Bocas del Toro

Chapter 1: Why I Bought an Island

I am a regular guy. I bought an island.

So far it has been a crazy wild ride with high highs and low lows, but most of the time insanely fun. So much so that I want to share it with others.

A little about me. I am a 58-year-old bald guy who is known for being both absent minded and wildly optimistic – a strange combination. I also tend to lose anything small, expensive, and not permanently attached.

I was born in a quaint Midwestern town the son of a house painter. My best memories growing up were our summer vacations. Every year my mom, aunt, cousins, grandmother, and great-grandmother would pack up our things and travel to a cottage on a lake in northern Michigan for a week. The cool part was we went to a different cottage every year. I have fond memories of swimming all day, playing lots of board games, and talking around campfires at night. These were some of the best times of my life. This love for vacationing and discovering new places stayed with me my whole life.

When I was in high school I said there were two things I would never do: 1. wear wing tips, and 2. own a station wagon with wood grain sides. My first job out of college was with IBM, where I would spend the next ten years of my life. Every day we dressed in either a blue or gray suit, white button-down shirt, and you guessed it, black wing tips. I felt like a square peg in a round hole. To top it off, during this time I purchased an imitation woodgrain-sided K-car station wagon, which my wife, Barb, and I would pack to the gills before road tripping with our three kids.

Eventually I left IBM to live out my dream of starting my own company. The next twenty-five years are a blur of entrepreneurial activity, including many startups and failures. Eventually I did manage to start and build a successful tech company.

This baffled my family. I recall a particular 4th of July when I was fussing with jalapeno poppers on a smoker for hours. I tripped while getting them off the grill and sent the poppers flying down the sandy boardwalk. My kids all witnessed the fiasco and chimed in with a question that was all too familiar in our household: “Dad, how in the world do you run a company?!” Later that day I accidentally knocked my mother’s BBQ grill off her deck (and no, I was not drinking). I agree with my family; if I can build a successful company, it gives hope to millions.   

When I Bought the Island

I retired at the age of 55 but didn’t plan to sit home every day and watch TV. After 35 years of my nose to the grindstone, I wanted to find something to keep me busy that was fun and energizing. You should have seen the looks on my friends’ faces when I told them I purchased a hotel in Costa Rica – priceless! The name of the hotel is El Castillo. Click here to have a look for yourself.         

I was having a blast with El Castillo, but three years after the purchase I still had that hungry look—the kind you get from not eating for a while. In my case it meant I wanted to start another business. So I bought an island!

When I Bought the Island

I retired at the age of 55 but didn’t plan to sit home every day and watch TV. After 35 years of my nose to the grindstone, I wanted to find something to keep me busy that was fun and energizing. You should have seen the looks on my friends’ faces when I told them I purchased a hotel in Costa Rica – priceless! The name of the hotel is El Castillo. Click here to have a look for yourself.

I was having a blast with El Castillo, but three years after the purchase I still had that hungry look—the kind you get from not eating for a while. In my case it meant I wanted to start another business. So I bought an island!

Where is this island and what am I going to do with it? Here’s a hint: the water surrounding it is crystal clear aquamarine and is perfect for building over-the-water structures like what is common in Fiji, Bora Bora, and the Maldives.

An Invitation: Help Me Build This Place!

Yep, we plan to build a luxury resort on the island. I would love your input as we make hundreds of decisions along the way. 

Sign up for my blog to join the adventure.

This is my commitment to you. I will send you an email on the first every month with a link to a new post. If something comes up that is so exhilarating or so devastating I just have to let you know, I reserve the right to send an emotionally driven post anytime during the month.

I love music, so I plan to begin each blog post with a theme song or two that seems to fit whatever I am writing about that day. You can decide if the music fits, is a bit of a stretch, or a flop. We can have some fun with this in the comments. No matter what, we will all have a blast along the way. We need an overall theme song for the blog, so I have decided to go with “Bungle in the Jungle” by Jethro Tull.

Theme Song: “Bungle in the Jungle,” Jethro Tull.

