Friday, September 21, 2007

ABP: Banking controls worked with Urrego

The Banking Association of Panama (ABP), in light of the most recent money laundering case, disagrees that the banking system should take responsibility for failed controls.

The alleged drug dealer Jose Nelson Urrego was captured Saturday in Panama City, and investigations have revealed that he managed to lauder close to 13 million dollars in local banks.

“The bank received a client that had legalized his status in Panama, in a record time,” according to reports, “And once the transactions were detected as suspicious, the accounts were closed and the proper authorities notified,” commented the ABP’s President Alexis Arjona.

The banker maintains that it was not the banking system that failed, but rather that they gave him a license. “The bank did meet its responsibilities and followed all that was required by law,” he pointed out.

Although the ABP’s president believes that it is not the law that are failing, she informed that this profession, as it often does, works in junction with the Bank Superintendent in the updating and strengthening of banking laws and Law 42, that dictates the laws about money laundering.

“The Banking Association of Panama is committed to fighting against money laundering, and that can be seen in all congresses and forums that we give annually to update ourselves about the latest tendencies of this crime,” commented the director of the banking profession.

Inaguration of Lafise Bank

The Lafise Group, a multinational financial entity with headquarters in Miami and offices in Central America, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and now Panama, opened offices on the 37th floor of the Global Bank Tower, said a bank official. Its president, Roberto Zamora Llanes, and the principal managers at the regional level will be meeting for a couple of days in Panama.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Banking Reforms in Panama are on their Way

Bank Superintendent proposes to strengthen and revise current banking legislation.

The market continues to be attractive for big corporations, such as the French Calyon Bank.


Olegario Barrelier, Panama’s Bank Superintendent, recognized that money laundering takes place in the country, as occurs in other countries that attempt to be models to follow in the fight against this affliction.

“It affects and embarrasses us that this occurs in our country,” said Barrelier when advocating for immediate reforms to the existing legislation. Barrelier proposes making legislation more robust and more adequate in light of the new trends that arise when fighting against money laundering, adding that they are already working on this.

“We should modernize our laws, not because somebody is forcing us to, but because it is in the best interests of Panama to not leave the country in the hands of delinquents,” the superintendent responded to the representatives’ questions, taking advantage of his appearance before the Budget Commission.

He insisted that it should not be a consolation for the Panamanians in New York, Marseilles, Antwerp, Naples and the Mexican-American border, among others, where more money in laundered than in Panama.

In order to modernize legislation, Law 9 of 1998 must be modified, which regulates banking activity, in the chapter that outlines the amount of reserves that should be maintained.

Furthermore, Law 42 of October 2000 must be modified, which establishes the means to prevent money laundering, in order to include new methods and professions, such as lawyers and accounts.

Calyon Bank may come

Barrelier emphasized the importance of continuing to work on strengthening the image of Panama’s banking center, in order to continue maintaining its relevance and attractiveness to big entities such as Calyon, France’s largest private bank, which is exploring the possibility of setting up operations in Panama.

“They have approached the Superintendent to learn more about the system,” mentioned an official, adding that they have received 16 applications this year from banks from diverse nationalities interested in operating in the Panamanian market.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Isla Grande

I have know about Isla Grande for a while now, but last Saturday was the first time I had ever been to the island.

Isla Grande is located within the Portobelo National park. The only means to reach the island is a 5-minute boat ride from the small town of La Guaira, located approximately 20 kilometers from Portobelo and whose main form of sustenance is fishing and tourism.

The population of Isla Grande is approximately 300 inhabitants, though the island receives many tourists on weekends and holidays, who enjoy the island's beaches, trails, and excellent scuba diving and snorkeling (coral reefs surround the island). Isla Grande is especially peaceful since there are no cars or motor bikes on the island.

The people of Isla Grande are incredibly friendly and willing to do what they can in order to make one's stay as enjoyable as possible. We ate a fabulous dinner at Restaurant Congo, where we engorged ourselves on a huge crab, lobster, and an excellent fillet of Corvina.

I can't wait to go back!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Useful Tips on Buying Property in Panama

Are you interested in purchasing real estate in Panama? Visit Land in Panama and get useful tips on buying property in Panama.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Proposed Avenida Balboa



Anyone that has recently traveled to Panama City, Panama knows that Avenida Balboa is not living up to its full potential. Traffic jams, insufficient walkways, and an often times stinky bay hold it back from being the pristine promenade it should be. Numerous companies identified this opportunity...

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Commercial Real Estate in Panama

Panama has an array of great commerical real estate. Whether you are looking for a secure property investment, a practical office space, or a funky, new age building for your ultra modern entrepreneurial endeavor, you are bound to find something here!


REVOLUTION TOWER


LOCATION: 50th and 56th Street, Panama City
AREA: 145,00m² / 1.560,77 ft²
PRICE: FROM US$383,760.00

***The Revolution Tower project has placed Panama at the forefront of the region's architectural design, utilizing the latest technology and security measures for "smart" office buildings.***


Click here to request more information about the Revolution Tower in Panama. Click on City Homes and then on Contact Us, and we'll respond to your request ASAP!


SAN FERNANDO PROFESSIONAL CENTER


LOCATION: Via España

AREA: 45,00m² / 484,38 ft²
PRICE: FROM US$71,400.00


***Property Management is Available for this Project***


Click here to request more information about the San Fernando Professional Center in Panama. Click on City Homes and then on Contact Us, and we'll respond to your request ASAP!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Affordable Luxury Condos in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Bocas Point Condominiums -- Get in touch for more info!


Asking Price: $79,950 USD

Bocas Point condominium is a luxury, first class project of 44 apartments, 36 are one (1) bedroom units and 8 are a two (2) bedroom units.

One bedroom units range from 277 to 751 sq. ft. ( 26 to 70 M2) & two bedroom units range from 774 to 911 sq. ft. (72 to 85 M2).


The project is one, 4-story building, with each level possessing 11 apartments.

The condominium has a social/common area of 1,614 sq. ft. (150 M2), which includes a nice swimming pool, a bohio, area to take the sun and a BBQ facility.


The condos on the 3rd and 4rd levels will have an ocean view. The ocean is 1 block away from the apartments facing the main street and a couple of hundred yards away from the ones facing the opposite direction. The 1st level apartments in the back will have a nice, private patio.


There will a parking lot with 22 spaces for owner and visitor use. The condominium will have a waste water treatment plant and a water reserve tank, enough to last a few days.

Location:

Bocas Point condominium will be located on the corner between Ave. G (main street) and Calle 8th on a lot of 950 M2 or 10,222 sq. ft., located just blocks from downtown Bocas del Toro Cand one (1) block away from the ocean. It is a fully titled property.


This project has all the advantages of being within the city, with regards to city utilities, infrastructure and amenities. Bocas Point Condo is located in walking distance from restaurants, bars, grocery stores, boat tours, public offices and hotels.

Visit the Bocas Point website for more information!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Real Estate of Casco Viejo in Panama City, Panama

One of my favorite places in Panama! Be careful...The real estate is so hot there you might get burnt! Okay, that was cheesey, but it's true. Real estate in Casco Viejo is booming right now. Click here to watch a program about the architectural beauty of Panama.

