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Not long ago, Belize was considered a Central American outpost, a remote getaway for divers, fishermen and expats eager to live off-the-grid in the jungle. But new-home projects are popping up across the former British colony, as developers roll the dice on whether Belize is ready to compete with Mexico and Costa Rica in attracting second-home buyers and retirees from the US and Canada.

There are signs that it might. Earlier this year, Marriott and Four Seasons announced their first hotel and residential projects in Belize, a country that has traditionally been avoided by big chains. “The timing is right,” says Mike Crawford, president of portfolio management for Four Seasons. “The destination is coming into its own.”

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