Bocas del Toro

Chapter 9: Creating a Fairy-Tale Resort Experience

Theme Song: “Do You Believe in Magic”, The Lovin’ Spoonful

Quiet your mind, breathe in deeply, and allow your imagination to drift as you are led on a vacation fantasy. The morning is comfortably warm with dense grey clouds. The sun peaks through and glistens on the water as you board a pristine white boat with puffy seats. The Caribbean breeze is soothing to your skin as you accelerate through the gentle waves. Vivid memories of dancing and indulging in Bocas Town the night before fade as the private island comes into view.

Your eye is drawn to an inviting white sand beach with brightly colored bean bag chairs, ornate tasseled umbrellas, and a tropical bamboo bar – hints of Bali. You notice the beach, complete with palm trees, is elevated slightly above the water on stilts like a giant sandbox.

You are welcomed at the dock with a cool washcloth and an ancient Balinese gong announcing your arrival. It feels as if you are a dignitary being welcomed to a nation except for the utter absence of stuffiness.

Your host, dressed in white linen and a gentle smile, guides you to an expansive open-air clubhouse and treats you to a refreshing island cocktail. While you take in the elegant surroundings amidst the primal jungle, your suitcases are whisked away, and the staff checks you in without your ever leaving your seat.

A rickshaw, as if a mind reader, pulls up as you finish your drink. “May I take you to your villa,” asks a tiny man with bare feet, a bald head, and a twinkle in his eye. You enter the rickshaw and are surprised at how effortlessly he pulls it. A grand winding boardwalk leads through an enchanting botanical garden with the high-pitched chirp of birds and the unforgettable fragrance of island blossoms. You proceed along the boardwalk as if floating over the ocean below, arriving at a cluster of stylish thatched-roof villas built over the water like in Fiji or Bora Bora.

You enter your villa to the sight of an expansive teak structure over the bed with intricate carving. The Balinese style, displaying an exquisite attention to detail, is enchanting. A glance toward the water reveals an inviting deck and luxurious infinity plunge pool silhouetting the crystal-clear aquamarine Caribbean.

Overwhelmed with surreal delight, you shed your cares, collapse to the bed, and ponder the possibilities as you drift off to sleep.

A Unique Experience

Our goal is to create a resort experience that is extraordinary. Following is a list of resort features and experiences that will combine to make Bocas del Toro unique to the world.

Private Island

A unique experience starts with the setting. Only a few resorts in the world are located on their own private island. Our private island has 3.1 miles of Caribbean Ocean shoreline and is only fifteen minutes by boat to Bocas Town, Panama. A short kayak jaunt, directly across from our resort, brings you to a small mangrove, home to hundreds of seaside birds and surrounded by coral reefs.

Land and Sea Packages

A full week on an island might not be for everyone, but just about anyone would relish three nights in lively Bocas Town plus four nights on our private island.

Over-the-Water Villas and Restaurant

Bocas del Toro will be one of about two hundred over-the-water resorts in the entire world. Since most of these locations are virtually inaccessible, we will offer the adventurous traveler an over-the-water experience that is relatively easy to reach at a price that is about half the worldwide average.

Treehouse Suites

Swiss Family Robinson enthusiasts will delight in our multilevel treehouse suites on the island. Bocas del Toro will join a handful of resorts in the world that offer luxury treehouse accommodations.

Luxury Treehouse Example From Thailand

The First Sandbox-Over-Water Beach in The World

You can find multiple floating beaches in the world, but we have yet to identify a beach built on stilts over water. Our beach will likely be the first of its kind. We plan to contact the Guinness Book of World Records once the beach is built to see if we qualify.

Native Lobster Dive and Dinner

From an authentic hand-carved canoe, our guests can observe a native diver plunge into the sea and capture lobsters that will later be prepared for their dinner.

Balinese Experience in Panama

Bocas del Toro will blend the wonder of Bali with the authenticity of Panama. Our antique Balinese gong, announcing guest arrivals, will be the first of many Balinese hints throughout the resort. The most dramatic will be the hand-carved teak structures, called “tumpang saris,” over each bed in the villas. For most travelers this will be the first time they have seen a tumpang sari. Each one will have received about nine hundred hours of hand carving.

Private boats and boat captains

Bocas del Toro will offer villa guests their own boat and boat captain, available to them their entire stay.