Romantic, bohemian and cozy, Panama’s Casco Viejo offers the charm of another era for visitors as well as its residents. Founded in 1673, Casco Viejo is the second Panama City, built after the famous pirate Henry Morgan attacked and destroyed the first city center, Panama La Vieja, forcing its inhabitants to move to a new location 2 kilometers west-southeast of the original city.

Casco Viejo, located in the San Felipe neighborhood, was declared a World Heritage Center by UNESCO in 1997. Strolling along the narrow streets and alleyways of Casco Viejo, one can admire an architectural legacy and mix of colonial, European and Neoclassical art, above all from Spain and France.

Furthermore, Casco Viejo is a fantastic place to invest. For example, the Panamanian government passed legislation that provides incentives for the purchase, restoration and commercialization of properties in Casco Viejo, to encourage the area’s resurrection to its original splendor. Thanks to this legislation, Casco Viejo has been able to restore a large part of the historic properties, many that date back more than a century, which further increases the value of real estate in Casco Viejo.

Individuals that are looking for a vibrant lifestyle, and a panache property to match, will surely find it amongst Casco Viejo’s narrow streets of brick and its facades with large, beautifully forged balconies and generous spaces, which overlook the area’s rich nightlife and ample cultural variety.

The price per square meter oscillates around $2,000, depending on the characteristics of the property, many of which possess a privileged ocean view, twos-stories, walls of original stone, niches and other beautiful characteristics of colonial architecture, which today are combined with the facilities of modern life, such as Internet access and cable television.

The restored homes of Casco Viejo provide the perfect balance of history and modernism, possessing an authentic flavor and unique atmosphere that is difficult to imitate. Casco Viejo is definitely a place to live or invest.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Happy Memorial Day



“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”
-Arthur Ashe

Happy Memorial Day | Real Estate in Panama

Happy Memorial day everyone!!! After paying tribute to our troops, check out some real estate in Panama ;-D



LOCATION: Punta Pacifica, Panama City
BEDROOMS: 1
BATHROOMS: 1
AREA: 72,00m² / 775,00 ft²

PRICE: FROM US$400,000.00

Click here to request more information about the Trump Ocean Club in Panama. Click on New Projects and then on Contact Us, and we'll respond to your request ASAP!


LOCATION: Coronado Beach
BEDROOMS: 3
BATHROOMS: 3
AREA: 170,00m² / 1.829,86 ft²

PRICE: FROM US$329,000.00

Click here to request more information about the Coronado Country Club in Panama. Click on Beach Condos and then on Contact Us, and we'll respond to your request ASAP!



LOCATION: Costa Sur
BEDROOMS: 3
BATHROOMS: 4
AREA: 282,00m² / 3.035,42 ft²

PRICE: FROM US$312,480.00

Click here to request more information about the Costa Sur Pijao in Panama. Click on City Homes and then on Contact Us, and we'll respond to your request ASAP!



LOCATION: Obarrio
BEDROOMS: 1
BATHROOMS: 2
AREA: 90,00m² / 968,75 ft²

PRICE: FROM US$245,000.00

Click here to request more information about the De Novo in Panama. Click on New Projects and then on Contact Us, and we'll respond to your request ASAP!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Big Names in Panama Real Estate

Check out more real estate in Panama now!

Few cities in the world live a moment as important as the growth of Panama’s real estate industry . Distinguished representatives from important disciplines related to the real estate sector find themselves developing projects of international caliber on the Isthmus of Panama. Such is the case for Donald Trump, Philippe Starck and Frank O. Gehry, three protagonists and three different projects united by a single thread: They all share the same backdrop for their masterpieces, Panama City.

Frank O. Gehry: Architect of a Dream
And it really is “a dream come true” for Panama. Soon, Panama will become one of the few cities in the world to possess a masterpiece by Frank O. Gehry, an architect that has created such important emblems as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.



Gehry is the designer of the plans for the Biodiversity Museum, located on the Amador Causeway. The museum’s expositions, designed by the Canadian firm Bruce Mau Design, one of the most important in the world, narrate the history of life and of Panama as a biological crossroads. Without a doubt, it will be an obligatory stop for tourists and Panamanians that continue to traverse this natural “Bride of the Americas,” since it is sure to be a monumental work in Panama. For more information, visit: http://www.biomuseopanama.org/

Donald Trump: The Real Estate Tycoon
One of the richest and most powerful men in the world, having built his fortune two times thanks to real estate, has set his sights on Panama, a country that he fell in love with during a Miss Universe pageant, according to his own accounts.



Trump’s real estate project in Panama, the Trump Ocean Club, will be a residential, hotel and office complex possessing 68-stories in Punta Pacific. The influential Trump name combined with its impressive architecture of 2.6 million square feet (252,000 square meters) will surely lead it to become an architectural icon of Panama. For more information, visit: http://www.trumpoceanclub.com/

Philippe Starck: Intelligent and Interesting Design
Alongside the world’s great cities, such as New York and Paris, a building is being designed in Panama by the famous French designer Philippe Starck, under the firm Yoo, a real estate firm that strongly emphasizes design.

The concept of Yoo is to create personalized spaces according to the necessities of the inhabitants. Societies are changing, and people want to live, work and have fun in one place or in close proximity to their home. To be on the cutting edge of this trend, Yoo’s projects plan to convert themselves into “vertical villas.”



With his unique vision of design and esthetics, Philippe Starck will apply his personal touch to Yoo’s building located on Panama’s Balboa Avenue, Sales will begin in the next couple of months, and its promoters have announced that it will completely sell out the day it is launched. So, if you are an admirer of Starck’s design, get yourself an invitation and reserve one now! http://www.yoopanama.com

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Panama Real Estate in Highland Areas

Think Panama is nothing but fun in the sun?!? Check out these highland properties and why so many retirees are moving to Boquete!

LOCATION: Cerro Azul, Panama
BEDROOMS: 2
BATHROOMS: 2
AREA: 2.000,00m² / 21.527,82 ft²
PRICE: FROM US$95,000.00


Click here to request more information about this highland property in Panama. Click on Highland Properties and then on Contact Us, and we'll respond to your request ASAP!


LOCATION: Chame
AREA: 350.000,00m² / 3.767.368,70 ft²
PRICE: FROM US$2,800,000.00

Click here to request more information about this highland property in Panama. Click on Highland Properties and then on Contact Us, and we'll respond to your request ASAP!

Monday, May 21, 2007

City Condos for Sale in the Republic of Panama

Check out Real Estate in Panama!



LOCATION: Punta Pacífica, Panama City
BEDROOMS: 4
BATHROOMS: 4
AREA: 645,00m² / 6.942,72 ft²

PRICE: FROM US$1,200,000.00

Click here for more information about Bellagio in Panama City, Panama!



LOCATION: Punta Pacifica
BEDROOMS: 3
BATHROOMS: 3
AREA: 287,00m² / 3.089,24 ft²

PRICE: FROM US$500,000.00

Click here for more information about Blue Bahia in Panama City, Panama!



LOCATION: Avenida Balboa
BEDROOMS: 1
BATHROOMS: 1
AREA: 96,00m² / 1.033,34 ft²

PRICE: FROM US$193,000.00

Click here for more information about Bayfront Tower in Panama City, Panama!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Panama Canal Should Favor the Panamanian Economy

Expansion of the Panama Canal will benefit Panama's economy, if it favors all its sectors.

