Known as British Honduras until its independence in 1981, Belize is the only English-speaking country in Central America (although Spanish and Creole, or properly Kriol, are also spoken). The head of state technically remains Queen Elizabeth II. Belize event venues are frequently deployed for destination weddings, as the country's spectacular offerings include sandy islands, laid-back resorts, the world's second-largest barrier reef and tourism sites such as the Blue Hole.
The international airport, Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (BZE), is in Ladyville, 10 miles northeast along the coast from Belize City. Small planes "puddle jump" to Belize's many smaller airports. American, Delta, United and US Airways all fly here from the U.S. A current airport expansion is due to be finished in 2015.
The country's main meeting spot is the University of Belize in Belmopan, which is not a convention center per se but has an exhibit hall for approximately 400 persons, a lobby and meeting rooms. Hotel venues in Belize include the 102-room Radisson Fort George Hotel & Marina, which has 6,000 square feet of meeting space; and the 75-room Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza, which has two halls for 200 and 500 persons, respectively. Both are in Belize City. But planners are more likely to put groups on one of the country's gorgeous islands or in a comfortable lodge or hotel in or close to the jungle. One of the former would be the 52-room Coco Beach Resort on Ambergris Caye, which has space for up to 200 persons; while two of the latter would be the 24-room San Ignacio Resort Hotel, in San Ignacio (close to neighboring Guatemala), which has 5,700 square feet of meeting space, and the 11-cabana Cotton Tree Lodge, in Punta Gorda in the south of the country, which has rooms for groups of up to 75 persons.
Especially for incentives, unique venues in Belize will be jungle lodges, close to the Mayan ruins of Caracol, Lamanai and Xunantunich. Take a 40-minute boat ride along the New River to the 19-room Lamanai Outpost Lodge, right next to the ruin of Lamanai, where all manner of nature and outdoor events can be staged, or at the 16-room Jaguar Paw Jungle Resort, which has a meeting room for 30 persons and two outdoor restaurants able to host 100 persons each. Two other choices are the Old Belize Adventure Culture and Historical Center in Belize City, which has the Jungle Pavilion for up to 300 persons and the British Honduras Conference Room for 25 people, and the 42-acre Orchid Garden Eco-Village, which has a rustic conference room for 22 persons, a poolside palapa for 40 and 18 guest rooms. On small (265 acres) Caye Chapel island is Belize's only 18-hole golf course, which comes with its own air strip, a 25,000-square-foot conference center and hardly any other people.
Ambergris Caye is the dining capital of Belize; restaurants are plentiful here and mostly connected to resorts. Choices include Red Ginger, which can be rented out in its entirety and has tropical cuisine. Blue Water Grill specializes in seafood, is right on the sea and can host up to 150 persons when tables are also set up on the beach. The O Restaurants is a taste of Miami in Belize and has private dining room or space on its roof and around its pool. In Belize City, there is really only one choice, the Smoky Mermaid, which is inside the Great House and has among its dining options, courtyard and deck spaces. Just outside San Ignacio is La Ceiba Restaurant, inside the small but luxurious Kaana resort.