World's Greatest Places 2021
July 20, 2021 6:35 AM EDT

Belize takes protecting its pristine environment seriously. In 2021, an environmental coalition purchased 236,000 acres of the Belize Maya Forest, protecting 9% of the Central American country’s landmass—as well as the spider monkeys, jaguars and ocelots that call the forest home. But as the economy recovers—having been pummeled by both natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic—striking a balance between conserving the nation’s natural environs and increasing tourism revenues will be crucial. Belize is setting the stage for more visitors with the recent opening of the new Alaia Belize, Autograph Collection, Marriott International’s first resort in the country. Meanwhile, airlines, including United and Alaska, are expanding their route offerings to help accommodate future influxes of tourists. Two new options for private stays near nature are the beachfront villas at the Itz’ana Resort & Residences and Valley Stream, a new ultra-remote private residence situated within 200 acres of lush rain forest. —Ali Wunderman

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