Welcome aboard!  

Author’s Note: Some of the blog posts will be events that have taken place in the first twelve months after acquiring the island. As I write this, the island is uninhabited and undeveloped other than a pier and over-the-water house that was present when we bought the island. We have not begun construction.

Share this post

14 Responses

  1. I had forgotten about the jalapeno poppers falling into the sand! That was so funny! I’m excited for your adventure, Dad!

  2. A long time ago since we have seen each other , but here we are !
    Again back in Costa Rica since november 2018 .
    We wish you a great Newyear and succes with the Boca Bali Island !

    We just were reading your comments about why you bought an Island .. and Maritza immediatly was remembering that a few months ago there was a triennale in Bruges , Belgium , the city we live in .

    The spectacular beach construction by a Korean C° is a nice idea for as an alternative for your beach !
    Hope you can open the webpage , see here under
    http://www.o-bba.com/projects/38

    BRUGGE TRIENNALE 2018 – THE FLOATING ISLAND | OBBA
    project : brugge triennale 2018 design period : 2016.12 – 2017. 12 construction period : 2018.03 – 2018.05 exhibition period : 2018.05.09 – 2018.09.16
    http://www.o-bba.com

    if not go to projects , and seach the Bruges project .

    Another way could be the page : http://www.triennalebrugge.be/en

    the walk way could be changed to a gigant fish net , strong enough to hold people , advantage that it has no weight , follows the tides , is creative ..

    Curious about you comments !

    Luc Maritza

  3. Your floating island idea has totally inspired me. We had looked at the floating beach idea, but knew we could not afford it. What I had not occurred to me was a floating beach out in the deeper part of the bay that we build ourselves. I am guessing that I could not afford the Korean beach by Obba, but looking at pictures of this beach gave me the new idea of building our own floating beach in the deep. I think there is a very high probability that we will give the “floating island beach” a try. Thank you so much for the idea Luc and Maritza!!!

    I could not find the fishnet walkway. It sounds interesting!

    Does anyone have any ideas on a way to get to a floating island beach? The water is too deep to do a regular boardwalk. We could do a floating boardwalk, but I think it would need to be too long. The only option may be a boat taxi.

  4. Love the theme song!

    If we are just brainstorming with out the concern of money at this point what about transportation to and fro by an Aerial tramway/Gondola… no need to be stuck somewhere when big waves hit! Do it in the air! A few tid bits below to consider.

    A gondola lift has cabins suspended from a continuously circulating cable whereas aerial trams simply shuttle back and forth on cables. In Japan, the two are considered as the same category of vehicle and called ropeway, while the term cable car means Cable car (railway) and funicular.

    The Sandia Peak Tramway is an aerial tramway located adjacent to Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. It stretches from the northeast edge of the city to the crestline of the Sandia Mountains and has the world’s third longest single span. It is the longest aerial tram in the United States.

  5. Love the creativity Nancy! The island is about a 15 minute boat ride from Bocas Town so a gondola would not work to get to the island. However, some kind of poor man’s tram that we build ourselves might be a consideration on the island in the future. You are on the right track – we want lots of blue sky ideas to spark even more ideas. Over time we will refine them, connect the dots, and come up with a resort that is unique to the world. Hint: the next blog post is all about the resort being unique to the world. Keep the fun ideas coming!

  6. The aerial tram idea sounds cool! How far from the shore is the deeper part of the bay where you would float the island? How about a Seaworld-esq underwater walkway?

  7. I don’t have a good handle on the distance from the land to a possible “floating island beach.” We will need to spend some time thinking about where the best location might be from the standpoint of easy access and aesthetics. An underwater walkway would be cost prohibitive, but what a cool idea! There is an over water villa in the world that has the top half over the water and the bottom half (bedroom) under the water. You will see a picture of it in the next blog lost. It would be interesting to try and build a room under the water at some time in the future. The possibilities are limitless.

