Alaia Belize, Intriguing New Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel

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I always like to keep track of cool-looking hotel openings with the major hotel groups, given the opportunities to earn & redeem points. A new Marriott property just opened in Central America that piques my interest…

Alaia Belize, Marriott’s first hotel in Belize

Alaia Belize is a Marriott Autograph Collection property that just opened in San Pedro, Belize, which is in the Caribbean Sea. This is Marriott’s first property in Belize, and it’s also the first four diamond resort on Ambergris Caye, which is Belize’s largest island.

There are several daily flights between Belize City and San Pedro, and the flights are blocked at just 15-25 minutes. Alternatively you can take a ferry, though that’s a longer journey.

The resort has 155 guest rooms and suites, ranging from studios to three bedroom villas. The average room here features 1,200 square feet of indoor space and 900 square feet of outdoor space, though that obviously reflects that the resort has a lot of larger, multi-bedroom accommodations.

The property has plenty of cool amenities, like Belize’s first-ever suspended rooftop pool and lounge, five different dining concepts, a spa, a gym, 1,000 feet of beachfront access, and much more.

Below are some renderings of the property (of course it’s anyone’s guess if the resort looks this nice in real life).

Why I’m interested in this resort

Often my relative prioritization of destinations comes down to where there are good hotel options, either in terms of luxury or value. I’ve heard good things about Belize in general and it’s a country that has been on my radar, yet somehow I had no clue this hotel was in the process of being opened.

So this looks like a place that could be worth visiting on a trip to Belize. For that matter, it could be practical to travel to a country like Belize sooner rather than later, given how restricted long haul international travel is.

Last year I had the chance to visit Calala Island in Nicaragua, which is a Small Luxury Hotels of the World property associated with World of Hyatt. Now, it goes without saying that’s an experience that’s on a completely different level, given that it’s literally a four villa private island that’s all inclusive. If you haven’t done it and have the points, I’d highly recommend considering it.

Four Seasons is also opening a hotel in Belize soon, which is probably the Four Seasons location under development that I’m most excited about. The Four Seasons Belize Caye Chapel is expected to open in the not-too-distant future (it was originally slated for 2021, but that seems unlikely at this point), and it looks jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It’s located on a private island in Belize, and it looks like the Maldives without the jetlag.

Bottom line

Marriott has just opened its first hotel in Belize, which is Alaia Belize. This is a Marriott Autograph Collection property that features 155 rooms, and it looks like a nice option for any Marriott loyalist who wants a beach vacation not too far from the United States.

I’m definitely keeping this hotel on my radar, and look forward to reading some firsthand reports.

Anyone considering a trip to Alaia Belize? Or has anyone been to Belize in general, and/or San Pedro, and have any thoughts & tips?

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  1. Jen

    Actually en route to Belize now! Staying at the Curio (Mahogany Bay) in Ambergris Caye - looks great and got it for under $100 a night with the Hilton price match and hopeful for Diamond upgrades thanks to the Aspire. Looks to be a little less resort-y than this Marriott. Overall looking forward to it!

  2. Lou

    Visited San Pedro in December 2019 and walked past the construction every day - the beach shown in the rendering looks like your classic untouched white sand beach - but in reality the beaches in that area of San Pedro are pretty rocky and overall not that nice. The ferry is a little bit of a hectic experience and everything in Belize takes longer. With that being said - San Pedro is extremely unique where...

    Visited San Pedro in December 2019 and walked past the construction every day - the beach shown in the rendering looks like your classic untouched white sand beach - but in reality the beaches in that area of San Pedro are pretty rocky and overall not that nice. The ferry is a little bit of a hectic experience and everything in Belize takes longer. With that being said - San Pedro is extremely unique where everyone on the island rents a golf cart, and I would love to go back.

  3. Jerry

    This is an exciting development, but Caulker is just miles better than San Pedro.

    A real exciting development would be a good hotel in Belize City. It could use a points hotel better than the Radisson.

  4. HoKo

    Looks awesome. I can't wait to see a OMAAT review for this property.

    Any details regarding pricing/hotel award category?

  5. Saurabh Rao

    Lucky, I’m taking my dad and in laws to Belize and we are booked at this property for 4 nights in their 3 bedroom beach villa, in a couple of weeks. Let me know if you are interested in any specific aspects, and I will try and capture those.

