A Belize Jungle Lodge
Nestled between unspoiled rainforest and the banks of the Moho River, Cotton Tree Lodge offers a tranquil retreat on 100 private acres in the undiscovered Toledo District. Owner Chris Crowell and Jeff Pzena opened this Belize jungle lodge in early 2007, hoping to develop "a magical place - where visitors could get in touch with the land, the people, and themselves".
Each day begins a new adventure, with locally guided tours to Mayan villages, ancient ruins, waterfalls, and caves. Activities available on the grounds include birding, horseback riding, kayaking, swimming, medicinal plant walks, or simply relaxing in a hammock. Cotton Tree Lodge is located fifteen miles from the Caribbean - close enough to enjoy snorkeling, diving, fishing, or sailing on a day trip.
While there is a focus on sustainability here, the lodge offers all amenities to keep guests comfortable. Eleven private cabanas are fully screened with thatched roofs, private bathrooms, ceiling fans, balconies, and hammocks. The Main Lodge houses reception, a gift shop, wireless internet access, and a fully-stocked bar. The restaurant serves Belizean and American favorites prepared with the freshest ingredients from local farmers and the lodge's own organic garden.
Cotton Tree Lodge features 11 thatched cabanas in six different styles to accommodate individuals, couples, families, or friends traveling together. Ten of the cabanas are gathered around a central boardwalk system, creating a village feel. The eleventh is set back a mile into the jungle for those seeking an adventurous experience. All cabanas are built well above the ground and many have private balconies with hammocks and views of the Moho River or gardens.
Each cabana is hand-crafted with traditional bay leaf thatch roofs and native wood details. All are fully screened and furnished with ceiling fans, louvered shutters, hand woven Mayan textiles, private bathrooms with hot showers, reading lamps, purified drinking water, and tropical flower arrangements. Electricity is available 24 hours a day and American appliances will not require converters or adapters. Daily maid service is provided.
STANDARD CABANA:(4 person max occupancy) Our simplest accommodation and approximately 300 square feet, Standard Cabanas typically feature one queen bed. Appropriate for individuals, couples, friends, or small families. A twin bed or set of bunk beds can be added upon request.
DELUXE CABANA:(4 person max occupancy) Deluxe Cabanas are approximately 400 square feet and distinguished by their private balconies with hammocks. Furnished with one or two queen beds, Deluxe Cabanas are appropriate for individuals, couples, friends, or families. A set of bunk beds can be added upon request.
HONEYMOON CABANA: (2 person max occupancy) Featuring a screened in Jacuzzi tub overlooking the Moho River, the Honeymoon Cabana is one of the most popular accommodations. Approximately 400 square feet with a king bed and private balcony. Appropriate for individuals or couples.
FAMILY CABANA: (4 adults or 2 adults and 4 children max occupancy) These larger cabanas are perfect for families, featuring one queen bed downstairs and two twin beds in a loft. An additional set of bunk beds can be added to the main level to accommodate up to two adults and four children. Approximately 400 square feet, private balcony with hammock.
JUNGLE CABANA: (2 person max occupancy) For the adventurous, this cabana is located 1/4 mile down a foot path into the jungle. Furnished with one king bed, appropriate for singles or couples, and approximately 300 square feet. A small balcony looks straight into the jungle where howler monkeys and tropical birds are frequently spotted.
DELUXE TWO-ROOM CABANA:(4 adults or 2 adults and 4 children max occupancy) The largest cabana features two separate sleeping areas with one queen bed in each. A twin bed or set of bunk beds can be added to sleep up to four children and two adults. Approximately 1000 square feet with kitchenette area and private balcony with hammocks.
Dining at the Cotton Tree Lodge
The Cotton Tree Lodge restaurant, located in the Main Lodge, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Guests usually sit family style at meals, encouraging a sense of community. Service is always friendly and attentive, and food carefully presented. Menus are influenced by a blend of Belizean, American, and European cuisine, utilizing fresh local ingredients and seasonings, with much of the produce coming from the on-site organic garden. Set menus are offered that change daily. Special dietary requests are gladly attempted to accommodate.
