The house consists of 2 stories of living space. It is built on foundation pillars, with the garages and storage area at ground level.
Main floor - contains a main entrance (up the stairs from the driveway and garage) that leads to the living room and library / reading area, a large dining room with a large dining room table (seats 14), a fully equipped kitchen, a storage room/pantry, laundry closet, and main floor bathroom with shower. There is a side door that leads to the deck. Along the beach-side walls of the library area, dining room, and kitchen, there are folding doors that lead to the deck and pool. These are secured with flat bolts on the upper and lower parts of each section. These bolts must be secured when you leave the house (for security) and when you want the doors securely shut (i.e. if it rains, to keep out sand flies during early am and evening – more on this in the next section). One of the doors in each section functions as a single door, and the remainder can be folded up accordion-style to almost completely open the main floor area to the deck. The large solid wood bifold doors at the end of the library area open to the outdoor sitting area. They have more traditional sliding bolts up and down. There are door stops to secure these doors in the open position.
Stairway from the deck to the beach - the stairway and pathway to the dock have landscape lighting which comes on automatically at dusk. At the bottom of the beach stairway there is an outdoor shower and a basin which should be filled with water and used to wash off your feet when coming in from the sand. This reduces (but does not eliminate) the amount of sand dragged onto the deck and into the house and pool. There is a concrete sink for rinsing dive and snorkel equipment at the base of the stairs.
Master suite - upstairs to the left there is a bedroom with king size bed, bathroom area with 2 pedestal sinks, shower, toilet room, and 2 closets. One of these closets contains the clothes that we leave there for our use. Feel free to use the other closet! There is a bureau in the bedroom that you can use as well.
The master suite also has an adjacent study and deck overlooking the beach and pool. The doors onto the deck are the same as the downstairs folding doors.
Motel wing - located at the right up the main staircase leading to 4 bedrooms. Each bedroom has its own sink and vanity, and there is a bathroom with toilet and shower between each 2 bedrooms. The first bedroom has a bunk bed with a double bed on the bottom and twin on the top. There is also a loft, accessed by a ladder. The second and third bedrooms have queen beds, and the fourth bedroom (best beachside-view!) has a queen bed and a double loft bed.
All the bedrooms have air conditioners with remote controls. This unfortunately means that the remotes could get misplaced…please do not remove them from each room. When your holiday is over and you are leaving for the last time, please remove the batteries from the A/C remote controllers and leave them in the wooden box on the bedside tables. When using the air conditioning, make sure you only press the bottom right hand button on the remote (the other buttons do crazy things!) to turn the AC on or off. Use the centre “up” and “down” buttons to control the temperature. Believe it or not, you are best to keep the temperature setting no lower than 23 degrees. It will seem very cool, and if you set it lower it will be harder to acclimatize to the weather outside as well. For much of the year we do not use the AC at all. The ceiling fans (which can be kept running even when you are not in the room) and open windows often provide enough cooling airflow. You may also want to run the AC only for the hour or so before you go to bed, and then turn it off. When the AC is on the windows and doors must be kept closed. Please do not keep the AC on when you are not in the room!
Entertainment - In the living room there is an entertainment area consisting of an LCD TV, DVD player, and CD player. We have satellite TV (Shaw Direct Canada). There are DVD’s and CD’s on the shelves for you to use. There is also a varied selection of books on the shelves which you are welcome to borrow. If you are in the middle of reading one of these books when it is time to leave, feel free to take it with you. You may want to leave another paperback book in its place!
Communication - We have satellite internet access with a hardwire internet connection (and a printer) located on the desk in the living room. We also have wireless internet access throughout the house and on the deck. We have a cell phone which we will leave (usually in a basket on the buffet cabinet) for you to use. We try to keep a reasonable amount of phone time entered so you can call local restaurants etc as needed, and phoning out is not expensive. It does not cost anything to have someone call in, however. Extra phone minutes can be purchased in most grocery stores in Placencia Village in 10, 20, and 50 Belize dollar amounts. Bring the phone with you, and they will be topped up right there. Our phone number is 501 622-0384. Anyone can phone into that number from anywhere. Make sure you buy "digicell" minutes for the cell phone.
Kitchen - the kitchen is well equipped, though we continue to find things that we are missing. Please let us know if you think there are things we should have that aren’t there. We have salt and pepper, basic spices, sugar (white and brown), coffee, and tea in the cupboards for your use. If you use the last of any of these, or if they are running low, please let Orlando know. There is a wine cooler in the kitchen that usually contains wine, beer, tequila, rum, and margarita mix. If you use anything from the wine cooler, please replace it during your stay.
There is a coffee maker (filters are in the top drawer to the left of the fridge) and toaster on the counter, and a blender, hand mixer, slow cooker, bread maker and coffee grinder etc in the cupboard to the right of the fridge.
