Leonardo DiCaprio a renowned environmental activist, is putting his money where his mouth is, to create a multimillion-dollar ecotourism resort which intends to transform an island off the coast of Belize.
The actor, a keen scuba diver enthusiast, famous for his roles in, The Wolf of Wall Street, Titanic and Romeo and Juliet, bought a Blackadore Caye 104-acre property, almost 10 years ago with a partner for US$1.75 million because he fell in love with the country.
“It was like heaven on earth. And almost immediately, I found this opportunity to purchase an island there,” he told The New York Times.
He has unveiled plans for sprawling villas and infinity pools, where an exclusive number of affluent guests can watch the sunset.
To open in 2018, he has teamed up with Paul Scialla, from the firm Delos of New York, for the development.
DiCaprio’s “Restorative Island” envisions villas set atop a platform arcing through the water, with artificial reefs to protect marine life. Marine grass will be planted in a nursery to support a conservation area for manatee and re-planted mangroves.
The aim is a reversal of environmental damage from deforestation, overfishing and erosion of coastline. DiCaprio said, “The emphasis is to do something that will modify the world. I couldn’t have gone to Belize and built on an island and done something like this, if it weren’t for the idea it could be groundbreaking in the environmental movement.”
The project wishes to tap the growing market for upmarket eco-tourism holidays. Located about 45 minutes by boat from Belize City, guests will be put through an ecology orientation program and plastic bottles will be banned on the island.
The 68 guest villas will have access to a mile of secluded beach. Although prices have not yet been announced, some of the villas will be for sale costing US$15 million.
Jason McLennan, the lead architect and designer said, “The aim was to create place that wasn’t contrived, a tiki hut or an image of a Hawaiian getaway, but rather the history of the place, the Mayan culture, with a more modern approach.”
DiCaprio is developing a reputation as an outspoken defender of the natural habitat. Last year the United Nations appointed him climate change envoy and he is to produce documentaries about the environment for Netflix.