Sometimes in life you get what you pay for and sometimes, you don’t.
Luckily for us, The Phoenix Resort in the heart of San Pedro, Belize is worth every penny and earns its reputation as one of the best resorts on Ambergis Caye.
We were fortunate enough to stay at The Phoenix Resort for five days and had the opportunity to find out for ourselves what makes the place a Tripadvisor favorite.
Just want to hear the highlights? Look for our quick review on The Phoenix Belize at the end of this post.
A word of caution though, our Phoenix Belize review might make you book a one way flight to the island of Ambergris Caye off the coast of mainland Belize, so continue on at your own risk.
First Impressions of The Phoenix Resort
Tucked out the way at the north end of Barrier Reef Drive, known as front street to the locals, the unassuming side entrance of The Phoenix Resort leads into a shaded lot full of golf carts, which are the most common mode of transportation on the island of Ambergris Caye. On the left is a playground for kids, and up above is the hotel patio bar with free drinks during happy hour every day from 5 to 6 (local beer and rum only).
There’s also the well reviewed Sol Spa and gym located on the second floor with the resort owned Red Ginger restaurant tucked below next to the main lobby.
The main entrance to The Phoenix Resort is actually located on Pescador Drive, known as middle street to the locals, however the most common entrance is via front street with quicker access to the many restaurants, shops and bars along the beach.
Once you cross through the lobby from the main entrance and exit the rear door you see the saline lap pool and then the beautiful and heated multi-level main pool, with a well stocked pool side bar. There are loungers positioned all around the pool, as well as tables and chairs where you can sit back and enjoy a bite delivered fresh from the Red Ginger restaurant, or sip on a tasty concoction the friendly bar servers whip up.
The ultra-stylish, three-story high buildings that comprise The Phoenix surround the entire pool area. Nearly every one also has an ocean view of the clear blue water. There is no beach at The Phoenix Resort, which is the case for almost all of the hotels on Ambergris Caye. However, there is a short seawall and pathway that runs in front, as well as several long piers nearby you can swim off if you fancy a dip in the ocean.
Note: This area of Belize isn’t known for its beaches, and even if you happen to find one in town the shallow waters, the sea grass don’t make wading in all that appealing. There are a few hotels with beaches on the island, however they’re all just outside the town proper. Most people that want to spend time in the ocean take snorkel tours and there’s some amazing snorkeling fairly close to shore.
That said, the Phoenix Resort is right on the water and the water views are gorgeous. The entire grounds on the resort are well maintained and patrolled 24/7, and there always seems to be someone around if you have any problems, however they’re never obtrusive.
The Rooms at The Phoenix Resort Belize
Each room at The Phoenix Resort Belize is condominium size. You can stay in one, tow or three bedroom suites, and the two and three bedroom suites all include two bathrooms.
Our 1,700 foot, two bedroom suite had a huge en suite with a large jetted tub, a big walk in shower and his and her sinks. There was a nice collection of shampoos and conditioners as well as other toiletries in both bathrooms and super plush towels and robes.
There were also flower petals strewn all around our suite when we checked in that made the suite smell wonderful. Turn down service that night took all the flower petals away so that was a nice bonus as well.
The main bathroom had two doors, one from the main hallway and one directly from the second room, with his and her sinks as well as a large shower. As such, the two bedroom suites at The Phoenix would be equally fine for two couples or a family of four. There was also a washer and dryer hidden away in the main bathroom, complete with detergent so that was a bonus.
The master bedroom had a very comfortable king sized bed and a plush white duvet complete with a variety of soft to firm pillows. There was also a new LCD TV as well as a safe hidden in the oversized closet. The spare bedroom included a pair of comfortable twin beds and another LCD TV as well.
The rooms were all meticulously maintained and we all enjoyed staying at the resort.
The Kitchens at The Phoenix Belize
All the suites at The Phoenix include well appointed kitchens complete with stainless steel appliances, including a fridge, dual sinks, a blender, a stove, an oven as well as a dishwasher. There’s also filtered water from a tap in the kitchen so you can cut down on purchased water bottles while you stay there. The kitchen was well stocked with a Keurig coffeemaker, plates, glasses and cutlery as well as a decent selection of pots and pans.
There were a few spices in the cupboard, as well as salt and pepper but that’s about it. Luckily, there are two grocery stores almost right in front of the hotel, so stocking up on supplies is a quick walk away.