Botanical Garden

Gardens are not unique to resorts, but we believe our two-acre tropical botanical garden in the heart of the resort will stand out as a special feature.

Tropical Botanical Garden

We Welcome Your Ideas

Making a resort that is unique to the world requires numerous viewpoints. We welcome your ideas so that we can make sure our guests have a fairy-tale resort experience.

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14 responses to “Chapter 9: Creating a Fairy-Tale Resort Experience”

  1. Joseph Solis says:

    Your plan sounds fantastic. I don’t have anything to add. I think you’ve covered everything on my wish list. Can’t wait till it is completed.

  2. Mike says:

    One complaint I’ve read about going to the Maldives is that once you’re at the resort, you’re basically stuck there. The only option for food and activities is through the resort (which are understandable expensive). It sounds like you’ve overcome this by allowing people to take a boat to Panama whenever they like. If you haven’t already, I would make a conscious effort to not make people feel trapped on the island.

    • Dan Behm says:

      Hi Mike,

      I totally agree with you and we have had this discussion many times. Our solution so far is as follows, but we welcome more ideas.

      1) We plan to lead with a seven day package that includes 3 nights in lively Bocas town – likely two nights on the front end, then 4 nights at Bocas del Toro and one night again in Bocas Town before our guest’s departure flight. This will break things up, reduce the cost (Bocas Town hotels are inexpensive and provide an interesting between lively Bocas Town and the serenity of Bocas del Toro.
      2) The private captain option will give our guests the freedom to come and go as they please. The charm of the area is the endless islands, restaurants, and beaches.
      3) There will be kayaks, paddle boards, snorkel masks and fins, live music, a spa, and multiple restaurants to keep our guests active and engaged while on the island. We will also offer several group excursions including scuba diving, ocean fishing, a chocolate plantation visit, a trip to starfish beach, and more.

      Please let me know what your thoughts are on my response. The blog responses are really helping us to shape the resort and we are appreciative all of the comments and suggestions.

  3. David says:

    Can the bald rickshaw driver be slightly less than tiny?? If so, I’ll hit the gym and be ready for opening :). I’m having memories of the goldfish in the bowl looking out at the open water….think big!!!

  4. Dan Behm says:

    Hey Dave,

    You made me laugh out loud! Funny thing is that the rickshaw idea has already been put on hold as most people were not crazy about it. But, maybe we should reconsider – I would pay anything to see a 6 foot 4 bald guy pulling the rickshaw – ha ha.

    You brought back fond memories when you mentioned the fish bowl. In the case of this resort I think I might have thought a little too big. The cost keeps going up and up and up and up and well, you get it.

    Hope you had a great 4th of July with your family!


  5. Can’t wait for the finished product! I know it will be fantastic as only you could do!

    • Dan Behm says:

      Thanks Scott! I am confident that we can get there, but as you know there have been so many challenges along the way that I have not written about in the blog yet. I was thinking about writing a post specifically about the difficulties and setbacks along the way. Do you think people would enjoy reading about this or do you think it would feel too negative?

      • Nancy says:

        We learn by our mistakes Dan, if you can help alter another persons path to success, why not write that book! Of course you would have to put the humor spin on it that only you can do that way it can be educational and funny.

        Good luck and loved the fantasy!

        • Dan Behm says:

          Hi Nancy!

          Thank you for your comments. I have started to write the blog on our trials. I appreciate your thought on adding humor. I think that could be difficult, but it is better to laugh than to cry;).


  6. Steve Lassig says:

    Dan, What happened to the Sea Plane arrival with the small person in a white suite announcing “The Plane, The Plane” and you, in your white suite, announcing “Welcome to Fantasy Island”…. If you do a trial run, for the first guests, that definitely needs to be captured… Although it might have to be “the boat, the boat….”… Lol… all sounds great!

    • Dan Behm says:

      Hey Steve,

      You made me laugh! The funny thing is I had not thought about fantasy island when I wrote the post. I should watch a few episodes of Love Boat to see if I can pick up any ideas. Thanks for your comments and encouragement.


  7. Cassie Lambert says:

    I can already feel myself relaxing just thinking about how wonderful a week at Bocas del Toro will be. The treehouses are a wonderful addition to the over water villas.

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