The expansion of the Panama Canal will benefit Panama's economy only if, through its investments, it nourishes all sectors, commmented Juan Carlos Mastellari, president elect of the Panamamanian Association of Business Executives.

All activities related to the Canal's expansion must be done with the utmost transparency and offer equal opportunities to all businesses to participate, he added.

"One of the things that we must guarantee is that the purchasing of the supplies for the Canal project's contracts is done in Panama and not abroad," Mastellari said.

The contracts to expand the Panama Canal, costing from 5 thousand to 250 million dollars, should commencce in the last trimester of 2007, after appropriating the first bidding for its excavation.





Photos courtesy of the Panama Canal Authority

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Panama Real Estate | Beach Homes in Panama

Panama's beaches are one of the country's most spectacular attributes. With coasts on the Atlantic and Pacific, one is sure to find the right beach to suit their needs!



LOCATION: Panama
AREA: 112.00m² / 1,205.56 ft²
PRICE: FROM US$145,000.00

Malibu Beach Park & Resort, just 45 minutes from Panama city. A life refuge with all the natural attributes of Eden: River, Beach, Mountain, Ocean.

Click here for more information about this Malibu Beach Park and Resort.



LOCATION: Punta Barco
BEDROOMS: 3
BATHROOMS: 2
AREA: 25,000.00m² / 269,097.76 ft²

Magnificent beachfront house in the exclusive beach of PUNTA BARCO, surrounded by gorgeous mansions with private beach. Incredible views of the beach, the ocean and natural surroundings.

Click here for more information about this beach house.



LOCATION: Coronado Beach
BEDROOMS: 4
BATHROOMS: 7
AREA: 4.100,00m² / 44.132,03 ft²
PRICE: FROM US$1,250,000.00

Magnificent beach house, located at “Coronado” beach on the Pacific Ocean of Panama, Republic of Panama. One hour by car from Panama City.

Click here for more information about this beach house.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Interested in Panama Real Estate's New Projects?

Here are 3 beautiful, new real estate projects in Panama City, Panama. More tomorrow!


PARK LOFT

LOCATION: San Francisco
BEDROOMS: 3
BATHROOMS: 3
AREA: 107,00m² / 1.151,74 ft²
PRICE: FROM US$171,200.00
Click here for more information about Park Loft


MARINA BAY

LOCATION: Avenida Balboa
BEDROOMS: 1
BATHROOMS: 1
AREA: 100,00m² / 1.076,39 ft²
PRICE: FROM US$218,000.00
Click here for more information about Marina Bay


ALTAMAR DEL ESTE

LOCATION: Costa del Este
BEDROOMS: 3
BATHROOMS: 3
AREA: 267,00m² / 2.873,96 ft²
PRICE: FROM US$580,243.00

Click here for more information about Altamar del Este


Beautiful Panama Skyline

Monday, May 14, 2007

Future Balboa Avenue???


Avenida Balboa

Avenida Balboa

Commercial Center

Friday, May 11, 2007

US trade deal applies first to Panama, Peru pacts

ABC News - USA
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new US bipartisan trade policy should clear the way for votes on trade agreements with Panama and Peru, but pacts with Colombia and ...[more]

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Any questions???

Hello all,

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day! The rainy season is pretty much in full effect here in Panama! We had a 100% white out yesterday...So much fun :-D

I know that many do not live in Panama and may have never visited. So, if anyone has any questions about anything in Panama (from real estate to tourism to legal questions, etc.), then please let me know! You can either leave a comment or email me at mona "at symbol" wsi-easyweb "dot" com.

I encourage any and all inquiries and comments! I will post the question and answer asap.

Kind regards,
Mona

P.S. Some photos of Panama for your viewing pleasure! Watch Internet TV programs about Panama and Panama Real Estate.




Panama City, Panama

Sunset

Sunset

Casco Viejo, Panama

Mona having a grand ole time

My kitty cat Pepper (picked off the streets of the Casco Viejo)

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Panama in 2010?

Panama City in the 60s

Check out these amazing pictures! Courtesy of my friends at Skyscraper City.


Iglesia Carmen


Iglesia Carmen


El Panama


5 de Mayo

Information about Panama Real Estate

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Planning to Buy Panama Property

By James Quinn

Watch TV about Panama and Panama Real Estate from your Internet now!

Panama is a proud country that has a wealth of beautiful scenery, wildlife, culture and history. The thing that more people are discovering is that Panama property is extremely attractive to investors and those looking to relocate. The prices are very low, the laws make purchasing Panama property simple, there are tax benefits and there is an abundance of available property in the country.

Panama property taxes

The property taxes in Panama are based on a sliding scale with lower-cost properties paying less and more expensive properties shouldering a heavier burden. Panama Properties that have a registered value of $30,000 or less don't pay property tax. Panama Properties are taxed 1.75% between $30,000 and $50,000; a tax of 1.95% is levied for property values between $50,000 and $75,000; and 2.1% is charged for any property value above $75,000.

For construction permits issued after Sept. 1, 2006 these exemptions apply:

o Value up to $100,000: 15-year exemption
o Value from $100,000 to $250,000: 10-year exemption
o Value over $250,000: five-year exemption

Basic Real Estate Laws and How They Affect Buyers

There are several steps to purchasing Panama real estate; after finding a property the first step is making a down payment. The down payment shows that the buyer is earnest in his or her attempt to purchase Panama property. This down payment is normally 10% and becomes the property of the seller when the transaction is competed or if the buyer backs out of the deal. If the seller backs out of the deal, the buyer is entitled to double the down payment as a penalty; this penalty is meant to encourage the seller to honor his agreement to sell.

The Promise to Purchase agreement is critical to the entire process. This contract includes the legal description of both the transaction being executed and the parties involved. All necessary information is included in this document including the property description, the terms of the deal and the legal identification of both the buyer and seller. This document is later conveyed to the escrow company and both the information for the title the names for the disbursements are taken from its pages.

Types of properties

Panama property is broken down into two different types: titled land and "right to possess". Understanding these two types of property are critical to understanding exactly what you are buying.

Titled land

Titled land is the term for all properties that are recorded in the Public Registry. A formal history of ownership is available and any liens or other claims against the property are included. Like properties in the US, Panama property that is titled cannot be sold without a clear title, making the title search an important step in the process. It is wise to note that you can purchase title insurance and it is as strongly suggested for real estate in Panama as it is for real estate in the United States.

"Right to possess" property was established by the Panamanian government in 1971 to encourage inhabitation of unclaimed, untitled land. While "squatter's rights" haven't been used in the US for quite some time, it is still valid in Panama. For "right to possess" Panama property, it is very important to have a good attorney as legal issues could arise if proper procedures have not been followed by the previous owners. While this is concept is somewhat strange to Americans, don't be scared away if the property you want is 'right to possess". It is important that you and your attorney follow proper procedure and you can still securely get a great deal on your new real estate.

Conclusion

Panama property is an excellent value and the process to purchase it is actually quite simple. Make sure that you have a good attorney that can explain the process step by step and help you monitor the process. If you stay aware of the process, buying Panama property can be a very profitable and easy transaction.

Panama Real Estate Search - A site dedicated to information about Panama and Panama Real Estate.

Article Source

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Wildlife Should Stay Wild

IPTV about Property in Panama

To help the creatures that reside in the jungle or woodland areas, the best thing for humans to do is to conserve their habitat.