Side note: I was short some butter one morning while making a late brunch and one of the women cleaning noticed my distress (there’s daily cleaning as well as a turn down service at night) and she offered to grab me some butter from the restaurant so I could finish cooking. It was incredibly nice of her and she reminded me that the restaurant could also provide additional pots and pans if I needed them. Many thanks!
As well as the large kitchen area, there was a living room complete with a large screen TV. The living room also had a outdoor patio right off it with another table, chairs and a few loungers for relaxing. We had a few of our meals out on the terrace and it was a great place to eat breakfast before the pool area got busy.
In Room Extras at The Phoenix Belize
When you stay at The Phoenix Belize, they include a lot of extras, including free WiFi which is always important for us. I have to say the Wifi at The Phoenix was pretty good for Ambergris Caye. There were a few spotty areas around the resort but it was reliable in the suite, around the pool and in the bar, which are pretty much the areas we stayed around the most.
A cool bonus when staying at the resort is that it includes an Apple iPad during your stay and a Bose speaker system to pair with. As well, there was a cell phone with $20 worth of service. The cell phone was helpful when meeting up with some friends in town and also calling about a flight off the island. It also came in handy when I called around to get some snorkel tour prices, however the hotel tour prices ended up being comparable so we ended up booking through them instead.
The iPad was great for the kids and it included links to the onsite Red Ginger restaurant for ordering room service. It also had information about the other restaurants the resort owns in San Pedro, namely Wine de Vine and the Blue Water Grill restaurant. As a guest at The Phoenix, you also get 10% off all food at the Red Ginger, as well as their other two restaurants, however there is a small surcharge for room service.
You also get a delicious welcome drink when you check in and there was a small bottle of rum, a bottle of Coke, a bottle of tonic water and a lime waiting in the suite for us when we checked in as well. Needless to say, they didn’t go to waste.
Resort-Wide Extras at The Phoenix Resort
Complimentary Yoga classes
Throughout the week there are complimentary Yoga classes upstairs on the rooftop patio for guests staying at The Phoenix Resort. We didn’t make it to any, however two separate friends we know who’ve stayed in San Pedro raved about how good the instructors at The Phoenix were when they heard we were staying at the hotel.
Every day from 5 to 6 PM there are complimentary cocktails served upstairs on the roof top patio bar. The free drinks include local rum, local beer and, often wine from their Wine de Vine store. Our favorite beer (and it seems the favorite of everyone on the islands) was the locally made Belikin beer. You can get it in Regular, Light and Stout. We enjoyed Regular the most, however plenty of people love the Stout.
Free Kayaks and Paddle Boards (SUPs)
Free kayaks and paddle boards are included at the resort, however you can’t get them on site. Instead, you need to grab a voucher from the main lobby and walk a few blocks south past Central Park to one of the dive centers near the ferry terminal. It’s a quick walk, however it’s a bit of a pain to have to go first to the lobby, wait for them to call and then walk down there. The good part is that the resort is just about the perfect distance to paddle to before heading back into the wind and coasting back to the dive center to return your paddle board or kayak.
Complimentary Wine Tastings, Chocolate Tastings, and Painting Classes
As well as the free daily cocktail hour, The Phoenix often offers free wine tastings, chocolate tastings and painting classes to its guests as well. These events change every week and you’ll find a copy of the resort activities on the iPad as well as printed in your room. They even offer special painting classes just for kids. You can contact the front desk to find out more info as well as watch the sign by the foot of the stairs to the patio and spa.
Though we never got around to using them ourselves, The Phoenix Resort offers free bicycles for their guests. We rented a golf cart for our entire stay on the island, so er either walked or took the golf cart, but we spotted several guests using the bikes on a regular basis. The bikes looked in good shape and San Pedro is the perfect size to get around by bike.
Everyday, at around 3 PM, there is a bouncy castle for the young ones to play on. Ours decided they were too big for it, however if you have young children with you this would be a great way to tire them out everyday. There’s also the
Amenities at The Phoenix Belize
There are two gorgeous pools at The Phoenix Resort. Both are saline pools and both are heated. The heater in the lap pool was being repaired while we were there so we strategically opted not to use it, however it looked liked a great way to get an early morning workout. The main pool had multi levels and included a shallow end that would be great for smaller kids to wade around in while the parents sample some of the tasty beverages the guys in the pool bar whip up.
