It’s been almost six months since my “final” construction update for the first phase of Isla Palenque’s development. Construction in Panama always takes longer than expected, even more so when dealing with island logistics; you can plan for all manner of contingencies and still end up working overtime to meet a finish date that you’ve had to push back twice. Nevertheless, we “soft opened” the first six rooms of our hotel and accepted our first guests on 14 February.
In the ten weeks since, we have hosted over a hundred guests and garnered some rave reviews. The overwhelmingly positive response owes a great deal to our wonderful staff – their amazing attitudes, natural sense of hospitality, and strong desire to share this island with our guests. The level of service they maintain is all too uncommon among Panamanian hotels and restaurants, and so my hat is off to those team members who elicit such TripAdvisor comments as “the service made this HANDS DOWN the best vacation we have ever experienced” and “you will not find better service as they will attend to your every need.”
In addition, since opening the hotel in February, we have entered contracts on seven of our Phase 1 vacation homes, bringing our total number of sales and reservations to twelve – the number we originally envisioned for our exclusive Founders Club, and a sale of nearly one home per week. After eighteen months’ planning and nearly three years of construction, it is incredibly satisfying to finally provide a luxurious escape to travelers who sought this kind of experience in Central America, without much luck, until now. As new guests arrive each week to discover this island for themselves, there is an energy and an excitement about the resort, especially surrounding the visits of those who decide to become part of this unique community by owning a vacation home at Isla Palenque.
And yet, this is really only the beginning. The intimate 6-room experience we currently offer will expand to include ten additional rooms, our Tented Suites, as well as a second restaurant and other amenities by the end of this year. But since I can confidently state that we offer the best resort experience in Panama and are well our on our way to developing one of the premier private island communities in the world (never mind just Panama), the things still to come are more reason for a repeat visit than anything else. There is a lot to look forward to: green season will bring us rain and that means we can plant fruit trees, palms and other jungle vegetation around the Estate Inn; we are constructing Las Rocas and the Tented Suites (which will be open by the end of year); and of course each new home sale brings us one step closer to starting our Phase 1 home construction.
We’re proud of the substantial infrastructure in place to support the hotel and our first twenty residences, and it’s been fun for me to lead our development tour and answer the (surprising number of) questions our guests and homeowners have about the master plan. Given the interest many guests have expressed in seeing this side of the development, we began offering tours of the property in addition to our regular tours: basically guiding people around the island to see the two kilometers of roads we’ve put in and touring “back of house” facilities such as our organic farm, onsite artisan carpenter’s workshop, and 10,000 square feet of support facilities – they see what’s been invested. And when walking the home sites, it’s hard not to fall in love with the island and decide to reserve a small part of it for one’s own.
Though the Founders Club closed yesterday, a complete success in terms of sales, the opportunities to share the experience we are creating here are far from over. All of us are greatly looking forward to hosting the adventures of guests, some of them eventual homeowners, at our unique luxury resort throughout our first year and well beyond. Of course, as Founder and President of the Isla Palenque project, filling our Founders Club was very exciting, but it was even more rewarding to watch our first guests engaging with the wild beauty of the island, the kindness of our staff, and the completely unique experience of being here.
With that in mind, I’ll close this post with some favorite quotes from the TripAdvisor reviews we have received so far, to let our previous guests say it in their own words. If the words below make you excited for your next vacation, please come visit us and experience it for yourself: we’d love to have you.
I am beginning to think it may be impossible in words to actually share how incredibly unique, and how incredibly awesome, a visit to this place can be.
The food and service are world class, and there are enough activities for all types of visitors.
They must have one of the finest chefs in Panama.
The meticulous planning and creativeness of its architect-owner and his young, enthusiastic staff has paid off in spades. Their passion for this 400 acre island paradise is contagious as they guide, teach, entertain and feed you.
We thought 3 nights would be perfect but we left feeling we should have spent a week!
We were very sad to leave and felt like we were leaving friends as the staff waved good bye from the dock as we departed. Truly an amazing experience, one in which we hope we will repeat when we return (we will definitely go back).