For Pedro Méndez Carvajal, member of Panama’s Mastozoológica Society, conservation of the flora and fauna is of utmost importance, but he warns: “Even though we think we are doing the right thing, it is not always so.”

Méndez stresses that even though a person’s objective may be to protect the animal and plant species, sometimes an individual’s good intentions can be damaging. “To truly help the wildlife, a person should educate themselves about that specie’s particular biology and the role that each animal and plant species fulfills in its surrounding environment since each one represents a link in the chain of the other,” said Méndez, who works for the Florida Museum of Natural History in the assortment of mammals.

Mendez considers it mistaken to think that a wild animal would be better off in a person’s house than in their natural habitat, further emphasizing that the best way in which a human being can contribute to the survival of these species is to conserve their natural environment, as opposed to turning them into household pets.

For example, Méndez explains, to separate a monkey from its family is traumatic, creating issues for the monkey when it is reintroduced into the jungle.

IPTV about Property in Panama

Friday, May 4, 2007

Relocation Abroad: Ahhh!

By Mona Sutherland

Watch TV about Panama and Panama Real Estate now!

Moving is exciting for some and dreadful for others. The chore of packing all your personal belongings, making new friends and confronting the unknown can be daunting. However, a change of scenery, great job opportunity or better lifestyle can be extremely motivating factors. Regardless of whether you are looking forward to the big day or looking for anything to do but think about it, relocation is sure to bring a host of different experiences, ranging from complete excitement to an absolute nightmare, especially when moving overseas.

The packing process can be tricky, including the crucial decision when only one box is left: Is placing cleaning products and dry foods in the same box a bad idea? An enquiry that today remains unanswered. However, there are even more issues to solve when this move is being made to another country, including import taxes and “Where they heck do I pick up my stuff anyway?!”

So, after packing up your life as you know it, managing to get it to another country and into your new home, the fun part begins: Living abroad!

The expatriate is sure to ride the emotional rollercoaster after arriving in the host country, and a great majority of these ups and downs has to do with cultural differences. Cultural differences are here to stay and are what make life interesting. If you arrive in a new country with your ethnocentric thinking cap on, then all you’re going to get is a lot of migraines (the only plus being the funky Panamanian Panadol). However, despite how open we are to new things, cultural differences can make transitioning to a new country difficult. So, it is the responsibility of the expatriate to learn more about the host country’s customs and norms and be prepared for the bumpy ride ahead.

With regards to educating oneself about a country’s cultural nuances, I recommend the crash course lesson, which is showing up at the local watering hole and getting knackered with the natives. However, a more civilized approach would be to surf the internet, checking out a variety of online resources, such as blogs, forums and travel sites. Forums are excellent because one can post a question and get an assortment of answers from different individuals. Good expatriate websites with great forums are The Expat Exchange and Expat Forums. Also, Escape Artist provides an array of articles about living, working, investing & traveling overseas - including international real estate.

In addition to learning more about the country to which one will immigrate, expatriates can also develop a better understanding about the emotions they will undergo after relocation. (She said “emotion,” ahhhh! Don’t worry!) According to Professor Steve Barnett of the University of Louisville, most expatriates experience a common series of emotions upon arrival in a foreign country.

Before the move, you usually feel nervous, excited, scared, and/or all of the above. Upon arrival, you are on cloud nine. After all, life is exciting! Walking around the block is guaranteed to be barrels of fun, all the while ruminating as to why you did not make the move sooner. After a couple of months, the honeymoon is over. Walking around the block would be possible if they fixed that darn sidewalk or implemented some form of traffic control! The language barrier is finally getting to you and practicing has become more of a chore than a novelty. The expected, but dreaded, culture shock has arrived. But, you cannot go back now! After all, you just got here. So, you put on a smile, sonrisa, sourire or whatever the heck it is called, and get on with your life. Then, one day, you realize that you have been doing just that, getting on with your life. Wow! You have been living in a foreign country and actually learned how to grocery shop (200-grams of meat, none of that pound nonsense!) and pay your electricity bill. You find yourself becoming more competent and more familiar with the insider knowledge. Hooray!

For expatriates returning to their native country after a work assignment, they are expected to experience a reverse culture shock upon arrival, which will eventually subside.

For individuals that plan to relocate abroad permanently, whether for retirement, a better life or to be with a spouse, then I hope this finds them well. If you are in the stages of culture shock, then let this serve as a sort of pick-me-up. If you have already fought the good fight and can laugh at the fact that “nothing works,” then I hope this brings a smile to your face. :-D

Watch Internet TV about Panama and Panama Real Estate!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Panama brews world's biggest cup of coffee

Learn more about Panama and Real Estate in Panama on www.LatinRe.tv .

Panama City, April 02: Panama's top coffee producer said it believes it has set a new record for the world's biggest cup of coffee, after brewing 750 gallons (2,840 liters) in a giant mug on Sunday.

Producer Cafe Duran used 300 pounds (136 kgs) of arabica coffee to brew a cup measuring 3 yards by 1.6 yards over four hours.

"We are really thrilled with this, Panama has done it!" Ricardo Duran, director-owner of the company, said to loud applause, fireworks and live tropical music.

The company will submit its record-breaking attempt to officials at Guinness World Records this month. The previous Guinness record was held by the United States for brewing 660 gallons (2,500 liters) in New York in 1994.

The initiative aims to draw attention to Panama's small but growing gourmet, estate-grown coffee industry, organisers said.

"And the coffee's actually damn tasty," said Irma Castillo, a Panama City resident sipping the hot drink as it was given away after the record attempt.

Bureau Report - www.zeenews.com

Read more about retiring in Panama!
Read more about activities in Panama!
Read more about Bocas del Toro!
Read more about Chiriqui!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Celebrities in Panama



Learn more about Panama Real Estate on Latin America Real Estate TV!

What do Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Mel Gibson and Miguel Bose have in common? All have recently paid a visit to Panama, and though their reasons were diverse, all have shown interest in Panama real estate.

In January, Brad Pitt and wife Angelina Jolie visited Panama to see the construction site and scale model of the building to be inaugurated in 2008 as the Biodiversity Museum, designed by Frank O. Ghery. The Pitts enjoyed lunch and studied the scale model for over an hour, appreciating the different views the building will soon have. Brad and Angelina also explored the Casco Viejo, wandering among the spectacular colonial buildings, and then set off to spend the night in the Anton Valley, located in the country’s interior about a two hour drive from Panama City. The national press speculated that Pitt and Jolie considered investing in Panama real estate while touring the country.
In March, Mel Gibson visited Panama, presumably to scout locations for production of his next film. During his five days in Panama, he explored various hotel properties, including Gamboa, Villa Camilla in Azueros, Bocas del Toro, Darien and Playa Bonita, each beach locations or in close proximity to the ocean. It has been rumored that Mel Gibson had a meeting with a real estate agent in Panama, though we cannot say for sure what transpired.

Miguel Bose, the Panamanian born Spanish singer, recently visited and bought a condominium in a luxurious building located in the interior of Panama. The condominium is on the beach and possesses a spectacular ocean view. However, we are not sure if he bought the condo as an investment or for personal use.

Without a doubt, the first months of the year have been interesting for Panama. Though the country is small, in a couple of years it may be more likely to spot a celebrity here than on the streets of Hollywood.

