15 Minutes to Paradise
By Peta Phipps
I flew in from Miami, wanting to be swept away by the beauty I was hearing o much about, here in Belize. Touching down in Belize City, my journey hadn’t ended yet, I needed to get to Ambergris Caye on Tropic Air, another 15 minutes to paradise. Eyes fixed on the shades of aqua that transitioned from light to dark, below the plane, I could tell we were getting close to exactly what I had been dreaming of, The Beach Club at Mahogany Bay Resort. I came to swim, splash, see and be seen, in the hottest new cool spot off the coast of Belize. Moments after touching down, I was on the outside of the quaint Ambergris Caye airport terminal, pointing out my suitcase.
The road, which appeared to be the only one on the island, was abuzz with the whirring of golf carts and clacking of bicycles. As I exited the airport, which took little more than a step off the sidewalk, where my luggage once sat and unto the street to meet my driver, my anticipation settled as I felt we were almost there. Little did I know that three miles on a sandy dirt road could take approximately 15 minutes when it’s the only road to get you to the resort ad, alas, the only main artery on the entire island. It was such a scene, I couldn’t help but smile the entire way. The pace of the golf carts on this two lane “road” intermingled with the occasional automobile and a few bicycles, made for interesting viewing and not too many close calls. These folks knew what they were doing. There’s never a rush hour here…it’s always island time. I figured I’d slip into the island vibe and take everything as it came.
Switching up my vibe from city slicker to island girl was as easy as can be. Pulling up to the replica of great house where the reception and check in desks were located, was a modern take on the old plantation style mansions with luxurious appointments and attentive staff who escorted me to my spacious 3-bedroom cottage, set atop an inlet from the sea. There was no doubt in my mind that I was close to reaching my place, surrounded by water. Slipping out f my travel clothes, picking one of the fab bathrooms, where the indoor showers of these luxe accommodations are lined with zinc, normally found on the roof of far less accommodating accommodations on any given island. The juxtaposition of these very basic elements amidst the dark wood-planked floors and sumptuous furnishings leant a sensibility that was undeniably Caribbean.
Choice of showers made, swimsuit on, sunscreen in hand, I made my way through the other cottages, up to the main entrance where I was almost tempted to pop in to the chocolate shop, or grab an ice cream cone and donut for the ride to the beach club, but then I remembered that a girl must maintain her figure, besides, there was always tomorrow or the next day. My motivation to get to the Beach Club propelled me towards the only way to get there; the resort’s boat. A boat ride to the beach club? Yes, thanks! Cutting through the mangroves in a no wake zone, the captain announced that in only 15 minutes, we would be pulling up to the beach club. Only another 15 minutes to paradise? I can make it. learning about the mangroves and how the yellow leaves are the ones that have filtered the most salt out of the brackish water and will fall off and settle to the bottom to create nutrients and return to the earth. That was an interesting tidbit of knowledge and as we made our way out of the mangroves, into the Caribbean Sea, the dark waters and narrow canal gave way to those bay blue hues. The sun was shining, the engine was roaring and we were riding the waves to my cabana/daybed on stilts. On our approach to the beach club, I could see the handful of these swanky beach accommodations, strewn across the shallow waters of the Beach Club. had arrived!
Hopping off the boat and approaching the bartender who had my reservation for the premium perch, set farthest out in the water than all the others. Given its position off shore, one would have anticipated the water being a bit deeper than the daybed/cabanas a few yards closer to the shore. This was not the case. The 20 inches of water, never got much deeper, making each bed as accessible for the barmen as the other. The service was on point. There was never a moment when I wanted for anything. Before one drink was through, the staff was there to take my next order. Even when I went to shore to grab a stand up paddle board, the team came and refreshed my cushions, towels, and billowing curtain on this elevated perch in the middle of the water. This experience of being 10 feet above the shallow, clear blue water, feeling the breeze caressing my skin and cooling it from the dappled sunlight that warmed the day was unparalleled. I paddled boarded around from daybed to daybed and out to a float that was anchored about 50 yards out in a little deeper water. Lunch was served immediately following this little excursion that I decided to take. All laid out in my elevated perch, I felt like a queen for the day.
Luckily, I was spending more than one night at the resort, so just before sunset, as the last boat back to the resort was heading home, I bid my beach adieu, for the day, knowing I’d be back tomorrow…just after breakfast. Speaking of which, my chocolate chip pancakes were dusted with fresh cocoa powder. The back bacon is thick and delicious. The food in general is exceptional. The hot sauce is made right in property, hot as fire, and is not to be missed. They grow and produce as much as possible here on property. All baked goods, even the donut shop confections are made right here. In fact, Executive Chef, also Food & Beverage Director, is passionate about here work and took an entire evening to prepare a meal for me, and join me in eating it. When she heard I was from Jamaica, she purchased a ripe sour sop and made me the best sour sop ice cream. There is an unreal level of service and attention to detail at this resort. Jyoto Japanese restaurant blew me away. Chef Toshiya Tsujimoto has made his mark here at his new home. The sushi cannot be any fresher and the presentation is art meets culinary excellence. Dining at the resort is as diverse as it is rich.
Having to watch my figure was now a thing of the past. I rode a bike around the property, exploring and seeing its growth. I felt like that was enough exercise for me to make my return trip to the Beach Club and feel fit. I made my reservation for my special spot in the water, cabana 4, shhh, don’t tell them I told you but it’s a must. Book it way in advance and enjoy your time at the Beach Club. Do this and experience exclusivity to the max. Paradise is only 15 minutes away.