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Taking the Kids: Making time for romance

Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

Imagine sitting in your private hot tub overlooking the jungle, listening to howler monkeys and birds.

Consider a hilltop alfresco couples massage or bespoke just-for-you cocktails under the stars made from a variety of infused spirits (perhaps strawberry pineapple rum or cucumber gin?). Follow that up with a four-course dinner by candlelight. Let’s not forget the gorgeous Blue Morpho butterfly that has hatched in a clear box left for us to release, making a wish as we do so.

Romantic? Absolutely! Welcome to The Lodge at Chaa Creek. This resort and spa in western Belize is spread out on a 400-acre nature preserve on the Macal River (about two hours from Belize City). Ready for a sunset canoe?

We’ve signed on for a mostly inclusive combination Naia Beach and Jungle Adventure Package with The Lodge at Chaa Creek and the equally romantic Naia Resort and Spa. Naia sits on a 200-acre private beach-front preserve with just 35 houses outside of the laid-back beach town of Placencia in southeastern Belize.

We step off our bungalow porch to the sand where beach chairs and hammocks await, we eat local dishes on an open terrace and enjoy nature-inspired spa treatments in a unique setting. Think bridges over freshwater lagoons, palm trees and tropical plants many used in signature treatments with indigenous ingredients made by traditional healers. How about a coconut scrub?

Accommodations range from studios to five-bedroom cottages, many with their own pools and upscale kitchens. You can hire a chef to teach you to prepare a traditional Belizean stewed chicken or cook your catch after a successful day’s fishing.

 

This was the rare trip, I thought, that would work equally well for families or couples seeking romance.

“We thought Belize would be more authentic and less busy than Mexico,” said Nikki Depew, here from St. Louis with her husband and two young sons. The boys, she said, were stunned there were no McDonald’s, adding that they adjusted quickly, putting down gadgets to hunt coconuts on the beach.

We met on a Monkey River boat ride where we trekked into the jungle, saw manatees, iguana and enjoyed a local lunch of fish, rice and beans in Monkey River (population 200). “The best meal of the trip,” declared one happy diner.

The trip was made all the easier by Frontier Airlines (their motto is low fares done right) and Alaska Airlines. Frontier has just started nonstop service from Denver, as well as Orlando, Florida — two top cities for visitors from the U.S., according to Anthony Mahler, Belize’s minister of Tourism & Diaspora Relations. Alaska Air has added nonstop flights from Los Angeles and Seattle. (An inexpensive flight on Maya Air from Belize City to Placencia saved us three hours of driving.

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