by Marina Muhlfriedel



Retreat to Belize




In these unpredictable times, it's more important than ever to nurture the true you -- the you who you are when the cacophony of the busy world gives way to the gallop of a river and waves of bird banter; when a rainforest canopy and ancient ruins supplant the jammed highways and cluttered office cubbies that dominate your day. Sound like what the doctor ordered? Then the Lodge at Chaa Creek might just be the ticket.

Leave the laptop and heels at home; catch a flight to Belize City (about 3 hours from most major U.S. cities) and head for the foothills of the Maya Mountains. Here, along the Macal River, in a 365-acre private nature reserve, you'll find a divine respite from the busy world. Stretch the weekend to four nights and you'll have the ideal amount of time to experience a full range adventures to relax and rejuvenate you.

Tucked beneath Mexico and beside Guatemala, Belize boasts 174 miles of coastline along the Caribbean. A thousand or so years ago, there were a million Maya in this small Central American country. But now, with a population of under 300,000, there is plenty of room to be on your own, to explore and reconnect in this vibrant outpost of the British Commonwealth. For over 25 years, The Lodge at Chaa Creek, has rekindled visitors' love of nature, celebrated their weddings and birthdays, and enriched their spirits with a respite from everyday life.

Check into one of the eco-resort's 23 unique thatched roof cottages. Then, before you head out into the reserve by canoe, horse, mountain bike or on foot, stop a moment. Acknowledge with each of your senses the gift you have given yourself. Look closely… Listen… Can you hear them? There are 540 species of birds in Belize, in every color and operatic style. Even if birdwatching has never been your thing, I dare you not to thrill at your first glimpse of a toucan or macaw in the wild. Just wait until you run into the monkeys… or if you're extraordinarily lucky, a jaguar!

Right on Chaa Creek's grounds you'll find a spectacular Natural History Center with displays explaining the archeology, history, flora and fauna of Belize, a butterfly farm that raises and releases rare Blue-Morphos into the jungle, and a remarkable Rainforest Medicinal Trail. The Mayans apparently knew of many useful treatments for, amongst others, malaria, diabetes and for cleansing the blood, and they all grow at Chaa Creek. You can either hike the trails on your own or hire a guide to enlighten you on the curative powers of the indigenous herbs, trees, flowers and other plants.

Many of Belize's richest Mayan archeological sites are nearby and some like Tikal, with its stark beauty, will seduce you into transcending time. Others, like Actun Tunichil Muknal (Cave of the Stone Sepulchre) provide more eerie adventures . And, don't miss an afternoon of Cave Tubing at nearby Jaguar Creek. City life will have long since faded from your conscious mind. Gridlock, all the way to another dimension.

Back at The Lodge you'll find delicious Caribbean, Mexican and Belizean dishes, a friendly attentive staff, and a spa filled with tropical flowers and first rate treatments featuring locally made aromatic oils and Maya chocolate! Treat yourself to an outdoor massage—a little bit of heaven in the middle of paradise!

The Lodge at Chaa Creek recently introduced a scrumptious Rainforest Wellness Retreat package, which integrates the healing and healthy aspects the local environs with eco-adventure, jungle spa treatments, guided-naturalist experiences, Maya rituals, organic food, and deluxe accommodations. Check it out, your itinerary for escape may already have been ideally choreographed for you.


For more info visit: http://www.chaacreek.com Even the website will soften and enliven your day.




© Melt Magazine 2008