Review: Mahogany Bay Resort and Beach Club, Curio - A Collection by Hilton
September 9th, 2019
After a couple hours of United flight delays as well as a few missed connections on Maya Air, we finally made it to Mahogany Bay Resort and Beach Club! Needless to say, we were pretty exhausted and hungry by the time we finally got settled in. (This seems to be a recurring trend when we travel.)
We were greeted at San Pedro airport by the driver from the resort and from there he took us to the property. The resort at the time offered complimentary transfers to and from the airport although you may want to confirm with the property ahead of time to be sure. Either way, a short taxi ride will set you back around $20USD ($40BZ).
Mahogany Bay Resort is situated on the island of Ambergris Caye and is approximately 10 minutes away from downtown San Pedro where you’ll also find San Pedro Airport. The resort is perfect for singles/couples as well as larger families and groups with cottage-style accommodations ranging from king or two double beds, all the way up to four bedroom family townhomes/villas equipped with private pools. You can check out the room types and a bunch of pictures here.
If using Hilton Honors points, you’d be looking at spending between 44,000 and 80,000 points (or $141-363USD) per night depending on time of year. I saw the lower rates around May/September and the higher rates around Christmas time and into January. There is also a $45USD Daily Mandatory Charge which includes: Internet access, Beach Club & Bay Club access and activities, non-motorized watercraft and bicycle rentals, chilled towels and water spritz service at pool, local calls and lastly, $10 of the $45USD Daily Mandatory Charge is a gratuity for hotel staff. This charge should be waived if you are redeeming points, assuming they consider it a resort fee.
In terms of honors benefits, as a Gold and Diamond member you’ll receive:
AS A GOLD MEMBER, YOU RECEIVE THE FOLLOWING BENEFITS:
Gold Hilton Honors guests will receive upgrades to preferred rooms, based on availability for the entire stay at the time of check-in. Upgrades for Gold Hilton Honors guests may include the next-best available room from the room type booked. Upgrades may also be rooms with desirable views, corner rooms, rooms on high floors, rooms with special amenities or rooms on Executive Floors**, as identified by each property. Some exclusions based on rate and room type may apply. See Terms & Conditions for details.
You will receive complimentary Continental breakfast for you and up to one additional guest registered to the same room each day of your stay.
Upon entering the resort, there was a long main which was flanked by a large pond to your left as well as small food huts/shacks on your right. Continuing down the main road you’d find smaller roads branching off to your right which led to the accommodations and finally at the end of the main road is where you’d find the Great House. This is where the check-in desk was as well as the main restaurant, bar as well as swimming pool/workout facilities.
The resort itself was fairly compact compared to what you would expect from say, an all-inclusive resort or similar. As mentioned above, the accommodations were located down 3 long gravel roads just off the main road leading into the resort and were separate from the communal areas (great house, pool, restaurants, bars/cafes/shops, etc). It’s kind of hard to describe but take a look below at the aerial picture I found.
When we arrived at the resort, our bags were unloaded and subsequently reloaded onto a golf cart which would be transported to our room after check-in. We were then brought into the Great House where we were to check-in to our room. While checking in, we were brought welcome drinks by a hotel staff which were a nice touch and super refreshing after a long day of travel. I don’t recall if they were alcoholic or not but by that point in the day anything would have tasted super delicious.
We had originally booked a king-cottage with loft (shown below) which sounded fabulous but we quickly realized that sticking our daughter up in the loft to sleep, which was only accessible via a ladder, was probably a bad idea.
I’m sure it would have worked out but nevertheless I mentioned this to the front desk agent who was checking us in and inquired about an upgrade to a suite. He wasn’t immediately able to offer an upgrade and had to go speak with manager in the back office. This process took quite a few minutes but thankfully when he returned he had told us he had great news for us and was able to offer us an upgrade to a lower keeping suite, which is what I was hoping for. To be quite honest, I was hoping for a 3-bedroom family cottage but hey, you can’t win them all, right??
Since they originally had us in a different room, we were told we would need to wait a bit while the prepared the suite for us. I wasn’t exactly sure what this meant as it was already around 6pm and surely the room was ready to go, but nevertheless we were invited outside to the bar/restaurant and had a quick drink and bite to eat. Of course as soon as we went outside to the restaurant/bar area, my daughter immediately started dancing to the music the DJ was playing by the pool area. All three of us were pretty exhausted from the long day of travelling but nevertheless, she made the most of the situation and that put a smile on our faces (as well as the onlookers for that matter).
