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Reviewed April 27, 2012

The title of this review is absolutely not an exaggeration: I just got back about two weeks ago, and I just can't stop thinking about how incredibly lucky I was to have a week at the Cotton Tree Lodge. To have lived next to the gorgeous Moho River for a week, able to watch the azure water flow, the fish jump, and the herons rest in the shade (plus all the afternoon kayaking and swims, the perfect way to cool off and relax); to eat the locally-grown, delicious gourmet menu the kitchen thought up every day (not to mention the luscious, and hilariously named, tropical drinks!); to cliff-dive, swim in crystal waters through cave, snorkel, explore ruins, tour the Moho by kayak, see how genuine organic Mayan chocolate is made (plus make some myself!), and learn to make my own tortillas with Mrs. Bo, possibly the most hospitable woman on earth; to explore the jungle and learn about the wildlife, taking in the sounds and sights of howler monkeys, hummingbirds, honeycreepers, parrots, and innumerable others; to swing in a hammock on the porch of our gorgeous thatched cabana, taking in the stunning view and the fresh, vivid scent of the greenest plants I've ever seen; and last but absolutely not least, to have met all of the staff there, including the independent contractors that lend their services as tour guides, not to mention the members of the community I happened to meet during outings to nearby sites and villages. Even as I try to recapture the experience, my words fail me; I honestly cannot describe how truly valuable & amazing my time at Cotton Tree was.

I met so many brilliant people, and (besides being stunned by the ungodly beauty of the Moho River and the land surrounding it), I continue to be incredibly inspired by the collective drive and ambition to 100%, cradle-to-grave sustainability the Lodge and their partners have. In particular, I owe the Lodge a great debt of gratitude for the connection they forged when my tour group visited Cyrilla's Chocolates and I met its owner, manager, and residential visionary, Juan Cho (as well as his beautiful wife Abelina, and their awesome kids, Henry and Lucida). If I could bring back half of Juan's knowledge of, and passion for, sustainable farming techniques, environmental advocacy, & conservation to the U.S., I can't even imagine the impact it would have.

I also had SUCH a great time hanging out with and getting to know (as much as you can in a week!) the staff at the Lodge (I miss you guys already)! I had some awesome and really fun talks with Darren, Sandy, Ernesto, Pablo, & Carlos. And of course, I was so happy to meet and get to talk to Jeff, Becca, & Chris (the owner of the Lodge)!

To the community at the Cotton Tree Lodge: I can't thank you all enough for your generosity, your knowledge, and your hospitality. I wish I could have stayed longer - much longer. Hopefully, I'll have the luck to make it back to Belize sometime in the near future - and if I do, I'm heading straight back to your part of the Moho! Much love and luck to all of you.

To all travelers reading: PLEASE don't pass up what is truly a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a part of this community, even if just for a little while. The Cotton Tree Lodge is unique, welcoming, and gorgeous in every sense; it is a jewel that should never be passed over.

- Kate S.

PS: Don't forget to use the rope swing to jump out into the river! So much fun.
PPS: My rating of "swimming pool" pertains to the Moho River, and my rating of "fitness center" pertains the the multitude of walks, hikes, swims, kayak rides, bike rides, horseback rides, etc. that are available to you every day!

Room Tip: All the cabanas seemed fantastic - I know ours was! If you want to be closer to the sounds and sights of the jungle (and have the most privacy out of anyone at the Lodge!) definitely ask for the Jungle Cabana. It is really, really cool!
  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled with family
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12  Thank KateShumway
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed April 5, 2012

I recently returned from the Taza Chocolate Week program. The Taza team was great. The group was great. The activities were varied, educational and fun. The jungle was all it was expected to be - up close and personal with all sorts of flora and fauna. You need to accept that all your senses are on high alert - it is easy to adapt to this. My only quibble is with the lodge itself. The lighting is very low in the cabana. I understand that it attracts insects but if you like to read after the sun sets - be advised. I also would have liked a loveseat inside the cabana. The one straight-backed chair is not adequate. Bring a snack bag clip to close the mosquito netting behind you - it helps close off a point of entry. In March the ceiling fan was adequate. I also just want to add - as points of information - if you are a light sleeper - the howler monkeys may wake you up and most of your clothing will stay packed in your suitcase - to avoid surprises and having to shake everything out! Chicken (and rice and beans) appears too many times for lunch and dinner and a wider variety of fruits and vegetables would have been nice. The suggestions did arise in our group about possibly having a supply of board games and maybe a movie night. Having said all this, I also want to add that the staff were wonderful, helpful and informative. It was truly a unique week and one that I am glad I experienced. Also - if you go into town don't miss the Snack Shack - great milkshakes!!

