Valle Escondido, Boquete, Panama
The cool, misty highlands of Boquete, the "City of Flowers," have long been famed for their exquisite coffee (a pound of locally grown Geisha Esmeralda Especial can go for more than US$130) and bracing, springlike climate, often credited for the locals' remarkable longevity. This cloud–forested paradise has also become Panama's premier destination for increasingly upscale visitors and adventurous expatriates alike.
Boquete's most exclusive address is Valle Escondido, a full–service vacation and residential community secreted into a forested valley, seemingly isolated in a wilderness that's actually just a few minutes walk from the lively town center. A tasteful mélange of Mediterranean styles, complete with cobbled walkways connecting tejas–topped villas replete with Moorish arches, Spanish patios and Santa Barbara–style silhouettes, you might think these plush abodes would seem out of place in the lush, volcanic Chiriquí Mountains.
Instead, perhaps because of the (unconscious?) nod to this nation's Spanish heritage, the effect is one of understated opulence, each stately hacienda accented with the well–tended grounds' many emerald greens, crossed by the gently singing Quebrada River. These greens are actually one of the resort's top attractions. Guests enjoy a premium nine–hole executive golf course right on their doorstep, Panama's only course that enjoys the brisk climate at 1000m (3200ft), making playing a pleasure all day long.
Other onsite amenities include a full gymnasium outfitted with an array of modern, professional equipment, a large riding stable, and several pools, including one enclosed in a solarium, perfect when the region's light, misty rain floats through. Or spend some time at the onsite Haven Wellness Center offering a variety of holistic therapies and tradition spa treatments in soothing environs.
All of this is an easy, scenic stroll from your bungalow or suite, arranged like private villas along a pretty cobbled pathway through the heart of the property, called "El Pueblito," Spanish for "The Small Village." There are several room configurations available, some perfect for couples and other designed to accommodate families. All are regally furnished with rich fabrics, stately hardwood furniture, Persian rugs, and other luxurious touches, including an en suite Jacuzzi if you so desire. Though the style is classic, other amenities are modern, and you'll want for no convenience in your charming retreat.
El Pueblito also includes four appealing eateries, including Sabor Escondido, one of the region's finest dining experiences, serving steak, seafood and other international fare in upscale environs that even demand a gentle dress code, the perfect excuse for a romantic and well–dressed dinner au deux. Or, just enjoy a perfectly prepared cappuccino steamed from local organic beans. Thus fortified, begin your exploration of Boquete, just a few minutes from the hotel. The adorable mountain town's growing selection of top quality restaurants, fascinating shops and truly beautiful gardens are all part of the experience. If you can't bring yourself to leave (this happens quite often, apparently) the fine staff of Valle Escondido can most certainly arrange a longer stay.
Web Address: www.veresort.com
Total Number of Rooms: 37
Published rates: Bungalows & suites $154 to 259 double, tax included
Review by Paige R. Penland, photos by Timothy Scott.