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“Stunning location, wonderful people” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Banana Bank Lodge & Jungle Horseback Adventure

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Banana Bank Lodge & Jungle Horseback Adventure
Certificate of Excellence
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
14 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Stunning location, wonderful people”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 30 July 2011

It's a dramatic arrival, banging a gong to summon a boat to cross the river (though the sound is more frying pan than Japanese emperor). Then it's a stride across beautiful open grass, with cabanas tucked around the place and horses trotting in the background.

We had great fun every meal time. It's a "family-style" sit with anyone affair, which meant chatting to other guests and staff - really interesting, open, welcoming people. The food was plentiful and delicious too.

We went on a guided horseback ride through the jungle. It was exciting and varied, going through jungle, teak plantations and open field. Cesar, our guide was friendly and had many interesting things to say. The cabana was beautifully decorated and they were spaced well apart from each other. We enjoyed the pool.

Cons
- We didn't go on any of their other tours, but the prices seemed more expensive than San Ignacio, despite being closer to some of the attractions. (Around 20-40 USD pp more expensive, we reckoned.)
- They keep a leopard in a small pen. I think it was rescued from somewhere, but still. It looked really depressed, and didn't have anywhere near as much room as the animals do in Belize Zoo.
- The toilets near the pool were dirty for two days in a row.
- The mosquito net on the bed was a bit dodgy.

Book ahead. Even in low season, the place was full. It's popular with groups. We were sadly only able to stay for two nights.

Room Tip: Book ahead, get a cabana
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  • Stayed July 2011, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Gilllles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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146 reviews from our community

Traveller rating
    81
    38
    16
    5
    6
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (36)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Cedar Rapids
Level Contributor
67 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 July 2011

I thought the “Maryann” room was very nice, and the food was good during my brief stay.
However, my pool water test indicated zero chlorine.
Frank Helsell
Iowa, USA

Room Tip: Go for an upgrade if you want A/C
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  • Stayed June 2011, travelled with friends
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank frank2176
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jacksonville, FL
Level Contributor
38 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 June 2011

I won't soon forget my stay at the Banana Bank Lodge. First there are the owners - the Carrs, who are American ex-pats who have lived in Belize since the 1970s. Mr. Carr is a former rodeo cowboy from Montana, and Mrs. Carr is an artist of some reknown in Belize. She designed many of the buildings on the grounds, and it shows that they were designed by an artist. My room had a beautiful carved mahogany headboard and a stained glass window but no night stand, towel rack, or toilet paper roller.

One of the best things about Banana Bank was the service, which was excellent. The staff made sure I was able to schedule trips I would enjoy, my guides were on time, including one early morning departure to get me connected to a tour out of San Ignacio, and everyone was friendly and helpful. While I was at Banana Bank, I had a day out to see Xunantunich, a couple of horseback rides through the jungle, a river tubing trip (the Lodge is located on the bank of the Belize River), and a visit to Tikal.

Another good part of my stay was the food, which was basic, but well-prepared. Many of the vegetables served at meals were grown on property. It's a good thing that the food is good because it's more than 2 miles to the nearest paved road. Luckily, unless you are really into partying, most of what you need is at the Lodge, including a little cafe that serves drinks and light snacks and where one can often find interesting people to talk to.

I do have a few complaints about the Banana Bank Lodge. The main one was the warped window in my room that would not close all the way, so most of the AC escaped and my room never got cool. Also this is not a great place if you like to sleep late. Not only does the sun rise very early, but there are no blackout curtains, and the birds in the aviary start squawking. I never could sleep past 6:30 AM.

If you stay at Banana Bank, say "Hello" to Tikatoo, the jaguar who lives in an enclosure on the path to the dining hall. As I said, this is a most unusual hotel.

Room Tip: Communicate by email. The staf will respond.
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  • Stayed May 2011, travelled solo
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank DrLeeB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lynnfield, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
138 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 30 March 2011

My husband and I spent the first two nights of our first trip to Belize (Cayo District) at the Banana Bank and were very pleased. The setting is lovely and the staff is eager and flexible. We enjoyed traditional home-cooked meals which accomodated the vegetarian among us and took advantage of the river tour and horse back riding. We met other lovely guests and felt very well taken care of and relaxed. The pool area is beautiful and the staff are very friendly and knowledgeable. The Carrs have created a wonderful inn/ranch and we feel lucky to have been guests here.