Learn more about Panama Real Estate on Latin America Real Estate TV!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Taxis in Panama City

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Riding a taxi in Panama City can provoke just as many emotions as a free fall roller coaster ride, but at only a dollar a pop. Similar to the roller coaster, you can expect to jerk from left to right, feel your stomach drop, tense your muscles and squeal with excitement and/or fear in a Panama City cab. Like most taxis, especially in third world countries, the ride can make you fear for your life. But, there are some unique characteristics about a Panama City taxi ride that make each one out of the ordinary.

Exterior and Interior of Taxi

Though rumor has it that all taxis will eventually be yellow (like New York City), it is still possible to observe the vast array of shapes, styles and sizes managing the streets of Panama City. Some are new and air conditioned, while others look as though they are from circa 1970 and have survived a serious fire and numerous robberies.

The exterior of taxis have a substantially higher amount of dents and dings than other cars in Panama City. Taxis drivers have one objective when working, to get the passenger to their destination so that they can pick up another passenger, thus increasing their cash flow. Therefore, taxi drivers do not seem to have the same reservations about making incredibly risky moves, and consequently getting in more accidents. The speed in Panama City is never so fast that there is any serious damage, but the remnants of these failed attempts are blatantly obvious. And, once the initial damage has been incurred, what’s another dent?!

The interiors of taxis can bring a smile to almost anyone’s face. The interior decoration of Panama City taxis almost always includes a flag or football (not the American kind) dangling from the rear view mirror, or the space where a rear view mirror should be, just obstructing the line of vision enough to make things interesting. In the United States and other like countries, our idea of what a car needs in order to function is relatively superfluous compared to Panama. I mean, is an interior really necessary for driving? Absolutely not!

Array of Honks

Many people complain about the noise population on the streets of Panama City. However, if we listen carefully, it is more like an urban symphony. Some honks are the typical “beep beep,” while others are analogous to the whoops and whistles of men trying desperately to get the attention of a pretty girl, or the whistle you teach your Cockatiel Pretty Bird. Either way, it is obvious that taxi drivers go to a lot of trouble to personalize their horns and feel a certain sense of pride, given they exercise the right to honk at every available chance.

Conversations with Drivers

One of my favorite pastimes in Panama, and in any foreign environment, is chatting with the locals. It is undeniable that one of the best ways to become acquainted with a culture is by interacting with the natives, in their mother tongue. In Panama, taxi drivers provide an interesting and entertaining interpretation of life in the city. My conversations with them generally start off, “Are you Swiss? You look like the girl from the hot chocolate!” Then, after clarifying that I am not from 19th century Switzerland, we embark upon an undoubtedly colorful conversion, sure to be the subject of dinnertime conversion (if appropriate).

A particularly exciting day was when I took a taxi driver on a goose chase with me to fix my car battery. As is a normal daily occurrence in Panama City, a passenger was already in the cab when I was picked up. So, I hopped in the front seat and we were on our way. This particular passenger, a woman about 60 years old, was undoubtedly a foreigner, most likely American, Canadian or European. Shortly after I got on board, we arrived at her destination. She handed the driver seventy five cents, and all fares in Panama City are at least one dollar. The driver said in heavily accented English, “One dolla’!” I turned around and translated, “One dollar.” She spat back, like him, in heavily accented English, “He took me around the entire city!” Apparently, she felt as though the driver had taken her on a while goose chase with the hopes of pulling a fast one. After listening to her short, heated explanation, she leaped out of the taxi and soon disappeared from our sight. So, the driver gave up and we left for my destination. On the way, he muttered to himself about the “whats and whys” of the recent situation. After five minutes of being stuck in traffic and the driver leaning over me to throw his eaten meal out the window into a garbage can, our rapport had obviously gone through the roof, and he began to inquire about why my “paisana” (countrywoman) did such an awful thing. “Doesn’t she know I have to eat?!” So, I explained to him that, although she wasn’t my “paisana,” foreigners generally implement the taxi protocol born from the etiquette of their mother land. Another day, another dollar for him, and a mini lecture about the cultural differences between one country and another.

It is never a dull day in a Panama City taxi.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

13 Not-So-Conventional Reasons to Love Panama

By Mona Sutherland

Most of us have already read the myriad of articles about Panama, not to mention the “About Panama” section on the websites of every real estate agency promoting property in the region.

There is no doubt that Panama possesses numerous advantages, including its strategic geographic location, incentive program for retirees and a relatively low-cost of living, amongst others. However, some of the reasons that I particularly enjoy living in Panama cannot be when searching for the most obvious reasons, such as the Panama Canal (After showing my 4th visitor the Miraflores Locks, the outing becomes slightly monotonous) or its proximity to Miami (I’ve never been to Miami in my life!). Certain pleasures can only be recognized after living in Panama as a foreigner for some time.

Though I appreciate the similarities that Panama and the “Western World” share, I also cherish the differences, since they are what makes my life here truly unique and exciting.

Here are 13 reasons why Panama makes life so interesting:

1. Casco Viejo
-Casco Viejo is 100% different from the towering high rises scattered along Balboa Avenue. Casco Viejo has an interesting blend of architectural styles, most notably ornate Spanish- and French-influenced buildings. However, in addition to the amazing views and unique architecture, there is always something quirky going on in “the Casco”! My roommate is the president of Panama 9º80º, a lifestyle and travel magazine about Panama. Her offices are in Casco Viejo and I get an absolute kick out of dropping her off some mornings. It isn’t often that I get to laugh so hard I almost wet myself at 7:30 a.m. Much better than coffee! (Okay, that was an exaggeration. Sorry coffee.)

One of my favorite “Casco moments” occurred one morning as I was dropping my friend off at work. As we turned the corner onto Avenida A, we saw a little boy of about 7 years old peeing in the street. What made this pee different was that he was not facing the wall or partially hidden amongst the narrow alleyways, but was rather on the edge of the sidewalk, practically in the street, facing the traffic! As we neared the situation, we saw a projectile yellow liquid spurting from his body and said, “That can’t be!” However, it was. To this day, that little boy and his “necessities” still put a smile on my face.

2. Wine
-South American wine, from Chile and Argentina, is much less expensive than in the United States. However, who said you can have your cake and eat it too.

My friend and I were succumbing to our vices one night, and went to buy wine and ice cream at El Rey supermarket. As we were checking out, the $3.50 appeared on the screen as the price for the wine. I said to my friend, “How great is it to live in a country where a good bottle of wine is $3.50!?” Then, the ice cream came, and $8.50 appeared. My friend and I were in utter shock and disbelief. Since then, we have sought out other, less expensive means to satisfy a sweet tooth.

3. Sushi Itto
-Sushi delivered to your front door…Do I need to say anything else? If you think that there isn’t sushi in Panama, then you are in for a delightful surprise. Sushi Itto, in my humble, sushi snob opinion, is the best delivery sushi in Panama. Their Philadelphia rolls and Edamame are extremely scrumptious.

What’s even more interesting is when I’m walking to work or walking my mini schnauzer and the Sushi Itto delivery guy honks and waves as he zooms past on his little red moto. It must be a small world after all. Or, I order a lot of sushi!

