Casa Blanca By the Sea Hotel: A “Great Buy” or a “Black Eye” in Consejo?

Casa Blanca Hotel view from the sea
Casa Blanca By the Sea in Consejo.

Imagine bringing your boat up to this pier on the Northern tip of Consejo looking to experience Northern Belize.

The Casa Blanca Hotel looks like a jewel, inviting you for a night stay or two, for a few cocktails and some great Belizean food. You can’t wait!

But then you realize that the cast iron gates are chained. You can’t get in. The place is empty and you’ll need to find other parts of Northern Belize to whet your whistle.

Casa Blanca by the Sea is for sale.

The location that hosted local conferences, and tourists for a number of years is now empty due to the owners’ unforeseen circumstances.

It’s weird to read the reviews on tripadvisor.com. It’s also confusing that the same listing invites you to check out possible stay dates.

But that’s what happens when you close rather abruptly and the owners want to put it into the hands of someone who can take it on.

I know what you’re thinking. “I bet I can make a go of it as the owner of Casa Blanca!”

I thought the same thing when a local real estate agent showed us the place during our recent trip to Northern Belize.

Karen Wilkinson of Corozal Belize Properties in Consejo Shores told us the sad story of how the Hotel came onto the market. She showed us the rooms, the land, the bar and the kitchen.

You could still envision a bustling business within its walls.

Enjoy this pictorial of our tour and decide for yourself if Casa Blanca is worth a look.

THE ROOMS: COMFORTABLE AND INVITING

Mayan Door Carving
Each door of the dozen or so hotel rooms invites you in with a Mayan carving on it. No detail is spared to make this an inviting hotel.
two levels of rooms
The rooms look over the sea from the top or bottom levels. The sea breezes hit you smack dab in the face as you scan the horizon from your balcony.
room interiror
The rooms are fully and smartly furnished, complete with ceiling fans and some with air conditioning.
The featured suites boast comfortable wicker furniture and large window access to the Caribbean Sea.

THE GROUNDS ARE CHARMING AND SPEAK TO OPPORTUNITY!

Palapa dining
A full palapa has seaside dining written all over it and has weathered the storms wonderfully. A small palapa sits at the end of the sturdy pier and entice those who want a more private dining experience on the Sea.
Parking
The cobble stone courtyard area is perfect for parking and a late night stroll.
Land to the West
Vacant land to the west of the Hotel could be used for lawn games such as futbol or volleyball or could be used for future development of private cabanas?
Seawall palapas
Shade palapas serve as nice shade spots along the sea wall, offering a great view of Chetumal about 2 miles across the Bay.

ADJACENT HOME IS A BONUS!

Adjacent Home
A two-bedroom home sits empty across the street from Casa Blanca and was used for the Hotel manager. A full workshop also is on the land and provides a perk for the absentee owner to offer to his on-site management.
The adjacent home comes fully furnished with plenty of space.
Bedroom
The master bedroom in the adjacent home is quite cozy and would make a perfect place for the on-site manager and his family to call home.

DINING, SERVING AND ENTERTAINING AREAS

Although the kitchen, bar and indoor dining area on the ground floor of the Casa Blanca Hotel were too dark (no electricity at present) to take decent photos, make sure your tour of Casa Blanca includes some time in these areas.

The kitchen is large, well laid out and boasts all of the stainless steel appliances needed by any full-service restaurant. All are included in the price of the Hotel.

The bar is rustic and expertly made from local exotic hardwoods, while the dining area is fully furnished with complementary wood tables and chairs.

An office area also serves the owner and/or manager a comfortable air conditioned area to attend to daily administrative tasks.

THE VERDICT: “BLACK EYE” OR “GREAT BUY”?

As you see from the pictorial above, Casa Blanca features everything a thriving Hotel and Restaurant needs, such as great sea views, perfect sea breezes, a nice design and an infrastructure that could be sustainable with a bit of tender loving care.

According to local real estate sites, the reduced listing price for Casa Blanca is $799,999 USD at the time of this writing.

From our visit, we assessed that the price seemed like a bargain based on the quality of the construction, the layout and location.

Of course, any possible investor should get a hold of the financials of the business when it was in operation and thoroughly investigate the future tourism potential  of the area.

Bottom Line: Although at first site, we determined that it has potential for the right investor, it was above our budget.

The longer Casa Blanca sits vacant, however, the work required to get it back into operational condition will increase.

The assessment of whether it is a “Black Eye” for the area, or a “Great Buy” for the right business person should be left up to the person who does extensive due diligence.

Have you viewed Casa Blanca? If so, give us your opinion below.

Do you have information that will help inform future investors, please add to the discussion below.

Did you ever stay at Casa Blanca? Tell us about your experience below!

Here are a few links to start your research:

5 Things That Make Orange Walk Town in Belize a Great Retirement Landing Spot

Orange Walk town in Northern Belize may not be the first place that future Expats think of when investigating a retirement home.

