Belize & Guatemala

Francis Ford Coppola is widely regarded as one of the best directors in the history of cinema; a 2002 Sight & Sound readers’ poll put him at #4, and the critic’s poll listed him at #10. His films have earned more than 20 Oscars and 17 Golden Globes. His body of work includes such classics as the Godfather trilogy, Apocalypse Now, The Cotton Club, Patton, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, American Graffiti, Peggy Sue Got MarriedThe Black Stallion, The Rainmaker, Tetro, and Don Juan de Marco. You probably know all that. You might also know of his wine making and magazine publishing.

What you might not understand from the legends and documentaries is that “Mr. Francis” is a world-class husband, father, and grandfather. Really? Certainly. He sincerely regards family as the ultimate source of wealth. He’s been married to Miss Ellie since 1963. He composes songs and stories for his children and grandchildren.

Out of a desire for more family connection, he acquired Blancaneaux Lodge in the Mountain Pine Ridge of Belize in the early 1980s.  It was a family retreat until 1993, when it opened as a 20-room riverside resort.  Turtle Inn, located on Belize’s central coast, was the next addition, followed by La Lancha on Lake Peten Itza near Tikal, Guatemala.  These retreats (along with two others in Bernalda, Italy and Buenos Aires, Argentina) are known collectively as The Family Coppola Hideaways.

This podcast was recorded at Jardin Escondido, Mr. Coppola’s lovely boutique hotel in the Palermo Soho neighborhood of Buenos Aires.  This is one of our favorite places to stay in BA; it feels like staying in the home of a gracious friend.  True enough, I was staying as the guest of Christine Gaudenzi (Director of Sales and Marketing for The Family Coppola Hideaways) and Martin Kredit (Manager of Turtle Inn).  When I checked in, I was surprised to find Mr. Coppola sitting in the back garden, pecking away at his laptop while wearing saffron silk pajamas and Gucci loafers.  With Christine and Martin, we stayed up late into the night listening to “Mr. Francis” spin tales of his college years and family life.  He’s a thoughtful and generous conversationalist; he listens to opinions, considers alternative viewpoints, and encourages discussion.  At breakfast the next morning, he followed up with deeper questions and additional insights.

Martin and Christine are some of the kindest and most thoughtful people in travel. Since this episode was recorded, we’ve seen each other again in Morocco, explored cayes and reefs in Belize, and planned an upcoming trip to the western islands of the Galapagos.  These are the kind of friends you know you’ll have for life.

The theme of family runs through each of the  Coppola Hideaways. Bernie Matute, who manages Blancaneaux, has worked on property for more than 20 years; he started out as a porter.  Dozens of the Coppola staff have worked for the company for more than 10 years. It’s a pleasure working with these properties; when we send our clients, we know they’ll be cared for with genuine kindness and sincere hospitality.

Show Notes

Not sure why I was in the mood to latinize Christine’s name and pronounce Martin’s surname like a goof; it was probably the Diet Coke.

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