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Starbound - A Moviemakerâ??s Jungle Retreat
(2016 - Spring Issue)

Writer: Diane Slawych

Few resorts offer the opportunity to spend the night in a famous Hollywood director’s private villa—unless you happen to be staying at the Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize.

After a visit to the tiny Central American country in the 1980s, Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, The Outsiders) discovered an abandoned lodge and fell in love with the location in a remote corner of the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. He bought the property, which remained a family retreat for about a decade until he opened it to the public in 1993.

A dramatic Hideaway

The luxury resort in western Belize’s Cayo District includes 20 cabanas and villas amidst a lush tropical landscape. Handmade wooden furnishings, colonial-era antiques and colourful Mayan textiles are what you’ll find, along with modern conveniences such as an Illy espresso machine and iPod docking station. The most unusual feature is the large conch shell, which doubles as a telephone!

 Coppola’s eclectic two-bedroom villa (he visits about once a year) is decorated with his personal art and antiques. Stay here if you want your own plunge pool, sun deck and a full-time attendant to cater to your every need.

 Environmentally conscious travellers will welcome the emphasis on conservation, which extends beyond LED lights and organic handmade soaps. Cabanas are built from locally sourced materials such as thatch and bamboo and are designed in such a way that air conditioning is not needed; pools are sanitized with non-chlorine-based treatments; and an organic garden grows herbs and vegetables for the lodge’s two restaurants.

Coppola has left his imprint in other ways too. Every room has a complimentary copy of Zoetrope: All-Story (an award-winning magazine Coppola, who is also a movie producer and screenwriter, founded); ceiling fans in the Jaguar Bar come from the set of Apocalypse Now; and the Montagna Ristorante menu includes Italian dishes based on Coppola family recipes.

Natural Surroundings and Maya Sites

At its heart, Blancaneaux invites relaxation whether that entails cooling off in the infinity pool, enjoying a Thai massage at the Waterfall Spa or swaying in a hammock with a Belikin beer. Guests can also explore the surrounding area on horseback (the lodge has its own horse stables) or hike to local waterfalls and see some of the 150 orchid species that grow within a few kilometres of the lodge.

 Not to be forgotten is the region’s rich pre-Columbian history. Day tours can be arranged to archaeological sites such as Caracol—the most extensive Mayan site in Belize, with its great 42-metre-high pyramid—or Tikal—one of the most impressive Mayan sites of all, across the border in Guatemala.

Vast and mysterious, a Hollywood producer could have a field day with a set like this.

Travel Planner

Book your next retreat at thefamilycoppolaresorts.com/en/blancaneaux-lodge.

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