  6. KEVIN

    Been wanting to go to Belize for a few years but a luxury hotel option doesn’t exist. Glad to see a Four Seasons opening. Will have to check that out in couple years time.

  7. Andy

    I stayed at the Curio Mahogany Bay just before the pandemic. The Curio is 5 min by bike from the Autograph, which was under construction last year. I really liked the Curio, it had excellent staff and the villas or suite room are great.

    I did the boat transfer to San Pedro, rather than the plane. The boat transfer was quite scenic and operated ontime without any difficulties. So I would recomend to do at...

    I stayed at the Curio Mahogany Bay just before the pandemic. The Curio is 5 min by bike from the Autograph, which was under construction last year. I really liked the Curio, it had excellent staff and the villas or suite room are great.

    I did the boat transfer to San Pedro, rather than the plane. The boat transfer was quite scenic and operated ontime without any difficulties. So I would recomend to do at least one way by boat.

    Belize and in particular San Pedro was quite severly hit by the pandemic, both healthwise and economically. I understand the Curio did actively support the local community. I guess the Autograph did indirectly by continuing construction.

    So bottom line I would probably return to the Curio, given the nice experience and their stance for the community during the pandemic. This is nothing against the Autograph, which I don’t know, just a positive note for the Curio.

  8. jfhscott

    I've been to Caye Caulker perhaps 7 times and day tripped up to Ambergris.

    First, the beaches are not especially good - in fact, they generally are tiny. And rather than a sandy bottom, the ocean immediately by the beaches are grassy. This is a great nursery for the fish that grow up and go to the reef. But it is not so pleasant for human use, and the grasses wash up on what beach exists.

    So, I'd go with some caution if one is expecting beaches.

  9. MDA

    I’ve been to Ambergris Caye. I took the small plane rather than the ferry. I stayed at matachica resort. It was individual huts with plunge pools - on the beach. Biggest problem was sargassum. The beach was horrible and smelt. The resort was small and they cleaned the beach several times a day but it did not help. I don’t if this is still an issue but it sadly ruined the beach experience for me...

    I’ve been to Ambergris Caye. I took the small plane rather than the ferry. I stayed at matachica resort. It was individual huts with plunge pools - on the beach. Biggest problem was sargassum. The beach was horrible and smelt. The resort was small and they cleaned the beach several times a day but it did not help. I don’t if this is still an issue but it sadly ruined the beach experience for me which is why I had gone there.
    Alila looks like it is right in San Pedro (according to google maps). Be interesting to know what is like and if the sargassum is still
    a problem.

  10. Adams9802

    I worked in Belize for a couple years. It was the worst time in my life. I was unfortunately in the rainforest part next to Guatemala but the poverty is incredible. I find most places that open there are expats exploiting the poor local work force. My staff often worked 10 hour days for 30 USD. I however was paid by western standards(tax free) and was given a large house and car. It is economic colonialism. I shall never return.

  11. ChrisW

    Caye Caulker is fantastic but definitely not the place for a luxury hotel.

  12. PattyS

    I believe the exterior renderings are fairly accurate except for the photo showing trees behind the buildings. There are homes/condos, Cindy's Grocery Store and a lake behind the Alaia.
    If you come for a visit, check out the Belize Sailing Center next door (to the left as you face the beach.) and rent a Hobie. A great place to sail!
    It's disappointing that Marriott posted a "personal safety warning" on the properties edge...

    I believe the exterior renderings are fairly accurate except for the photo showing trees behind the buildings. There are homes/condos, Cindy's Grocery Store and a lake behind the Alaia.
    If you come for a visit, check out the Belize Sailing Center next door (to the left as you face the beach.) and rent a Hobie. A great place to sail!
    It's disappointing that Marriott posted a "personal safety warning" on the properties edge but that may just be a general company policy. Although it is important to be travel savvy, the Belizean people are some of the kindest I've ever met. I've been coming here for 15 years and have had a home here for 11 of those. Please get out to meet your host country and support the local economy. I'll see you on the reef!

  13. upstater

    As noted by jfhscott, the aerial photo showing the beach is deceptive; there is a barrier reef and in between the reef and the beach is sea grass. I'd expect the hotel will import same fra true aerial shot om some place to widen the beach, but a true aerial short will NEVER look like the one pictured here.

