Web Page: http://www.vacationtopanama.com
Registered Since: 2008-01-03 03:03:56
Profile: Originally from rural Pennsylvania and a graduate from the University of Richmond (Virginia), Casey is an entrepreneur and web marketer by trade. He divides his time between Costa Rica and Panama where he is a co-founder and investor of multiple tourism and real estate related businesses. He has resided in the region for over a decade.
Canadians & Surfers — deal finders!
In nature, there are interesting indicators of future events. Animals behave oddly prior to a natural disaster, certain bugs in your garden can indicate a good harvest, red sky at night = sailor’s delight, and so forth. After a decade in Costa Rica and six years in Panama, I have formed my own predictive theory: If you want to know where to invest in real estate, simply follow Canadians and surfers.
One could write books about the differences between Canadians and Americans, or to be more politically correct, United Statesians. Because I am lazy and rarely known to be politically correct, I will henceforth refer to natives of the U.S. as “Americans”. That in itself is not a very Canadian thing to do. I grew up near the Canadian border in rural Pennsylvania, so I had a good bit of exposure to our polite brethren to the north. To most foreigners, the differences are so subtle that it difficult to distinguish the two nationalities. One could dedicate several books to those differences, but what I’ve found particularly interesting is that American Gringos and Canadian Gringos congregate in very different places when living or retiring in Costa Rica and Panama. Read more »
Filed under: Real Estate on October 29th, 2010 | 1 Comment »
the cave bar at Relic is among Panama’s most unique
My buddy Charlie is often quoted as saying, “Sorry for partyin’!” You see, Charles has what I like to call a penchant for fiestas. When it comes to the PTY nightlife scene, Charlie is the 6 foot 4, redheaded equivalent of Elvis. It’s hard to find a bartender who doesn’t know him by name. So, when I went looking for a list of Top Bars in Panama City, I knew nobody was more qualified than Sir Charles. Here’s his list:
Top 10 Bars in Panama, by ChArnold
- Platea – Good bar with live music in Casco Viejo. The prices can be a little high, but the service and atmosphere are top notch. Great mix of locals, ex pats, and tourists.
- Cayuco’s – Located right on a Marina, this bar is set outdoors, and it’s great for watching the yachts come in. The prices are very reasonable, and the food is great as well.
- Relic – Great bar for young people looking to meet other travelers. The fact that it’s located beneath Panama City’s biggest and most popular hostel definitely helps keep the bar packed with people that are passing through. It’s also becoming a hot spot for local Panamanians.
- Superbook – A very comfortable sports bar. It’s also a sportsbook for anyone that feels like putting some money down. Any sporting event you could imagine can be watched here.
- Pavo Real – A traditional American-feeling sports bar. It’s a small sports bar located on Via Argentina, and it definitely feels like something borrowed from the U.S. Two pool tables and big TVs make it a great spot to catch a game.
- Steinbach – This German bar is famous in Panama City for its authentic German beers. It’s also a restaurant and offers some really great dishes as well, but most people just come here for the beer.
- The Londoner – This is a great English pub located right on Calle Uruguay.
- Tequila Bar – A great place in Casco to have a few drinks and a bite to eat before you go out for the evening. The bar is owned by three young Venezuelans that are extremely nice. Make sure to grab a seat outside.
- Veneto Casino – Most people don’t come here for the bar, but it’s a fun atmosphere. It’s the only Las Vegas-style casino in the country, and you are sure to meet many other travelers.
- Zona Viva – This is not a bar, but an area with several different bars and clubs. It’s a great place for people that like the “club” atmosphere. Things don’t really pick up here until around 11 p.m.
So there you have it, Charlie’s A-list. If you haven’t been to all of these places, well…you just haven’t lived.
Filed under: Country Guide, Food on April 29th, 2010 | 3 Comments »
Panama City has an emerging culinary scene
Looking for somewhere great to eat while in Panama City, Panama? I asked a few of my “foodie” friends if they’d provide me a list of their favorite culinary haunts in PTY. Here’s the short list:
Athens – Greek/Pizza
A favorite amongst locals. Even though they advertise their pizza, the real winner on the menu is the Lodopsomo – think Greek nachos. Don’t forget to ask for a topping of peperoncini if you like it spicy!
Beirut – Lebanese/Mediterranean
Hands down some of the best service you will find in Panama. This place is great for groups, and on Saturdays they have live music and belly dancers. Try any of the combo platters (Beirut #51 is a good one) and don’t forget the after dinner hookah. Read more »
Filed under: Country Guide, Living & Retirement on April 23rd, 2010 | 1 Comment »
Exiting Panama City, Panama via rental car can be difficult
Escaping the maze that is Panama City via rental car is one of the biggest challenges facing a first time visitor to Panama. Streets aren’t well marked, the path to the Bridge isn’t clear and there are plenty of one way streets, crazy drivers and other assorted obstacles that can ruin the start to your vacation.
