ISLAND IN THE SUN

Panama 2015 | TOURISM & RETAIL | FOCUS: PEARL ISLANDS

The Panamanian Archipelago of Pearl Islands is made up of dozens of islands 45km away from Panama City, in the Gulf of Panama.

Following the colonization of the Americas, the Spaniards eliminated the native population that lived in the archipelago. In 1513, the explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa named the islands the “Pearl Islands" due to the abundance of pearls that were found in the area. The archipelago was a well-known settlement for pirates that occupied the island till the modern age.

With its resorts, Contadora Island is probably the most popular of the islands in the archipelago, but a new residential project that is under way on Isla Pedro Gonzalez renamed Pearl Island that is redefining the concept of tourism not only in the Panamanian archipelago, but also for the entire region. A multi-million investment by Grupo Eleta is developing a unique and original luxury project on the Island.

Guillermo de Saint Malo Eleta, CEO of Grupo Eleta introduced this innovative project to TBY by stressing the importance of sustainability. “Pearl Island is a sustainable development project and more than 70% of the land mass has been set aside as a private tropical forest reserve. We are working with the Ministry of the Environment and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute to create programs to protect and continue to research and learn about the island's environment."

With its 30 km of coastline, Pearl Island is home of a virgin and untouched tropical forest that is home to 16 species of mammals, and 20 species of lizards and amphibians. On the island, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute has identified one of the largest bird sanctuaries on hearth (+150 species, including migrating pelicans). The pristine water that surrounds the island is the perfect habitat for 700 species of fish and several varieties of coral. Sea turtles use the white beaches of Pearl Island for their nests and whales swim close to the island all year long.

The first of the four phases of the Pearl Island Project will be completed by the end of 2015. The first residential units, along with a beach club and a recreation center have been already been successfully executed.
The new marina, once completed will be one of the largest on the Pacific side of the continent. This development is a significant component of the project, as it will allow the island to become a hub for the flourishing yacht and sailing tourism that is currently growing in Panama.

“Right now we can host 30 or 40 yachts per week, with 10 of them being hundred-footers. There are not many places in the Archipelago where you have a naturally protected harbor like ours" explained Mr. Eleta.
The construction of a Ritz-Carlton Reserve hotel will start the end of 2015. The resort will feature 120 branded residences on two of the most exclusive beaches of the island, occupying an area of approximately 50 hectares. According to the preliminary project published on Pearl Island's official website, the resort will feature a main lodge, beach club, spa, kid's club, dive and fishing center, tennis, retail and other leisure facilities.