Within a half hour or so, our room was ready and we were brought to our lower keeping suite on a golf cart by one of the hotel staff. For our stay we were located in cottage 325C which housed our Lower Keeping Suite as well as an upper keeping suite above us. The outside of our unit consisted of a large screened in patio area furnished with ample seating as well as a coffee table and overhead ceiling fan and light. The inside of the suite consisted of a small kitchenette upon entering complete with a large sink, dishes and glassware, coffee maker, an induction cooktop, a fold up dinner table, as well as a Breville Smart Oven. There was also a desk just off to the side with 2 chairs. The main room consisted of 2 queen beds with side tables as well as 2 built-in closest which flanked a large bay window bench. There was also a wall mounted television and an air conditioning unit. The full bathroom consisted of a large vanity with 2 sinks and lower open shelving for towel storage and opposite the vanity was the toilet and walk-in shower complete with galvanized metal corrugated walls, a rainhead shower and wand as well as a large mahogany bench.
If there were a few words to describe the cottages, besides beautiful, it would definitely be British Colonial-style meets coastal/nautical. Think exposed loft-style wood ceilings, mahogany louvered windows, as well as rope and metal accents throughout. Personally, I absolutely loved the look and feel, although as you can see by some disgruntled guest reviews, it wasn’t appreciated by everyone. *Shakes head*
We quickly unpacked only what was necessary for that night and put the little one down to sleep. I’d be lying if I said we also didn’t immediately pass out shortly after. Hey, it was a long day what can I say!
As you can imagine, we woke up super early the next day around 5-5:30am and we were of course starving. Unfortunately, the main restaurant didn’t open until 7am and all the other establishments on-site were also closed. Nevertheless we got dressed and went for a walk around the resort. To our surprise, Rum + Bean was just starting to open at 6:30am instead of the advertised 7am. Rum + Bean is basically where most of the employees head before work to grab their caffeine fix for the day. I guess in a way you could consider this the resorts
ungodly hour morning watering hole. We grabbed a couple of Americanos and asked where we could get some food and were quickly told that one of the food shacks up the main road, Panades, was always open early for the incoming employees of the resort. Basically, most the resort staff would swing by the Panades for breakfast and Rum + Bean for their coffee and then head into work.
Food and Beverage
Speaking of food and drink establishments, Mahogany Bay Resort has a bunch. Lining the main road are the food shacks which are leased and operated by locals. Among them were Panades and Taco Shack which served local fare including tacos, stew chicken, fry jacks, burritos, etc, Sticky Fingers which served doughnuts and ice-cream, there was also a shack that served wings which I never saw open as well as another shack called 501 Fresh which served salads, empanadas and a few others.
Closer to the Great House you had a Sushi Restaurant called Jyoto, as well as a martini bar called The Dirty Martini and as mentioned above, the coffee bar Rum + Bean which served specialty coffee drinks as well as rum inspired cocktails and beverages (apparently #1 Coffee Shop in Ambergris Caye on TripAdvisor).
Within the Great House just opposite the check in desk was Stirred which served craft cocktails and then making your way outside to the pool area was the main resort restaurant called The Verandah where they served breakfast, lunch and dinner. Last but not least was the pool bar, Shaken, which served cocktails, beer and some food offerings.
There was also The Beach Club which was located on their private beach but I’ll touch upon that a little later. The resort offered happy hour specials daily which included 2 for 1 drinks for all beer, wine, cocktails, etc. as well as discounted menu offerings. Needless to say this was a very popular time at the resort!
While on the topic of food, let’s quickly talk about the Hilton Honors benefit at this property.
As a MyWay preference for Gold and Diamond members, you are entitled to free continental breakfast at The Verandah for you and one additional guest registered to your room. I’m sure if you had multiple people with you, like your children, the hotel would extend this benefit to them as a good gesture.
