Author & Photo credits: Beth Pollock
Why you need to stay here
My favourite hotels are the ones that really connect with their location; I love seeing a country reflected in the rooms, artwork, and especially in the staff. Naia Resort and Spa delivers on the way it proudly communicates the beauty of Belize, the enchanting Central American country with world-class jungles and beaches.
Owner Stewart Krohn has lived in Belize for 45 years and raised his family there. When he decided to build the property, he insisted it would reflect his love of the country. He hired an architect, interior designers and artists who would use local inspiration in its design. And the staff – sales and marketing, chefs, masseuses and more – is 100% Belizean.
Naia takes its name from naiads, the Greek nymphs of lakes, streams, rivers and fountains. From beach to lagoon, from plunge pool to resort pool, the resort is imbued with a loving connection to water that defines much of this nation.
Add to this a dreamy spa and great food, and you won’t want to miss the elegant Naia.
Most of the accommodations are studios and one-bedroom suites; we loved our beach view one-bedroom unit with a private plunge pool off the front veranda. It was a perfect way to cool off in privacy. And when we got out of the pool, we could choose between the chaise loungues and the table and chairs on the porch.
There was plenty of room in the bedroom and living room, with local artwork displayed throughout. The bathroom was spacious with loads of counter space and a standalone tub, but nothing could have been as glorious as watching the sun set from the outdoor shower. And our housekeepers left a charming note every night that featured an inspirational quote.
If you’re travelling with a larger group or looking for more space, there are a few two- and three-bedroom units, some of which boast a full-sized private pool.
Food and Drink
Naia’s signature restaurant, 1981, is named for the year Belize achieved independence. From the ceviche to the pork ribs, the menu is full of locally inspired, delicious options. No matter which entrée you pick, the Lime and Ginger Cheesecake will put a tropical finish to your meal.
The Beach Bar and Grill is great for a casual lunch. Enjoy the tangy Orange Roasted Pork Arepa with a colourful slaw on the side, while enjoying a beautiful ocean view. The restaurant is equally great for breakfast, where you’ll be charmed by the tropical fruit plate with a banana made to look like a dolphin.
As amazing as the rest of the property is, the six-acre spa is truly the centerpiece of Naia. In fact, it was designed that way: the spa concept came first, and the hotel was designed around it. With its lush greenery, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a jungle sanctuary.
The spa is a collection of islands connected by wooden bridges that cross over the freshwater lagoon, ripe with lily pads. Each treatment room (there are six) is set on its own island. My husband and I opted for massages on Romance Island, the treatment room designed for couples. Many of the treatments featured local ingredients like aromatic copal and ginger, or coconut pulp. After a morning spent kayaking, the massages were deeply restorative.
If you want to work out, the fitness room has a row of treadmills overlooking glorious tropical foliage. And you can opt for a post-workout juice or smoothie at the Reflections Spa Café with a lagoon view.
There’s plenty to do on and around the property. Since we’d visited the jungle before arriving at Naia, we wanted to focus on water activities, so the resort arranged lagoon kayaking and snorkeling tours. But whether you hope to visit a local chocolatier, go ziplining, or explore Mayan Ruins, they’ll put together the package that works for you.
On the other hand, no one will blame you if you just want to hang out at the beach. The owners left many of the palm trees standing, giving the beach a castaway feel. Sink into one of the hammocks with a good book to summon your inner Robinson Crusoe.
Naia Resort and Spa is located on the lovely Placencia Peninsula in Belize. It’s easy to get there – from the international airport in Belize City, it’s a half-hour flight or three-hour drive. Careful planning in the area has avoided an overbuilt feeling. If time allows, spend an evening in the town of Placencia for dinner and drinks.
And if you fall in love with Naia, you might want to check out Coco Plum, a resort community on the same property, which offers lots and homes for sale. All Naia resort amenities are open to Coco Plum residents.
Notes: The author visited as a guest of Naia Resort and Spa, who did not review or approve this story.