Here's Lan's Report:
Several people have asked me to post a brief report on the new golf course and resort on Caye Chapel, so here it is:
A Sneak Preview of Caye Chapel Golf Resort & Marina
By Lan Sluder
Copyright 2000 by Lan Sluder,
Editor & Publisher, Belize First Magazine
At last -- Belize has a championship golf course.
Caye Chapel Golf Resort & Marina -- this is the name currently being used, though it may not be the final name -- is being developed by Larry Addington, a wealthy businessman from Kentucky who has owned the island for many years. In years past, Caye Chapel and its Pyramid Hotel (now demolished) was a favorite R&R spot for British troops.
To say that things are changing is a wild understatement.
In early February, I had the opportunity to see the new incarnation of this beautiful island which is located just south of Caye Caulker about 45 minutes by boat from San Pedro. Cynthia Ringgold, who with her husband is supervising construction and development on the island for Larry Addington, kindly showed me around.
The biggest news is the golf: Not since British colonial days has there been a real golf course in Belize. This one is a jim-dandy. Itâs a par-72 course -- designed mostly by Larry Addington, who is described as a serious golfer -- that lays beautifully along the Caribbean. This is a flat but long course, playing to over 7000 yards, with four par-5 holes. There has been considerable controversy over the construction of this course, as some environmentalists believe that a golf course -- which typically requires large applications of fertilizer and pesticides -- could pose a danger, though run-off, to the ecologies of the barrier reef and sea. Cynthia Ringgold, however, notes that the development has imported a special hybrid grass from the U.S., called Paspalum, which requires 50% less fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation. Dredging conducted in connection with development here also has been controversial.
Between the back and front nines is a 23,000 square foot clubhouse. Though itâs not yet completely finished, the clubhouse is stunning, with tile floors, high ceilings, views of the barrier reef and sea, imported fixtures and a bar that would knock the socks off even Dean Martin. It rivals the clubhouses at top U.S. country clubs. Eventually -- the resort is scheduled to open officially in the fall of this year -- the clubhouse will house a restaurant with both indoor and open air dining. Plans also include an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a work-out center, a tennis complex with lighted courts, and a basketball arena, all to be located near the clubhouse.
Accommodations on the island will be limited to 12 3,000-square foot villas. I toured one of the villas, and the style is best described as ãFlorida deluxeä similar to what you might see in a luxury development on Key Biscayne or in Boca Raton. Everything is first-class. Which it should be -- they go for a whopping US$1,000 a night, food not included.
The market for the island, according to Cynthia Ringgold, in part will be corporate meetings and retreats. Caye Chapel Golf Resort & Marina has asked permission of the Belize government to have an airstrip long enough to accommodate small jets, so corporate groups can fly directly to the island. At present, however, approval has been granted only for a strip long enough for smaller prop equipment, so visitors will have to change planes at the international airport in Belize City. At times when there are no corporate meetings, the island will be open to the public, with the goal of attracting high-end travelers who want a luxury Caribbean setting with golf, tennis and other activities close at hand. The resort eventually may offer golf club memberships, but ownership of the villas and other facilities will remain with Larry Addington.
Currently, the golf course and several villas are the only facilities completed; the resort is not officially open and is not yet being promoted. Only a few days ago did the island get its own phone system and e-mail.
Day visitors from Ambergris Caye or elsewhere in Belize can come to play golf. To date, the number of players is small. Around 90 people played last month, according to Ringgold. The current rate is US$75 for 18 holes, or US$50 for 9 holes, including cart and club rental. Eventually the rate may go as high as US$200, says Ringgold. Visitors have to make their own arrangements to get to the island and should call in advance.
For more information, contact Caye Chapel Golf Course & Marina, P.O. Box 192, Belize City; tel. 011-501-2-28250, fax 2-28201; e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.