Karyn, Allan, and their dog Nina on Contadora Island
Owning Bed and Breakfast in Panama
By Karyn Saunders
If someone had told us two years ago that we would own a bed and breakfast in the Pearl Islands, we would have told them that they were insane. Since August of 2011, Allan and I have done what we couldn’t imagine before, and we are enjoying “almost” every minute.
This is what happens to people when they get to Panama. Opportunities present themselves. You start thinking not only out of the box, but also out of your comfort zone. Your comfort zone expands! The craziest things happen that you never would dream possible.
The decision to purchase the property and business happened after we were treated to a few nights at Hibiscus House on Contadora in the Pearl Islands. We had come to love the Pearl Islands as it was our favorite place to fly friends, family, and friends of friends for day trips to snorkel, whale watch, or enjoy the crystal clear waters. The logical next step was to have a property out there that would pay for itself. One year in and it has proven to be one of the best investments we have made to date.
We advertised on VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) and Trip Advisor. Through word of mouth and an option to fly for free from Coronado, we have found a formula that works for us and has made our first year profitable. To be successful in owning a vacation rental or hospitality property is all about creating a plesant and stress-free experience for your guests. Vacationers spend a lot of time and money in choosing their destination and accommodations, and what I keep telling myself is how fabulous it is that of all the places they could have travelled to they chose our property. I want to make sure they make the most of every minute.
The flight from Chame Airport, just outside Coronado, to Contadora in our Piper Cherokee is an adventure within the adventure. The accommodations are clean and we offer both bath and beach towels. Hot showers, air conditioning and a pet friendly policy are also among the perks that come with our property. We have found these are some of the little extras that make a tropical vacation property stand out amongst the rest. We manage our own property, but some of our competitors hire management couples who are usually expats and will manage their property for as little as $1000 per month.
Like anything else, owning a property that caters to short-term vacationers can be challenging at times. You need to be clear on house and island/community rules and put measures into place to protect both you and your guests. There is always work involved, but the sweat and tears are worth it for the gratification you receive when you open the guest book and see “perfect vacation” and “thank you Allan and Karyn”.
We own a home in The Pearl Islands that more than pays for itself, and we would recommend to anyone considering a similar investment to just go for it. If you enjoy meeting new people and creating experiences that last a lifetime then just do it! It’s as simple as that. And, of course, I’m here to help all along the way. You can follow our adventures on facebook or check out our website here!
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