Escape: Beautiful Belize
October 21st, 2018
One night (a few months ago) Lara and I were faced with a travel predicament – Mexico vs Maldives. Naturally, most would choose the latter as their destination of choice, but for us, the Mexico trip was an option as a result of a destination wedding we were invited to.
If you’ve ever been to a destination wedding, you will usually be given a wedding package rate which includes air transportation as well as resort accommodations at a fixed price and more times than not, this package offers a better value than if you were to book it on your own.
The problem for us was the fact that the resort wanted to charge us full rate for our 2 year old daughter when normally she would be FREE if you were to book directly with the resort. We found this to be rather ridiculous and after a bunch of back and forths with the resort and them not budging on price, we decided that we wouldn’t be able to attend.
That same night, we also found a great opportunity to visit and stay at the Conrad Maldives during the same dates as Mexico but we decided to sleep on the decision since it was kind of a last minute and we wanted to make sure we were making the right decision.
Can you guess what happened the next morning? Long story short, we slept on the idea and decided we wanted to pull the trigger on a Maldives getaway but to our disappointment, the Conrad wasn’t available anymore and now we were stuck with no plans at all.
You’re probably thinking, how do you go from Mexico, to the Maldives, and now to Belize?? Well, personally, I’ve never been to Central, or South America for that matter but Lara has many times, including Belize, Cozumel and a few other places as a result of working on cruise ships many years ago.
I was doing some research and noticed a new Hilton Property had opened up recently and low and behold it had availability for the exact dates we wanted so we pulled the trigger on a vacation to Belize.
Belize is situated on the eastern coast of Central America with Mexico, Guatemala and the beautiful Caribbean Sea as it’s neighbours. It is home to just about 400,000 Belizeans which makes it the lowest populated country in Central America. A few things Belize is known for is, first and foremost, the Belize Barrier Reef which is one of the largest coral reef systems in the world. Belize is also home to the Great Blue Hole which is a giant marine sinkhole off the coat of Belize. Now, if the name itself isn’t recognizable, I guarantee you’ve seen a picture of this mesmerizing beauty at some point or another. Consequently, it’s no surprise that Belize is famous for its scuba diving and snorkeling.
Since our Hawaii trip in March, Lara and I have been sitting on these 2x $100USD travel credit from United Airlines. These were given to us as a service recovery for the inoperable infotainment system on our flight from Maui to Chicago. We didn’t complain about it one bit and in fact, United issued the credits as a goodwill gesture. We also had a fabulous flight attendant who comped our food and beer as well. $200USD travel credit plus free food and beer? Yes please! Thanks United!
We figured we were unlikely to use the credits before they expired next March so we used them towards our Belize flights alongside my Amex Platinum $200 travel credit. All in all, for the 3 of us, it was about $1100 for roundtrip flights to Belize which would have cost close to $1700.
Here is the overall routing for our trip, all in economy:
- Toronto to Houston on United, departing7:35am and arriving 10:30am, economy class
- Houston to Belize City on United, departing at 12:03pm and arriving 1:30pm, economy class
- Belize City to Houston on United, departing 4:47pm and arriving 8:22pm, economy class
- Houston to Toronto on United, departing next morning 7:40am and arriving 11:50am, economy class
I particularly like the layover in Houston as it will allow us to check out yet another Amex Centurion Lounge. I’m just hoping the 1h33 layover will afford us enough time to grab a quick bite and drink before heading to Belize.
Also, the overnight layover in Houston on the way back was by design as it saved us over $100 per person compared to an earlier flight option. This would be a perfect use for my Marriott Visa Free Anniversary Night that I was given when they closed the cards down back in March, as there is a Marriott In-Terminal hotel within the airport. Or I could save it for another trip.
For those of you looking to redeem miles you’d be looking at 40,000 Aeroplan and about $190 in taxes/fees per person. So for a family of 3 – 120,000 Aeroplan and $570 in taxes and fees. This translates into a cost per mile of about $0.009 which isn’t terribly good and you’d be better off paying cash and saving your miles for a better redemption. Typically, you’ll want to achieve at least $0.02 cpm with Aeroplan to make it worth it.
The new Hilton property I was referring to above is the Mahogany Bay Resort & Beach Club, Curio Collection by Hilton. It’s a relatively new property which opened in December 2017 and is currently the only Hilton property in Belize. The one thing that really drew me to this property was that their guest rooms are standalone mini cottages as opposed to the traditional rooms you would experience in regular hotels.
For our stay, we will be settling into a 700 sq.ft. 1-King Bed Garden Cottage with Loft. This should turn out to be a great setup for the little one as she’ll have her own area to sleep in. This cottage also features an indoor/outdoor shower as well as a small work space.
The property also has suites available which include mini kitchen and dining areas as well as a bit more living space especially in the 3-bedroom setup.
If you’re looking to use Hilton Honors points, you’d be looking at approximately 78,000 points per night.
Things To Do and See
As mentioned above, I’m hoping to take advantage of the many snorkeling opportunities (Belize Barrier Reef and Great Blue Hole) at the very least and perhaps try my luck at scuba diving for the very first time. I’ve read you can snorkel and dive with some manatees and sharks which would be a pretty cool experience! Belize also has an abundance of hiking trails, zip lining courses as well as numerous caves to check out and even go tubing within.
Lastly, Belize is home to Mayan Ruins which would make for an awesome day trip.
Needless to say, I’m pretty pumped about the Belize trip. I’ve been doing a lot of research and I’m sure we’ll have a great time exploring the area while we’re there. Although we’ll have the little one with us for this vacation, we’ll be sure to take advantage of some of the many great excursions Belize has to offer, even if that means us taking turns to snorkel or dive, etc.
And while this may not be the Maldives vacation we were originally planning for, and I’m sure we’ll find another opportunity to make our way there in the future, but nevertheless it’ll be a great time in Belize no doubt!