From the pages of RESIDE® | Luxury Homes and Lifestyles Around the World | Fall 2014 Edition
Even among passport-worn globetrotters, Belize has been an under-the-radar destination, a playground for thrill-seekers who prefer traveling with a backpack to a set of monogrammed luggage.
The country’s maturing tourism industry and some A-list heavyweights have helped amp up its profile. Director Francis Ford Coppola owns two luxury resorts here and Leonardo DiCaprio has a private island. Which is not to say that Belize has gone Hollywood. Despite dramatic infrastructure improvements, visitors from the U.S., Canada and Europe are still taken by Belize’s natural beauty and restrained development. The country’s tallest structure dates back more than a thousand years–a Mayan temple.
Geography defines the Central American nation. Hundreds of cays and islands lie off its Caribbean coast, along with its most prominent natural asset, the world’s second largest barrier reef.
The region was once a great center of Mayan culture. Sacred temples, pyramids and monuments are open and accessible. Archeologists believe many ruins have yet to be discovered, which may explain why it’s possible to stumble upon a piece of ancient pottery.
These days, visitors can embrace Belizean life at all levels of interest, activity and creature comfort. Dive in the Great Blue Hole, a submarine sinkhole so massive it’s visible from space, or swim up to a pool bar for a fruity cocktail. Take a nighttime jungle tour of the world’s first jaguar preserve or relax dockside in a hammock under a glorious thatched-roof hut.
Brittany McCann, an owner of Belize Sotheby’s International Realty on the island of Ambergris Caye, was first introduced to the country by her now-husband, Shane. Her first thought was: “Where are you taking me?” Her second: “Oh my god. This place is awesome.” Five years ago, the couple relocated from Houston, Texas.
“It’s an active lifestyle,” says McCann. “No one dresses up. And there’s a great community of people who live here from all over the world.”
And more coming every day. The influx is fueling residential construction, especially in the high end vacation market where demand for modern beach and riverfront villas as well as amenity-filled condominium developments is changing the housing landscape.
Just ask McCann’s parents, who bought a property during a visit and later built a vacation home. “They love it here, too,” she says.
Article provided by Iyna Caruso exclusively for Sotheby’s International Realty®.