Matachica Beach Resort
Laid-back Ambergris Cay is just a 20-minute flight from gritty Belize City, but a world apart. The beaches are powdery white, shopping barefoot is encouraged, and the pace is languorous, thanks to the island’s car-free roads (locals walk, use electric golf carts, or ride bikes). The newly renovated Matachica Beach Resort, on the private northern side of the island, makes an ideal base: it’s sufficiently secluded, but only a short water-taxi ride from lively downtown San Pedro. Not that you’ll feel like leaving—the resort has film screenings in its martini lounge and banana-and-brown-sugar facials at the spa. The 14 bungalows are painted in bright Gauguin hues, such as mango and watermelon pink. All offer sea views, air-conditioning, and glass-walled showers surrounded by bamboo plants. The best deals are the four Sea Breeze bungalows—they’re a 30-second walk from the water’s edge, but cost $120 less than the beachfront casitas.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.