South West Ambergris Caye

From Hotel Concept to Coolness and a Great BBQ Dessert Recipe

It was super cool from the start way back when Shawn and Forrest were doing show and tell on a tablet of their amazing house and boutique hotel concept. Watching Playa De Sala come to life has been even cooler. After seeing their recent installation of gorgeous crystal chandeliers and a heavenly bathtub on Facebook, I was excited by my friend and the co-owner Shawn’s offer for lunch and a fresh grand tour.

Playa De Sala is located south of San Pedro town on the west side of the island across from Las Brisas. Since I had not driven south for a while, I arranged to pick my friend Debbie (Pirate Girl) up in DFC with 45 minutes to spare, a few for Belize time at her place and enough extra in case we ended up on pothole patrol.

South west Ambergris Caye roads can be a little rough and bumpy, especially during rainy season. Thankfully our route was mostly dry and decent the day Deb and I went – we were able to navigate the road less traveled pretty well. Even though it is not far away in the grand scheme of travel it still takes a while to drive just over 4 miles (mostly on a dirt road) when you are pedal to the medal in a golf cart at 15 mph.

The further we got from town the more it felt like we were getting away from it all. As we drove along the tropical country roads, we chatted, laughed a lot and sometimes Debbie sang a round or two when a song she liked came on my music player.

When our turn off came close, I silently thought about how much I have always enjoyed the road to what is now Playa De Sala. It has been a favorite for many fun adventures with a peaceful lagoon side pit stop at the end for about for 10 years now. That was long before a boutique hotel was built, or I had met the owners and designers, Forrest and Shawn.

Tranquility Time

We spent the most relaxing and chilled out afternoon with Shawn and his neighbor Mario. We went next door to see Joe, (Forrest’s dad) a very talented artist. His space (new to me) was open air and very peaceful. We chatted about life and his plans for the studio while he marbleized large angel plaques. Next, we hung out between the beach and onsite owners living space and before all that, Shawn gave us a nice tour of the rooms and the rooftop bar. 

Luxury 5 Room Boutique Hotel

Playa de Sala is such a cool spot if you want to plan a fun event or host small private events. Imagine the enjoyment of your friends or family having a secluded, stylish, small hotel all to yourselves.

When construction is finished there will be a heated infinity lap pool with outdoor lounge seating and adjacent restaurant primarily featuring fresh, local seafood and produce prepared by Belizean chefs.

There is also a great open air art studio on site.

South West Ambergris Caye
A bit of the pool (south-west view), Joe Sala art studio (facing north-west) and full building (looking south-east) from the beach side.

Great Rooftop Bar

The tour to what will soon be a full-service rooftop bar continued to the well thought out design of the luxury hotel, open and luxurious. You can feel the height in my picture below and the gorgeous chandelier sets the tone for what you are about to experience. Soon there will be unique crystal rock in the square porthole windows which will be ever changing depending on the light.

The rooftop bar offers spacious and stunning 360-degree views that capture both surreal sunrises and stunning sunsets. It will also feature, regular evening movie nights where you can chill out comfortably under the stars and lose yourself in a great film. I am definitely looking forward to some rooftop sky and cinematics.

South West Ambergris Caye
Feel the height and elegance as you enjoy this journey to the rooftop bar and the spacious lounge area.
PLaya De Sala
Interestingly angled views. South-east and down to the second-floor accommodations. 
South West Ambergris Caye
Starting second-floor room tours and looking slightly south-east from the rooftop.

Uniquely Stylish and Open Rooms

The rooms are simply design combined with upscale elegance. Shawn gave us a verbal walk-through of the work in progress and detailed what the finished product will look like.

In-room amenities will include:

  • Bamboo memory foam mattresses, because the dynamic design duo knows the value of a good sleep to help you enjoy a well-rested vacation is priceless
  • Smart TVs
  • Fridges and coffee makers
  • Safes

Last but not least the bathrooms. Even though they are not quite finished yet each and every one of them stole my heart. I absolutely love and get excited by an interestingly designed bathroom, especially when it has a high-class tub and shower combo. To me, it really shows someone’s creative ability to design a visually appealing and physically relaxing space. These bathrooms go above and beyond, offering a highly rejuvenating and high-class experience.

