on March 7, 2013
Lamanai Lodge was our penultimate stay on our Guatamalan-Belize adventure and we were collected at the airport and transferred, by road, to the river pier and then by boat to the lodge. The road transfer took about 45 minutes and then there was another hour on the boat. The first part of this journey wasn’t particularly eventful as the landscape was generally flat and unspectacular, but the river journey was real good fun, with loads of birdlife grabbing our attention.At the pier they were already waiting for us and our luggage mystically was removed from the boat and spirited into our rooms. As with our other stays, check in was pretty quick and no nonsense. Soon we were being led to our room, a spacious thatched log cabin. The path to the cabin was a little uneven and we later learned that it was pretty important to carry a torch (provided by the lodge) after sunset. There were a couple of decent sized beds (firm but comfortable) plenty of open storage for cases and clothes and, unique for the places we’ve stayed in to date, a fridge. Two bottles of water were provided and we were advised that these could be re-filled in the dining area. If lost we’d need to buy new water. That sounds a bit petty but I guess it fits with the idea of sustainability. The bathroom was a little tight (well that’s polite) with little space to "swing the proverbial cat". It was manageable but if you’re "big-framed" it would be very tight. The water to the shower unit was erratic and although you might say "well you’re in the jungle" we hadn’t experience this in the two smaller lodges that we’d stayed in.All the food is pre-paid for at Lamanai, so it was three meals a day with coffee freely available from 5.00 – 1700hrs. After 17.00 hrs there was a charge and I think that is unnecessarily greedy. In fairness my digestive system was really delicate (now that’s a good euphemism) by the time we reached Lamanai, but even so I don’t think the food was up to the quality of the two previous lodges that we’d stayed in. We were served food on chipped crockery and in my book there’s no necessity for that. I just got the impression that the management have got a bit lackadaisical and, lacking in competition in the area, have let things slip.Each night the programme for the following day was posted on a screen at the end of the dining room. Here you could check out the menu for all the meals on the day, and see details about the trips that you’d booked for the day. Meals were set but it was possible to seek alternatives. However, they don’t advertised or indeed encourage this option. On day one the hotel provides all guests with bottled water and you can use this bottle to get unlimited fill ups from the dining room. However, we were warned that if we lost the bottle we’d need to buy another from the bar. We were well equipped, because our tour company had provided us with a refillable bottle so, as this was a bit sturdier than that provided at Lamanai, we used this for refills. There wasn’t a problem with this. As the cabins are close to each other noisy neighbours can be a problem and although we weren’t directly affected our friends were. They were next to a film crew who were recording a programme about ghost and mysticism. They were very noisy in the wee small hours when they returned from their night’s work at 3.00 in the morning. Playing music and having a loud discussion at that time in the morning is no joke and you can imagine our friends were not best pleased. They did mention it the next day to the staff at Lamanai but were not given any reassurances. Indeed the same thing happened the next evening.Of course in the jungle there are likely to be the odd creature that finds its way in to your room. We had a small a gecko in our room and I made the mistake of mentioning it to my wife. She went very quiet as she scanned the wall for its whereabouts and then froze. Of course the little creature was more afraid of us and when I approached he scuttled up the wall into the safety of the thatched roof. My wife took defensive action and ensured that there was no bed linen hanging over the edge of the bed, before she finally settled down for the night.Our friends experience was much more dramatic. Last thing at night, in the dimmed lighting of the room, my friend reached out for her hand-cream. The plastic bottle felt soft and furry and at the point of realisation that something was wrong she dropped the bottle only to see a bat fly off. In fairness we didn’t hear the screams! They contacted reception who responded rapidly and having found a point of entry through the eves they blocked it off. Overall our Lamai experience was a successful one as the organised activity (see separate reviews) made it special. We can even forgive some of the sloppiness in the catering department.
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