Escape to Belize
Maxim|March - April 2021
With only seven villas on a remote island, Belize's Cayo Espanto is redefining resort exclusivity
By Nicolas Stecher

After your gleaming G650 comes to a skidding stop on the blacktop of Philip S. W. Goldson Airport in Belize City, a small team will meet you on the tarmac and usher you to a helicopter waiting nearby. A scant 20 minutes later, skimming over emerald islands, remote beaches and turquoise Caribbean water below, a small tropical key will materialize—the kind filed in your memory banks under “desert island.” Soon the chopper descends onto a green patch of grass where paradise awaits: a white sand, palm-studded Xanaadu of solace dubbed Cayo Espanto.

The brainchild of entrepreneur JeffGram, Cayo Espanto—aka Ghost Key—opened in 1999 with only a trio of casitas spread out over three acres. In the two decades since it has grown to seven villas, each nestled away in its own corner of the island, and shaded by leafy palms and knotted mangrove trees to offer an unheard-of level of privacy. There is no common area here at Cayo Espanto; there’s no lobby or restaurant, or even a bar to belly up to.

No wonder A-listers like Jennifer Lawrence, Bill Gates, Robert De Niro and Tiger Woods are rumored to have called Cayo Espanto home. Local gossip whispers Bradley Cooper and his buddy Leonardo DiCaprio rented out the entire island during the pandemic just for themselves and their girls. “I definitely like the privacy, I wanted that for personal reasons,” explains Gram of his vision from day one. “I like to interact with people and have fun, but I want to be able to get away with a special person and feel as though I am the only one on the island.”

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