As the plane flies over Pearl Island, it’s hard not to be struck by the beauty of the island. Located about 45 miles off the coast of Panama City, the lush landscape is the postcard image of a tropical paradise.
PPR president Duncan McGowan and I were flown to the Pearl Island development a few days ago for a tour of the Ritz Carlton Reserve and Peninsula Residences, which will bring a whole new category of luxury development to Panama. The property, which is entering its second phase of construction, is stunning in every way, the type of resort and residential development that will provide real competition for high-end island destinations like St. Barths and the One and Only in the Bahamas.
The Ritz Carlton Reserve will be the first true, five-star branded beach resort real estate opportunity in Panama. Sure, there are several international-level luxury homes in Panama, including the towers of our home base of Punta Pacifica, as well as a sprinkling of resorts along the coast. But there is nothing like this Pearl development, which combines the island atmosphere with the Ritz’s well-established luxury brand.
In many ways, the Ritz Carlton will put Panama on the jet-set map, providing the type of exclusivity, privacy, and ultra-luxury experience found in the most exclusive private islands in the Caribbean. The open-air resort will feature 86 rooms, butlers, a private beach club, and access to a world-class marina. Rates are expected to start at $1,000 a night. This will be only the fifth property to carry the Ritz-Carlton Reserve brand, which the company uses for properties that “showcase the natural beauty of their location, with deeply immersive experiences of local culture and traditions.” And Pearl Island certainly fits that bill. The 3,500-acre island, the third-largest in the Las Perlas archipelago, is home to more than 150 bird species and will be preserved as a sanctuary, with 70 percent of the island set aside as a preserve.
At a groundbreaking ceremony earlier this year, Guillermo De Saint Malo Eleta, chief executive of co-developer Grupo Eleta, described the project is “a great achievement for Panama as we become the first country in the region with a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, renowned for leading trends in travelers seeking experiences in natural sanctuaries that offer unique and unrepeatable services.”
On my recent visit, it was clear construction is advancing at a rapid pace. I hadn’t visited the site in more than two years and it was like night and day. There are two restaurants open and the marina is packed on weekends. More than $75 million has been invested in infrastructure, and evidence of the work can be seen all around the development, from the completed airstrip and full-service marina to the lush landscaping which surrounds the first phase of residences.
The first phase of the residential portion of the development is already sold out and homes are already being delivered. The initial development includes 41 apartments and 10 villas, about half of which have already been handed over to owners. Prices are already surpassing $5,000 a square meter, breaking records for Panama.
There are currently condominiums, private villas, and land for sale, which will certainly receive a huge boost when the hotel opens in 2019, including Ritz Carlton-branded properties. There is already a rental program in place and apartments available for nightly and weekly rentals.
It’s exciting to see this opportunity in its early stages. As word spreads and work continues, Pearl is going to start attracting a new level of traveler to Panama. The developer’s focus is to draw high net worth clients from all over the world, with access to the island by helicopter, daily flights, and high-speed ferry service.
PPR has access to special founder’s pricing, which will be expiring soon (and the price includes the $60,000 private beach club membership). This new global destination, right off the coast of Panama, won’t remain undiscovered for long. Contact me now for more information.
Jeff Barton is managing director of Punta Pacifica Realty, the top sales and property management company in the waterfront skyscraper community of Punta Pacifica.