This is not the first time Leonardo DiCaprio has used his celebrity for good. In addition to being a substantial actor, he is also a substantial environmentalist. Last year, he spoke at the United Nations Climate Summit on global warming. He is an active part of the World Wildlife Fund, and now, he has plans to, as the New York Times poetically wrote, “heal an island.”
The island in question is a wild, unpopulated, primitive place called Blackadore Caye, off the coast of the Belize. Getting to it is a short journey in itself — is a 45-minute boat ride from Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City and from there, a 15-minute boat ride from San Pedro, the nearest town – 14,000 population.
DiCaprio purchased Blackadore Caye for $1.75 million, twelve years ago with Jeff Gram, the owner of Cayo Espanto Island Resort, a luxury vacation spot on another private island in Belize. Mr. Gram said he would bring his experience in owning and operating island resorts to the new venture.
But the vision for this new venture is a little different, as from the outset DiCaprio’s ideas deal with island health and restoration, not just substantial growth. His restorative vision has a dual meaning: the work will restore the island, and in turn restore the essences of those who visit. There will be resort amenities, villas, spas, infinity pools, but the island’s health will be restored also. According to the NY Times, Blackadore Caye has suffered from overfishing, an eroding coastline and the deforestation of its mangrove trees. But an important part of the development plan is to face these challenges and work on solutions.
Mr. DiCaprio said “My goal was always the fact that I wanted to create something not just environmental, but restorative,” he said. “A showcase for what is possible.”
Restorative Islands L.L.C., owned by Paul Scialla, will build the resort at Blackadore Caye, and Restorative Hospitality, a division of Delos, will be its operator.
Mr. DiCaprio serves on the Delos advisory board, along with Deepak Chopra, the self-improvement leader; Richard A. Gephardt, the former United States representative from Missouri; and doctors at the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic. And as The Times reported, Mr. Scialla said, “The idea at Blackadore Caye is to push the envelope for what sustainability means — moving the idea beyond environmental awareness into restoration.”
The 68 villas for guests on Blackadore Caye will be built on a platform that stretches in an arc over the water, with artificial reefs and fish shelters underneath. A nursery on the island will grow indigenous marine grass to support a manatee conservation area, and mangrove trees will be replanted, replacing invasive species.
For those vacationers who prefer their own houses, 48 will be built on the island, with price tags ranging from $5 million to $15 million. The project plans to launch in 2018.