Situated about 30 miles from the Belize/Mexico border to the North, Orange Walk is a bustling town of about 14,000 real folks. It’s actually about the 4th largest town in Belize, outside of Belize City and the capital city of Belmopan to the South.

The New River winds along the East side of Orange Walk town, inviting Expats to consider it for their permanent retirement location.

Feel free to investigate via Wikipedia more of the Capital of Orange Walk District here.

But for those looking for these 5 things, it may be a perfect place to enjoy the rest of your life.

Orange Walk’s Location is pretty strategic

Orange Walk’s Central location is inland from the Sea about 30 miles to the Northeast and 25 miles to the East.

And for those who aren’t the “water-type” or who fear the affects of the intermittent hurricanes or rising seas, Orange Walk is quite sheltered from the elements.

There are miles and miles of foliage and sugarcane fields between Orange Walk and the nearest coast.

When the islands are rebuilding from the latest tropical storm, Orange Walk is business as usual.

And did you know that the Northern Highway, one of only 3 main roads in Belize, runs smack dab through the middle of Orange Walk?

So whether you are headed to the airport in Belize City, or to the Mexican border to the North, the Northern Highway takes you there. And you’ll also connect to the Hummingbird Highway for adventure further south or to connect on your way to Belmopan or San Ignacio.

So if you plan to set up shop in Belize, you can count on plenty of traffic on the Northern Highway to find your business in Orange Walk.

Orange Walk
The colors that greet you in Orange Walk town are definitely caribbean in style and give the entire town a festive feel no matter what time of year.

And we haven’t even talked about the fact that the Cuello distillery and the sugar factory in Tower Hill employ a good number of the Orange Walk residents. That’s one reason that Orange Walk is known locally as “Suga City”.

Orange Walk’s Dining Choices are Diverse and Cultural

Talk to anyone in Belize about Orange Walk and the first thing that they will mention is “the best street tacos and tamales in Belize”.

Linda, who grew up in Orange Walk, is biased, but she puts it this way: “Any Belize product made with corn is best in Orange Walk. Whether it be the street taco on the corner or the tamales made to order, Orange Walk continually outranks the other areas of Belize.”

For $2, you can buy 10 of the best pulled pork tacos with hot pepper at any number of corner taco stands on the Northern Highway. So for $4, even the heartiest of appetites can be satisfied. My large brother-in-law can attest to that!

Taco stands seem to be on every street corner in Orange Walk. Their reputation as having the best tacos and tamales in all of Belize makes the locals proud.

And when the weekend parties are being planned, there are a number of spots to pre-order your made-to-order tamales. Bottom line: the corn is moister, the sauce is hotter and the folks keep coming back for more.

Several restaurants in Orange Walk are well worth mentioning as offering the Expats and locals great food at reasonable prices.

Nahil Mayab:

This restaurant is about 2 block West of the Northern Highway at the corner of Guadalupe and Santa Ana Streets. Find the Shell station on the Highway, known to the locals as Belize Road, then head west.

Besides the steak and pork chop, pasta and fish selections, Nahil Mayab features a number of great local favorites such as Cashew Wine Pasta.

Proudly Belizean inspired, according the Nahil Mayab, it includes whole shrimps and chunks of fish fillet flambéed in a cashew wine tomato sauce, served on a bed of linguini; accompanied by garlic bread.

And if you have never had Cashew Wine, it’s fermented in the nearby town of Crooked Tree from the fruit of the Cashew Tree. Quite a unique taste and an unusual kick!

This plastic bottle looks innocent enough, and the contents was bought on the side of Northern Highway near Crooked Tree, but the Cashew Wine inside is as potent as it gets. All for about $5.00 U.S.

According to local stories, it mixes with the Belizean humidity and heat to create a buzz that can come back for a number of days. Beware!

Cocina Sabor:

Owned by local Orange Walk resident Oscar Gutierrez, Cocina Sabor is on the South side of Orange Walk, right on Northern Highway.

Oscar opened Cocina Sabor after many successful years as the chef at Victoria House Pamilla Restaurant on Ambergris Caye.

Cocina Sabor boast international flavors and the expertise of Chef Oscar Gutierrez who spent many years honing his skill on Ambergris Caye before coming back home to Orange Walk.

He decribes his menu this way:

“Our menu has Belizean Cuisine with a hint of international flavor; featuring our local meats, chicken, seafood, and an array of appetizers. Our bar offers a wide selection of beverages ranging from cold beers, fresh fruit juices, to cocktails and wine.”

It features an outdoor porch as well as plenty of inside seating along with a full-service bar. Pick anything on the menu and you can’t go wrong. I have never had a bad meal here and have found myself there quite often.

I guess that fact that our parcel of land sits about 6 blocks behind Cocina Sabor made it a great place to meet with contractors, utility personnel and others. Anytime we need to escape the heat or check our email when in Orange Walk, we end up at Cocina Sabor.

