What Is On Cayo Rosario? 5 Dogs, A Fancy Palapa…and Six Senses Resorts?

Building has started on Cayo Rosario.

It looks lovely but it’s pretty safe to say that this is not even close to what the planned finished product will be.

But let me back up to the who what where when and why of Cayo Rosario.

On the west coast of Ambergris Caye…you can see it directly across the water if you are sitting on Secret Beach…there is a small island…just a handful of acres…called Cayo Rosario.  Or Rosary Caye.

Beautiful pic taken for a campaign by Columbia Sportswear (yes…THE Columbia Sportswear.  Here’s a beautiful video they made  “The waters are more beautiful than any others I fished”)

For almost as long as Ambergris Caye has been settled – it was known as a “bird caye” – a rookery for migrational birds and a nesting spot/hatchery for wading birds.  Especially the beautiful roseate spoonbill.

More than that, it is known as the crown jewel of Ambergris Caye’s fly fishing world.  An industry that brings in millions of dollars in tourism each year.  Belize is world-famous – on countless bucket lists – for the catch and release permit, tarpon and bonefish in our waters.

The view of Cayo Rosario from a bar at Secret Beach.

AND…in recognition of the importance of these waters to our reef, to our tourism industry and to our ecology, the waters around Cayo Rosario were added to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve in 2015.

Zone IV: Cayo Rosario Conservation Zone.This post from 2018 outlines much of the background – how Cayo Rosario went from public land to private hands.  The history and now, the developers’ plans.

There have been protests – both at official “consultation meetings” and at the Caye itself.

You can read more about it – and see the local and international stand against construction on this island.  ESPECIALLY the EXTENSIVE OVER THE WATER STRUCTURES that have been approved by the Govt of Belize in what I (and many would argue) was an incomplete Environmental Impact Assessment. DefendCayoRosario

(Note:  If you want to build a giant outrigger with Maldives-like over-the-water structures in Belize…over protected waters…here’s how to do it.  FIrst propose that you are going to build 100 villas.  And then…after the public goes nuts…throw up your hands…and “compromise”.  Say something like this:  Now this project won’t be economically feasible BUT because our willingness to compromise…we will only build 75 structures.”)

PFFFT.  May I suggest that if your project isn’t economically feasible anymore then you…don’t do it?  Plan one that is?

Here we are today.  There is a new government in power as of November 2020 – from top to bottom, the UDP was voted out and the PUP voted in.

Our local representative Andre Perez (who replaced Manuel Heredia in 2019) in January of 2021 said that there were NO approvals for Cayo Rosario – no approvals from the new government for construction.

But just this week, there was a turnaround…one might use the word capitulation – on Channel 7 news – where Belize’s reporter-who-actually-asks-the-tricky questions Jules Vazquez asked Minister Perez about a new developer for the site,  Six Senses – a high-end name in resorts from Bali to the Maldives and Seychelles.  And just recently, Six Senses is now a part of IHG – a HUGE hotel group that owns brands across the spectrum – from Six Senses to Holiday Inn.

Here is the interview.

Minister Perez does a complete 180 with little explanation…and says that we need to see the plan and talks about the “Blue Economy” and balance and…sigh.  There was great excitement around the term “Blue Economy” when it was first announced…recognizing the importance of our ocean and reef but if it is going to be used as a cop-out?

I’m not ready to jump to that assumption yet.

If this resort is striking the right balance then…

We ALL need to see the plan.  The EIA (Environmental Impact Study) for Cayo Rosario and its supplements were approved in 2018.  3 years ago…different developers?  Different plan?

Here was the approved plan (left side – original, right side – approved “compromise” where the OTW structures were all moved to edges of this tiny island – still in the water)

There are lots of questions…ones I’m going to try to have answered.

But…for now…some pictures of the new structure on Cayo Rosario.

I’ll let you know what I learn.



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