How an Expat Couple Built Their Dream Life (and B&B Business) in Panama
Let’s face it, if you watch TV today you probably have seen reality shows that make living abroad seem as easy as moving down the block. But, it takes a dream, faith, patience and a little bit of guts to pull it off successfully. Here’s a story of a couple who I think we can all learn from, no matter how your Dream Life looks!
EXPAT TIP #1: Know WHY you want to come
Marco and Serena didn’t take long to turn their dream to reality. Within a year of deciding they wanted to come, they were already Panama-bound! They started with an epiphany that they wanted to slow down and enjoy more time together. Serena tells the story best:
Me and Marco is a lot of time we stay together. We know each other since we were very young, 15 years old, at the beach playing to dive off the cliff in Nervi (Genova’s district). In Italy, I was a dentist and Marco was a website programmer.
We wanted to spend more time together,the life in Italy was so rapid and stressful, so we decided to look for a paradise to spent our time together and happy.
And we found this paradise: Pedasí A beautiful tropical place with a super cozy vibe and amazing nature.
EXPAT TIP #2:
Start with a vision!
DREAM A LITTLE DREAM
Marco and Serena had a dream that came up in their hearts while they were on vacation in Isla Taboga. When they found the lot that Villa Del Sol now sits on, they didn’t hesitate because they had fallen in love with the beautiful mango tree and the beach nearby… they knew it was the right place for them.
Not everyone has what it takes to jump right into building, but Marco and Serena were patient and rolled with the punches. Budgets, quotes and timelines were very loose, skilled laborers hard to find, and many times work had to be redone. It took a year and a half to complete the building plus a lot of patience, flexibility and hands-on supervision. They worked with local contractors every day to build the roughly 700 square meter (7500 square feet) bed and breakfast that consists of a two story personal residence, an open-air restaurant, commercial kitchen, administrative rooms, and four very nicely sized guest suites… each with their own private fenced yard and unique style.
EXPAT TIP #2:
THE DREAM OF VILLA DEL SOL TAKES SHAPE
The dream to open a small bed and breakfast was centered around their main focus of having just enough work and income while being able to enjoy their lifestyle and the tropical environment.
Creativity and love went into the entire design, not just of the structure, but the decor. In the main house, they kept things simple but added a few tastes of home… like the black and white tiled kitchen floor and the red and white checked drapes. Upstairs, they enjoy a balcony with a view of the ocean and the property. They can keep an eye on guests while maintaining their privacy!
Each of the four rooms below was designed with a unique style and reflects the favorite memories of home and international travels!
PICTURES OF VILLA DEL SOL TODAY
EXPAT TIP #4:
STICK TO IT!
Rome wasn’t built in a day! Building a reputation takes time and consistency.
Building A Business
Marco and Serena’s lifestyle is interwoven with their business, and they choose to keep things simple and stay the course rather than start strong and fizzle out. They are focused on enjoying life and giving their guests a fun and relaxing experience!
In 2014, they opened their first advertisement in Booking.com. Over the years, the plants have grown into a tropical paradise and their reputation as a top bed and breakfast. They have been recognized as one of Trip Advisor’s top destinations multiple times, and have an extremely high rating on Booking.com, Google, and Air BnB and Trip Advisor. Villa Del Sol has hosted birthdays, family reunions, retreats, expat ladies’ events, charity dinners and even a wedding reception.
Although they don’t do much to advertise, the property brings in enough income to adequately fund their life and annual travels back to Italy. There’s potential to expand and add on rooms and they could do more to promote, but Marco and Serena are happy with the way things are going and haven’t wanted to lose sight of their motivation to be here in the first place.
EXPAT TIP #5: HAVE FUN!!!
A TYPICAL DAY AT VILLA DEL SOL
Every morning, Marco cooks the guests their breakfast in his own kitchen because that’s the way he likes to do it. Serena serves the guests with a warm smile and always is ready to help them plan their day, find new restaurants to eat at and where the best beaches are. Serena sets the flowers and rolls the swan towels for the guests. They both enjoy the creative side of gardening, but they leave the day-to-day yard-work and housework to their trusted staff. This gives them time to do what they enjoy most… relax!
And now we have a perfect life, the nature the sun and the ocean around us, a quiet and silence home full of pets and good vibe and flowers, thanks to our guests we can spent time with good and interesting company. We meet a lot of people from different counrty with different cultures and it was amazing.
JEALOUS? Don’t be… this could be your opportunity!
As life would have it, it’s time for Marco and Serena to go back to Italy to spend the last few years with Marco’s father whose kindness, support and generosity helped them to bring Villa Del Sol into reality. They will be back to Panama someday, but they want to see Villa Del Sol in good hands and go back to Italy with peace of mind.
Walking into an established and running business like Villa Del Sol is a HUGE advantage to anyone who dreams of this lifestyle. This is an opportunity that many people around the world can only imagine… are you ready to start living your dream? There’s no time like the present!