Bradley Cooper’s visit to Belize is just one of many recent celebrity sojourns that underscore the little Caribbean country’s coming of age as a tourism destination of choice, according to the Lodge at Chaa Creek’s guest services manager.
Denise Duran, one of the popular eco resort’s guest services managers, said that she and her staff have been seeing a rise in the number of celebrities and VIPs visiting Belize this year.
Noting that Chaa Creek’s policy is to protect their guest’s privacy and as a rule does not publicise individual visits, Ms Duran said that it is no secret that Belize has hosted a variety of VIPs in recent weeks, including Mr Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, the Bachelorette’s Jef Holm, and others. Leonardo DiCaprio, who owns a small island near the Belize Great Barrier Reef on which he is rumoured to have plans to build an upscale eco resort, was also said to be seen in Belize last month.
“We’ve been joking that it’s beginning to be like living in Beverly Hills. Some staff members have been calling the road that runs by the Chaa Creek stables ‘Rodeo Drive’, and accusing each other of wearing extra makeup in the hopes of being discovered by an actor or director such as Ang Lee.,” Ms Duran said. The “Life of Pi” director was another visitor to Belize this year.
Bradley Cooper’s arrival at Belize’s international airport was well publicised on Facebook, and many celebrities tweet of their experiences while in country, further raising Belize’s profile as a hot celebrity destination.
Ms Duran said that Belize’s uncrowded off-the-beaten-track ambience, the low population density and laid back attitude of locals when it comes to stardom is a draw for the rich and famous, who feel they can join the relaxed ambience of this nation of less than 350,000 people.
“From what we hear, Belize’s uncrowded, laid back atmosphere is a plus for many people. Some famous people who can’t walk down the street without being mobbed in other countries can wander about Belize without much fuss. It’s just the way it is here. Also, I think it’s easy to blend in, since everyone is in casual clothing, sunglasses and caps. When places say ‘no shoes, no shirt, no worries’, they mean it,” she said.
Belize has only in the last few decades moved from an agrarian economy to one based on eco-tourism, and this slow growth has allowed the country to retain much of its charm while promoting responsible tourism and sustainable development. Chaa Creek, for example, sits within a private 365 acre rainforest reserve and has been recognised worldwide for its green, sustainable practices, Ms Duran said.
“It’s nice that we’re attracting so many famous people, but we also want to make sure we maintain what it is about Belize that makes people want to come here in the first place,” She said.