Of the 664 licensed hotels in Belize, the vast majority are very small and boutiquey. Large foreign-owned hotel chains are few and far between in Belize. Most accommodations are simple, local affairs.
Average room rates have been creeping up year after year; in 2007, the average rate was US$103. (If the descriptions in this travel guide don’t mention “tax included,” it may be added on top of the advertised rate; it’s worth asking about tax when booking your room.)
I’ve selected the most well-kept, comfortable, friendly, family-run operations I could find throughout Belize. If you find any properties that deserve to be in these pages but aren’t (or ones I’ve listed that you think should be removed), please let me know.
The Belize Hotel Association (BHA, 13 Cork St., Belize City, tel. 501/223-0669, www.belizehotels.org ) is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization of some of the country’s most respected resorts and lodges. They work with the Belize Tourism Board and handle much of the global marketing for Belize; they also have a helpful listing of accommodations on their website.
Exact hotel rates are an elusive thing in Belize; seasonal pricing fluctuations are compounded by various hotel taxes and service charges, sometimes as much as 25–30 percent above the quoted rate. Using a credit card can add another 3–5 percent. Universal standards for presenting prices are absent in Belize’s hotel industry. Always make sure the rate you read about or are quoted is actually the same amount you will be asked to pay.
The high season is loosely considered to be mid-December through the end of April, and it is marked by a rise in both the number of visitors and the price of most accommodations. Some places kick their rates up even higher during Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter, calling these “holiday” or “peak” rates. A minority of hotels keep their rates the same year-round, but it’s rarely that simple. Moon Belize quotes high-season double occupancy rates only! Expect lower rates (30–40 percent lower than what is quoted in this travel guide) if traveling during the low/rainy season (May–November) and/or on your own. Occasionally walk-in discounts are given, when hotels are eager to avoid empty rooms and you stumble along at the right time.
Budget accommodations are ample in Belize, as long as you have a flexible idea of what’s “cheap.” In this travel guide, nightly rates under US$25 are reasonable, though value var-ies like anywhere else. In Belize, hostels and dormitories for under US$10 per person per night may mean a sacrifice in safety or cleanliness. At press time, US$10–15 is the bottom line for low-cost lodging, and it’ll get you anything from a cramped concrete box to a generous wooden cabin like those found at the Trek Stop in San José de Succotz  and other backpacker hot spots.
Guesthouses and budget hotels sometimes offer a dormitory or bunkroom, shared among fellow travelers; this option is cheaper, but obviously you give up privacy and maybe security—and you’ll enjoy shared bathrooms and cold water (assume that accommodations described in this travel guide have hot water unless otherwise noted). Sometimes, nicer hotels offer a few “economy rooms,” which are considerably cheaper than normal rates.
Great deals are abundant in the low season, when room rates plummet across the board, and walk-in specials can save you as much as 50 percent off normal winter (high-season) rates.
Some villages around the country are trying to emulate the guesthouse and homestay networks available in the southern Toledo villages . Sometimes calling themselves “bed-and-breakfasts,” such options are usually primitive, often lacking electricity, running water, and flush toilets. Look for them along the Hummingbird Highway  and in some outlying Cayo  villages. Sarteneja  has a homestay program too.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to midrange and high-end accommodations in Belize. From business traveler standards to the chic lap of luxury, Belize has it all—if you’ve got the cash. A great many Belizean families and foreign investors have attempted to bring their personal visions of paradise to life throughout this class, and Belize’s amazing selection of creative resorts and lodges has been featured in international travel magazines around the world. For the latest in luxe, click on “Belize” at Luxury Latin America (www.luxurylatinamerica.com ).