A letter from Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality to Leonardo DiCaprio offering our help to make sure that his Blackadore Caye Project in Belize becomes a truly sustainable project.
Dear Leonardo DiCaprio,
How are you? Greetings from Costa Rica, a place that we know you have visited many times and we hope you come back to very soon.
With great interest, we read the announcement of your Blackador Island Eco Resort project in Belize in the New York Times in April. We have been wanting to write to you for a while, but fortunately, we have been very busy developing and running sustainable luxury hotels and lodges in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
We have been a big fan of all of your conservation efforts in the past years and were very excited to hear about your initiative to become active in the sustainable hospitality industry. The vision that you and your team have to help heal that island in Belize is wonderful and we wish you the best of luck with this development.
We have spent some time to learn as much as possible about the project and reviewed the websites of the development company Restorative Islands and your partner’s Private Island Resort. Your approach to ecological restauration and sustainable construction is indeed “cutting edge” and “pushing the envelope” as pointed out by your business Partner Paul Scialla. But we were surprised to not to find any mention of the local communities living in the area and the socioeconomic impact of the project.
In our experience of developing and operating sustainable resorts and luxury eco lodges in the past 15 years, we found that the most sustainable projects are the ones that have a strong focus on the local people. Unfortunately, most North American hospitality developers and sustainability professionals focus mostly on energy efficiency of buildings, LEED or similar certifications and conservation of wildlife. We agree that all of this has very positive impacts and is important. But nothing will have the impact that it could have without the involvement of local stakeholders.
While we are currently not operating in Belize and not familiar with details of your project, we would be honored to help you make sure that your project becomes all around sustainable and takes into consideration the local community.
The positive impact that our lodges and sustainable hotels have had in the communities where we operate is best reflected by the incredible changes that took place among some of our staff members. Former poachers became nature guides. Locals that used to illegally cut trees in the rain forest became maintenance and housekeeping staff and now a lot of them are in upper management positions sharing our vision of conservation and sustainable development.
“In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.” (Baba Dioum, 1968.)
We believe that education and especially environmental education of the children in the communities where we operate is another important aspect to successful conservation projects. We have learned a lot of important lessons about this in the past 15 years and would love to share our experiences with you and your team.
We cordially invite you to visit our Eco lodges or sustainable hotels in Costa Rica and Nicaragua so you can learn about the stories of some of our staff members and the impact that we have had in the local communities first hand. We know you are a busy man, but just drop us a note to [email protected]
Co-owner of Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality