By José Arberola – PPR Sales & Rentals Specialist
I still remember my first visit to Pearl Island.
It was a Saturday morning in October 2013. I had been invited to see what would become one of the most prominent and well-planned luxury island projects in Panama. Located in the Gulf of Panama – about an hour and a half from the heart of Panama City by boat and 20 minutes in helicopter or plane – Pearl is actually the third largest island in the archipelago of Las Perlas, with a land mass of 3,500 acres.
As we left the dock at Punta Pacifica, it was a sunny, beautiful day. During the first minutes of the trip, we were able to enjoy the view from the Pacific, looking back at the city of skyscrapers, with the old town in the distance. It was a dramatic view and I remember how thrilling it was to see Panama’s economic progress on display.
When we arrived at Pearl I was struck by the crystal blues and the scene of paradise – a stunning view worthy of a postcard. As we started the tour, we were surrounded by lush green areas as the guide pointed out the areas to come – a private marina, a private runway, the beach club, home sites, and the Ritz Carlton Reserve Hotel & Residences.
All were part of a $42 million master plan created by internationally-recognized master planning firm Hart Howerton.
I was amazed and proud as a Panamanian to see my country stepping up and creating this most unique and exclusive island development. It was so ambitious, I remember thinking to myself, “Are they going to be able to accomplish all this?”
Six years later, I was heading back to Pearl with the Punta Pacifica Realty team and my girlfriend to the Pearl Island Cookout event was they invite all owners to celebrate the end of the year, this year being their 7th anniversary from launching this magnificent project in the same beach club that was halfway done back in 2013. It was amazing to see the difference.
The beach club is completely finished now, including a bar, restaurant, and a beautiful infinity pool. The place was alive with energy by 10 a.m., with people lounging around the pool and enjoying the live bands. One of the best chefs in Panama was making handmade pizzas and pasta on the spot. It was a fun, day and we enjoyed every aspect of the cookout on Pearl.
I returned to Pearl a few weeks later for a more thorough tour, including the homes for sale. There are more than 100 properties (houses and apartments) built on the island, all with beautiful locations with spectacular ocean views.
It is great to see the community developing on the islands. Many of the owners spend weekends on the island with their families and guests, taking advantage of the quick getaway.
All around the island, there was activity — families were arriving on boats, everybody was outside enjoying the sun and the pier was full of yachts.
The Panama Red restaurant and bar, located near the pier, was up and running and full of people. On the beach, everyone was enjoying the water sports on the beautiful water, including kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, Jet Skis, and kite surfing.
During my stay, I visited Viking Enclaves Villa, a community developed by the American yacht company as an exclusive retreat for fishing enthusiasts. There are only 26 waterfront condominiums planned for the development, each with designed with the company’s luxury yachts as inspiration. The complex will also include a private pier, a restaurant, and a spa.
The Viking Enclave is a very special investment opportunity for people who would love to fish in one of the finest spots in the world while receiving a steady ROI from the development’s rental program and capital appreciation as the island grows in popularity. This location will attract fishing lovers from around the world and each villa is designed to accommodate the rental option, with a special lock-up area for owners.
I also visited the site of the Ritz Carlton Reserve, which is expected to become one of the most exclusive resorts in the region, rivaling the best island projects in the Caribbean. The Ritz will offer 80 rooms 80 branded residences on two of Pearl’s most beautiful beaches. The total project will be part of the 50-hectare nature reserve, with a lodge, beach club, spa, and fishing center, all developed to the standards of the luxury Ritz Carlton Reserve brand.
As we toured the island, we could see the infrastructure taking for. The water purification facility is running, the island electricity plant is operational and the island is covered with high-speed Internet.
Everywhere I went, I saw evidence of the great organization and staff on Pearl. The plane was on time and the person who picked us up was well-informed about the island. (Pearl is considered one of the world’s great bird sanctuaries and the surrounding ocean is home to five species of whales.)
Everything about Pearl is impressive and it’s exciting to see the progress. I look forward to returning many times.
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José Arberola is a sales and rentals specialist for Punta Pacifica Realty, the largest sales, rental and property management company in Panama City. Before joining Punta Pacifica Realty in 2011, Jose developed his business and customer service skills with Dell, JP Morgan Chase, and Credicorp Bank. During his tenure at PPR, he led the mortgage department and managed a net portfolio of $12 million. His market research helped guide rental and sales efforts in the Trump Ocean Club, Waldorf Astoria Panama and the Hard Rock Café. In 2012, he formed his own company to market Panama property in the United States. He rejoined PPR as a sales associate in 2018, focusing his expertise and customer service on property in central Panama City, Punta Pacifica and Costa del Este.