Sandy beach dotted with lounge chairs and hammocks
Large freshwater pool with lounge chairs overlooking the beach
Oceanfront location about 15 minutes from San Pedro by car
Simple rooms with air-conditioning, kitchenettes, and queen beds
Thatch-roofed restaurant and bar serves local and international cuisine
Free welcome rum punch
Free Wi-Fi (but doesn’t reach all cabanas)
Decor is dated and simple plus some upkeep issues throughout
San Pedro dining and bars not within walking distance
Beach overgrown with sea grass, and huge seawall mars the view
Airport transportation not included, unlike most island resorts
Extra fee to use air-conditioning in some rooms (otherwise ceiling fan only)
Royal Caribbean Resort is a budget resort on the south shore of Ambergris Caye. Charm is pretty scarce here, and the 42 cabanas are set in rows like an Army boot camp. Cabanas have vaulted ceilings, kitchenettes, queen beds, flat-screen TVs with cable channels, and air-conditioning. Like much of the resort, they are looking worn. Amenities include a big pool that's seen better days, a restaurant serving greasy Belizean and international cuisines, and a beach-bowling lane. Lounge chairs line the sea-grass choked beach, but the sand is poorly maintained and a breaker wall in the sea obstructs the otherwise beautiful view. For a stay with nicer rooms that's closer to San Pedro, a giant waterslide and floating trampoline, and rustic, beachy atmosphere, Caribbean Villas Hotel might fit the bill.
Lush gardens and seafront location, but without much in the way of charm
Royal Caribbean Resort opened in 2006 and feels like you’re staying at a tropical army base -- albeit one with pastel-painted bungalows steps from the beach. The small cabanas are setup in neat rows perpendicular to the waterfront and separated by lush gardens overgrown with blossoming hibiscus flowers and palms. Despite it's relatively young age, the resort isn’t well maintained and feels dated. Turquoise-painted pavers (with lots of flaking paint) and a few wooden lounge chairs surround the big ocean-view pool. The oceanfront’s covered with sea grass that could be swept up, but instead its left to rot (and stink) on the beach. The hotel’s “amenities” are independently owned and not actually part of the resort. Music’s bumping at the thatch-roofed, ocean-view restaurant/bar next door and the dive shop’s also quick to point out they’re not associated with the hotel. During the holidays, many locals stay at Royal Caribbean and while some guests come from abroad, Royal Caribbean isn't the kind of place at the top of most lists. The resort sees few families, and most guests are a mix of younger and more mature couples.
Seaside location on Ambergris Caye’s southern shore, a 15-minute drive to town
Royal Caribbean is located on Ambergris Caye’s southern shore, across the street from the island’s water purification plant. It’s a 15-minute drive (or 25-minute bike ride) to San Pedro, the island’s commercial hub that's bustling with restaurants, bars, and shops. There’s a convenience store a five-minute walk from Royal Caribbean and two restaurants serving Belizean cuisine a 10-minute walk away. The nearest grocery store is a 15-minute walk (or five-minute drive) and next to a Chinese restaurant, pharmacy, and bakery. The Marco Gonzalez Maya site -- where visitors can explore historic Mayan ruins -- is a 30-minute golf cart ride away. Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley, the island's most renowned diving and snorkeling sites, are 10-minute boat rides from the resort. Secret Beach, probably the island’s best beach (that everybody knows about now) is a bumpy hour-long drive. Expect a 12-minute taxi ride to San Pedro Airport.
Simple rooms with queen beds, kitchenettes, and flat-screen TVs with premium cable channels
Cabanas at Royal Caribbean are more utilitarian than royal -- as the hotel's name might imply -- and at 500-square feet, they feel like big efficiency apartments with ocean, pool, or garden views. Cabana interiors have tan walls with mahogany trim and paintings of fish or tropical marinas full of sailboats. Living rooms are outfitted with wicker couches with plush cushions that look dated, and include flat-screen TVs with an abundance of channels, including movie channels. Small kitchenettes include mini-refrigerators, microwaves, coffee makers, and toasters.
Bedrooms are separated from the living room by a wall that doesn't reach the ceiling, and have queen beds with colorful patchwork bedspreads. Cabanas with an extra twin bed are also available, but the rooms end up feeling cramped. Mahogany wardrobes with lots of shelves are also standard. In the tile bathrooms, expect stand-up showers (with a built-in seat), fluted oyster-shaped sinks and bar soap (some rooms also include shampoo). It’s also worth noting the plumbing isn’t great -- the water pressure is weak -- and it's hard to miss the toilet-top drawings of what is and isn’t flushable.
Other amenities available to borrow from the front desk include rollaway beds, irons, ironing boards, hairdryers, stovetops, and beach towels. All cabanas have Wi-Fi, but it’s spotty to nonexistent in most.
Sandy beachfront not great for swimming, tiled pool with loungers, and free coolers
Royal Caribbean is a budget option and the management doesn’t try very hard to make the best of what’s around. The sandy beachfront isn’t great for swimming, as its covered in sea grass and often stinks. There are lots of lounge chairs along the palm-lined beach but a tall seawall, about 30-feet into water blocks the azure view. The resort’s big pill-shaped freshwater pool with ocean views has seen better days. Its tiles are chipped and paint is flaking off the surrounding turquoise-painted pavers. Only 12 wooden lounge chairs surround the pool (two have cushions), so get there early to claim your chaise. There’s also a run-down outdoor bowling lane next to the pool.
The resort doesn’t have its own restaurant or dive shop, but there are independently owned establishments right next door. The thatch-roofed Island Time Beach Bar serves up greasy international and Belizean cuisine, has happy hour specials, and live music. Scuba School Belize has diving certification classes, island dives, and overnight diving trips to the Blue Hole.
There’s a book exchange in the lobby and a safe for guests to store valuables. Visitors can also print boarding passes (there’s no guest computer), borrow coolers, arrange tours, and rent bicycles and golf carts (for a fee). Ice and water are available for purchase. Laundry service is available for a fee and there’s free, spotty Wi-Fi throughout the resort.
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