by Candyce H. Stapen
Belize is a haven for eco-tourists. Families can explore rainforests, rivers, Maya ruins and spectacular reefs. The Placencia Peninsula provides access to these attractions and is home to Belize’s best beaches.
Located on the peninsula, the Roberts Grove Beach Resort is a destination where the rainforest meets the beach! At this family-friendly resort, you can enjoy both eco-adventures and up-market accommodations. Snorkel and dive to your heart’s content, swim with whale sharks in season, search for howler monkeys in the treetops, look for jaguar tracks in the rainforest and then relax on the beach.
This 22-acre resort stretches from the sea to the Placencia Lagoon and has a long strip of beach, a PADI dive center, several tour boats, two private islands, three pools and two restaurants.
Along with standard and deluxe rooms and suites, the pet-friendly resort offers two and three bedroom villas, some of which have kitchenettes. Most accommodations also come with large balconies or patios.
The resort is upscale, but without pretension so it’s no surprise that the property earned the Belize Tourist Board’s 2008 Belize Hotel of the Year award. This first luxury resort on Placencia, welcomes families, along with couples, divers, honeymooners, fishing buddies and girlfriends on getaway. It does not, however, offer any organized activities for children. Come here to enjoy a laid-back vacation with your family. The resort is best for beach and water loving families, particularly those with older grade-schoolers, tweens and teens who like snorkeling and diving as well as exploring the rainforest.
Our Editor Loves
- Staying overnight on your own private island
- Up-market accommodations and eco-adventures
- Snorkeling and diving at reef with on-site dive center
- Water Sports
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The comfortable, brightly decorated rooms create a Central American feel with Mexican terra cotta tiled floors, Belizean and Guatemalan woven throws and drapes, ceiling fans and furniture crafted from native woods. With small children in strollers, request a first floor room so you won't have to carry sleepy tots up and down the stairs, as the buildings do not have elevators. Because of the sprawling sea grape and tall palm trees lining the beach, some oceanfront rooms on the first and even on the second floors have obstructed views of the sea. Except for the cottages on the two private islands, the rooms feature air-conditioning, televisions and telephones.
Standard rooms are a spacious 384 square feet. The guestrooms are located in several two-story buildings, some with garden views and some with ocean views. Most rooms come with balconies or patios furnished with chairs and hammock.
Oceanfront junior suites, at 576 square feet, come with a small room with bunk beds suitable for two young children plus a sitting area with a couch. Some units contain two or three bedrooms and kitchenettes, a handy option when traveling with young kids.
It's rare --and delightful-- to get an island all to yourself, but that's what Ranguana, with three cottages on two acres, and Robert's Caye, with four cottages on one acre, offer. Multi-generational groups as well as adventurous families who like snorkeling and can live without air conditioning will enjoy a night or two at these islets. If you don't want to book all the islets' cabins, you can share the island with other vacationers. Although it might be possible to squeeze one crib or a cot into the cabin, the rooms are small. Most families will need to book an additional cabin for their kids.
The location of this hotel is amazing, right on the beach. Unfortunately at this time of the year there are strong winds blowing onshore bringing huge amounts of thick seaweed which makes swimming from the beach impossible. Staff were busy every morning, simply forking the weed from one place to another, definitely not improving the beach area. We had a large room & sitting room/ kitchen (not needed) & large balcony, overlooking the beach & pool. Unfortunately the furnishings were a little sad looking, especially in the bathroom where the sink units could do with replacing. Front desk staff were very friendly & helpful with trips; bird expert was a great help to my birding husband; mixed feeling about restaurant staff, not all were overly friendly with one positively unhelpful when my husband requested bread & butter with his shrimp cocktail. Could do better, potential is there.
We stayed in room 2 (very large and full ocean view). Amazing! Very comfortable beds, hot shower, bedroom for the kids, large living space and a bathroom. Super spacious! RG had everything we needed and the service was excellent. Staff was kind and willing to accommodate. Nice breakfast and restaurants available for lunch and dinner. They have 3 pools. The ocean water was warm (we were able to get into the ocean but it had seaweeds - sargassum). The hotel was cleaning it on a daily basis - made it nicer to get into the ocean. The pool was clean. Beautiful well-kept grounds filled with plants and coconut trees. They also had some wooden animal decorations that were fun for kids. The varanda overlooking the ocean had a hammock and chairs (very convenient). Everything was great at the hotel and the staff was amazing. My only advice if you are staying in this hotel is to arrange a transfer from Belize to the hotel (it takes 3hrs to drive from the international airport in Belize to Placencia. You can see the countryside, but if you prefer to fly, there is an option to fly a small airplane that costs about $200 per person and takes 20 min. My family chose to get a van transport ($75 per person) with Adventure tours (Jose driver). It was a nice drive with a stop in Belize city and at the capital Belmopan. Jose was a great guide and showed us many things. The Hotel has a great bartender Ovidio who made all drinks to perfection! Only 15 min ride to Placencia boardwalk.