  14. upstater

    sorry for the typo - should be "import sand from someplace"

  15. Alonzo

    My boss is staying here soon. Category 6 spot that is definitely on my radar. Cash rates look pretty decent.

  16. Joseph N.

    I've been to Ambergris Caye and we thoroughly enjoyed it and all of Belize. I agree with previous comments that if you are going for the beaches, I wasn't, the beaches on Ambergris Caye are going to disappoint you.

    The Alaia Belize looks very nice but honestly it is so sad to see a wonderful place with wonderful people fill up with cookie-cutter Americanized junk.

    The kind of people who are going to go...

    I've been to Ambergris Caye and we thoroughly enjoyed it and all of Belize. I agree with previous comments that if you are going for the beaches, I wasn't, the beaches on Ambergris Caye are going to disappoint you.

    The Alaia Belize looks very nice but honestly it is so sad to see a wonderful place with wonderful people fill up with cookie-cutter Americanized junk.

    The kind of people who are going to go all the way to an island off Belize and then stay in a Marriott are the same people who go to Big Sur and then say "Oh Ventana is $1000 a night. It is so great!" but have no clue how much better Ventana was in the old pre-corporate days.

  17. Esquiar

    Funny enough, my SO and I have been discussing going for the past week. Would appreciate more info on best way to transfer between Belize City airport and San Pedro hotels. The Kayak routings to SPR are not great as only Copa seems to sell itineraries including the BZE-SPR connection

  18. Stephanie Woods

    I went to Ambergris Caye way back in 2004. First, Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye are 2 different places, Caye Caulker is much smaller and less developed than Ambergris Caye. Yes, the beaches aren't amazing and yes, there is lots of seagrass. But the diving and snorkeling is amazing and the people are super friendly. The food is great, and there are wonderful places to eat, and some great, fresh seafood. You can do day...

    I went to Ambergris Caye way back in 2004. First, Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye are 2 different places, Caye Caulker is much smaller and less developed than Ambergris Caye. Yes, the beaches aren't amazing and yes, there is lots of seagrass. But the diving and snorkeling is amazing and the people are super friendly. The food is great, and there are wonderful places to eat, and some great, fresh seafood. You can do day trips to sea Mayan ruins, or go stay on the mainland. There is little COVID there, and many Americans retire in Belize. On the mainland, you can Zip line, go see caves, horseback ride and cave tube as well as see Mayan ruins. It's not a destination like Cancun. On Ambergris Caye, most everyone gets around by golf cart. There aren't giant resorts all over Ambergris Caye. I loved it!

  19. Andy

    @Esquiar: I can only comment on the boat option, since this how I travelled from Belize City to San Pedro. I decided to stay one night at the Radisson Belize City before travelling to Ambergris, but depending on your arrival time, you may also take a taxi from the airport to the boat terminal.

    I used Belize Express, but there are also other companies offering the same trip. The fare is USD 28 one way....

    @Esquiar: I can only comment on the boat option, since this how I travelled from Belize City to San Pedro. I decided to stay one night at the Radisson Belize City before travelling to Ambergris, but depending on your arrival time, you may also take a taxi from the airport to the boat terminal.

    I used Belize Express, but there are also other companies offering the same trip. The fare is USD 28 one way. Bigger bags are checked and travels on the same boat, smaller bags can be taken on board. The seating is on benches, indoors, but they keep the doors open unless there are big waves, so this keeps the air flowing. On the way, the boat stops at Caulker, where passengers get on and off. The trip takes about 1 hour 45 mins and runs approximately 6 times a day, during daylight hours only. As I said in my first post, you have nice views on the Cayes, so it's quite a nice trip.

  20. Tom

    So a restaurant is now a "dining concept"?

    You have been reading too many marketing blurbs.

  21. Peter

    This is a great option for Belize. The other comments about the beaches in Ambergris and Caye Caulker are spot on, but this will be a nice and relaxing place nonetheless and it's great to finally have a luxury option in Belize.

    Tons of people go for the beaches and scuba/snorkeling, but I actually much preferred San Ignacio and the ruins, caves, etc around there. It's an easy 1.5-2 hour drive since the country...

