I’ve posted for the past two days about my weekend tour of the absolutely gigantic project, Sanctuary Belize. Located between Hopkins and Placencia along the coast, the size in total is about 14,000 acres or 20 plus square miles. Absolutely gigantic. They have a super impressive website with the master plan and with all of the information…I am not going to even TRY to describe it all.
And before I start, as with any development, particularly one of this unprecedented size in this area, there is lots of information and some controversy out there. I am in absolutely no position to judge any of it on my website. This visit, as a guest of Sanctuary, was my very first. I asked them if I could see the area (via email) and they incredibly graciously invited me for two days. To mix with their potential investors, to meet their sales people, to stay at their resort, Kanantik, all with no ground rules or discussion beforehand. Just an invite. They SO didn’t need to do that. They could have told me that it was for potential investors only – and I would have been fine with that. It’s private land after all…
I am FAR from a real estate expert (in Belize or anywhere else). So, I think it is best to present to you exactly what I saw. You’ve seen the gorgeous resort Kanantik (owned by Sanctuary) where I stayed…along with about 30 potential buyers.
I did not ask hard, pressing questions (though others did), I was a guest. I looked around, I listened and I took about one million pictures. Here is what I saw on my FULL day trip to Sanctuary Belize. But first, take a look at the Master Plan on the website. And remember, that this area is as large as the island of Manhattan.
Our group had been prepped with a really impressive presentation about the vision behind Sanctuary, the Belizean owner/investor Johnny Usher and some of the many features of the project. The part that clearly grabbed the most participants was what Sanctuary calls the “5 Ecosystems” on the land. From river to tropical savannah to jungle to Caribbean marine to coral reef all on one property. And how the developers plan to make sure that all of those all kept intact and healthy.
Frank Connelly, the Director of Sustainability, really had a great story to tell. Microclimates, conservation, employment of locals from the six surrounding villages, some of the cleanest drinking water on the planet running off of the savannah and of course, the show stopper…Sanctuary Caye. About 18 miles off shore and owned by the Sanctuary owners.
After breakfast on Saturday morning, we loaded on a boat to head north from Kanantik to Sanctuary. It couldn’t have been more than a 15 minute ride up the coast.
Area for markets, condos, a hotel, everything this town -with 1800 lots Sanctuary will be one of the bigger villages in this area – will need in the future.
We headed down the mound and along the canals that are being dug…water front lots, most that are already sold. A few which are being built on.
We stopped at this home. Well…almost a home. It’s what they called a “kit home”…shipped entirely from Vietnam. It was actually very cool…made entirely from what seems like wicker.
The view of what will be the waterway. Now dug out but waiting for flooding.
We loaded back in and drove down the soon to be waterway.
We drove for a bit and stopped at another potential home. Now a show home and the residence of many of the Sanctuary sales staff. They called this one “Pod Style”.
A very peppy lady showed us around her home. The first of a few that were occupied.
I’ll just say a few things about the people that I met on my two day visit – the potential investors from both Canada and the United States. I’d guess that the group was split about 50/50.
A few of the people were definite buyers by the end of our tour. They love Sanctuary, the story and what it has to offer. They see the potential. They know it is going to take time but they are planning for retirement or for their family or for an investment. They are good hardworking earnest people who are really taken with the entire story – particularly the environmental part. And to me? That environmental focus was great news.
The other thing was universal amongst all the participants – after this tour and stay, they are totally SOLD ON BELIZE. Maybe Sanctuary is not what they are looking for but they love Belize. They want to come back and explore. A few were thinking seriously about Ambergris Caye.
All of them. And that is certainly more than I can say about cruise ships and that industry in the country.
SO…from an economic perspective, this is a project that I really WANT to work. And I can’t wait to visit it in a year or two to see the progress. I’m hoping I am remembered very fondly by the home owners and potential home owners. I will dream of that private island until I can get back!
Stay tuned for LOTS more pictures tomorrow of the rest of my tour….into much more undeveloped areas of the project.