When we first visited Panama, now five years ago, we went on a little real estate tour out of our base in Coronado. One of the properties we were most impressed with was a resort, then under construction, called Rio Mar. The plan was to build three 22 story towers with two suites per floor, a pool complex with a restaurant, a spa complex, a low-rise beach front apartment building and around a half-dozen million dollar individual beach front homes.
At that time, there was nothing actually built but the first tower, which had just completed. We looked at a couple of units and found the finishing was excellent. The resort appealed to us because of its’ beach front location and reasonably small footprint. At that time the plan was to have the whole place built out in under 10 years, which would mean less construction mess than one of the larger resorts that probably will be under construction for the next 50 years. Also, of interest to us was the financing to build the project. It was equity financed by a Canadian group who were taking an active part in the build out. The units we saw were in the $US 300,000 to $US 400,000 range.
As we have re-visited Panama over the years we have kept track of this resort, still thinking that we might pick off a suite in the low-rise beach front building which would have put us 30 meters from the Pacific.
This time, we found several of the million dollar houses either finished or under construction, the low-rise building was pretty much complete and beginning to be occupied, the pool and restaurant were open as was the spa complex but they had yet to start on the second tower. We were told that because the resort was already occupied that they had to go back and re-think the way they would build the second tower to minimize the noise and mess to the rest of the resort. This, being done, and with the sales being over 50%, the plan was to begin construction later this year.
We checked out the small restaurant that is located poolside. They have inside air-conditioned seating as well as outdoor shaded lounges that you can eat from. It’s not a fancy dinner restaurant but rather a lunch and snack place with good food and service. It’s worth a try if you are in the area.
We decided to have a look at some of the units in the low-rise beach front building. We saw a very adequate three bedroom unit selling for around $US 650,000 as well as a nice two-story penthouse with a couple of balconies, one of which was about the size of a good-sized Safeway store that was listed for just over a million. It was quite breezy that day and I couldn’t help but wonder how much furniture you would need to equip that monster deck and that with the wind blowing as strongly as it was, how often you would have to drag all that furniture back out of the corner that the wind had blown it into. Oh well. If I had to…
I think that one of the most distracting things though, was that there will be a brand new Marriott Resort building right next door, just on the other side of the river! This ensures a construction mess for a couple or more years at least and with the prevailing breezes coming from that direction, I would need a ride around street sweeper to keep my monster deck clean! Hmmm!
Someone we were talking to, not at Rio Mar, believes that the stretch of beach communities beginning at Punta Chame and stretching west to Playa Blanco is going to be the next Cancun! You can see that development has increased, particularly over the last few years. Many of the big resort hotels are already here or planning to be here and there is lots of construction at the beach front as you driver westward from our apartment in Gorgona. It makes sense to me that with the favorable pricing of property, solid infrastructure, wonderful climate, and growing tourist numbers discovering Panama, that it will only be a matter of time so if you are a property speculator, this might be the place to consider!