Although the resort doesn't have a supervised kids' program, there's plenty for kids to enjoy.
Placencia's sands stretch for 18 miles. Robert's Grove has a long swath of beachfront, amply shaded with sea grape and palm trees and lined with enough lounge chairs that you don't have to claim one before breakfast. Kids will love swinging in the hammocks strung between the palm trees. Even though the peninsula is Belize's best beach destination, Placencia's sandy strip is somewhat narrow and not jaw-dropping gorgeous. Large patches of sea grass grow underwater near the shore. Wading through this or swimming above it did not bother us, but to avoid the sea grass beds, simply walk out onto the pier to get into the water beyond them. Lifeguards do not patrol the beach or the pools.
All non-motorized water sports are complimentary so enjoy kayaking, canoeing and sailing the lagoon.
Non-ocean goers can swim in the resort's three pools, each about four feet deep. The beachfront, fresh water pools are a great place to relax and play.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
The Inn at Robert's Grove serves as a great base for explorations. Just be aware that it may take some time to reach your destination. Getting there is part of the fun for any water excursions. Many of these begin with a wind-in-your-hair boat ride across Placencia's lagoon, a large estuary of mangrove-lined channels and wide bays. Egrets, dolphins and even manatee are possible eye catchers along the way.
Belize's jewel is a section of the 160-mile barrier reef, the Western hemisphere's longest, that parallels the country's coast. Roberts Grove offers well-equipped PADI Dive Center which arranges both snorkel and dive outings to many good spots.
Give your teen divers and snorkelers some tales to tell the gang back home by visiting when the whale sharks arrive at Gladden Spit, about an hour's boat ride from the resort. Whale sharks, the world's biggest living fish, reach up to 60 feet in length. For nearly two weeks around the time of the full moon in April, May and June, these behemoths feast on Gladden Spit's snapper. Schools of blue tang, pairs of parrotfish and grouper were spotted on guided trips to Laughing Bird Caye National Park as well as at other spots. In the waters surrounding Robert's Caye, the resort's own island, float above colorful coral and angelfish, trumpet fish and other tropical beauties as well as starfish as big as footballs.
Both Robert's Caye, one acre, and Ranguana Caye, a two-acre island managed by the resort, offer good snorkeling and nearby dive sites. Because of distance and logistics, guests visiting these islets must stay for at least one night.
Fishing enthusiasts can arrange outings from the resort to catch tarpon, permit and bonefish. Eworth Garbutt, the resort's fishing guide, won recognition as Belize Tour Guide of the year 2009. He's happy to lead both experts as well as never-evers.
Biking and Games
From the resort, pedal some complimentary bicycles into the nearby village of Placencia. Families can also check out board games from the front desk or enjoy a family movie night in the conference center.
A Continental-plus breakfast of fruit, cold cereal, muffins, toast, juice and coffee is complimentary with your room rate. For non-guests, the meal costs $16.
At Seaside, the main restaurant, Chef Frank DaSilva serves cuisine with Caribbean, European, Continental and American influences. Along with filet mignon and roast chicken, you can find grilled whole snapper, Creole shrimp and coconut lobster. There are foot-long kosher hot dogs, too.
Don't miss the generous Saturday night poolside buffet. At this all-you-can-eat meal, choices abound. Along with salads and side dishes, entrees at our feast included crab claws, chicken, shrimp, steak, lamb, snapper and whole pig, plus a variety of desserts.
Habanero Mexican Cafe
Habanero Mexican Cafe, located at the resort's marina, offers moderately priced quesadillas, tacos, fajitas and enchiladas. Children's menus are available at Seaside and at Habanero. Kids can order pasta with cheese, pizza and chicken fingers.
This Brazilian-style restaurant serves up locally-sourced meats and vegetables grown on the property.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Complimentary Wi-Fi is available.
The resort's small gym is equipped with a few exercise machines and massages are available onsite.
The Art of Smart Timing
As in many Caribbean destinations, Belize's low season is the June to November rainy season, when showers often occur in the afternoon. Hurricanes are more likely in August through October than in the beginning of summer. Late November to mid-April is high season. Shoulder season for some resorts runs from mid-April through May. The best times to go are in high season and shoulder season. Belize is an awesome Christmas, winter and spring break destination.
The Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport is located about 20 minutes from Belize City and about three hours to Placencia. Rental cars are available in Belize City, but it's much quicker to fly to Placencia. These may land someplace else before arriving at Placencia. The good news is that the flights are short - about 30 minutes. The bad news is that the planes are small and hot. If you can, choose a seat near an air vent and bring bottles of water onboard.
The resort offers complimentary transfers to and from the Placencia Airstrip.
For Mom and Dad
The resort's PADI dive center offers guided trips to a variety of reef sites. Afterwards, savor a relaxing soak in one of the rooftop hot tubs, especially romantic at night under the stars.