Francis Ford Coppola’s intermix of eco and pet-friendly with luxury
By Si Si Penaloza
As the coastal outpost of Francis Ford Coppola’s trio of Central American resorts, Turtle Inn in Belize fuses eco exoticism with a hint of stylish rusticism. Fragrant gardens are lovingly landscaped with tropical flowers, shady palms, Japanese-style raked sand and stately stone sculptures. Your pet is most welcome at this resort, the ideal base from which to explore this landscape of natural wonders. For more tips on getting to Belize with your furry mate, scroll down to the tail of this feature.
Wake to the best coffee in creation in your Balinese-style beach shack upon a divine stretch of pearl white sand; snuggle away the day in cozy hammocks after splashing in the sapphire sea. All Turtle Inn’s villas and cottages are roomy and showcase the best in Balinese craftsmanship. All accommodations feature iPod docks, minibar, and hand-crafted organic toiletries.
Villa design features exotic wood to great effect with a decidedly Eastern vibe – lacquered mahogany coffee tables and carved headboards. Vibrant rugs and local textiles give character and warmth and plush sofas add a touch of elegance. Coppola’s cool signature conch-shell telephones command every cottage desk, giving a deliciously unique sense of place and character.
For baby making romance minded guests, the Chinese Matrimonial Suite beckons with prime beachfront location and a 200-year-old hand-carved four-poster fertility bed. When Francis Ford Coppola is in residence, he’ll typically kick back in the two-bedroom Pavilion House, which features an intricately tiled private pool and sprawling terrace.
Pools only seen in dreams exist at Turtle Inn
Speaking of pools, Turtle Inn has two options; one is a calm emerald green circle on the lawn by the bar, moments from the sea, the other is a signature triangular infinity pool nestled between the cottages. Kayaks and paddle boats are complimentary to use for guest excursions from the resort’s beach. Staff will deliver one to you at the beach, or pick them up at Tides dive shop, where you can also arrange scuba or snorkeling trips. Diving is at its best here in April and June, during whale shark migration season. Pack a mask and snorkel for sighting sea life, although you can always buy them from the boutique.
The hotel keeps up its eco cred by keeping the carbon footprint down by favoring natural ventilation and ceiling fans over air-conditioning. All its villas and cottages are built from locally sourced material (thatch, bamboo, limestone and wood) and kitchen ingredients are grown on site.
Oriental pools on property are filled with turtles and snapping terrapins. Granite turtle sculptures are perched in potted tropical plants. At check-in there’s an impressive painting of a reptile on a massive preserved natural gourd. Turtles are everywhere – and become ever more irresistible by the day.
Feast on classic Italian dishes and wood-fired pizza at the resort’s Mare restaurant. Mariachi bands and Garifuna dancers perform weekly at Mare. Lively entertainment, Belizean fish cooked Italian-style, and crisp paired Californian wines to swoon over. What more could a gourmand want? The most romantic tables lie outside Mare’s vaulted cabana, where you can gaze at the ocean uninterrupted. Honeymooners often have a private table set up on the beach for calamari and cioppino under the stars.
If you are more of a char-grilled seafood lover, make yourself at home at the beachfront Gauguin Grill. There is also Auntie Luba’s traditional Belizean cuisine on hand to delight your taste buds. The Laughing Fish beside the pool is a laid-back beach bar with a barefoot, sand-floored vibe. For a more formal setting, hit the Skip White adjoined to Mare restaurant serves up Coppola’s own wine labels and an array of lime-spiked rum cocktails.
How to Get Your Pet to Belize
Bringing domestic pets to Belize is relatively easy insofar as the requirements are involved. The Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) regulates live animal importation. As an owner, you need to render an application to the BAHA for a valid import permit.
Belize City is the nearest airport to Turtle Inn, served by American Airlines, United and TACA. It’s strongly recommended to do your own due diligence regarding pet-friendly airlines.
Upon entry in Belize, accompanied by your domestic pet/s, the process is as follows:
Submit your valid import permit from the BAHA;
Submit your international veterinary certificate of health (valid within 14 days prior to departure);
Submit your valid rabies vaccination certificate (not less than one month or more than one year prior to the date of importation into Belize. This certificate can be included in the veterinary certificate.);
Undergo inspection by Quarantine Officer;
Pay US $30 entry fee + US $12.50 fax fee.
There are conditions to accompany the import permit (e.g. certain vaccinations are stipulated), so it is advised to contact the BAHA directly for up-to-the-minute requirements so that you can safely bring your beloved pet/s to Belize.