I could mention a number of other restaurants for you to try in Orange Walk, but I think you get the hint. Food is king in Orange Walk. If you have some recommendations, please comment on them below!

Orange Walk is the place to go Shopping in Northern Belize

As the most populated town in Northern Belize, Orange Walk has the reputation as the “go-to” place for shopping in the area.

Sure, you can go North and across the border into Chetumal for a North America type shopping experience, but if you don’t want the wait of crossing the border, you can get most of what you need in Orange Walk.

In fact, many who live in the Corozal District find themselves navigating over to Orange Walk instead of taking the closer trip to the border.

Going to the local butcher in Orange Walk had Linda buying mutton for a birthday party.

If you need a butcher, it’s there. If you need fruits, vegetables and plants, the marketplace by town square is open every day.  You’ll also find clothing, groceries, automotive parts, electronics, internet and cellular services, furniture, home improvement, beauty salons and supplies, hardware and much more in Orange Walk town.

And the few times where you can’t find what you need, you can make a weekend trip to Chetumal, Mexico where Shopping Malls, Sam’s Club, Home Depot and others are waiting for your business.

Orange Walk is a Gem on the New River

The New River winds its way through Orange Walk’s East side and up into the remainder of Northern Belize before emptying into the Corozal Bay.

Besides the usual advantages of being on a river, Orange Walk boasts a number of businesses on the New River that service the culinary needs of the locals and cater to the growing tourism of the area.

One such tourist adventure on the Southern area of Orange Walk off of Naranja Street is a row of riverside cabins on the New River called El Gran Mestizo, owned by the De La Fuentes who also own the bustling downtown Orange Walk Hotel De La Fuente .

From these private cabins you can dine at Maracas Bar and Grill, and then start your adventure vacation and take in a number of adventure tours down the New River.

Maracas Bar and Grill is a welcoming place down by the New River that is part of the El Mestizo River Cabins.

You can find descriptions and rates on their web site.

The most popular tour is 15 miles south of Orange Walk to the Lamanai Mayan Temple and Ruins. Businesses that want to capitalize on this tourist traffic in Orange Walk should make Orange Walk a stop on their next trip.

Lamanai Mayan Ruins Tour is an all-day affair that takes you down the New River to the Mayan Temple.

Linda and I had the pleasure of staying at both the De La Fuente Hotel and the El Gran Mestizo Riverside Cabins on our most recent trip and enjoyed the ambiance of each.

Other Hotels to investigate in Orange Walk include:

  • Hotel St. Christopher’s
  • Orchid Palm Inn

Orange Walk offers a laid back life that encourages a healthy lifestyle

In this section, I’ll cover a number of areas that together, combine to make Orange Walk a serious consideration for you retirement years.

Healthcare:

No third-world country will offer the healthcare that will equal what you have experienced in the U.S. or Europe.

With that said, Orange Walk feature one of three regional government-run Hospitals on the North side of town.

Although it is not up-to-par with the Hospitals in Belize City and Belmopan, it is affordable and adequate for daily health concerns that may come up.

There are a few private facilities in the area that will offer better care from Doctors trained overseas.

Other medical options include going 30 miles north over the Mexican border to Chetumal, where healthcare is cheaper, but skilled.

For major procedures, many Expats choose to head to the U.S. or their home country. This is true of every part of Belize, however.

For more on the Healthcare in Belize, you might like this article.

Lifestyle:

There are plenty of things to do in Orange Walk whether it be spending social time at the town square, learning the local favorite, Dominos, or playing soccer (futbol).

Dominos
In Orange Walk, lots of time is spent chatting, drinking and teasing each other about Dominos skill.

Muffles college is close by for expanding your horizons and there are opportunities to volunteer at a number of area churches.

For those who prefer nightlife, the Hi 5 Night Club in downtown Orange Walk gets 4.8 out of 5 stars on Facebook.

Daytrips are easy from Orange Walk.

We have talked about Chetumal, Mexico, but virtually every area of Belize is accessible within no more than a few hours drive.

Belize City, Belmopan, Hopkins and Placencia Penninsula are well worth the trip. You also will enjoy the cool breezes in the San Ignacio and up in the Mountain Pine area.

And Tropic Air makes daily flights out to Ambergris Caye.

Housing:

If you plan to purchase land and build, there are a number of subdivisions in Orange Walk to Investigate.

Land is more affordable in Orange Walk than on the seaside. Investigate Dr. George Estates West of the Northern Highway where many new homes are currently going up.

This home is one of the new ones being built in the Dr George Estate subdivision of Orange Walk.

And if you need some possible architects and lawyers, we’ll be happy to refer a few that we know as well as a number of builders.

As you can see, Orange Walk offers a lot for those who want to live inland, centrally located to other parts of Belize.

Of course, we are biased due to it being Linda’s hometown, but that gives us a perspective on Orange Walk that could be valuable to you during your search.

Let us know how we can help!