Belizean Fantasy Island
Imagine a private tropical isle with your very own palatial waterfront villa. Following a seductive soak in your beachside plunge pool, your two housemen arrive with an icy libation and a snack of fresh-caught lobster. Imagine: a private isle situated in the midst of one of the planet’s largest and most beautiful barrier reefs with gin-clear water, where snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing are the stuff of legend. Welcome to “your private island” – Cayo Espanto nestled off the coast of Belize in the Caribbean Sea is a place where dreams become reality.
Cayo Espanto was envisioned by Jeff Gram, who turned a personal dream of creating an ultra-luxe destination into reality. A place imbued with stellar service, melded with the world’s finest cuisine sourced locally from fishermen and farmers – a place where your wish is a command, exemplified by the old adage – there’s only one class, and that’s first class. That said, Cayo Espanto has been humming along since 1999, discretely attracting honeymooners and celebrities, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Bill Gates, Tiger Woods, and Jennifer Lawrence. “I created Cayo as an oasis for lovers, but equally alluring for the solo traveler seeking blissful peace, and family getaways, [including] some who take over the entire seven-villa island for a lifetime of memories,” Gram says.
Even the process of getting there is part of the magic. We flew United from Houston to Belize City, where a Cayo representative was waiting to seamlessly whisk us through customs and expedite boarding the Tropic Air hopper flight to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. From there, another Cayo rep drove us to nearby docks to meet the shuttle boat that zipped us across the bay to our private island.
The entire staff – including cooks, housemen, housekeepers, and masseuse – formed a receiving line and awaited our arrival on the dock. The fine-tuned, nuanced training of staff members is so peerless that they could serve as tutors for staff at premier five-star resorts around the world. Their delivery, style, grace, and authentic friendliness have tempted more than one multi-millionaire guest to offer a king’s ransom and spirit away staff members to their own mansions in the Hamptons. Oh, and that leads to another nuance of perfection: My partner and I agreed that our massages on this isolated islet were among the best treatments we’d ever had anywhere in the world.
Additionally, Gram totally values his workers, and treats them with the respect of treasured friends, providing an incredibly handsome compensation package. He proudly notes that one of his employees has parlayed his pay into ownership of six homes in his nearby hometown.
There’s a little more on service: When our two housemen delivered a meal or drink, it was done with a graceful precision, reminiscent of two syncopated ballerinas. They deftly slid in a plate or flatware from our left, with right arms artfully resting behind their backs.
“I didn’t realize how much I needed a chill-out trip until I settled in at my waterfront villa,” Johanna Read from Vancouver, British Columbia, says. “I unpacked, changed into my breezy island-wear, ate a delicious seafood lunch on my private deck next to my plunge pool, took some photos of the cerulean sea, and felt my blood pressure drop. This was my first trip in, I don’t know how long, where I could just relax, enjoy the vistas, swim whenever I wanted, read a book, or just gaze at the stars.”
Courtney Cacatian from Charlottesville, Virginia, adds, “Each meal served in our cabana was more impressive than the last, and when we left the island, our first thought was to form a plan to save enough money to return for another dose of pure indulgence.”
For more details, visit: @aprivateisland – aprivateisland.com
Writer: Thomas Wilmer