An active environmental campaigner who most recently fronted this autumn’s Before the Flood documentary on climate change, the actor Leonardo DiCaprio is soon to also be a hotelier. Last year it was announced that he would build a lavish eco-tourism resort on a small island off the coast of Belize. As its 2018 launch date approaches, new information about the ambitious project – and renderings of how it is expected to look – have been released.
DiCaprio discovered Blackadore Caye some 10 years ago and after purchasing the 104-acre island for $1.75 million he has spent the intervening decade planning its conversion into a luxury resort. As well as creating a haven for travellers searching for a complete escape, DiCaprio and his partners have explicitly stated that they are aiming to create “the world’s leading example of green hospitality”.
For that reason years have been spent assessing the surrounding area – construction of the resort will finally begin in 2017 – and ensuring its impact on the surrounding ecosystem is as minimal as can be. Among the measures being taken are the replanting of mangrove, replacing of invasive species with native species and the creation of additional armature for reef and fish breeding. Over half of the island will serve as a protected wildlife preserve; all power used will be sourced from renewable energy; and water will be provided through rainwater collection and onsite water treatment.
Those encouraging environmental credentials should be complemented by a suitably stylish setting and enjoyable guest experience too. Led by hotel interior designer Jean-Michel Gathy, Malaysia-based hotel and resort specialists Denniston has been enlisted to create the Blackadore Caye aesthetic. The company has already designed some of the world’s most luxurious resorts, including Cheval Blanc Randheli in the Maldives, The Chedi Andermatt and Aman Canal Grande in Venice.
Though few precise details have been released about what Blackadore Caye will offer, exclusivity is guaranteed. The island will hold just 36 resort bungalows and a further 36 estate villas, available for purchase. Earlier plans, which featured 116 abodes and included a curved platform connecting to a series of overwater villas, were scrapped following design consultations with local businesses and communities.
For the few guests who stay there, highly personalised service is a certainty – once operational the resort will hire 400 permanent staff, a significant number of them local – and diving and snorkelling are likely to be among the most popular recreational activities.
And the opportunity to perhaps spot one of the world’s most famous film stars will likely entice some visitors, too. Though he’s not the first celebrity to open a hotel, DiCaprio’s stature should ensure Blackadore Caye receives global attention when it opens in late 2018.
A similar level of interest is likely to surround the opening of Brad Pitt’s proposed luxury resort in Croatia, while the footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has invested in the newly opened Pestana CR7 Lisbon hotel.
Belize is already home to Francis Ford Coppola’s Turtle Inn resort and it too comes with its own private island. Last summer, its two-acre islet Coral Caye was made available for exclusive-hire for the first time. Accommodating up to 12 guests, the rustic retreat features a classic modernist beach house and two discrete guest bungalows, facilities include a swimming pool, and it comes with an on-site butler. It costs from $1,065 per night for two, plus $238 per additional guest.