Buenaventura communityREAL ESTATE

Panama is a hot spot for second home options, and Buenaventura is among the best

By Larry Olmsted,
Special Contributor

Panama has become a hot spot for second homes and for retiring abroad, not only for its value (compared to other high-priced oceanfront real estate) but also for its low cost of living (on everything from food to medical care to staff and services). It's been described as "twice the lifestyle at half the price."

Now there's high-quality golf as well.

Buenaventura Golf Club - hole 12Buenaventura is one of the most exclusive residential communities in Panama. Located on the Pacific coast, less than 90 minutes from Panama City, the community contains a full-service resort hotel (the Bristol Buenaventura). There also are extensive activities and amenities, including a modern spa and elaborate stables for horseback riding. Five restaurants serve a variety of cuisine, including traditional Panamanian, all with a seasonal farm-to-table focus and sustainability program that works with local fisherman and organic farmers.

There's an elaborate beach club with multiple large swimming pools and a fully staffed butler service. The offerings of water sports on site include sea kayaking, wave runners, snorkeling and sailing, and the club has its own fully equipped boat for offshore big-game sport fishing (for which Panama is legendary). Many anglers come here because it is a great spot to try for the elusive "Grand Slam," catching each of the major species of billfish on the same day.

Back on shore, there are extensive mountain biking and hiking trails, a zip-line canopy tour and, for the less actively inclined, a casino 15 minutes from the community. The Plaza is a pedestrianized village in the heart of the development, which includes a general store, deli, shops, supervised kid's club and bar.

Nicklaus golf at Buenaventura

Buenaventura Golf Club - hole 11The main attraction within the community, however, is the new Jack Nicklaus-designed course, managed by Troon Golf. The first nine opened this past winter and the full course opened this summer. The layout has a tropical flair with plenty of palm trees and lush foliage, extensive use of waste areas to conserve watering, plenty of lakes throughout and multiple tees, stretching to 7,823 yards from the tips. The course has a fully equipped luxurious clubhouse, full-time bilingual teaching staff and extensive practice areas, including range, short-game facility and chipping and putting greens.

Buenaventura is a large, master-planned development built to emphasize the oceanfront real estate, so the golf course never touches the sea. Instead, it wraps in a semicircular C-shape around the center of the development, which is built around more than a dozen large lakes so that almost every home site is on or near water. The few homes that are not on water are on the golf course.

Buenaventura real estate

Buenaventura community - hotelPrices are at the high end for Panama, given the prestige and luxury of the development, but compare very favorably with the United States. There's a 5,200-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath golf course estate two-story home for $736,000. It includes extensive outdoor living space, a kitchen, terraces, laundry room and two-car garage. Maintenance fees and golf memberships are also well below typical U.S. rates for this type of community.

While the golf course is new, the rest of the facilities at Buenaventura are completed. And while there are a wide variety of real estate options here, the majority of homes are already sold. Less than a quarter of all planned offerings are still available.

There are several different sub-developments throughout Buenaventura, with everything from large lots for custom homes to townhomes, several models of pre-designed homes, golf course villas and a two-level, lodge-type building with apartment units on both floors. These are the least-expensive turnkey residences, from $589,000 for a 2,400-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath with high-end fixtures, tile floors, balconies, ceiling fans, modern kitchens with marble counters and lavish bathrooms with large, walk-in marble showers.

A golf course home in Panama might not be for everyone, but if you are considering the Caribbean or Mexico for a second home, it's worth taking a look, especially since this is a fully amenitized and completed community, not just a bunch of stakes in the ground, as has all too often been the case with resin detail developments in Central America.

Larry Olmsted has written more than 1,000 articles on golf and golf travel, for the likes of Golf Magazine, T&L Golf, LINKS, Golf & Travel, Men's Health, Men's Journal, USA Today, and many others. He broke the Guinness World Record for golf travel and wrote Getting into Guinness, as well as Golf Travel by Design. He was the founding editor of The Golf Insider, and the golf columnist for both USA Today.com and US Airways Magazine.

August 9, 2012

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.

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