Taza Chocolate Week
March 22-29, 2014
Cotton Tree Lodge & Taza Chocolate are proud to present Chocolate Week. This March, we invite you to join Taza cofounder Alex Whitmore for a full week in beautiful Belize, exploring the Mayan origins of chocolate and relaxing in the thatched-roof cabanas of Cotton Tree Lodge. Alex has spent the last several years travelling extensively through Latin America and the Caribbean, sourcing the highest quality organic cacao for Taza Chocolate. These efforts have recently led us to Belize where, in partnership with Cotton Tree Lodge and Maya Mountain Cacao, we're laying the groundwork for our next single origin chocolate bar. For enthusiasts seeking to better understand the chocolate-making process from bean to bar, this is the opportunity of a lifetime.
Chocolate, from Tree to Taste:
The week’s activities, led by Alex, will center on the history and cultivation of cacao, and how it's transformed into craft chocolate. The climate of Southern Belize has proven just right for farming Theobroma cacao, on account its tropical lowland climate. And Cotton Tree Lodge is the ideal base from which to explore chocolate in all its facets.
Your week will begin with a visit to a local cacao farm, where farmers will show you how to identify healthy, ripe cacao pods and how to properly harvest the flesh and seeds inside. Later in the week, back at Cotton Tree and Maya Mountain Cacao, Alex will guide you through the fermentation process – the most significant factor in flavor development on the farm – using the beans you collected.
Also during your stay, Mayan families and local chocolate artisans will demonstrate the various ways cacao is transformed after harvest. During a visit to Eladio Pop’s farmhouse, you’ll watch and assist as a traditional Mayan cacao drink is made by mano y metate – that is, by hand with traditional stone tools. You’ll make an excursion to a chocolate “factory” in the village of Punta Gorda, where local artisanal chocolate maker Julie Puryear will demonstrate the roasting and winnowing steps, in which the beans are heated to impart flavor and eliminate moisture, and the shells are removed. With the freshly winnowed cacao, you’ll make your own high-quality chocolate bars, seeing the process through the final steps of conching, tempering and molding. You’ll have finished chocolate bars to bring home with you!
Another highlight of the program is the Lodge's proximity to Maya Mountain Cacao, a socially-responsible cocoa bean export business that Alex co-founded with Jeff Pzena from Cotton Tree Lodge. During the week, you’ll gain fascinating insight into the economy of chocolate and how Maya Mountain Cacao aims to foster a sustainable, fair business model and higher standards of living for local growers. Learn even more at mayamountaincacao.tumblr.com. Also, in the comfortable Cotton Tree Lodge gathering space, Alex will lead informal evening lectures/discussions, diving into topics like Direct Trade sourcing, large scale chocolate manufacturing, and the Meso-American history of chocolate. By the time you depart Belize, you may rightly call yourself a chocolate expert.Rustic Setting, comfortable Accommodations:
Nestled amidst dense rainforest on the banks of the Moho River, Cotton Tree Lodge sits placidly on a 100-acre plot in the Toledo district of Belize. The region is rich with Mayan history – stone ruins and ancient pottery shards persist amid villages where the descendants of these ancient civilizations live today. Cacao has been cultivated here for millennia, at one time for use in ritual beverages, now made into small batch chocolate bars. When not immersed in the cacao-centric activities of Chocolate Week, you’re encouraged to kick back and relax in the lodge, or head out with a Cotton Tree guide on a one-of-a-kind adventure. Horseback riding, bird watching hikes, and darkened swims in Blue Creek Cave are just some of the excursions available at this jungle oasis. Visitors can choose from a range of fully screened, thatch-roofed lodging options, from shared dorms to deluxe cabanas featuring private bathrooms, ceiling fans, balconies, and hammocks.
While providing guests with comfortable accommodations and modern amenities, Cotton Tree Lodge is nevertheless committed to minimizing its impact on the unspoiled Belizean rainforest. Energy for the lodge is generated primarily via inconspicuous solar panels. Much of the food served is grown in Cotton Tree’s own organic garden, tended by extensionists of the non-profit Sustainable Harvest International.
Rates for Chocolate Week vary based on the lodging style you select and the number of chocolate lovers in your party. Whichever option you choose, the cost per person includes ground transfers to/from Cotton Tree Lodge and Punta Gorda, accommodations, meals starting with dinner on arrival day and ending with breakfast on departure day, chocolate making workshops, off site cultural tours as detailed in the itinerary, and on site activities including horseback riding, kayaking, swimming, and nature walks. Rates also include all taxes and service charges. See the rate schedule below:
Garden Vista Rooms
Perfect for guests on a budget. Each room can be set up with either 1 or 2 queen beds or bunk beds, and has a private bath and balcony. The bunkhouse room is set up with 3 sets of bunk-beds for those willing to share space.
$1,995 per person based on single occupancy
$1,495 per person based on double occupancy
$1,395 per person based on triple occupancy
$1,295 per person based on quad occupancy
$1,195 per person in our bunkhouse
Children under 12 are half price
Private thatched roof cabanas
These rooms have private baths and are furnished with queen beds and feature verandas with hammocks.
$2,495 per person based on single occupancy
$1,895 per person based on double occupancy
$1,695 per person based on triple occupancy
$1,495 per person based on quad occupancy
Children under 12 are half price