The lodge was located within a few miles of several noted Maya archeological sites, including Xunantunich and El Pilar. In addition to its convenient location and casually comfortable accommodations, what made Casa del Caballo Blanco a memorable destination was its exceptional hospitality. The staff were so genuinely welcoming that I immediately felt like a long time friend rather than a guest. They offered me the opportunity to participate in the everyday life of the lodge. As soon as I expressed my interest in local cuisine to Gracie Obando, the cheerful and knowledgeable head cook, she invited me to tag along to the large open air food market in nearby San Ignacio, where she carefully handpicked the provisions for our meals. I subsequently spent a most enjoyable afternoon in her kitchen, while she patiently initiated me to making bolos (a local version of tamales ).
I was also able to accompany a member of the staff as he delivered palm fronds trimmed off the property’s trees to a neighbor, Rennatto Fruitas, for fuel to cure the banana leaves used in traditional Mayan cooking. Although only a few miles away, the partially off-road trip took us deep into the forest to the remote clearing where Rennatto lived and worked. I was warmly welcomed by this remarkable elderly Mestizo gentleman, who demonstrated the curing process for me before taking me on a tour of his rainforest domain. He introduced me to a wide variety of local trees, from the original Maya cocoa, pomegranate and star fruit to several unusual citrus trees, explaining their many properties and uses; and invited me to sample their fruits. Meanwhile, the abundance of fruit attracted a variety of birds and butterflies, making the visit an expecially rewarding bird-watching experience.
In this overwhelmingly rural area of Western Belize, La Casa del Caballo Blanco offered comfortable modern accommodations with easy access to the area’s high concentration of natural and archeological riches, and provided a unique opportunity to experience the authentic atmosphere of a small Belizean community.
Communications Satellite internet connection was available in La Sala from early morning until late evening. Cellular phone service was fully operational in the area.
Handicapped Access No
Length Of Stay Five nights
Location Casa del Caballo Blanco was located one mile west of San Ignacio, the capital of the Cayo District of western Belize, near the Guatemalan border.
Manager Jodi E. Benté
Owners Vance, Jodi and Paige Benté
Power The entire lodge was on the electrical power grid and ran on 120 volts with U.S. plugs.
Size The lodge consisted of six guest rooms that could accommodate a maximum of 18 guests. The complex was situated on a 23 acre (93,000 square meters) private property. It employed a permanent staff of seven.
Transportation The lodge could be reached by air through Belize City. From there it was a 65 mile (105 kilometers) drive on the Western Highway. Pick-up at the airport and transportation could be arranged by the lodge.
Year Open-Renovated Casa del Caballo Blanco was a newly built facility that began receiving guests in early 2006.
La Sala consisted of two distinct areas separated by a wooden railing. The 12 x 18 foot (3.5 x 5.5 meters) lower level formed a foyer. A large armoire occupied the back wall, while a credenza table was centered against the end wall. A lamp table and four wooden armchairs completed the arrangement. One step above the foyer, the room was furnished library style, with six rectangular tables each surrounded by four wooden chairs. It was a convenient place to read or write, or connect a laptop to the wireless internet service available from early morning to late evening. La Sala opened onto a tiled terrace overlooking the Tz’unuun trail and the hills north of the Mopan River. The dining room could comfortably accommodate up to thirty guests at tables for four or six that could also be joined together for a long, family-style setting.
Room A row of three stucco and thatched cabanas housed the six, semi-detached guest casitas, all named after local birds. My casita , the forked-tailed fly-catcher room, was an easy two minute walk from the common areas. It was a spacious 280 square foot (26 square meters) sleeping and sitting room with large screened and shuttered windows on three sides for excellent ventilation. The steep palm-thatched roof also featured a ceiling fan. The walls were of warm yellow plaster that enhanced the mahogany furniture, shutters and the brown ceramic tile floor. The queen-size bed was covered with a bright purple spread made of Guatemalan textile. It was surrounded by immaculate mosquito netting and flanked by two bedside tables with reading lights. A writing table with a high back chair faced the front window and the sweeping view of the hills. A lamp table and two wooden armchairs were tucked into the far corner of the room. The bathroom and a large storage shelving unit occupied the wall that separated the casita from the remaining half of the building.
Facilities There was a reception office, sitting room and library, kitchen and dinning room, and the bird rehabilitation and intake and release buildings.
Date Of Last Visit November 2007
Reviewers Article and photographs by Josette King
Service There was daily room service. Service was friendly and attentive. The staff’s exceptionally welcoming attitude was an outstanding asset of the lodge.
Would You Stay There Again? Yes