    This is a great option for Belize. The other comments about the beaches in Ambergris and Caye Caulker are spot on, but this will be a nice and relaxing place nonetheless and it's great to finally have a luxury option in Belize.

    Tons of people go for the beaches and scuba/snorkeling, but I actually much preferred San Ignacio and the ruins, caves, etc around there. It's an easy 1.5-2 hour drive since the country is so small and the roads are pretty good. There's not much out there in terms of accommodations but there are some. It's a very easy long-weekend trip from the US. @Adams9802 may be right about the workforce - I can't speak to that, but I met a lot of people from Belize who are very patriotic, love their country and showing you a great time while you are there. Don't pay attention to that comment; I highly recommend it. It's a great "intro" to central america if you've never been because traveling around is so easy.

    I've seen a few comments about the transfers to this hotel and/or Caye Caulker. I recommend taking a flight out there from BZE since you want to get there as soon as possible, and then take the ferry back. It's also a very scenic flight out to the islands.

    Don't compare this property or anything else to that private island in Nicaragua. Belize is quite unique, and the only comparison there is that they are both in central america.

  22. MDA

    @andy fly! It is spectacular. It is in a small plane. I used tropic air Belize.

  23. Justin Yeck

    Staying at this resort in two weeks!!

  24. Genr

    @ Ben -- There is nothing intriguing about anything Marriott.

  25. Jobie

    I can confirm Lou's comment. That area of San Pedro will have a sea wall. There will be beach but not too the ocean. Still I saw the mock ups and the place looks to be nice.

  26. Kirk

    I've been twice to Ambergris. The puddle jumper flights are synchronized with airline arrivals so that you can buy a ticket just past immigration and get on a flight quite quickly. But you can also reserve and book in advance online with TropicAir. To take the boat, you need taxi into town that the taxi mafia charges $25 for, and then the boat ride is 90 minutes with a stop a Caulker.

    Ambergris is a good foodie destination even if the beaches are not the greatest.

  27. DeAnna Jefferson

    We're travelling to Belize in the summer and staying at Naia (Placencia). I am brand loyal to Marriott and knew about Alaia when it was in the works and tried to book for my trip BUT they told me that they were putting it on hold. I am happy that it's open now but sad that I put my deposit elsewhere. I pray that Naia is as nice because the GM has been very friendly...

    We're travelling to Belize in the summer and staying at Naia (Placencia). I am brand loyal to Marriott and knew about Alaia when it was in the works and tried to book for my trip BUT they told me that they were putting it on hold. I am happy that it's open now but sad that I put my deposit elsewhere. I pray that Naia is as nice because the GM has been very friendly and accommodating. I wonder how easy it would be to do a day trip and use dining amenities for a party with ambiance. Thoughts anyone?

  28. Rob

    I am booked at Calala Island in January 2022. 6 nights. $20K worth of hotel, food, beverages, activities, and transportation for free with World of Hyatt credit card points. Plus 80,000 Chase Saphire promo for free United tickets to Managua. Thanks for your review last year. It definitely played a factor in booking Calala.

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Rob

I am booked at Calala Island in January 2022. 6 nights. $20K worth of hotel, food, beverages, activities, and transportation for free with World of Hyatt credit card points. Plus 80,000 Chase Saphire promo for free United tickets to Managua. Thanks for your review last year. It definitely played a factor in booking Calala.

DeAnna Jefferson

We're travelling to Belize in the summer and staying at Naia (Placencia). I am brand loyal to Marriott and knew about Alaia when it was in the works and tried to book for my trip BUT they told me that they were putting it on hold. I am happy that it's open now but sad that I put my deposit elsewhere. I pray that Naia is as nice because the GM has been very friendly and accommodating. I wonder how easy it would be to do a day trip and use dining amenities for a party with ambiance. Thoughts anyone?

Kirk

I've been twice to Ambergris. The puddle jumper flights are synchronized with airline arrivals so that you can buy a ticket just past immigration and get on a flight quite quickly. But you can also reserve and book in advance online with TropicAir. To take the boat, you need taxi into town that the taxi mafia charges $25 for, and then the boat ride is 90 minutes with a stop a Caulker. Ambergris is a good foodie destination even if the beaches are not the greatest.

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