Reese Witherspoon and new hubby, Jim Toth, had to hurry back from their honeymoon in Belize so Reese could promote Water for Elephants. But they certainly didn’t skimp when choosing accommodations.
In fact, they wisely stayed at a couple resorts lovingly created by fellow thespian Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola’s Blancaneaux Lodge and Turtle Inn (his resort portfolio also includes La Lancha in nearby Guatemala) are movie set perfect, created first by the iconic movie director for his own family and later opened to the public. They’re both small (around 20 rooms each) so the newlyweds didn’t have to worry about crowds of gawkers.
The Godfather director visited Belize in the early 1980’s soon after it gained independence. He was so smitten with the country that reminded him of his Apocalypse Now that he decided to buy Blancaneaux Lodge, an abandoned resort tucked into the jungle canopy of the Maya Mountains. He proceeded to pour the same love and care into this jungle paradise as he does into his movies. Near sacred Mayan sites and deep caves, Blancaneaux Lodge is filled with dark hardwoods, hand-carved masks and other artisan crafts that Eleanor, Coppola’s wife, personally gathered. For ten years, it was the family’s private retreat, but in 1993, when friends and family flew down for the esteemed director’s 54th birthday, the secret was out.
In honor of Coppola’s heritage, Blancaneaux’s Montagna Ristorante has a wood-burning pizza oven (the only acceptable kind, he says), serves old family recipes and offers an extensive selection of wines, many grown at Coppola’s own Napa Valley winery. The pizza is so good that the British Army regularly helicopters in for lunch. More than 80 percent of Blancaneaux’s food is grown right on site at its four-acre organic herb and vegetable garden, one of lodge’s many sustainable commitments. Its soaring thatched-ceiling cabanas, many on stilts, are completely powered, for example, by the resort’s own hydroelectric plant.
Turtle Inn, where Reese’s kids enjoyed a gelato bar, is perched on the country’s south coast on the Placencia Peninsula. Coppola also rescued this beachside refuge, in 2001 after Hurricane Iris washed it out to sea. From the resort, guests can scuba dive, take canoe trips up Monkey River or bike into a traditional Belizean village. Not surprisingly, it, too, has an authentic Neapolitan brick pizza oven.
Witherspoon and Toth were married March 26 at her Ojai ranch. They flew to Belize on April 4 with Ava and Deacon.
Click here for more on these Belizean resorts that regularly pull down “best of” awards from Travel+Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler.