Leonardo DiCaprio’s Private Island Resort Takes New Direction
Leonardo DiCaprio’s much-ballyhooed Blackadore Caye Resort off the Atlantic coast of Belize is finally taking shape. Renderings were unveiled Friday for what the living structures will look like once the property is fully completed (projected for late 2018). Lead design architect Jean-Michel Gathy, known for his work with Aman and One&Only, drew inspiration from Belize's ancient Mayan ruins, with minimalist designs that subtly nod to Central American pyramids while remaining resolutely modern—thatched roofs over plenty of natural materials such as wood and marble. There will be 36 residential estate homes and 36 bookable bungalows spread over the island's 104 acres.
Paul Scialla, a partner at Blackadore Development Group, says the “goal is to create a development true to the history of the area.” Sustainability and the environmental integrity will continue to remain top priorities during construction, which will start early next year, he says. “From a materials standpoint, our plan is to source as much local materials as possible that support the local economy and minimize emissions.”
To that end, the trendy overwater bungalows have been scrapped—a major selling point in the initial furor when news broke last year of the Oscar winner's intent to turn his private paradise into a hotel. The development team spent six months gathering feedback from local stakeholders and citizens about the project ahead of the building timeline, says Scialla, leading to that significant change, among others. Sustainability is still the word of the day on Blackadore Caye.
Inside the homes and bungalows, eco tech and design features are being deployed with an eye toward improving the quality of the air, water, and light to promote, if you buy into the resort's PR spin, "better nutrition, mental acuity." For instance, rooms will have circadian lighting, which modulates the color/wavelengths of light throughout the day to help with your natural sleep and wake cycles (blue in the morning and warmer tones in the evening, like Apple's Night Shift function for your living room). Plus, a no-fossil-fuel and "no-chemical" policy is planned for the resort; everything used to furnish these spaces will also be vetted so that any lingering toxins can be removed.
Outside, solar panels will be installed to generate as much renewable energy as possible, and there will also be an on-site treatment facility for waste and rainwater. All this helps lower the environmental impact of building a multi-use resort on an island already suffering from deforestation, overfishing, and an eroding coastline. In line with DiCaprio’s well-known environmental advocacy—and this is his own private island, after all—Blackadore Development Group plans to enlist ecologists, marine biologists, and zoologist experts to address those problems and oversee the Caye's rehabilitation, planting native flora, for instance, and creating additional armature for reef and fish breeding.
Once operational, the resort is expecting to create 400 permanent jobs, from hotel staff to workers for surrounding organic farms. Scialla says the group is projecting that the resort will create revenue of roughy 400 million Belize dollars ($200 million) over the next 20 years. No word yet on parcel prices or per-night room rates.