Extraordinary Experiences Summer 2021 - The Superlatives Issue

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Star Struck What it’s like to stay at an ultra-luxurious villa resort on a private island in the Caribbean where guests are treated like A-listers by Ali Wunderman

Leonardo DiCaprio may own his own island in Belize, but when he visits the Central American country on the Caribbean Sea, he can most likely be found at Cayo Espanto instead. Admittedly, I hoped to cross paths with an A-list celebrity like Leo during my four-day stay on the ultra-exclusive cay, but privacy is so thoughtfully built into the landscape that I was barely aware six other villas existed beyond my own. The moment my Tropic Air flight touched down in San Pedro, the team at Cayo Espanto whisked me away into a world of elegance and service, starting with a private boat ride directly to my 2,600 square-foot, two-bedroom villa with its own dock, personal plunge pool and al fresco showers. Hundreds of islands can be found peppering the coast of Belize, but none offer the level of luxury afforded Cayo Espanto’s guests. Each villa is staffed by



two dedicated attendants, able to meet essentially any whim their charges may have. Detailed pre-trip surveys gather information like what types of desserts you prefer, or how involved you want your attendants to be in your stay. The open-air villas are stylish and wellconstructed, combining comfort with relaxation and decked out with perks like Turkish bathrobes, Egyptian cotton linens, a butler’s pantry with snacks and drinks. It’s exactly what any celebrity vacation should entail. I, at least, felt famous being flown by private charter to visit the Lamanai Maya ruins, the pilot waiting on the jungle runway for me to finish my leisurely tour. When I spent a morning fishing before eating our freshly-grilled catch on a white sand beach, I half expected the paparazzi to burst from the surrounding mangrove. Indulgent excursions would surely please anyone, but it’s the details behind the