Out of the ordinary in coastal Belize

Belmopan, Belize – Martin Krediet wears sunglasses, a battered white trilby, shorts and a loose shirt that hints at a highly toned physique. His hair is long and artfully rumpled in a “just finished paddle-boarding, dude” sort of way. He is super-tanned. Beyond laid back. He is also, it’s fair to say, not a typical hotel general manager.

Then again, after a long, bumpy ride from the jungle-lush interior of Belize to the country’s sun-blanched coast, the last person you want to meet is a chap in a stiff suit with a name badge pinned to his lapel. (“Welcome, sir, welcome. Have you received your delegate’s lanyard? Jeremy will show you our subterranean conference facilities.”)

Frigatebirds are soaring overhead, for goodness sake. There’s the scent of the ocean in your nostrils and palm trees galore. Just at this point in your life what you need more than anything else is for Martin Krediet to wander over, shake you warmly by one hand, thrust a pink drink into the other one, and then lead you to your blue-and-white striped hammock, with its view of the Caribbean Sea. Take the rest of the day off, Martin. Your work here is done.

Don’t be fooled. Behind all his barefoot beach-chic aplomb, Martin runs a slick operation. Turtle Inn is part of filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola’s stable of luxury resorts. (He has a forest lodge called Blancaneaux 80km inland, and a third, La Lancha, near the Mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatemala.) Around here, a lot of effort goes into making everything seem, well, effortless.

You’ll have been lured here by the diving, no doubt. After all, the coast runs parallel with a barrier reef second only to that of Australia. The blue, blue sea is pricked by green sprouts of coral cays, and below the surface swim huge rays, parrot fish and lugubrious loggerhead turtles. (It’s not called Turtle Inn for nothing.) Happily, the resort has a dive shop and its own dive boat, Miss Ellie, available for your scuba-based pleasure.

Or perhaps you prefer the fresh seafood. An excellent choice, if I may say so. From your vantage point standing on the beach – a position you will adopt a lot of the time – the centre of the resort basically goes: beach bar, pool, Italian restaurant. (Coppola is reputed to require decent pizza and pasta wherever he goes.) If you prefer your lobster spatchcocked and flame-blackened, then there’s the Gauguin Grill, a beach-side barbecue indicated by a skew-whiff sign plonked on the beach. Or cross the road to Auntie Luba’s Kitchen, a shack where you can dine out on such local fare as rice and beans and coconut shrimp, while the sun sets over the lagoon.

Read more: Out of the ordinary in Coastal Belize

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