Sipping a fruity drink laced liberally with local rum, sinking into cream cushions on a carved Balinese sofa and gazing out at the limitless turquoise ocean, I feel like a star in some idyllic movie. In fact, I’m on the veranda of my Seafront Cottage at Turtle Inn, a handsome resort in southern Belize; but the movie connection is not so far-fetched. This luxurious Bali-inspired beachfront boutique is owned by American filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola and is one of two Coppola Resorts in Belize (sister property Blancaneaux Lodge is nestled in the jungle, 150 km inland) and five worldwide.
With 25 thatched villas, Turtle Inn stretches luxuriantly across a private beach on the narrow Placencia Peninsula, an arm of land lying along the country’s expansive Caribbean coast. With golden beaches running into tropical gardens studded with bougainvillea and mango trees, it’s a secluded slice of paradise – and the jewels in this Caribbean crown are the Seafront Cottages, which sit right on the beach overlooking the ocean.
Tropical pools and heavenly gardens are part of Turtle Inn's DNA
My spacious wooden cabana leads from the covered veranda, through wide wooden doors carved with leafy curlicues and flowers, into a spacious bedroom and living area. The island theme continues indoors with earthy tones and natural materials. Dark, intricately carved wood – including an elaborate headboard framing the bed and several decorative chests – is lifted by stone-coloured sofas dotted with colourfully patterned cushions, hand-woven wall hangings and bright red hibiscus flowers picked that morning in the resort gardens. Although the tall tiki roof is set with ceiling fans, a pleasantly cool breeze blowing in from the sea provides ample natural air conditioning.
A touch of humour is injected via the “shellphone” – a large, pink conch shell mounted on a wooden box, gramophone-style, with a simple switch underneath it. This is the in-house phone, and my way of contacting the concierge, should I wish to book a spa treatment, dinner in one of the property’s three restaurants, or request that one of the resort’s yellow-shirted “Beach Captains” drop off some snorkelling gear so I can swim out to the nearby coral reef for a spot of aquatic observation.
A suite at Turtle Inn in Belize
They can also advise on the timings for Silent Movie Night – a regular occurrence attributable to the resort’s film-focused owning family. The Coppola influence also extends to the minibar, which (in addition to organic Belizean chocolate) is stocked with a range of Coppola wines, such as the Sofia Blanc de Blanc sparkling white and Coppola senior’s Diamond Collection 2012 Chardonnay. Stepping through thick wooden doors into the bathroom, I find dark aquamarine tiling, a deep bath and shower, an indoor garden cultivating leafy tropical greens, and a wall of glass with a door opening out into my own private courtyard and outdoor shower area.
In addition to sparing the pristine bedroom from sandy feet, the garden – which has an external door for direct access to the beach – also acts as a home for inquisitive local geckos that scamper freely through a riot of flowering plants and glossy leaves. This is island life at its most comfortable and elegant, and stepping from the wooden veranda straight onto warm, white sand makes the Seafront Cottage one of the best-positioned abodes in the world.
Dreamy interiors at the Family Pavilion in Turtle Inn, Belize
The important bit