Panama

Paradise Found

This is not anything like the Panama canal or city - Boca Chica and Boquete are off the beaten path, but well worth finding on the road less travelled.

Pamana is mosted noted for it's iconic canal. The city is nothing one would expect for the Central American metropolis it is in terms of it's size and skyscrapers. To experience some of this countries treasures you have to be adventurous and ready to finding the roads less travelled. In this article you enjoy two areas of Paradise found in Panama. One on the northern west coast of Boca Chica, the other a shangrila up in the coffee plantation mountains of Boquete.

Flying into Panama during daylight hours is a site to behold if your approach is over the canal and then the skyline of the city which looks more like Chicago or New York City. Some friends had recommended a small boutique hotel called Toscana right in the heart of the city. Unassuming from the outside, delightfully quaint and european in it's Spanish sort of way on the inside. A must visit was the recently renovated old hotel in old Panama City Casco Viejo, The American Trade Hotel, a lovely throw back to colonial architecture and feel. It was now time to hit the road, we had a long drive ahead of us to Boca-Chica and then on up to Boquete. What we didn't know is the Panamanian Government is expanding the Panama Highway, were we in for a surprise major construction for 500 miles and in torrential rain.

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all, goes the old saying. Well as a Senior TripAdvisor contributor and world traveler, I believe telling it like it is, both pro & con. If like me you are curious by nature and wondering if TripAdvisor contributors and their reviews hold any truth, they do and I can seriously recommend this particular mini-resort. Their website will take you to this far-flung west coast location. What you can't experience over the internet, is the hospitality and food factor, both of which surpassed expectations. Managers, Neil, Lara and Alberto, welcomed us warmly and throughout our stay, made sure we wanted for nothing, excellent and attentive service in a European/Spanish high-end style. Two stand out occasions, freshly caught lobster for dinner, prepared beautifully by Sous Chef Diana, topped off by a velvety Sabayon and Grand Marnier crepe suzette. Then there were the massages (we've had them in many countries around the world) these ranked among the best anywhere. Belgian owner Sergio (his parents must have had a sense of humor and known his destiny) found this water front property and he had the vision to make it a 'go-to' lux-destination. Which begs the question, is Four Seasons next (like their foresight in Papagayo, Costa Rica) what with the David Malek International airport, soon (next year or two?) to support direct flights from the US & Europe. Watch this area, David & Boquete have already exploded as Expat retirement communities. Put Bocas del Mar Resort on your Panama map and luxuriate in the service that abounds in an idyllic setting. Fishing, whale watching or just sitting by the pool with a cool libation and a good book, you'll be glad you found this spot, it is paradise found. off the beaten track.

Shangrila in Boquete.

Boquete is being touted as the place for Senior Living retirees and it is an almost idyllic setting in the hills (elevation 5,000 feet) with a river running through the little town. It boasts a healthy climate (average temperature mid 70's) and an strong Expat community. It's not easy to get to, as the airport has not opened yet so it means a 5 hour bus ride or rental car from Panama city. But it's well worth the adventure. Our stay in this tiny mountain hamlet was to be the Boquete Garden Inn owned by Susan & Jay. Staff, Abel & Danny, two of the nicest, most friendly and helpful Managers, who went beyond the call on special requests. There are lots of choices when visiting Boquete, but our recommendation would be to use BGI as base camp, for at least a couple of nights and then venture out to explore other places to stay if you have the time. We arrived after 'Happy Hour' but were offered a nice rum drink and showed to our room with a recommendation to dine at 'Georges Fire Grill' just up the road - wow, again warm welcome by Owner George, who cooked us what can only be described as a delicious mouth watering dinner (Filet Steak w/demi-glaze & Almond crusted tuna with orange sauce) we left on cloud nine and slept like babies back at BGI. Morning breakfast on the porch looking over the gardens and birds, like being in another world. If you want your expectations to be exceeded, book here for the magic of Boquete surrounds this wonderful little Inn.

Charles Woollett

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