We just returned from Calico Jack’s in late June 2006 after spending our honeymoon there. Our review is as follows:
As newlyweds, we just returned from our honeymoon at Calico Jack’s, and it was a complete disappointment for us in almost every regard. First let me say that we are young (31 years old) active people who live in the mountains of Colorado and enjoy various outdoor activities and love to have a good time. We are not prissy people afraid of getting wet from the rain or afraid of bugs and wildlife. Calico Jack’s seemed as if it would be an ideal place for us: IT WAS NOT! Calico Jack’s was dead–it had absolutely no ambience, life or festivities. We also found that many of the amenities advertised simply did not exist–such as bicycles for guests, a custom jet boat on the premises to take you to town, a bar that was OPEN, various beverages advertised, etc. etc. We booked a honeymoon package with the resort and found that once we got there, no tours we had purchased with the package were guaranteed since they required a minimum number to go out. We had to haggle with the management to try to go on any of the tours and they ended up having to refund us a portion of our package because it was not fulfilled–you do not want to feel that you have to haggle on your honeymoon. The management consists of two people from Seattle who had only been there 19 days the day we arrived. They know virtually nothing about the area and nothing about customer service. I don’t think we even got a basic "congratulations" from them. At one point, the managers suggested that I call the owners back in the U.S. to voice our concerns over not getting to go on the tours. Unbelievable! Aren’t managers supposed to be trained to deal with customer concerns on site? Please also be advised that Calico Jack’s is very far from town (45 minute cab ride). Considering this fact, you would think that they would keep their bar open so guests would be able to enjoy themselves at any time of the day–not so. The bar was virtually always closed, and we finally just bought a bottle of rum and created a bar in our cabana. Thank goodness there was a nice resort next door (The Placencia Hotel) where we could go to chat with local bartenders and enjoy a well-made cocktail. That was another issue we had with the place–no local bartender. When you travel, one of the best parts is chatting with locals and learning about the area. This was not possible at CJV because the bartenders were the American managers. The food at CJV also leaves much to be desired. The first night we were sat with 4 other strangers at a "family-style" dinner–interesting, considering it was our honeymoon!
Anyway, I was served some sort of fried item that I could not cut with a knife. Not sure what it was. Nothing was offered in its place. The second (and last) night we ate there we were served rubbery frozen shrimp. We ended up sucking it up and paying the price and catching the shuttle next door to go to town every day so we could eat good food and enjoy some local bars. The Turtle Inn was great, as was the Barefoot Beach Bar next to Tipsy Tuna’s.
The dive operation that CJV recommended, The Nautical Inn, was a completely unsafe, sketchy operation. The divemaster lost everyone on our first dive and we had to resurface after burning 1/2 a tank of air. They never once mentioned safety stops or sticking with your dive buddy (2 very basic things). We also saw next to nothing on both dives. Unbelievable that CJV would recommend them. After we described our experience, they did nothing, but charged us the full $220 U.S. for the dives. That is something else to be aware of: prices down here are like those in the U.S.–it is expensive for what you get. What is sad is that they do not pay the local wonderful Belizeans well at all–it seems that it is only the foreign resort owners that are profiting. What was also quite appalling about our trip to CJV was the fact that one of the owners was actually there for a day and never bothered to come over and talk with us about our stay. Obviously since we had called the U.S. and left a message about our disappointment with the resort, he knew we weren’t happy but didn’t even bother to come over and attempt to make our experience better! I don’t see how this resort can survive with owners like this!
Our suggestions for others traveling to Placencia on their honeymoon: either spend the money and stay at the beautiful Turtle Inn where service is superb or go budget and stay in the village of Placencia at the Ranguana cabanas or the SeaSpray Hotel. Definitely stay close to the village (the Turtle Inn is within walking distance) as there is much more to do. Also, I wouldn’t spend your whole honeymoon in Placencia–split it up and travel to different areas of Belize, that way if one place isn’t great you have another chance. And of course, remember June is the start of the rainy season–it poured on us almost every day (not just at night)–so if you are adverse to rain then stay on an island in the Caribbean that doesn’t have a rainy season. Also, for divers, I wouldn’t go to Placencia but would go to one of the cayes for diving–it has to be better! If anyone has any questions about Calico Jack’s please send me an email. Kelley McDaneld & Tucker Hull firstname.lastname@example.org