In an Ocean Suite, Pila polishes the headboard, crafted from a fallen jungle tree discovered about 100 yards away. In the kitchen, Chef Oliver presents a plate of citrusy ceviche ornamented by a sprig of cilantro and a mini-sculpture disguised as a corn chip. With high tide receding behind him, revealing the brilliant white sand of Playa Primera, President Ben observes how the infinity pool looks from the beach, as the water falls over its rocky crest for the first time.
The moment has finally arrived — a moment we’ve been excitedly anticipating since we first set foot on Isla Palenque back in 2007:
It’s time for Isla Palenque’s official debut as a travel destination.
If you’ve been following the progress of our eco-development, you know that we’ve had no shortage of exciting announcements throughout our journey.
Indeed, for as long as we’ve been exploring Isla Palenque, she has amazed us with her natural splendor. The island’s pristine wilderness remains her finest amenity even as we put the finishing touches on the first six rooms of our luxury eco-resort.
While we appreciate nature’s ability to engage our senses and stir the adventurer in each of us, we understand that design and service are intrinsic to a life-changing travel experience. Careful planning is required to create a sense of effortless elegance in the middle of the jungle.
The images below illustrate some of our early site analysis and environmental assessment on Isla Palenque – this was essential to achieving our dual goals of respecting the island’s wilderness and offering guests a unique immersed-in-nature experience. By developing with a light touch, we were able to preserve the feeling of life on an “undiscovered” island that has enchanted us since our arrival on Isla Palenque.
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Not much has changed, really, except that it’s now possible to experience this feeling from the luxurious accommodations of our Panama resort.
Our careful development process spans three years and involved architects, design professionals, and construction team members from both the US and Panama. Tropical development is not without its challenges, and it took time and true dedication from our team to make it happen: sourcing sustainable materials, undertaking construction between massive old-growth trees, and adjusting technical measurements by hand to assure eco-sensitivity.
Months of behind-the-scenes work were followed by the sudden, seemingly overnight appearance of our immersed-in-nature suites on the bluff overlooking Playa Primera. Walls and roofs, windows and siding materialized as if out of the fresh island air – suddenly, monkeys weren’t the only thing peeking at us through the jungle foliage. Between the trees and before our eyes, our Estate Rooms took shape – and before we knew it, it was time to outfit the interiors for the imminent arrival of our soft opening guests.
In honor of our extraordinary island’s big debut, we’ve envisioned our soft opening as a sort of coming-of-age party, and in many ways this metaphor fits. For one, young ladies of 15 and 16 across Panama traditionally participate in such events, much like the quinceañera in Mexico but known as the Festival de las Debutantes in Panama. So a cotillion for our Panama island is not totally off-base.
But there is also the significance of the debutante’s “coming-out”, which is to introduce her to suitors with the potential for marriage. And in this way, many of the guests who will meet our Isla Palenque debutante during the soft opening will get to take the sustainable island lifestyle for a spin and decide if it’s something they could “marry” by owning an island home on Isla Palenque. We hope our first guests simply fall in love with life on our island… although contrary to what you might think, this is NOT why our soft opening date falls on Valentines Day.
If you’ve ever thrown a party, or organized a wedding or shower for someone you love, you know that the devil’s in the details… but truthfully, we’ve enjoyed dreaming up a soft-opening celebration for Isla Palenque in the way best suited to her exotic, enigmatic beauty. The day of the opening will be toasted by Straits Slings and gem-toned Negronis, dressed in crisp white table linens, and blooming with the fragrant frangipanis that decorate our coastline.
“It will be dazzling, thanks to the island,” says Jorge Bordonaba, our General Manager.
As our first guests will discover, Isla Palenque is a very special place, with a character all her own. We’ve been introducing you to Isla Palenque for quite some time by recounting our island adventures on The Ambler – but it’s going to be an entirely new and thrilling thing for you to meet her firsthand. Just… don’t expect a curtsy. After a day of getting acquainted with the spunky, mischievous spirit of this island, you’ll know exactly what we mean.