Each one has a unique tranquil feeling to it with gorgeous water features, great lighting sculptures, and stylized privacy walls. The design elements are a combination of local craftsmanship and some pieces being sourced from Mexico.

Playa De Sala
This is the tub and chandelier that caught my eye on Facebook. I loved seeing the whole room in person.
South Ambergris Caye
Handcrafted on the mainland Belizean stone sink, cool sliding feature, double entry and maze-like. 

I had to include Shawn’s pictures of Mario below along with my beach ones in this next part as it was a humorous FB messenger conversation between us that led to the invitation and this whole post. He got talking about his friend Mario and how he looks like he walked out of the Super Mario video game and into real life.

It also came up in our conversation about an Amish guy that crossed our paths back in July 2015. Shawn reminded me his name is Jesse Wickey and said he still keeps contact. I was so glad to hear that because I never got to thank him for secretly paying for Anu (a guy I met through Shawn) and my dinners at Blue Water Grill one night. We saw him walking down the beach and invited him to join us. He sat down and quickly enjoyed his meal, then unknowingly to us Jessie paid for our meals along with his, said good-bye and then dashed off into the night before we had even decided on our dessert. We found out from our waitress when we went to pay the bill.

Shout out to Jessie for a pleasant surprise from a nice stranger and a fun memory. I’m glad I finally get to thank you for that very cool experience.

Shout out also goes to my Friend Aimee for leaving me her cart while on vacation in Texas and making this adventure possible, as well as the other drive south-west that Pirate Girl and I took.

Last shout out goes to Forrest, Shawn’s partner and a large part of the design mastermind for the house. Shawn was praising your skills in this area and recognizing he is definitely a lucky guy for having you in his life. You will have to meet Pirate Girl next time she is in town. 

Playa De Sala
Beach at Playa, Pirate Girl and Super Mario.

Brownies and BBQ Dessert

Since we were going for lunch, we both agreed some sweets were a great thing to bring. Debbie did up a platter yummy bite-sized brownies and I opted for BBQ dessert (can also be made in an oven.)

This is a fun-to-make item that you can easily mix and match like-minded ingredients depending on what appeals to you. For this particular one, I used bananas, plantains, frozen raspberries, frozen blueberries, marshmallows and Noah Boas fresh and locally made chocolate sauce.

Extra Dessert BBQ ideas:

  • Chunking up chocolate bars with nuts and caramel is also a great option, so is using chocolate fountain sauce. Here we get it in a bag and it comes in a paste-like consistency.
  • Consider what fruit flavor combinations you like; apples are also a good baked fruit option and some like pineapples or chopped nuts.
  • If you opt to use toppings like nuts or graham cracker crumbs you can make a separate bowl and have them as a sprinkle on after the baking part is done.

As you can see below. I portioned out my chosen solid ingredients on individual tin foil pieces then I drizzled the super tasty sauce over top. 

Next came an “egg roll” wrap so all ends were secured and I had some neat easily transportable packages. When you are ready, toss on BBQ or in the oven about 350 degrees. Timing depends on what your ingredients are, but you want it an oooey gooey yummy consistency. These ones were cooked in the oven and done in about 15 min or so. 

BBQ Dessert
Pirate Girl Brownies and tacogirl BBQ dessert.

2 thoughts on “From Hotel Concept to Coolness and a Great BBQ Dessert Recipe

  1. tacogirl says:

    I passed along your message to both Forest and Shawn so they could let Joe know. I agree with Judith that he is a great artist and guy. Hopefully, you will come to visit Belize one day and see Joe’s cool studio on the water and enjoy the rooftop bar view of the boutique hotel.

  2. Judith Tait says:

    Hi Taco girl, I know Joe Sala, very well, we were close friends in Vancouver for several years. He is an amazing artist and really sweet guy, I am so glad he, and Forrest and her husband have found and nurtured their spot. If you are in contact please tell Joe Judith sends a Hello and that his “Angel” painting still guards me on Quadra Island. All the best, Judith Tait

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