The way this resort operated their free breakfast was quite interesting. During high occupancy periods, they would offer a hot buffet spread for Gold and Diamond members but during low occupancy periods, they would remove the hot buffet entirely and instead give you a selection of continental items as well as a 50% discount off the menu. It wasn’t until the last 2 days of our stay that we experienced this and at first I was pretty annoyed since what was normally being offered for free I now had to pay for. I quickly remembered that I was really only entitled to continental breakfast anyway and that the hot buffet was only a courtesy from the hotel.
During the hot buffet mornings, you could expect eggs, bacon, sausage, potato hash, fry jacks, assorted cheese, yogurts, pastries and house made hot sauce which was awesome. The continental offering on the other days consisted of pastries/bread, homemade jam, yogurt/granola, fruit, coffee and local juice.
Within the resort you have The Great House which is 22,000 sq.ft. and is the largest standing wooden structure in Belize. It has the check-in counter, a restaurant and bar, washrooms and business center on the main level as well as some rooms on the upper level for meetings and functions.
Just outside the Great House is another building which houses the resort gift shop as well as concierge desk. The concierge can pretty much book anything you want but they also have pre-arranged packages and excursions for you to choose from, including but not limited to: snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing, inland tours, golf cart rentals, and so on. During our time on the resort, we booked a Hol Chan snorkelling tour which I’ll save for a future post. We opted to rent our golf cart off the resort since it was about 50% cheaper and most golf cart rental companies will actually pick you up and drop you off at the resort. Also, the golf cart rental industry is super competitive so feel free to work your negotiation skills to score a good rate! You’re probably super curious about the whole golf cart part, but that’s the main mode of transportation on the island aside from bikes and walking. You won’t find many cars and if you do they are mainly taxis or delivery vehicles. Driving a golf cart around as you can imagine was super fun.
The resort also had one large pool with ample sun chairs and umbrellas as well as private cabanas you could rent should you be so inclined.
There was a towel station where you could redeem tickets (you get them during check-in) for towels, as well as a water/sunscreen station which was a nice gesture. The fitness center was also close by the pool and had Peleton bikes, a few treadmills and TRX stations as well.
Last but not least is probably one of the best features of the resort – their own private beach club. The beach club was accessible by the resorts private speed boats which operated every hour and took about 10 minutes to get there. The beach club had a bar and grill, non-motorized water-sport equipment like paddle boards, lounge chairs and giant palapas for some shade as well as over-water tanning beds which could be rented. The great thing about the beach and likely a huge selling point is that it was sargassum (seaweed) free! This is usually a big issue in Belize (as well as other areas in Central America and the Caribbean) and every other shoreline we came across was riddle with it. And if I’m not mistaken, Mahogany Bay’s Beach Club is one of the only, if not the only, beach without seaweed. Trust me, this is a big deal since it gives off a nasty sulphuric stench as it decomposes and can also irritate skin. Workers need to clean the seaweed from the water multiple times a day, so as you can imagine, it’s a pretty serious issue.
Overall our time in Belize at Mahogany Bay Resort and Beach Club was very enjoyable. It was my first time staying at a Curio Collection property and I was impressed. For those of you not familiar, here’s a snippet from Hilton which I feel does a great job explaining the Curio Collection properties:
Curio – A Collection by Hilton is Hilton’s latest brand and will be a carefully selected, global collection of distinctive four and five star hotels that offer travelers local discovery and authentic experiences in key markets. Just as the word “curio” can refer to something of interest, unique or even rare, each Curio hotel will be different from the next, with individuality being a common thread, along with the quiet reassurance of the Hilton name behind every location.
The staff at Mahogany Bay Resort were always friendly and would often go above and beyond to help out. On the morning of our departure, the F&B manager prepared a large to-go container for us since we’d miss breakfast due to our early flight. This was such a sweet gesture and we definitely appreciated it. Also during our meals, the wait staff would be sure our daughter always had her pint-sized glass of milk, with a straw and all, before we even asked for it. It’s the little things that really make a positive impression during your stay like luggage and bags being brought to your room (to be honest, it was likely done out of necessity because of the gravel roads but nevertheless, it was one less thing to worry about), befriending and chatting with staff you see on a day to day basis and them getting to know you and your preferences, warm greetings from all hotel staff, and the like.
The resort was clean, had most of the amenities you could want and the food and beverage offerings were great as well. Although you weren’t right in the thick of San Pedro, you were only a short 10 minute golf cart ride from the city.