Cayo Espanto

When a traveler really wants to get away from it all, there may be no better option than a private-island resort vacation. Cayo Espanto (888-666-4282) might be just the thing: an upscale island resort off the east coast of Belize, Cayo Espanto offers exceptional service, privacy and incredible views. The resort has a maximum occupancy of just 16 guests and a staff-to-guest ratio of two-to-one.

Cayo Espanto bedroom

A furnished bedroom overlooking the Caribbean of Cayo Espanto.

There are five unique villas and one over-water bungalow, all of which offer guests amazing views of the Caribbean from their private decks, plunge pools and alfresco showers. Details such as Frette terry-cloth robes, Egyptian cotton sheets, fresh flowers and the use of a personal butler (known as a houseman), in addition to the island’s full-time staff make this resort the ultimate in decadence. Other amenities include free wireless Internet access, round-the-clock drink and food options, pedal boats and sea kayaks, stereo with CD library and satellite TV.

The most requested accommodation is the Casa Olita, known as Cayo’s honeymoon villa. Guests will love the romantic touch of the private garden that surrounds the alfresco shower as well as its location, far from the other units, for the utmost in privacy (also good for VIP or celebrity guests). The villa includes a king-size bed, a living room, dining room, private dock and plunge pool.

For couples traveling together, request the Casa Estrella; it is Cayo’s largest two-bedroom villa. It has a master suite on the second floor, which offers a beautiful view of the sea. The living room is also very open and large, which is perfect for gatherings.

For affluent families with children, Casa Aurora is the best choice. It has the largest plunge pool on the island and the kids can use it as their personal swimming pool. Also, the two bedrooms in this villa are separated by the living room, which gives each bedroom privacy. The large deck is the prime location for relaxing during the day and enjoying meals at night.

All of Cayo’s villas are located directly on the beach, with beautiful views of the turquoise waters. Casa Olita and Casa Manana are the largest one-bedroom villas. They both measure approximately 1,500 square feet, including their verandas.

Casa Olita, Casa Manana and Casa Estrella have the best views of the sunset. All of the premium villas have a private plunge pool, except for the over-water bungalow.

All of the accommodations require a direct phone call or email. Agents can contact Elizabeth Traylor (888-666-4282; [email protected]). For VIP guests, agents can also contact General Manager David Benzaquen (910-323-4272; [email protected]).

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Something for Everyone

Although many guests at Cayo simply want to relax on this beautiful private island, there is no shortage of activities for those who like to stay busy. Traylor can also book guests on a variety of excursions including snorkeling and diving on the Belize reef—the second-longest barrier reef in the world. The famous Blue Hole, Hol Chan and Shark-Ray Alley are some of the most coveted snorkeling and diving spots in the world. Also, during whale-shark season—March and April—guests can book private whale-shark diving or snorkeling excursions through the resort. Additionally, anglers can book a variety of fishing trips including fly fishing, bone fishing and spear fishing.

Cayo Espanto lounge chairs

Lounge chairs at the pristine water at Cayo Espanto in Belize.

Bird watchers can visit nearby Cayo Rosario and Bird Caye to experience a bird wildlife tour under the guidance of the Belize Audubon Society. On the tour, guests might see spoonbill, frigates, snowy egrets and tri-colored herons.

Visiting the Mayan ruins and exploring the jungle at Lamanai is also another popular excursion.

And for golfers, a short boat ride can take them to a championship golf course on a nearby private island.

Because the resort sits on a small private island, VIP guests can take a private jet into Belize City and the resort can arrange for a private helicopter to take them on the 19-minute flight directly to Cayo Espanto.

Although there is no spa on the island, technicians and massage therapists are brought over from Belize for private treatments in guest villas or on the beach. Treatments can be booked ahead of time or can easily be arranged after arrival. The most requested treatment is the tranquility massage. Ester Carrias ([email protected]; 011-501-220-5001) can book treatments. Brenda Gomez is the most requested masseuse and she uses products from Lotus Touch for her massages.

The resort does not have a restaurant. Instead an executive chef on the island creates meals. Based on the questionnaire your clients fill out prior to arrival, the chef prepares customized gourmet meals for guests three times per day. Each morning, guests use the in-room walkie-talkie to call their personal butler for coffee and fruit (this can also be arranged the night before). After delivering coffee, tea and fruit, the butler takes the breakfast order and guests can eat on the deck or inside. Lunch and dinner are served in various places around the villa, affording different views with each meal. Tiki torches, fresh flowers and candles make each dinner special.

Cayo Espanto sunset

A relaxing sunset at Cayo Espanto.

For non-guests, the resort has an open villa for dining.

Celebrity guests have included Harrison Ford, Calista Flockhart, Tiger Woods, Leonardo DiCaprio and Giselle  Bundchen.

High season is from January through May and guests should try to book as far out as possible to guarantee availability.

The big news at the resort is the opening of Casa Ventanas, the first of two new romantic over-water bungalows on the island. Perched at the end of a 150-foot dock in the corner of this tiny four-acre private island getaway, Casa Ventanas overlooks the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean with a 360-degree view of paradise. This one-bedroom, 1,000-square-foot bungalow is appointed with custom-crafted furnishings and amenities in order to ensure the ultimate in comfort.

The nightly rate for accommodations at Cayo includes all the luxuries the resort offers, including the private butler, three custom-tailored meals each day, snacks, all drinks (except champagne, wine and cordials) and non-motorized water sports.