The stove / oven is gas (butane). There is an electric start on the left side of the stove control panel which works well for starting the burners on the left side of the stove, but the right sided burners must be started using the hand-held lighter. The oven needs to be lit using a hand held lighter which we keep in the drawer on the very left hand side of the counter. You will no doubt notice that there are no temperature numbers on the oven control…this can make using the oven a challenge, as I found out trying to roast a turkey and bake pumpkin pie at Christmas. To simplify things I bought a hanging oven thermometer which hangs from the rack inside the oven.
The microwave is large and works well, but is quirky. When you press the “add a minute” button to start it, it takes about 10 seconds to actually start. Be patient and don’t keep pressing the buttons (like I did when I first used it).
There is a very uncommon item (for this area) in our home: a dishwasher. To reduce water and electricity costs we recommend that it only be run when full. We recommend washing your dishes by hand if there are not too many. Dishwasher detergent is underneath the sink. Before you arrive, we will have been in contact with you with regards to any groceries / food items that you would like stocked for your arrival. Our house manager will purchase these for you and will give you the bill for the groceries upon your arrival. Not everything that you might want is always available. See the section on groceries for a list of items that are usually available that you might want, as well as for where to get groceries etc while you are here. I highly recommend that you order in basic food items for your arrival. Since most people arrive at Casa Corazon in the early evening, we can arrange for someone to cook your dinner that first evening (see section on in-house cook).
House safety feature - the house is designed and built to resist hurricane impact based on the Florida Hurricane standards. It has impact resistant glass, and hurricane shutters over the doors and windows. When the house is opened up for you by our house manager, the hurricane shutters will be rolled up. You will notice that there are metal poles attached to the upper part of the windows in the motel wing.. These are for manual operation of the hurricane shutters. There should be no need for you to use these! They can jam if used improperly. There are electrically operated hurricane shutters on the downstairs living room window, and over the doors from the library, dining room, and kitchen onto the deck. We recommend that these shutters be closed whenever you are going to be away from the house for the day if Orlando is not going to be on the property (see below).
The windows in much of the house are the “jalousie” type. They can be louvered up or down to open them for airflow, or close them off. Their operation is pretty obvious.
Security - This section of Belize is very safe overall, but basic security measures are important. You must make sure the house is locked up every time you leave. The alarm system should also be armed when you are away. Orlando will provide you with the codes. Several of the outside lights are either on a sensor or kept on permanently for security. Also, we recommend that you close the electric hurricane shutters over the downstairs windows and doors if you will be away from the house and Orlando is not on the premises. Please lock up the car as well. We have a security alarm that Orlando will show you how to operate.
Laundry - We have a closet on the main floor that holds a washer and dryer. Feel free to use them as needed. Laundry soap, fabric softener, and a fabric softener dispenser are right beside the washer. If these are running low, check to see if there is more in the pantry, and if not, please let Orlando know.
Electricity - We are on the main electricity grid, but primarily operate off of a solar water heating and solar electricity system. Although the electrical service has been pretty reliable, there are occasional times when the main grid power goes off for a few hours. The fans, fridge, and pool, as well as many of the electrical outlets, are powered by solar, so will continue to operate. Please be energy conscious and turn off all unnecessary lights as a rule. Use of the air conditioning should be restricted to when you are in the bedrooms, and with the doors and windows closed....please!
Water and Plumbing - As is true for much of the Caribbean, we get our water from rainfall collected into our cistern. This means that water is plentiful during the wet season and less so during the dry season. We have a large cistern and we will endeavor to make sure there is plenty of water on your arrival, but water conservation is very important. This is a hot, humid climate, and most people will want to shower twice a day. That is fine, but we recommend you keep the shower time down to 3 to 5 minutes. Don’t run the water continuously while brushing your teeth etc. Also, avoid flushing the toilet every time…(”if its yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down”!). Toilets should of course be flushed at least once a day.
While our cistern water is filtered, and has been tested as safe, we generally recommend that you use bottled water for drinking. We have a water cooler in the kitchen as well as a large bottle of room temperature water on the counter with a spigot. Our plumbing is connected to a septic field system. Please avoid putting anything into the toilets that you have not eaten first! Paper and other objects should be placed in the wastebaskets in the bathrooms rather than into the toilets, please.
Garbage - There is a garbage bin in the kitchen, and small garbage containers in each bedroom and bathroom. When these are full, please deposit them in one of the large plastic garbage containers underneath the front stairs outside. Orlando will take the containers to the roadside for pickup on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Of course it is important that "wet" garbage and any food waste be kept in a covered garbage container. There are white and green garbage bags under the kitchen sink and in the pantry. To our great distress, there is no recycling system in Belize, beyond beer and pop bottles. Those items can be placed in the crates in the pantry for Orlando to recycle.
If there are any plumbing or electrical problems, please contact Orlando.