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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Adventure Meets Luxury on a Private Island in Panam

- Travelers in pursuit of a luxurious tropical getaway are veering off the beaten path to stay at a new private island eco-resort in Panama's Chiriqui Gulf, The Resort at Isla Palenque, opening February 14.
The Panama resort on 400-acre Isla Palenque combines sustainability initiatives with high-end amenities and services for a luxury travel experience never before realized in Central America.
Guests of the resort can choose from an intimate collection of sixteen immersed-in-nature rooms and luxury camping suites that provide comfortable living in the tropics through the use of passive cooling techniques.
The resort's sophisticated design, which has earned recognition by both the ASLA and IUCN for its eco-sensitivity, immerses guests into the old-growth jungle for wildlife-spotting opportunities and access to over ten miles of trails.
To achieve its sustainability goals, the entrepreneurial team at Isla Palenque undertook extensive site analysis and environmental assessment before breaking ground. The result: a low-impact resort with a unique look and feel. Rooms perched among 100-year-old trees cascade down a bluff to meet the ocean, offering guests proximity to one of the island's twelve beaches and expansive views of the surrounding Pacific.
Ben Loomis, founder of the eco-development project, has been exploring Isla Palenque and Chiriqui Province since 2007, leading team members on countless excursions during that time.
"I first encountered Isla Palenque as an uninhabited island, one that evoked a sense of the legendary journey and the thrill of exploration. This is what we've worked to preserve for guests and for future generations by maintaining Isla Palenque's ecosystems in their wild, undisturbed state," says Loomis.
Pioneering guests of Isla Palenque's soft opening will inhabit the six Estate Rooms overlooking Playa Primera. These chic, authentically appointed rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, hardwood furnishings made onsite by a local artisan, indigenous art and outdoor lounge areas that invite the stunning natural surround into the luxury space. For all this attention to detail, however, Isla Palenque's primary attraction is not found indoors, but out:
"We are looking forward to experiencing the varied topography of the island ˆ the beaches, the tidal areas, the jungle paths and the beautiful sunsets," says Gigi Rutkowski, among the first to book a stay at Isla Palenque. "The fact that the resort has left the majority of the island in its natural state and built the lodging in conjunction with nature is an added bonus! And of course there's the food ˆ we can't wait!"
With local guides to lead over twenty tours of the island and surrounding area, the resort curates a guest experience that reflects the authentic character of the region. Adventures offered on Isla Palenque include guided exploration of the island's coastal caves and hikes to natural landmarks such as the blowhole at Punta Ballena. Among the mainland tours is a day-trip to an indigenous village where visitors can enjoy native dance performances and a meal prepared by the local NgobeˆBugle people.
In the remaining weeks before the resort's soft opening, Loomis and the resort staff will be perfecting the details that make for a truly life-changing travel experience: preparing signature cocktails with organic ingredients from the onsite produce farm, taste-testing and tour-testing with friends and visitors from the surrounding community, and of course, warning the island's native howler monkeys that discerning travelers are soon to arrive.