Regardless of the kind of lodging, you'll usually stay at a small place, as only a few properties have more than 50 or 75 rooms, and most have fewer than 30; the owners often actively manage the property. Thus, Belize accommodations usually reflect the personalities of their owners, for better or worse.
You can most easily find vacation rentals on Ambergris Caye. Marty Casado’s Ambergris Caye website has a good selection of rental houses and condos. Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) has scores of rentals on Ambergris Caye and elsewhere in Belize. There also are some vacation rental houses in Placencia and Hopkins and on Caye Caulker.
Ambergis Caye website (www.ambergriscaye.com.)
Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) (www.vrbo.com.)
Beach hotels range from a basic seaside cabin on Caye Caulker to a small, deluxe resort such as Hamanasi near Hopkins. On Ambergris Caye many resorts are "condotels"—low-rise condo complexes with individually owned units that are managed like a hotel.
Jungle lodges are concentrated in the Cayo, but they are also in Toledo, Belize, and Orange Walk districts and can be found most anywhere except the cayes. Jungle lodges need not be spartan; nearly all have electricity (though the generator may shut down at 10 pm), an increasing number have swimming pools, and a few have air-conditioning. The typical lodge has a roof of bay-palm thatch and may remind you of a Mayan house gone upscale.
Lodging choices on remote cayes appeal to the diving and fishing crowd. Amenity levels vary greatly, from cabins with outdoor bathrooms to simple cottages with composting toilets to comfortable villas with air-conditioning.
Traditional hotels, usually found in larger towns, can be basic budget places or international-style hotels such as the Radisson Fort George in Belize City.
As most hotels have only a few rooms, a last-minute cancellation can have a big impact on the bottom line. Most properties have a sliding scale for cancellations, with full refunds (minus a small administrative fee) if you cancel 60 or 90 days or more in advance, with reduced refund rates for later cancellations, and often no refunds at all for cancellation 30 to 45 days out. Practices vary greatly, so check on them.
In the off-season—generally May to November, though dates vary by hotel—most properties discount rates by 20% to 40%. Although hotels have published rates, in the off-season at least you may also be able to negotiate a better rate, especially if you're staying more than one or two nights. Walk-in rates are usually lower than prebooked rates, and rooms booked direct on the Internet may be lower than those booked through agents.
Most hotels allow children under a certain age to stay in their parents' room at no extra charge, but others charge for them as extra adults; find out the cutoff age for discounts.
All prices for Belize are in Belize dollars for a standard double room in high season with no meals included, including service charges and 9% hotel tax. There has been discussion of increasing the room tax rate to the same rate as the sales tax, 12.5%, but as of this writing no final action has been taken.