I blame Jimmy Buffett for many of the questionable things I have done in my life: running away to Mexico at seventeen, moving to Hawaii at twenty-one, buying several boats, surfing in hurricanes, and, most recently, buying an island in Belize. Finding Margaritaville has been a life-long obsession.
As an avid SCUBA diver, I had been to Belize many times. My kids learned to dive there. We explored caves, hiked to waterfalls, climbed Mayan ruins, sailed the atolls, and fished the reef. We made friends in the country and fell in love with the diversity of the culture…and, especially, with the ocean.
There are over 400 cayes (pronounced “keys”) in Belize. A beautiful barrier reef runs the entire 190 mile length of the country and it is home to the only coral atolls in the western hemisphere. The turquoise colored seas, abundant ocean life, and white sand beaches make it a water sports paradise. We love it.
Just over a year ago, I started surfing Belize real estate sites on the Internet looking for a little place that would serve as a home base for a thorough exploration of the country. We were looking for something simple, easy and inexpensive that would not be a burden and, most importantly, would not interfere or prevent us from enjoying travels to other destinations. That is when I first saw a listing for Portofino Caye. “Own an Island,” the ad said.
Book a flight, build a spreadsheet, talk to banker, negotiate with wife, listen to Marley, dream rum-fueled dreams, make an offer, and get handed the keys (actually there are no keys because there are no locks). Margaritaville is mine. Seven and a half acres of sand and palms with luxury accommodations, a few well-placed hammocks, a fleet of boats, a competent local staff, and year-round warmth and sunshine. The backyard has a coral reef and lobster can be picked out of the water for dinner.
Now dubbed Royal Belize, it is the only luxury private island in the country rented exclusively to one guest party at a time. There are five bedrooms across three separate villas, a large open-air palapa for lounging and dining, plenty of lounge chairs, and acres of sand and water for all to enjoy. The island combines the benefits of an adventure destination with luxury accommodations in an exclusive setting. When we are not SCUBA diving the barrier reef, we are fishing or enjoying the jet skis, kayaks, standup paddle boards, beach games, kite board, and catamaran. Or maybe just laying around in the sun or shade with a cold beverage. We have found it is the perfect place for adventure travelers and lay-around loungers alike.
Most people come for the amenities of an all-inclusive, private island vacation, but wind up falling in love with the caring staff that anticipates their every desire. The team does whatever it takes to create “WOW” and seeks to make every visitor’s dreams come true. Their mission is to create unforgettable experiences while making new best friends for life.
The past year has involved a tremendous amount of work. In addition to revamping the marketing and management of the resort, the team has converted the island to solar and wind power, renovated the villas, upgraded the infrastructure and the boats, expanded the kitchen, and replaced most of the furniture and equipment. Herman Wouk’s novel Don’t Stop the Carnival has been our how-not-to guide. It is the story of a guy from the states that sells his business, moves to the Caribbean, buys a resort, and learns many lessons the hard way. It is an eerily prescient book that everyone with this dream should read. We are still alive and have quickly developed an ability to remain calm in the face of each new catastrophe.
The Royal Belize brand stands for luxury, exclusivity, adventure, sustainability and philanthropy. In 2014, we helped seven non-profit organizations raise over $150,000 at charity auctions by consigning trips at large discounts and allowing the organization to keep the profits from the sale. We also support a number of youth libraries in different villages throughout Belize. As a member of the Getaway2Give Collection (G2GCollection.com), the resort generates additional charitable contributions when G2G members vacation on the island. The entire Royal Belize team is committed to fulfilling the philanthropic mission.
For our family, owning an island in a tropical paradise feels like living in a fantasy world. We have enjoyed taking friends, colleagues, and family members down several times over the past year. We love it so much and want all of our friends to share the experience. Please come for a visit. Let us know when you plan to arrive. We may be out fishing or diving. There are margaritas in the blender. Help yourself.