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Community In Comfort At Los Islotes

Your Chance To Become Part Of Our Fully Appointed Pacific Coastal Community (For As Little As US$29,000)

Six months ago, Lief and I met with our favorite Panamanian architect, Ricardo, to discuss a big new project.

“We want to build a Founder’s Lodge,” we told Ricardo, “out at Los Islotes. A kind of clubhouse, with a great room, a big terrace and outdoor bar-b-que area, a pool, and well-appointed individual suites so that we, friends, and visitors can stay on the property in comfort.

“This is an important undertaking,” we continued, “because it’s the first structure being constructed on the property. We want it to set the tone and the standard for things to come.”

Our vision for Los Islotes is clear. On these 750 acres on the west coast of Panama’s Azuero Peninsula, we are creating a private community in the Spanish-colonial style. The development has been conceived around a small town that compares, from a planning and architectural design point of view, with Antigua, Guatemala, a classic Spanish-colonial accomplishment.

All with the crashing Pacific Ocean as the backdrop.

At Los Islotes town, we’ll have covered arcades around a central square. White-washed structures will have red clay-tiled roofs. The central plaza will be the meeting area that Spanish-colonial city planners intended it to be, a place where neighbors and visitors can come together each day to chat, share a coffee, walk their dogs, check their e-mails (well, Spanish colonial city planners may not have planned for that…but we’ll provide for it).

At one end of the square will be a small church with a bell tower, at the other end, opposite, a meeting hall designed to mimic the great Customs Hall in Portobelo, Panama, a former pirates’ hideout. In its day, more than one-third of the world’s gold and silver passed through this 17th-century counting house, an architectural showplace.

We don’t expect such high-level global trade out at Los Islotes. Instead, our miniature reproduction of the Portobello customs house will be another place for Los Islotes residents, visitors, and guests to come together, in this case, for concerts, festivals, seminars, Spanish-language lessons, maybe a small school for local children, etc.

Again, the underlying agenda is community. Lief and I aren’t simply developing a stretch of Panama’s beautiful Pacific coast. We’re creating a place where we, our family, our friends, and our guests can enjoy and benefit from each other’s company. The community at Los Islotes is part of our long-term retirement plan, as well as our legacy for our children. This is a very personal undertaking.

Ricardo is well acquainted with our agenda at Los Islotes. A longtime friend, Ricardo shares our architectural prejudices. We like thick columns, exposed wooden beams, salvaged clay tiles, interior courtyards, stone walls, timber window casings, archways, French doors, and vaulted ceilings.

After our conversation with him last winter, Ricardo made a couple of visits out to the Los Islotes site. He invited us to his office for a series of meetings to refine the plan. Then, finally, last week, Ricardo e-mailed to say he was ready to unveil complete drawings for our Los Islotes Founder’s Lodge.

Sitting in Ricardo’s office yesterday afternoon, Lief and I couldn’t help but smile. What Ricardo and his team have designed is just what we were hoping for and more. The Los Islotes Founder’s Lodge, as now finalized, will include four private suites, each a large bedroom with en-suite bathroom. These will be built around a great room with a bar area, a library area, a dining area, and a salon. Behind this a kitchen large enough to prepare meals for groups of up to 30. The great room will open to a covered terrace that will lead, via a pergola, to an open terrace alongside a pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

We discussed details. Windows will have shutters, bedrooms will have balconies. We’ll cane beneath the roof over the terrace. The French doors will be arched. Outdoor railings will be of waxed timber.

After an hour, we’d agreed everything that needs to be agreed at this stage.

“Now the big question,” I said, looking up at Ricardo.

“When can we begin construction?”

“We need to push through the approvals and permits phase,” Ricardo replied. “If that process goes as well as can be expected, we should be ready to break ground by December.”

Coincidentally, the start of the dry season. Perfect timing.

A year from now, more or less, we’ll be inviting friends to join us for long weekends at the Los Islotes Founder’s Lodge. We’ll enjoy cocktails at sunset on the oceanside terrace, cozy nights in fully appointed bedrooms with ocean views, white-glove service at dinner, wireless Internet access, and each other’s company. All in one of the most dramatically beautiful settings Lief and I have ever known.

We have worked years to get to this point at Los Islotes. We’ve been around this block enough times before to know that the work is far from over. But the payoff is now getting very near.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. The vision for Los Islotes is community in comfort, a place where we and our friends can enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer in this part of the world in a Spanish-colonial setting with 21st-century infrastructure and amenities for support. Few developments in all Panama compare, and there’s nothing that comes anywhere close on this Azuero Peninsula.

That said, the getting-in price point at Los Islotes can be more affordable than you might think. Available lots in the section known as “Mango Village,” for example, start at US$29,000. More details are available here.

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