For this exercise, we video taped the entire trip, starting at the Bristol Hotel just off Calle 50. There are plenty of ways to get out of Panama City, but in this case we tried to show the route that we believe to be the easiest to follow. Written instructions and a map are provided below, in addition to our 3 part video documentary. Read more »
Filed under: Country Guide on April 12th, 2010 | 5 Comments »
my picks for Panama deal seekers
There may be a global financial crisis going on, but if Panama’s real estate asking prices are any indicator, that memo never made it to Panama.
During the Panama real estate boom of 2005-2007, crowds of investors were playing fast and loose with money like a sailor on shore leave. Real estate prices rose impossibly fast, even the most remote parts of Panama. The speculators were coming from everywhere; big biz Panamanians, law firms, hedge funds, foreign developers. Even a few celebrities got into the gold rush. There were times when, on any given weekend on the Pacific beaches near Panama City, one could count half a dozen helicopters thwapping by, presumably transporting high-dollar prospectors able to afford an eagle´s view. Read more »
Filed under: Business, Real Estate on March 30th, 2010 | 2 Comments »
Tourism Minister Salome Shamah
The Panama Tourism Authority and Aeroperlas held a joint press conference this past Friday to inaugurate the flights to Pedasi. ATP head Salome Shamah was in attendance, along with Pedasi area investors and Aeroperlas executives. Rolando Pereira of Aeroperlas Airline gave a short presentation about the history of the airline and his belief in and reasons for supporting the Pedasi route. He was followed by Mr. Shamah, who spoke of the importance for the public and private sector to work in conjunction to advance the connectivity of the country and foster tourism in remote parts of Panama. Read more »
Filed under: Business, Politics on March 1st, 2010 | No Comments »
Panama Tourism’s New Top Boss, Salome Shamah
Today I had a very positive meeting with Salome Shamah, Panama’s new Minister of Tourism (ATP). Also in attendance were Adolfo Linares (head of Panama Chamber of Commerce), Rolando Pereira (Aeroperlas) and Jose Goldner (Pedasi area investor). The subject of the sit-down was to discuss the need for a subsidized flight route to Pedasi. So far, we’ve had a tough time garnering unconditional support from Azuero area investors to help back the effort.
The Azuero Investors group have in hand a deal that would see them sharing the financial losses with Aeroperlas of a 12-seat, Friday/Monday flight to Pedasi for a trial period of six months. The flights are scheduled to begin in February and can be purchased now online at www.aeroperlas.com. Going into the meeting, it was our hope to make the deal for Azuero investors a no-brainer via some guaranteed financial and/or marketing support from the Panama Tourism Authority. Read more »
Filed under: Business, Politics on February 1st, 2010 | 6 Comments »
what surprises does 2010 hold for Panama?
I asked a few friends and fellow bloggers for their predictions for Panama in 2010. Here’s a compilation of their opinions, which are as varied and colorful as my uncle Doc’s 8 kids.
Sam Taliferro, Real Estate Developer & Blogger
I foresee relatively strong employment, political stability and higher International profile. I see light at the end of the tunnel regarding the state of corruption in Panama. Recent legal actions against past administration will send a clear message to all levels of current and future government officials. Canal traffic will continue to slow due to the world economy placing additional risk and higher costs to Panama borrowings to pay for the expansion.
Panama will see significantly higher costs of goods and services due to recent minimum wage increases and inflation of the U.S. dollar. Hotel occupancy levels will continue to deteriorate in the city as more product come on line and the world economy continues to slow. Read more »
Filed under: Business, Politics on January 20th, 2010 | 6 Comments »
Aeroperlas is a member of Grupo Taca airline’s SANSA Regional
A small group of area investors and business owners in the sleepy beach town of Pedasi have banded together to help foster tourism growth in the region. The group is attempting to raise funds through the local Chamber of Commerce to help subsidize a limited flight route through regional airline Aeroperlas. Under the proposed plan, the flight would run Fridays and Mondays for a test period of six months. and the Pedasi investment community would be required to absorb part of the cost of unsold seats.
Located on Southeast tip of the Azuero Peninsula, this remote region is the center of Panama’s folklore and tradition. Known for many festivals, including the famous Carnavales celebrations and the picturesque traditional formal women’s dress La Pollera. Pedasi is a quaint seaside village with charming Spanish Colonial architecture. Attractions include great weather, unexplored Pacific beaches and Isla Iguana National Park. This island is just 15 minutes offshore and offers white sand beaches, turquoise waters and excellent snorkeling. The region is known for world-class tuna fishing, scuba diving and great surfing in nearby Playa Venao. There are a handful of small Pedasi hotels and B&Bs in the area, but tourism is still still in its infancy.
According to Aeroperlas, the first flights may run as soon as early February and can be booked online at their website. If you are interested in contributing to the opening of the flight, email email@example.com.
Filed under: Business on January 19th, 2010 | 3 Comments »
will national parks such as Pedasi’s Isla Iguana become a focal point?