4. American Dollar
-This is a commonly cited “reason” for why Panama is so great, and I agree whole heartedly!

For the foreigner, especially Americans, it is great because it doesn’t become “Monopoly money.” It is easy to be aware of exactly how much you are spending. There is no labor-intensive addition, subtraction, division or multiplication involved to figure out the price of a soda. So, in Panama, it is easy to grasp the value of what we purchase, instead of throwing away our Monopoly money at any and every chance we get. This is especially useful if you are off to the casinos!

5. Patacones
-Patacones are twice-fried plantain patties and incredibly delicious. I had not discovered them until my arrival in Panama, and I am a self-proclaimed patacon addict!

6. Albrook Mall
-Albrook Mall is a large, air conditioned indoor shopping center that offers a wide variety of discount stores and boutiques, as well as a food court with carousel. Be sure to check out El Costo, Oca Loca and Conway for some great deals!

These stores are magnificent for retail therapy. You can walk away with about 15 shirts for $20. Even if you wear them just once, it’s a lot cheaper than Target.

7. Opportunities
- Panama is like the Wild West of Central America. There is a huge variety of employment, business and investment opportunities just waiting to be taken advantage of. After being in Panama for almost any extended amount of time, everyone catches the entrepreneur fever.

8. Slang
-Though I don’t make it a habit to use it in my everyday speech, I must confess that I get an absolute kick out of the Panamanians’ faces when they see a full fledged gringa talking like she’s from the barrio.

9. Cable TV with ABC and CBS
-All the great things of Panama fused with Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune and Grey’s Anatomy. Does it get any better?

10. Taxis
-Finally, inexpensive taxis! Taxis in Panama are abundant and relatively inexpensive, a fare costing from $1 to $2 to most location in Panama City. However, taxi meters are not typically used, and therefore it is recommended to negotiate the price before leaving. If you understand and speak Spanish, you can overhear and engage in a number of colorful conversations with drivers.

11. Cayos Zapatillas, aka. Zapatila Cay
-Zapatilla Cay is a small island located about an hour boat ride from the main Isla Colon in the Bocas del Toro province. Zapatilla Cay is astonishingly beautiful, including spectacular views, clear waters and white sand. Without a doubt, it is one of my favorite places in Panama.

12. Fireworks
-Back in the states, fireworks were reserved for the 4th of July, and some spectacles at Sea World. In Panama City, it’s not bazaar to see fire works going off every night of the week. On New Year’s, the entire city, and I mean as far as the eye can see, ignites with the colorful flashes and flickers of thousands of fireworks.

13. Piropos
-What’s a piropo? I have yet to find a direct translation that suits me. Some dictionaries translate it as “compliment,” though that is a serious understatement. Piropo is a word that stands for what men do to a pretty girl as she walks by. Flirt, not really. Torment, could be. Most Westerners would agree that this is a “Latin thing.” I generally can’t stand it and want to flip off everybody that whistles and hisses and yells “Ay mami” as I stroll along. However, on days when I roll out of bed and my hair is astray, I must say that I feel less hideous as I waltz along and still get the “Yeah baby”. I know it is done to all women. I was in a taxi once and the driver whistled and hooted at a couple of women that looked as though they were pushing 70 years old. I’m not implying that they were not attractive, but the taxi driver was about 25! Moral of the story, it’s one place to get an ego boost.

Bonus - The Finger Wag
-You all know the finger wag, a way to indicate disapproval of something. The motion is generally carried out by wagging the index finger from left to right, considered by most incredibly rude and demeaning. Well, the Finger Wag is back in Panama! The best way to say no ever!

Watch Internet TV about Panama on Latin America Real Estate TV!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Price index. Investors look for returns of at least 1% per month.

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By Marianela Palacios Ramsbott of La Prensa
mapalacios@prensa.com

The price to rent apartments and houses in Panama has only increased 2.5% in the last six years, according to the Consumer Price Index (Precios al Consumidor or IPC) of the General Controller’s Office of the Republic (Contraloría General de la República).

However, Luis, who lives in a three bedroom apartment on Vía Argentina, pays 20% more for rent than the prior tenant.

“They charge me 600 dollars and in 2005 they charged 500 dollars,” he said.

The difference in the price variation is understandable. The Index of the General Controller’s Office is based on the weighted average of the properties offered by real estate firms in Panama City, San Miguelito and the rest of the country’s urban centers.

“That percentage is an average of the variations that all segments collectively contribute, but the prices vary a lot from segment to segment,” clarifies Ivan Carlucci, the new president of the Association of Real Estate Brokers (Asociación de Corredores de Bienes Raíces or Acobir), who assumed the position Thursday night.

“For example, the rise in rent in the case of residences over 100 thousand dollars should be around 25%.”

Towards the Future

This increment is not only related to the rise in construction material and the appreciation of new dwellings, but also to the market tendencies that have produced the real estate boom. People that buy property with the intention to rent expect a return on their investment of at least 1% per month.

“If you bought an apartment in 2000 for 60 thousand dollars, you would rent it for 600. But a similar apartment now would cost 80 thousand dollars and therefore the owners are renting them at 800 dollars,” comments Carlucci.
Hopefully, as a result of the expansion of the Panama Canal, the rental market will recover again beginning in 2008.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bocas Del Toro, Panama

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In search of a more "tranquilo" place to spend my Carnavales, I chose Bocas Del Toro. Though I appreciate a good party, I am not one for getting sprayed with fire houses. I went to "La Tomatina" once in Buñol, Spain, and decided that I'd had enough of crazy, water-logged festivals!

It was my fifth time in Bocas (and I've only been in Panama 1 year and 9 months), though my first time spending Carnavales. To learn more about Bocas, check out Panama 9º80º, a superb lifestyle and travel magazine with interesting articles about Panama.

We stayed at Swan's Cay and El Limbo, both great hotels. Swan's Cay has comfortable rooms at a fair price. Also, they have a swimming pool and carpeted floors. The swimming pool comes in handy when you have had enough of the ocean water, and the carpeted floors keep you from tracking sand all over the place. El Limbo is arguably the nicest hotel on the main island Isla Colon. A fews select rooms have beautiful views of the ocean and the surrounding islands. The beds are incredibly comfortable and the rooms are well lit. However, you pay for the upgrade.

The service this trip was less-than-optimal. I understand the relaxed, Caribbean atmosphere, but it was a little much, or less, at times. I am under the impression that the large amount of visitors, combined with the locals enjoying their holidays, created a strain on personnel. Just be sure to bring something to do during breakfast!

Please feel free to post any questions or comments are e-mail me directly at mona@wsi-easyweb.com.

Carnavales in Panama

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As some of you may know, we just celebrated "Carnavales" in Panama. Learn more on "Why I Love Panama."

When one hears the word “Carnival”, cities like Rio de Janeiro in Brazil or New Orleans in the United States are what usually come to mind. However, the Carnival celebration in Panama City, Panama is the second largest in the world! Not too bad for a country with a population of only 3.5 million.

Celebrated since the early 1900's, the official start date of Panama's Carnival is the fourth day before Ash Wednesday, or February 17th of 2007. However, many people begin the celebrations a few days early. During the official days of Carnival, most work comes to a complete stop (aka. It is VERY difficult to do business in Panama during this time.) and the main streets of Panama City are brimming over with parades, floats, masks, costumes and confetti. The largest celebrations take place in Panama City and the town of Las Tablas in the Los Santos province.

