When Chris Crowell and Jeff Pzena opened Cotton Tree Lodge in 2007, they set out to create a “magical place where visitors could get in touch with the land, the people, and themselves.” Connecting with the land is easy: the resort’s sustainable, solar-powered cabanas blend in almost seamlessly with the jungle. You’ll also have a chance to learn from the people of Belize during visits to local villages. And if you're looking to just relax and enjoy the scenery, you can head out to the hammock on your own private balcony.
Hailed by O, The Oprah Magazine and the New York Times for its sustainable design, Cotton Tree Lodge aims to live in harmony with its tropical surroundings. The resort occupies 100 densely forested jungle acres in southern Belize. Elevated boardwalks connect thatch-roof cabanas, which are propped up by stilts near the banks of the Moho River.
Chefs prepare the daily breakfast from freshly grown fruits and vegetables harvested from the resort’s onsite organic garden, which is run by Sustainable Harvest International. The nonprofit group supports local farmers throughout Central America and also takes Cotton Tree’s guests on daylong service projects; in the past, volunteer groups have planted organic gardens at schools and built stoves that aim to conserve wood.
Located on Central America's eastern coast, just south of Mexico, Belize is covered with tropical jungles and fringed by Caribbean beaches. Cotton Tree Lodge is surrounded by the primeval forest, but if you travel about 15 miles, you can find Punta Gorda, the capital of the district. It's a seaport where you can go snorkeling or kayaking or just lounge at the beach.
Another way to experience the landscape is by joining one of Cotton Tree's guided tours (included in the package). The resort schedules up to three excursions each day, and the trips may take you through nearby villages, Mayan ruins, or caves. Belize's tropical lowland climate is also ideal for growing cocoa; on the resort’s chocolate tour, you’ll get to learn how chocolate is produced, how to make your own batch, and how to eat it without using silverware.