Unlike some of the huge resorts in Mexico, there are no “Activity Coordinators” or music being pumped out around the pool, making it a chill and pleasant place to hang out. The only time it ever seemed to get busier was around 3 or 4 when most people got back from taking tours or checking out the town. We had the pool to ourselves quite a few times, especially before lunch.
As well as the pool bar, open most days from 10-5, there are plush pool towels and off resort (for snorkeling or other tours) towels available on the corner of the pool bar, and special lounge chair towels for the loungers. You can order food off the menu from the Red Ginger and it will be served to you pool side as well.
Guests at The Phoenix Belize can enjoy the amenities of the onsite Sol Spa. The Sol Spa offers sport, therapeutic and deep tissue massages as well as a variety of scrubs and body treatments. They also do mani/pedis, facials and more. The massages can be had poolside, in your room or in one of their lovely spa treatment rooms. We didn’t have a massage, but one of the other guests raved about it while we were down by the pool one day so it sounded nice.
Next to Sol Spa is the fitness center at The Phoenix. It contains all the usual assortment of treadmills, elliptical machines, a universal weight machine as well as some free weights. They also offer complimentary passes to a nearby, more fully stocked gym if you want more variety in your workout.
Red Ginger Restaurant
The onsite, resort owned, Red Ginger restaurant is a well reviewed restaurant and a great addition to the hotel. You can eat in, order from the menu poolside, or have them deliver your food right to your room. We only ate in the restaurant once, but we did get nachos and sandwiches every day we were there. The nachos were heavenly and were a great poolside treat between lunch a dinner.
The Red Ginger has daily specials and a brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays. Guests get 10% off all their food at the Red Ginger, however there is a $5 BZD fee ($2.50 USD) for room service. You can check out the Red Ginger menu here. Just remember that the prices on the menu are in Belizean Dollars which is usually at half the US dollar (so divide by 2 to get USD price).
Blue Water Grill and Wine de Vine
Though neither of these places are located at the hotel, they’re all part of the same family and guests staying at The Phoenix Resort get 10% off their food and drink at both restaurants. The Blue Water Grill, a few blocks south down front street right on the beach, is known for its great seafood and ambiance and the Wine de Vine store is one of the best places on the island to buy local and imported wines. They also sell some really tasty looking platters in their meat and cheese deli section.
The Phoenix offers a small business center, complete with a few computers and printing facilities. They also include a small library of books, DVDs and board games you can borrow while you’re staying at the hotel.
Activity Planner for Offsite Activities
Though not really an amenity, the activity planner who works at the front desk is great at setting up any offsite activities you might want to do on Ambergris Caye or even on mainland Belize. They can help you set up everything from snorkeling the amazing Hol Chan Reserve and Shark Ray Alley to diving in the world famous Blue Hole. They can also get you a good deal on golf cart rentals, fishing trips, catamaran tours and jet ski rentals.
There are also a ton of things to see and do off the island like day trip excursions to the mainland to check out ancient Mayan ruins, go cave tubing, ziplining, jungle trekking and so forth. You can usually set up these activities once you get to Belize, however, depending on the season, it might be better to arrange them in advance.
A Quick Review of The Phoenix Resort Belize
What we loved
The Phoenix Resort is right in heart of San Pedro and that makes it easy to check out the nearby bars and restaurants. The rooms are bright, spacious, cheerful and clean and their nachos were so good we ordered some every day we spent there. We also loved lounging by the pools and the free daily happy hour up in the little patio bar.
Micki’s note: The kids and I loved the warm, ocean side pools so much that we spent every morning playing in the pool, and eating nachos for lunch. Pure heaven.
What could have been better
The free kayaks and stand up paddle boards they offer require a voucher from the front desk and are stored a few blocks away from the hotel with another company. On the positive side, they are included free. There’s also no beach at The Phoenix, however all the beaches are public in Belize and there is a small beach a few doors down you can use. You can also swim from the end of the nearby pier if you love swimming in the ocean as much as I do.
Final Impressions of The Phoenix Resort Belize
To say we enjoyed our stay at The Phoenix Resort on Ambergris Caye would be an understatement. From the moment we walked into our bright, spacious suite we knew we were going to be comfortable there. They included pretty much everything we needed as well as a few that surprised us. The included iPad and cell phone were especially nice while we were there.
From a tasty welcome drink while checking in to a free ride to the airport on the way out, we felt we were in good hands while we were there. We especially loved that the people at The Phoenix Resort were happy to help us in any way but stayed out of the way once we were settled in. That’s exactly what we love about a place. Well, that and tasty nachos…