Breakfast is a hot and hearty buffet including fresh tropical fruit, eggs, and homemade breads. Lunches are light and nutritious, featuring items like burritos, stewed chicken, rice and beans, and salads. Lunches may be eaten in the restaurant or as a picnic on tour. Dinners begin with appetizers at the bar followed by a four course seated meal of soup, salad, entrée, and dessert. A typical dinner menu might include gazpacho, tomato herb salad, garlic sautéed shrimp, and orange cake.
The Cotton Tree Lodge bar in the Main Lodge serves Belikin beer products, a modest range of wines, and a full menu of cocktails prepared with fresh fruit juices. Nightly happy hours and appetizers make the bar a popular gathering spot before dinner. On clear nights a bar is set up by the campfire by the gazebo, allowing guests to enjoy their drinks and good company under the spectacular stars. The bar is open from 11am until close, and a snack menu is available for guests and walk-ins between meals times.
On the Grounds of Cotton Tree Lodge
To spend time on this hundred-acre Belize resort is to give yourself the opportunity to explore, to learn, to have an adventure, or to simply relax. While daily tours around Toledo are scheduled, there is plenty to occupy guests on the grounds as well.
The Moho River, cutting along the western border of the Lodge property, is 25 feet deep, very clean, and a wonderful place for a swim. Borrow one of the kayaks or traditional dugout canoes and paddle upstream to observe the wildlife living along the riverbank. If you've brought your own fishing gear you can station yourself on the dock and try to catch your dinner. The Moho is full of machaca, tarpon, and snook, but don't worry - no alligators!
Just up the banks from the Moho, the lushly landscaped grounds offer a stunning backdrop to your Belize vacation. Fruit trees grow organically and guests are welcome to pick from them. The exotic flowers lining the walkways attract a variety of bird life. Behind the Main Lodge the landscape transitions to the neat rows of the organic garden, which provides vegetables for the lodge kitchen. The Lodge gardener is always happy to show you around.
Of course, towering around the resort on all sides is the jungle. Dense with ancient trees, creeping vines, and wild creatures, it is part of what makes this lodge so special. You can explore on your own - borrowing a pair of gumboots and following the trail system, or you can go on a guided hike or medicinal plant walk. Wherever you walk on the property, the sounds which erupt from jungle, especially the howler monkeys, will surprise and delight you.
You might like to explore the area around the resort and meet some of the neighbors. A popular way to do this is on horseback, accompanied by a guide. You can also ride bicycles to the nearby villages of Santa Anna or San Felipe, where you can jump in at the local swimming hole or grab a snack from the general store.
With all the activities available here, don't forget to take some time to relax. The main lodge of the Belize resort is a popular gathering spot for guests to enjoy a drink, read a book, or play a board game with new friends. Massages in your cabana can be booked with a few days notice. And at the end of the day you can always return to the hammock on your cabana's private veranda to lie back and enjoy your beautiful surroundings.
Cotton Tree Lodge began working with Sustainable Harvest International in early 2007, just after opening the lodge. Their first project together launched an organic demonstration garden on the Cotton Tree Lodge grounds. The garden is overseen by SHI extensionists and maintained by Cotton Tree Lodge staff. Today this huge and ever growing organic vegetable garden provides much of the produce for guests and staff at the lodge. A tree nursery of hardwood and indigenous trees is reforesting some of the open land around the garden, while offering multistory farming opportunities for shade crops such as cacao. Toledo is a big organic fair-trade cacao grower and this cacao will be used in Cotton Tree Chocolate. SHI farmers from neighboring villages visit the garden for demonstrations about natural pesticides, composting, irrigation systems, and seed saving. It is a sustainable win/win project, growing every day with enthusiasm and pride from everyone involved.
As a guest at Cotton Tree Lodge you are encouraged to visit the garden anytime. It's located just behind the Main Lodge via the boardwalk to the Jungle House. Head gardener Armando Sam will be happy to show you around, point out some of the unusual tropical vegetables like cho-cho and yampi, and to explain the organic techniques used there. If SHI workshops or demonstrations are scheduled during your visit, you are welcome to participate. The lodge can also arrange a visit to the SHI family and school gardens in nearby Mayan villages with Candido Chun, SHI regional coordinator and local field trainer, per guest requests.