Las Tablas, a provincial town about l30 miles west of Panama City, is considered by many (especially young people) the best place to celebrate Carnival. The atmosphere is more folkloric and enlivened by an intense, traditional rivalry between "high street" and "low street" for the fanciest costumes and most creative floats. A word to the wise - If you do NOT like huge parties with lots of people, water trucks spraying the crowds and alcohol, you may want to find someplace a bit more “tranquilo” than Las Tablas.

The following web sites will provide you with more information on Las Tablas Carnival celebration.
http://www.calleabajo.com
http://www.carnavaleslastablas.com
http://www.callearriba.com

The Panama City Carnival begins the Friday before Ash Wednesday:
The festivities begin on Friday with the selection the Carnival Queen and her attendants. Afterwards, the queen reigns over the daily parade and official activities. Panama City’s best hotels sponsor related gastronomical and dancing events, including: Cuban Week at the El Panama, Dominican Republic week at the Caesar Park and Puerto Rican Week at the Riande Continental.

On Saturday, one of Panama City’s main streets (i.e. Vía España, Transítmica, Avenida Balboa, Calle 50) is packed with people ready for a party. The streets are filled with small parades, music stands blasting salsa and street vendors selling shish kabobs and beer. Each day of Carnival, the streets are filled with people dancing, carousing and socializing amongst each other. In the evening, the celebration generally moves indoors around the Panama City’s numerous discos, bars and hotels, the festivities generally lasting until dawn.

A tradition of the Panamanian Carnival is the "mojaderas" or "getting drenched" with water. Everyone is a target of the numerous fire hoses, water balloons and buckets. So, if you don’t like getting wet, this may not be the party for you! However, it can be a welcome relief after being under the hot, midday sun. On Sunday around noon, there is a large, beautiful "pollera" parade. Polleras are Panama's national costume and thousands of women and girls are dressed in this lovely national dress to march by groups in the parade or simply walk around.

The festivities continue on Monday with small parades and socializing. “Fat Tuesday” is the biggest Carnival celebration day. On Tuesday, a huge New Orleans-style parade, including lavishly decorated floats and people in costume from all sectors of society, marches through Panama City. The party finishes in the early hours of the morning.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Exotic Panama Considered Central America’s Hottest New Tourism Destination

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By Matt Landau
February 7, 2007

New eco-destination reveals that hunting with century-old indian tribes, spelunking through mysterious jungle caves, and exploring secluded Caribbean islands isn’t just reserved for Hollywood anymore.

With its teeming rainforests, hidden beaches, and rich history and culture, the tiny isthmus that was once only known for a Canal, is now making sound waves as perhaps the most authentic travel destination in Central America. Over the past few years, thousands and thousands of visitors have been flocking to Panama, the literal and figurative crossroads of the Americas, and the trend doesn’t appear to be letting up.

Panama’s high safety rating, tropical climate, and retirement incentives are drawing more and more visitors from the States everyday. Condos in cosmopolitan Panama City overlooking the Pacific Ocean for $200,000? Beach houses within walking distance from white sand beaches, $110,000? Giant tracts of oceanfront land selling at $0.25 per square meter? They sound too good to be true, but thanks to Panama’s low cost of living and still relatively young real estate sector, anyone can get a piece of the action. Pair that with its Costa Rica allure of secret waterfalls, uninhabited beaches, and spectacular wildlife to see why the growth in Panama in 2006 was bigger than any country in the region.

“You have to visit Panama to believe it” says Casey Halloran, owner of Panama Luxury Vacations, an American-style travel agency with offices in Panama. “By the time your vacation is up, you’ll feel like you’re on the inside of some travel secret”. With experience in Costa Rica, Halloran believes Panama is destined for greatness, if not having achieved it already. He’s quick to point out though, that things aren’t always as good as they seem. “As always for a developing or emerging country, you’re going to hit a lot of snags. Immoral practices are like snowballs in that once they start rolling, they become hard to stop, so you need to address them at inception.”

Panama has worked hard over the past decade to rid itself of the Noriega stigma that so many people still blindly refer to. The government has cleaned up its act, personal safety in the country is better than ever, and the expansion of the Panama Canal as well as a new seat on the UN Security Council will be drawing more international attention than ever—a watchdog-like effect that is sure to encourage good behavior.

See the nation’s deeply-rooted history in age-old ruins outside the City’s metropolitan skyline. Visit the Kuna Indians, a tribe who’ve fought off colonials for nearly 500 years, who now offer eco-resorts within their own private 360-island archipelago. Walk through the telling streets of Casco Viejo, the old city, where pirates like Henry Morgan stomped and trudged long long ago. And of course, how could we forget Panama’s biggest treasure and undoubtedly its greatest shortcut, the Panama Canal. For a country that’s long been a melting pot of culture, it appears that the world’s vacation and real estate trend-setters are now eyeing Panama as the hotbed for development.

Still partially considered a travel secret, the Caribbean and Pacific shores of Panama lie hushed, awaiting what will presumably be the fastest and most powerful tourism growth in Central America. The country’s capital, Panama City boasts a Miami-esque nightlife, the restaurant scene is innovative and constantly reinventing itself, the ocean-front banking skyline conjures up images of a young Argentina, and the cobblestone streets of Casco Viejo evoke a breezy afternoon Cuban charm. “Panama today is hotter than it’s ever been” Halloran says, “and for a secret that’s been kept quiet for so long, it’s about time we let it out.”

Matt Landau is the Founder of The Panama Report, a website designed to reveal the truth about traveling to Panama. To join the hordes of visitors uncovering the secret that is Panama, go online to www.thepanamareport.com and decide whether it’s really all it’s cracked up to be today.

Hotel School - Investing to Improve

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February 7, 2007
By Julieta Ledezma

Empresas Bern’s Hotel School project, with the support of the Intercontinental Hotel Group, is another yet another Bern initiative that has captured national headlines. At the end of January 2007, the contract was signed and the first brick was laid, officially initiating the work.

The Panama International Hotel School will be located in the City of Knowledge (Ciudad del Saber) in Clayton, part of the former Panama Canal Zone. Through this ambitious project, Empresas Bern is looking to qualify professionals at all levels to efficiently manage hotel projects, a developing industry in Panama.

Empresas Bern announced that they will continue to expand their hotel group with the simultaneous construction of the Holiday Inn Panama. Both projects will incur a cost of USD$8 million and will be financed by Soctiabank. Empresas Bern hopes to commence operations at the beginning of 2008.

Construction Industry Rose to USD $2.7 million

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February 7, 2007
By Julieta Ledezma

The construction industry has contributed to the economic growth by means of both private and public investment. The construction industry is one of the country's largest employment sources and sustains related production industries, such as cement, concrete, rock, earth transportation and others. Real estate activity was one of the sectors of the Panamanian economy that experienced the largest growth during 2006.

According to statistics from the Panamanian Association of Real Estate Brokers and Developers (Asociación Panameña de Corredores y Promotores de Bienes Raíces -Acobir), real estate investment in 2006 grew 25% since 2005, reaching USD $2.775 million and comprising approximately 17% of the gross domestic product of Panama.

Investment in residential real estate experienced the greatest growth, increasing 10.64% compared with 2005. Although investment in commercial real estate decreased, there is considerable activity concentrated towards developments in the hospitality and tourism sectors, in addition to investments in the port areas.

