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Banana Beach Resort 2.5

San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Seafront location with sandy waterfront
  • Two freshwater pools and a cold-water whirlpool
  • Spacious suites with kitchens and multiple bedrooms are available
  • Restaurant serves local and international cuisine 
  • Kitschy, Scarface-themed bar worth a visit
  • Simple breakfast with eggs and potatoes is included
  • Free welcome drink and filtered water
  • Free round-trip airport transportation
  • Free parking and Wi-Fi in common areas
  • Generator keeps resort powered during power outages 

Cons

  • Dated rooms have tube TVs, and tired kitchens need updating 
  • No Wi-Fi in rooms, only in hotel common areas 
  • Required five-night minimum stay during high season 
  • No elevator to reach rooms on second and third floors

Bottom Line

Banana Beach Resort is a 62-room two-and-a-half-pearl property on the southern end of Ambergris Caye that’s seen better days. Dated guest rooms are air-conditioned and decorated with bamboo and wicker furniture. While some rooms have flat-screen TVs, others have tube TVs and -- in suites with kitchens -- rusted appliances and cracked tile counters. The resort has two pools that are quite lovely, though the sea-walled beach frequently has heaps of sea grass on it that hinder swimming. El Divino, the resort’s moderately-priced restaurant, serves decent international cuisine and a simple, free breakfast is included in rates. Travelers looking for slightly nicer rooms with a tropical vibe might prefer Caribbean Villas Hotel, which has a great sandy beach, laid-back beach bar, and huge waterslide. 

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Scene

Tropical gardens meet kitschy banana-themed decor at this humble seaside property

Banana Beach Resort’s decor overflows with kitsch, putting it squarely in the budget category in terms of style and atmosphere. The name is apparent at every turn, from bananas on furniture to a statue of a monkey climbing on a giant banana to Monkey Business, the resort’s tour office and sundry shop. It's a look that will feel familiar to those who have passed through America's many small seaside towns. The resort’s slightly dark lobby feels dated, and a banana framed carving mixes with island photos and a Vincent Van Gough print -- a clue to the mishmash of styles found throughout the property. However, Banana Beach’s lush grounds -- and interior courtyards -- are full of trees and plants that bring a bit of "Jurassic Park" to the coast of Ambergris Caye. El Divino Restaurant and Martini Lounge is nautically-themed, with paintings of underwater sea life painted on its walls. Its moody, Scarface-inspired bar wins the kitsch award, and includes details like satin pillowed ceiling, walls airbrushed in scenes of tropical sunsets, and dark couches.The hotel draws a mix of unpretentious guests usually from the U.S. and Canada; this includes some families, but most of those staying here are mature couples.

Location

On the sea south of San Pedro -- restaurants and shops within walking distance 

Situated among plenty of other seaside resorts, the Banana Beach Resort sits south of San Pedro, right on the water. Restaurants serving Chinese and Belizean food are a seven-minute walk from the hotel, as are a mini-mart, grocery store, and pharmacy. The Garifuna Cultural Entertainment Center serves up tasty Garifuna cuisine and hosts cultural shows, a 10-minute walk from Banana Beach. Closer to home, there’s a fruit and vegetable stand a three-minute walk from the resort. It's a 10-minute taxi ride into San Pedro town, the island’s commercial hub that's full of shops, restaurants, and grocery stores. There are beaches in San Pedro, but the island’s fabled beach -- Secret Beach -- is a long and bumpy 50-minute drive from the resort. San Pedro Airport is a 10-minute drive from the hotel, and free roundtrip airport transportation is included in the room rate.

Rooms

Dated, tropical-themed rooms with air-conditioning, some with full kitchens and flat-screen TVs

There's no way around it: Most guest rooms at Banana Beach are clean, but tired and dated. The hotel is slowly improving its rooms -- some have flat-screen TVs and LED light bulbs -- but all are showing their age. Furniture maintains the resort’s banana theme, with carved bananas incorporated into wicker headboards, mirrors, and TV-stands. King or queen beds have colorful tropical-pattern bedspreads, often with matching drapes. Bathrooms are tiled and feature shower/tub combos and limited space around the sinks plus bar soap, shampoo, conditioner, and hairdryers. The drop-tile ceilings in bathrooms give everything an additional budget atmosphere.

Beach towels, safes, air-conditioning, and TVs are standard, though the latter are frequently tube units. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi signal is weak to nonexistent in rooms. Many rooms have mini-fridges and select suites have full kitchens with ovens, electric ranges, toasters, and microwaves. Sadly, tile counters in these kitchens are dinged up and cracked, and appliances are spotted with rust. The hotel’s Oceanfront Suites stand out the most, with ocean views plus separate bedroom and living rooms. They also have iHome iPod docks, two TVs, whirlpool tubs, and large balconies. Otherwise, rooms with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms are available for families or larger groups. 

Features

Two freshwater pools, sandy oceanfront with lounge chairs, restaurant and two bars 

Banana Beach Resort has two freshwater pools -- a fountain pours into the smaller one while the larger pool has a cold-water whirlpool. Both have wood decks and cushioned wicker chairs or lounge chairs. The sandy oceanfront is great for relaxing in lounge chairs but not for swimming, as it ends at a brick seawall and is often full of sea grass. There’s also a beach bar with limited hours. El Divino, the nautically-themed hotel restaurant gets solid marks from previous guests and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast is included in rooms rates. though it's a set plate featuring eggs, potatoes, and beverages, and substitutions are not allowed for free. The restaurant’s Scarface-themed bar feels like a cheesy gangster sports bar with flat-screen TVs, rope lights, and dark couches. 

Monkey Business, the hotel’s tour agency, arranges excursions and includes a gift and sundry shop, selling staples like bug spray, candy bars, and water. There’s also a book exchange. The hotel rents bicycles and golf carts (for a fee) and arranges taxis. Free round trip airport transfers are included in room rates. Arriving guests receive a welcome cocktail and there are free purified water dispensers scattered throughout the resort. Those who need to stay connected will find a computer in the lobby and free Wi-Fi is available in the hotel’s public spaces.

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Address

Sea Grape Drive, PO Box 94, San Pedro, Belize Cayes, Belize

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