The New Secret Belize Resort With Nature AND Luxury

El Secreto Resort, Belize
CTL1212_PicksCourtesy El Secreto

I've never really been the rough-and-ready outdoorsy type. Truth is, I'd rather go barefoot than wear Birkenstocks; shopping is my cardio; and my favorite trips usually incorporate some combination of butler service, air-conditioning and spa services galore. So Belize — which I've always unfairly associated with bare-bones lodges, sweaty jungle treks and creepy-crawlies galore — was never on my travel to-do list. But it turns out that Belize has its share of plush digs, including El Secreto resort. The Ambergris Caye retreat promises 13 slick villas tricked out with contemporary furniture; 400-thread-count sheets; a pillow menu; outdoor whirlpools and showers; and (yes!) air-conditioning. Sounds like the kind of place where even a high-maintenance traveler like me might be persuaded to get in touch with her inner nature girl, snorkeling Belize's barrier reef (the second-largest in the world), touring the Maya temple ruins at Altun Ha or even hiking an hour through the bush to the mouth of a cave for a spot of subterranean tubing. My well-earned reward: seashell massages, naps in an ocean-view cabana and candlelit dinner on the beach. There just might be something to this outdoorsy stuff after all.