The Big Six: Central American boutique hotels

Saturday 16 January 2010 01:00 GMT

Victoria House, Belize

This chic, plantation-style resort is on Belize's largest Caribbean island, Ambergris Caye. Its 42 rooms combine thatched roof casitas, plantation rooms hidden among bougainvillea and hibiscus, beach villas and suites; all arranged artfully around a pool. Nearby, bustling San Pedro town offers everything from fishing and scuba diving trips to shops and bars.

Victoria House Resort, Ambergris Caye, Belize (00 501 226 2067; ). Doubles start at US$214 (£143), including breakfast.

La Lancha, Guatemala

Part of film director Francis Ford Coppola's collection of Central American boutique hotels, La Lancha overlooks Lake Peté*Itzá from its forest vantage point. The 10 casitas are decorated with Guatemalan fabrics, colourful Balinese artwork and local antique furniture. The lake, a short walk away, yields a clutch of pursuits: swimming, canoeing, kayaking and fishing. The enchanting Mayan ruins of Tikal are also a short drive away.

La Lancha, Lake Petén Itzá, Peté*District, Guatemala (00 502 7928 8331; ). Doubles start at US$183 (£122), including breakfast.

Jicaro Island Ecolodge, Nicaragua

Freshly opened this month, this "sustainable" lodge is set on a small island in Lake Nicaragua, near the colonial city of Granada. Its split-level, Asian-inspired casitas – constructed from Rainforest Alliance-certified wood – offer captivating views of the vast lake and Mombacho volcano. Guests can take water-side yoga lessons, lounge by the pool, explore the nearby islets by kayak, birdwatch, or simply enjoy the lodge's restaurant, where the emphasis is on fresh, wholesome food.

Jicaro Island Ecolodge, Granada Islets, Lake Nicaragua, Nicaragua (00 505 2552 6353; ). Doubles start at US$380 (£238), full board with transfers from Granada.

Villa Camilla, Panama

Set on Panama's Azuero Peninsula, Villa Camilla rises over an unspoilt coastline, which is just being discovered by luxury developers. Designed by an acclaimed French architect, its seven stylish rooms are decked out in earthy tones and dark wood furniture designed and crafted in the hotel's workshop.

Villa Camilla, Los Santos, Azuero Peninsula, Panama (00 507 232 0171; ). Doubles start at US$278 (£185), room only.

The Lodge at Pico Bonito, Honduras

A true wilderness retreat, this lodge is tucked into the folds of rain-forested mountains near the port of La Ceiba. The 21 cabins are elegant and comfy, with four-poster beds, wooden floors and verandas. Guests can visit the butterfly farm or follow forest trails to waterfalls, swimming holes and rivers.

The Lodge at Pico Bonito, near La Ceiba, Honduras (00 504 440 0388; ). Doubles start US$245 (£163), including breakfast and transfers.

Anamaya Resort, Costa Rica

Anamaya is Sanskrit for "good health". Guests delve into a healthier way of life with gourmet organic food, Hatha-inspired yoga and spa treatments at this Pacific Ocean cliff-top resort. The stylish cabins have panoramic views, the pool is salt-water and the goal is to feel good.

Anamaya Resort, Montezuma, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica (00 506 2642 1289; ). Doubles start at US$164 (£109), room only.

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