  • Stayed February 2011, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank bsa819
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boston MA
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 February 2011

If you are looking for a genuine, quality Belizean experience with endless possibilities for a stay of any length, you will feel at home here with John, Carolyn and Leisa Carr and their attentive and caring staff. The Carrs have developed Banana Bank Lodge over a period of many years and it reflects their values and their personalities.

Although there are handsome buildings with a somewhat colonial flavor(photo), we chose to spend 14 days in one of their well-appointed cabanas (photo) and ate most of our meals on site. The kitchen also willingly provided a substantial lunch to go when requested. Three imaginative and seasoned cooks delighted us with a wide variety of fresh fruits (fresh squeezed orange juice every morning, a real treat) and vegetables, organically homegrown whenever possible and breads baked daily. A favorite breakfast dish was easy-over fried eggs topped with sauteed diced veggies. The chicken, beef and pork were reportedly excellent and they always offered a vegetarian alternative to us. Long tables arranged for family-style sharing facilitated a friendly contact with other guests as we collectively 'oohed and aahed' over the large circular, artistically arranged plats du jour.

January temperatures in the perfection range--low 60's to high 80's sent us for a daily swim in Carolyn's spacious and uniquely designed pool with adjoining cafe offering a limited selection of drinks and snacks in the afternoon.

No need to visit the Belize zoo if you'd be contented to have a frequent peek at the nation's iconic jaguar, Tika 2, (photo) safely contained behind electrified fencing, and if you'd like to photograph some of the extraordinary collection of tropical birds in Carolyn's aviary, just ask Chico to arrange for a photo op. (photo below) Our granddaughters enjoyed their frequent vocalizing.

My most favorite activity was horseback riding either in the jungle or along the vast agricultural fields with my favorite guide, Jose, who is in training under 'Mr. John' (Carr) to become an experienced horse whisperer. One morning Mr. John graciously demonstrated his astounding natural horsemanship techniques and partnership with an unbroken 2 1/2 y.o. colt, completely subduing him in a respectful manner.

As farmers in New England we particularly appreciated learning about the challenges of John's entrepreneurial agricultural endeavors which gave us a good feel for the gritty endurance required for success in a small country with great potential as it interfaces with the global community.

The office can arrange for a variety of tours from a leisurely float down the Belize River to a terrific caving, tubing or ziplining outing or to an archeological site. If you haven't got a car, Carlos knows the locale like the back of his hand and is available to take you to such places as The Valley of Peace, Spanish Lookout, or the Saturday market in San Ignacio. Banana Bank Lodge is centrally located near Belmopan for your more urban needs such as a pharmacy or a cappuccino or for any of these day trips.

If art is your thing, you will find many of Carolyn's paintings that tell a story documenting Belizean culture hanging in several locations around the lodge. For a real treat, be sure to visit the upstairs gallery of The Art Box on the Western Highway just east of Belmopan. Carolyn's paintings are featured there along with many beautifully crafted pieces of furniture made of choice local woods.

In short, if you are looking for a meaningful, comfortable but not luxurious out-of-the-box experience, we'd put BBL at the top of our list.

  • Stayed January 2011, travelled on business
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Sallyjane
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Banana Bank Lodge & Jungle Horseback Adventure

Property: Banana Bank Lodge & Jungle Horseback Adventure
Address: Banana Bank, Belmopan, Belize
Region: Belize > Cayo > Belmopan
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 11 Speciality Lodging in Belmopan
Price range (per night): $61 - $200
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Banana Bank Lodge & Jungle Horseback Adventure 2.5*
Number of rooms: 19
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
In a beautiful rain-forest setting along-side the peaceful Belize River sits a jungle paradise. A place where horses roam, parrots, toucans, and macaws greet you with a tropical "Hello". You willbe in awe at the beauty and grace of our jaguar Tikatoo and other animals will delight your stay. Here you'll find adventure, great food, congenial hosts, exotic artwork and memories to last a lifetime. American and local cuisine dining, designer 65,000 gallon pool, 16" computerized telescope, Cafe Carolina, John Carr's Historical Collection, Carolyn Carr Art Gallery, birding experts, tour guides, cowboys and our helpful, friendly staff all ensure your stay at Banana Bank will be an unforgettable experience. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Banana Bank Lodge & Horseback Adventure Hotel Belmopan
Banana Bank Lodge And Horseback Adventure

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