  8. I don’t have a good handle on the distance from the land to a possible “floating island beach.” We will need to spend some time thinking about where the best location might be from the standpoint of easy access and aesthetics. An underwater walkway would be cost prohibitive, but what a cool idea! There is an over water villa in the world that has the top half over the water and the bottom half (bedroom) under the water. You will see a picture of it in the next blog lost. It would be interesting to try and build a room under the water at some time in the future. The possibilities are limitless.

  9. Nigel Brownjohn sent this information regarding his stay at an over water resort in the Maldives to my personal email. He gave me permission to share it via the blog. IT contains some fascinating ideas! Dan

    Maldives. Some points of note, which I assume will largely have been thought through already but who knows when something might inspire a useful idea.

    The island we stayed on (Full Moon, may be – and likely renamed by now anyway …) was a luxury resort with cabins over the ocean as well as some ‘in land’ rooms. As you know, island was less than a 1/4 mile long and much narrower – as are most of the atoll. Not sure how many rooms total. Clientele were Japanese, Aussie and a few Brits. I talked with the manager about his food arrangements which may be relevant …

    Lots of sea-food allergies, so despite the plentiful fish available from local fishermen he owned the next island – “Chicken Island” (15 minute boat ride). And a brother/cousin or something owned ‘Goat Island’ which was a bit further away. So these provided totally fresh meat, where many of the resorts were shipping in frozen meats. They also grew a lot of fruits and vegetables on Chicken Island. So one big point of differentiation was very high quality, fresh ingredients for their chef.

    This was pre-Internet (well pre-internet in the South Indian Ocean) – but they also had no TVs in any Cabanas, with just a single TV in a lounge well away from the restaurant and any accommodation. They were big on limiting anything which might allow people to disturb others

    Like most resorts with over-water accommodation, they used a star-layout to increase space and effective privacy between cabins managing a private deck which was not overlooked from the next one (obviously density affects options here). They also had steps into the water but as you say they have close in (10 feet) coral reef to snorkel over.

    They had a policy about using local soaps in the shower – I presume in some fashion expected to produce less water pollution – probably even more important these days.

  10. Wishing you all the luck in the world. Have only met you a few times in Costa Rica but those few times were great.

  11. Hi Liane,

    Greetings from Michigan! It is so nice to have you along on the blog adventure! I hope you will be able to travel to Bocas del Toro some day. The General Manager for Boca Bali will be reporting into Scott so it will be a place where everyone will feel welcome and at home.

    Dan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Signup: Blog Updates

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent Posts:

Nayara Bocas del Toro Policies

ALL-INCLUSIVE

Rates are all-inclusive

OCCUPANCY

Rates are based on double or single occupancy (there is no triple or quadruple occupancy) 

TAXES

Taxes are not included unless noted (10% for the room and 7% for the food and drinks)

MINIMUM STAY

Minimum stay 4 nights from December 20th through January 2nd 

CHECK-IN

3 pm

CHECK OUT

12 pm

ADULTS ONLY

Adults only property, guests must be at least 16 years old

NO PETS

No pets allowed

RESERVATION CONFIRMATION

All reservations are confirmed by email

DEPOSIT REQUIRED

All reservations must be paid in full before arrival. We will charge the credit card on file, according to cancellation policies. 

For Non-Refundable rates, 100% will be charge at time of booking. 

CANCELLATION POLICY

All cancellations requests must be sent by email to [email protected]. All bookings must be guaranteed by credit card at time of booking. 

Cancellation charges apply for reservations cancelled within 30 days of arrival, and within 60 days of arrival for reservations between Dec. 20th and Jan. 2nd

SMOKING POLICY

National Panamanian legislation prohibits smoking in common areas, restaurants, and bars. For the comfort of the guests, the hotel has a non-smoking policy in the common areas, including the swimming pool, bars, and restaurants. Guests who smoke should consult Reception upon arrival for the designated areas to do so. You can smoke on the terrace of each Villa. There is a $200 charge for room recovery for people who do not comply with this policy.

Need some assistance?

Please provide your information and the dates you are hoping to stay. We will contact you soon.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.