Cayo Espanto – Belize’s most expensive resort
People who’ve visited other Caribbean resort destinations before are often surprised at how affordable resorts in Belize can be in comparison. You might be able to add the super-rich to that group because according to a 2006 CDNN article on the World’s 10 Most Expensive Resorts, the Cayo Espanto private island/resort only ranks 9th on that list (although prices for 2008 are $200 per night higher than in the article).
It must seem like a bargain to the well-heeled vacationers who pay $30,000 per night for Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, or $24,750 per night for Musha Cay in the Bahamas. Cayo Espanto seems like a hostel dorm compared to those places at only $1,595 per night for its cheapest room, which also happens to be its only over-water bungalow (with no pool).
The people who rent the 5 private oceanfront villas (with private plunge pool) for prices that range from $1,695 to $2,495 per night have earned a right to look down upon the people staying in the cheap over-water bungalow. After all, who rents a private villa on a private tropical island without a private plunge pool included? (Not me!)
Cayo Espanto is conveniently located only 3 miles from San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, and as long as you’ve reserved in advance, the resort will have one of its private shuttle boats waiting for you near the San Pedro Airport for the 7-minute ride to the island.
If you think spending $1,600 per night is a lot, you might not realize that these rates include a personal houseman, three tailored meals per day, snacks, all drinks (except champagne, wine, and cordials), and non-motorized water sports. So when you add all that in it’s really quite a bargain, although these prices do not include a 9% Belize Government Tax and a 15% resort fee (whatever that is?).
Lest you still think these lodging rates are both rigid and high, you should be aware of the outstanding packages the Cayo Espanto offers. The resort has 5 different packages from which to choose, each including either 5 or 7 nights in a luxury bungalow. The cheapest is the Babymoon Package, which evidently is meant for parents-to-be, at $6,500 for 5 nights including a private island picnic and a massage for each expectant parent. This price includes those crazy taxes mentioned above, so this really is quite a bargain.
The most expensive package is the Adventure Package, which, for a bit over $10,000, includes 7 nights in a luxury bungalow, as well as fishing, cave tubing & zip line excursion (by plane), golf (by plane), and a luxury day at sea.
Renting the whole damn island
I don’t know about you, but when I vacation I don’t like to see strangers at all unless they are waiting on me, so I’m most drawn to Cayo Espanto’s option of renting the entire island for $12,000 per night. For that price you get all 6 villas (5 of them with their own private plunge pools) for up to 16 guests. If that sounds a bit pricey you should know that discounts are available for fewer than 16 total in your party, so choose wisely, and I’ll see you there.