We thoroughly enjoyed staying at Portofino. Great location away from San Pedro, very relaxing, extremely friendly staff (they made us feel right at home), great food and I could go on and on. We would definitely return to Portofino. We also found the dive master with Adventure Divers located on the dock great and friendly, with dive trips only a 5 minute boat ride away to the reef, with the exception of Hol Chan Marine Reserve which is about 20 minutes away by boat (but don’t miss it-lots of turtles!).
Room Tip: Because we booked late, we stayed in the Honeymoon suite for 3 nights upon arrival and highly recomm…

 

“Perfect Belize Getaway”
Reviewed May 7, 2012

If you want an island experience, peaceful nights, sand, snorkeling, diving and a paradise view, then you must visit the Portofino. My daughter and I recently spent 2 wonderful weeks at the resort. The experience was excellent from the moment we arrived and one that we hope to never forget. You can’t beat the service – from the wonderful help from Lorraine at the front desk who was extremely helpful in setting up all trip arrangements, to Flora and Alex in the restaurant who really made everyday special for both of us. Both Flora and Alex are true gems and the Portofino is very lucky to have them. Every morning they made sure the coffee was ready to go at 6:30, and allowed everyone to help themselves even though the restaurant really wasn’t open. It gave an “at home feel” to a paradise location. We heard of other restaurants that were good, and had a few lunches in other locations, but just knew we could not top the dinners at the Portofino. The menu is not elaborate, but everything is gourmet, and the special of the day is always something to savor.?When we left last Friday I had to pry my daughter off the palm tree, she definitely did not want to leave. I can’t say “Thank You” enough to everyone who made our trip such an enjoyable experience. I definitely plan to return…
Room Tip: They have rooms to fit anyones needs. If you don’t see what you need on the website, just send…

 

“Wonderful Stay at Portofino”
Reviewed April 30, 2012

THis is a top notch resort. We loved everything from our tree top accomodations(Sunflower Suite) overlooking the ocean and the pool, to the friendly and extremely helpful staff. All the dive trips and tours they booked for us were excellent and the door to door service appreciated. The staff could not be more helpful. Every request was fulfilled with a smile, including a special birthday dinner out on the end of the pier for my BF. What a beautiful setting under the stars! Many thanks to Lorraine, Flor, Alex and Raphel for taking such good care of us. Definitely recommend this resort if you want a romantic, peaceful and memorable experience.
Room Tip: I would recommend a top floor room . The views are terrific.

 

 

1 Response to "Portofino earned the 2012 Certificate of Excellence Award!"


1 | Oetman said on November 13th, 2013 at 12:50 pm

“If you hate awesome, this is not the place for you!”

First off let me tell you how nice the resort is. The rooms are comfortable and clean in addition to being quaint and charming with the euro-Mayan touch. Yes, they do look like the pictures. The grounds and pool are very well maintained. The attention to detail is immaculate. If you never leave the resort, you will have a great time at the bar and pool. The food was fabulous–portions were perfect. I read some people said the prices were high but if fine dining to you is Longhorn’s steakhouse-then it might be pricey. Where I am from I pay a lot more to get this freshness and quality. When you are ready to explore they will hook you up with snorkeling gear and kayaks or charter a diving or fishing trip on their dock. When you want to go into town hop on the boat and you are there in less than 20 mins.?With that being said what makes this resort truly special are the people. From the owners Jan and Sondra to Yolanda, Orville, Ivan, Jessica, Mo, Roy and Rafa (sorry if I left anyone out) they are what makes Portofino a special place that you will never forget. If you want a drink out of a coconut, they will get it. If you want lunch on the pier, they will bring it. Whatever you want just ask an I guarantee they can make it happen.
?So again, if you hate awesome, this is not the place for you.


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