With another tourism forum on the horizon (see end of article), I thought it was time for me to review my notes of the annual AMCHAM tourism forum, which was held in September of this year. Nancy Hannah, the chair of the tourism committee at Panama’s AMCHAM, put together another successful and well attended tourism forum in Panama City. The event took place at the Miramar hotel. This was the fourth such event that I have attended and as somebody who has worked in tourism in Costa Rica for over a decade and in Panama for six years, my expectations for the event and perspective on its value are likely different than from other attendees. That being said, here were my impressions of the forum. Read more »
Filed under: Business, Politics on November 18th, 2009 | 1 Comment »
is an indoor ski resort what Panama tourism needs?
I have compared Panama to Dubai several times in previous articles, rarely intending flattery. After attending the annual AMCHAM Tourism Forum a few weeks ago (report on the way!), it became clear to me that there are two distinctive theories competing for the future direction of Panama tourism. On one hand, there’s what I call the “dressed up Cancun/Dubai” approach and on the other is a Panamanian twist on Costa Rica’s eco/boutique/sustainable model. I count myself in the latter camp, but I worry that I may be grossly out numbered and out gunned.
Even as Dubai’s once-heralded economy teeters on the brink of disaster, Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli echoed the “Panama as Dubai” notion when he rang the opening bell on Wall Street just last week! Read more »
Filed under: Business, Politics, Real Estate on September 27th, 2009 | 9 Comments »
most tourists have no idea what to expect of Medellin, Colombia
YOU ARE GOING WHERE!?
When I decided to take a vacation to the unlikely destination of Medellin, Colombia, my friends back in the U.S. made the expected sarcastic comments, ranging from inferences that my trip involved finding Pablo Escobar to suspicions of my performing Internet marketing for the cartels. Funny to the amigos perhaps, but overcoming these notions is a serious challenge that faces Colombian tourism.
Unfortunately, the notions that Medellin (and Colombia in general) is still a dangerous destination remain prevalent. Colombia has a long way to go in order to overcome the reputation it earned from its anything goes, drug running past. In recent years, the country has been making an impressive effort to do just that. As a marketing guy, I appreciate the manner in which the national ad campaigns directly attack the average tourist’s worst fear with the tagline, “The only risk is you’ll want to stay.” Catchy slogan indeed, even if only partly true. Read more »
Filed under: Business on September 13th, 2009 | 9 Comments »
rent prices in Panama City, Panama are falling
When I first came to Panama in 2004, I was impressed by the affordable the cost of living for such a cosmopolitan town. I rented a spacious, fairly new, furnished, ocean-glimpse apartment in El Cangrejo with for $600 per month. In 2004, a beer at the neighborhood bar was $1.25 and dining out ran around $9 for an entree. Back then, there were plenty of pre-construction apartments for under $100,000. Sure I loved Panama, but I loved the those condo prices even more, and so snatched up one myself without thinking too much.
Since then, prices skyrocketed. We can debate the reasons why: the U.S. real estate boom, news of the Canal Expansion, the success of neighboring Costa Rica or a glut of foreigners with fat pocketbooks, and a lot of hype. Regardless of the potential causes, since somewhere around 2006 prices for beach land, entertainment, hotel rooms, and apartment rentals all went through the roof. Read more »
Filed under: Business, Real Estate on August 31st, 2009 | 17 Comments »
Panama put the real estate cart before the tourism horse
For the past 5 years, I have shouted to the rafters my beliefs on the vital role that tourism must play in Panama’s economic development. When putting forth this concept here in Panama, I am often met with the following reactions:
- Blank stares
Some of these reactions seem to stem from a common belief among locals that Panama is destined for greatness, with or without tourists. Heck, even my long-time Panamanian girlfriend is quick to strike back during my touristic sermons with her own version of, “Tourists? We don’t need no stinkin’ tourists!” I DO understand that with 100 years of U.S. occupation, Panama has a justifiable chip on its shoulder. Perhaps I should be more culturally sensitive about what I perceive to be xenophobia, but that’s a different article. Read more »
Filed under: Business, Politics, Real Estate on August 27th, 2009 | 3 Comments »
Panama is rife with investment opportunities
Despite what CNN may tell us, I know that not EVERYBODY out there lost their shirt in this recent economic meltdown. Indeed, some of you eggheads are sitting darned pretty. You go, you mini-Soros you! Let me guess, you were probably that kid from highschool, who while the jocks were out getting boozed and chasing blondes, was home on Saturday nights studying up for the big Chem test! Today you’re a hotshot doctor or whatever, while the jock’s Pontiac dealership just got siezed by the Government. The same restraint and healthy skepticism that kept you on the riteous path back then also guided you away from financial ruin now. While I may loathe you, I must also applaud you. Indeed, were I to cross your path during Victorian times I would likely say, “good show dear sir, good show” Read more »
Filed under: Business on August 24th, 2009 | No Comments »