Iván Carlucci Sucre, Acobir president, thinks that "It is about a true and solid growth, and not about a real estate bubble, as others have mentioned." Last year, the amount of acquisition for construction permits, additions, and repairs grew 7.46%, equivalent to USD $1 billion, suggesting that the growth rate and activity will maintain itself this year.

Hotel Gamboa Rainforest Resort Expands its Facilities

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February 7, 2007
By Julieta Ledezma

With an investment of USD$3.5 million dollars, Bern Hotels & Resorts, Hospitality and Tourism Division of Empresas Bern, began their expansion of Gamboa Rainforest Resort, located on the banks of the Chagres River.

The expansion will include 60 additional rooms, for a grand total of 200 rooms and 86 historic villas that date from 1930. Throughout the planning stages, it has been agreed that all new rooms will have a privileged view of the Chagres River, the principal water source for the operation of the Panama Canal and the world’s only river that flows into two oceans.

The expansion began last December in response to the increase in tourism. This investment by Empreses Bern is aimed at satisfying the future needs of future guests. Work should culminate in November 2007, just before high tourist season.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Happy Birthday Mona & TGIF


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Today is my birthday, and what better place to celebrate than Panama! Panama City has an array of great restaurants and fun hang-outs just waiting to cater to all your celebrating needs.

It was a tough decision to make, but I plan to go to the Martini Bar at the Radisson Decapolis. The bar has a great ambiance, yummy cocktails and sushi! The sushi is delicious, and they experiment with some "not-so-sushi" flavors, such as blue cheese and ceasar.

No matter what you're looking for, you're sure to find it here.

Don't wait up for me! ;-)

Mona

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Beautiful Weather in Panama

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This post is a little more personal, but a personal touch to the sometimes stringent world of the Internet, where an algorithm runs the better part of my professional life, is always a pleasant surprise.

Tonight I walked to Blockbuster with Cate, one of my best friends since childhood that is in Panama visiting. As we toted along my mini schnauzer Tico, who is physically unable to walk in a straight line, we began to talk about the weather in Panama. The rainy season, from around June to December, can get a bit humid, but the Panamanian "summer" is absolutely delightful. The sun is shining and a constant breeze is continuously cooling you off. Mid conversation, Cate asked me if there were hurricanes in Panama, and I said, "Nope! None of that!" Another plus about this country.

Cate was impressed, especially since she has spent a lot of time in Florida, the state that Panama is most commonly compared to. Not only does Panama not have hurricanes, but as the visitor commented in the last post, the drivers are CRAZY (at least most of the time!). According to Cate, there are only two kinds of drivers in Florida: The older folks that drive 40 mph, and everyone else that drives 90 mph because they're so frustrated with all the slow pokes!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Great blog directory!

Real Estate Blogs Directory
- Directory of real estate blogs and blogs of industries affiliated with and serving the real estate industry.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Panama Real Estate

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Panama Real Estate

Since the Spanish Conquest, Panama has held a privileged geographic, commercial and cultural position. Panama was first visited by Europeans in 1501 on an expedition led by Rodrigo de Bastidas. Santa Maria la Antigua del Darien was the first city on “terra firme”, founded by Christopher Colombus. After crossing Panama, Vasco Nuñez arrived at the Pacific Ocean, and it was then that the Isthmus gained importance as a passageway, which is still true today.

From this era, the first “Panama Real Estate” was erected, including numerous stone buildings. In the 16th century, these buildings were part of Panama’s city center, known today as Panama City “La Vieja,” which was destroyed by the pirate Henry Morgan in 1671. Nowadays, these buildings provide Panama City with a beautiful historical landmark. The total destruction and looting led to the construction of a new Panama City in 1673, which is better known today as Casco Antiguo, named a heritage for humanity by UNESCO in 1997 and is presently one of the city’s most valuable real estate sectors.

From Avenida Balboa one can actually observe the stark contrast between the past, present and future of Panama. At one extreme is Casco Viejo, the oldest city on the Pacific Coast of the Americas. Casco Viejo’s architecture is a mixture of influences from the Spanish Explorers and French Colonial, from the first attempt made by the French to build the Panama Canal. Punta Paitilla, also visible from Avenida Balboa, is a well established residential zone possessing the highest concentration of skyscrapers in Panama City. Next to Punta Paitilla is Punta Pacifica, an up and coming residential zone undergoing an immense amount of construction, including the well known Trump Ocean Club, among other breathtakingly beautiful high rise towers, all with unobstructed ocean front views.

The Real Estate Boom in Panama – A Property for Everyone

Though Panama is small in size, its variety of real estate is huge. The spectrum of Panama real estate includes properties on deserted islands, spectacular beaches, highland estates and apartments in the center of the metropolitan Panama City. Panama offers unparalleled opportunities for investors, businessmen and retirees looking for a change of pace.

Panama’s unique characteristics, such as its circulating currency (the United States dollar), social and political stability, the warmth of the people and the beauty of the environment, have converted Panama into a favorite destination for many travel buffs. Furthermore, these same characteristics have provided the fuel for the real estate boom currently taking place in Panama.

In Panama’s highlands, one can find a mild climate, ideal for farming, raising livestock or simply enjoying oneself. The quality and beauty of its beaches and crystalline waters, on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, separated by a two hour drive, leave many breathless and yearning to return. Or, better yet, purchase real estate and make it a second home or retirement destination.

Panama City, the capital of the Republic of Panama, is a bustling and fully functional business center, possessing all the comforts of the first world, not to mention all the vitality and liveliness of its yearly “Carnavales” parties.

Thanks to these and other advantages, the industry experiencing the largest amount of growth in Panama is real estate, with over 70% of projects intended for retirees from North America and Europe.

Investment Opportunities in Panama

The real estate boom in Panama can be attributed to various factors. Firstly, legislation was passed providing incentives for developers and buyers, including extremely beneficial exonerations and subsidies for the real estate industry in Panama. The favorable laws have attracted well known, powerful foreign investors to Panama, including Donald Trump, who is developing the Trump Ocean Club, a project that includes a hotel, casino, yacht and beach club and condominiums, among other comforts.

Panama’s beauty and benefits has contributed to its international fame as a popular destination for retirees, given its comforts and low cost of living. In Panama, there are currently around 15,000 North Americans that can live well on $2000 dollars per month.

Furthermore, 30-year financing is available from recognized financial institutions for approximately 80% of the property’s value. However, please seek the advice of a legal professional.

Panama has been an interesting destination for the traveler, businessman and immigrant since colonial times. The real estate boom will undoubtedly lead to the rediscovering of this tropical paradise.

Written by Mona Sutherland and Julieta Ledezma

Monday, January 22, 2007

Six thousand newborn turtles are set free

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VERAGUAS. In 2006, at least six thousand newborn turtles were set free through Malena beach community’s conservation program, which is supported by the “Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente” (National Environment Authority, or ANAM), private organizations and authorities of the Mariato district.

It was this information that Isis Pinto, director of education of the “Fundación MarViva” (Foundation Living Sea), informed those in attendance at their annual presentation of activities. She added that the coming year will reinforce community participation. Work will begin this summer, including training directed at teaching awareness to the children of the Malena community.
Information extracted from La Prensa

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Beautiful Panama

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Toucan

Hiking in the Cloud Forest

Panama Canal

Avenida Balboa