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with friends
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6  Thank Travelyn103
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
forgottendistrict, Manager at Cotton Tree Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded May 5, 2012

We are happy to hear that this guest enjoyed the Taza Chocolate Week program. Every year we have a great time hosting all the three of the chocolate weeks offered here at the lodge. We appreciate this guest’s feedback and are taking steps to address some of her points about the cabanas. Regarding the food choices at the lodge, we make every effort to offer a variety of food options and we can always accommodate special dietary requests. However, we also strive to incorporate local foods and traditional recipes as much as possible. Sometimes this means that the selection is a bit more limited than our guests might be used to. Guests who enjoy board games will be happy to hear that we do in fact have a nice selection available in the main lodge. Apples to Apples, Jenga, and Uno are some popular choices. Unfortunately movie nights are not one of the lodge’s entertainment offerings but appetizers at happy hour, the family-style dinner table, and activities such as the Nocturnal Jungle Hike ensure that you will certainly not be bored!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed March 15, 2012

I'm actually writing this from the porch of our Cotton Tree cabana. Our experience has been fantastic so far. We have 1 day remaining of a 4 day stay. If you get bored here, you are an idiot. So much to do, either by yourself (you can swim, kayak, horseback ride, hike, drink) or with a guide (their free daily adventures are a blast - their tours are great, and I normally hate organized tours, but the local guides are intelligent and knowledgeable, and a lot of fun). The meals have ranged from great to average. If you hate bugs, just stay home. You are going to encounter them. Perhaps quite a few. Perhaps some creepy ones. It's the damn jungle, deal with it and enjoy it. The cabanas are gorgeous. They are bug "repellent" but not bug "proof". The river is fantastic for kayaking and fishing. Do the all inclusive with meals because you really don't have any other option. The guests you find at a place like this are as unique as the setting, and that is half the fun. You can arrange for more exotic outings too. The staff is friendly and extremely professional. Becca did a great job of responding to our ever-changing arrival schedule (the dang airlines). For all the jungle around, the biting varieties were really quite tame (it's March and I've yet to spray on any bug dope). Honestly, this place is really fun. Oh, you will here stories about the monkeys. They can be loud at weird times, but most of the time they sound like some weird barking dog. They do it for 15 or 20 minutes and settle down. Adds to the coolness factor if you ask me, I actually wish the were a little more active!

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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9  Thank volcanosteve
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed March 4, 2012

My husband and I ended a wonderful trip to belize with the cotton tree lodge. We spent 3 nights and 3.5 days at the lodge. We stayed in the honeymoon cabana. We were welcomed with 2 rum punch coolers and the bellman dropped our luggage directly in our room. We had a buffet dinner the first night. It is served family style. The focus seems to be everyone to getting to know each other. It was nice to meet the other guests. We were not very educated about the lodge before we booked. Its a sustainable eco-friendly lodge. so many times we did not have power and there were special rules for disposal of toilet paper etc. We had a nice time on our day trips to Elaidios chocolate farm and the mayan ruins and we also went kayaking on the moho river. We were expecting more like a traditional resort, but it was a pleasant experience nonetheless. the room did have a few uninvited guests...wolf spiders, gecko lizards, and plenty of mosquitos. All in all, it was a really fun time. this is a great place for those who like adventures, living on the edge a bit, and those who are passionate about sustainablility and saving the enviornment. would definately reccommend to others...the managers and owners had great customer service as well!!!

Room Tip: The honeymoon cabana is something you should pass on....your paying for a jacuzzi tub that does not really work....save the money and buy some drinks at the bar.
  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled with family
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10  Thank kari g
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed February 27, 2012

Just got back from a visit to Cotton Tree, with my family (6 of us, including three girls 16, 14, 8, and a boy aged 6). As reflected in other reviews, the place is awesome (counted 20 family revies, 18 of which were 5-star and 2 were 4-star). Not sure I can add more.

Everyone in our family was treated to a special vacation in a very unique place....
- grounds, including rooms, are fantastic (lots of things to do right there, whether swim, kayak, horeseback ride, hang in hammock and read, etc.),
- trips were a combination of exciting / enlightening / fun,
- group time (end of day games and discussions with family and new friends) a blast,
- dinner great (liked family setting, and food was delicious), and
- the sustainability mission admirable (and worthy of support).

Personally, I most enjoyed talking to the people from the region, whether local Mayans, or Garifuna, or even the occasional transplanted Americans who seem to have stayed... fascinating convesations!

Our family has been very fortunate to have had opportunities to travel the globe (extensively), visiting major destinations, including some real exotic locations and staying in high-end resorts. Honestly, this may have topped them all. I know it was a hit when my grinning 6 yr old tells me at the end of the trip, "Dad, this was very different, in a very good way". I'm just not sure which of us had the bigger smile.

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled with family
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4  Thank WarsawJohnny
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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