Broken System Breeds Complications in Authentic Relationships

Choosing to lay a groundwork of mutual respect has been an essential part of the foundation for our business.

We believe it has contributed to the fact that we have not had any issues with neighbors or our direct community about property lines. We have a respectful relationship with most of our immediate neighbors.

The strained relationships are strained because we value following laws and regulations, and our neighbors do not have faith in that system. We get it. The infrastructure of the legal system and the government of a long-forgotten province is limited. People have not been accustomed to abiding by the law within such a scenario. Why? Because it is not enforced at all levels. It goes toward the low-hanging fruit and foreigners first when it is attempted. Local people get a pass. Again, it makes sense, but if this community wants to sustain itself in the long run, it needs to include equal enforcement under the law as it charts its path towards regeneration.

As a lawyer, I may be more apt to see these things, yet it is visible. Any time you choose or allow officials to determine whether to enforce a law – it opens the door to corruption. Then there are the laws that might make sense in some parts of the country but not in others. When attempting to enforce a law that physically cannot be applied – officials must turn a blind eye. If the site is to prosper, passing a more limited law or one specific to an area must be part of the plan.

There is a tiny mangrove island islet in front of Tranquilo Bay. We didn’t want anything to be developed on it, so we needed to buy it. Two different people claimed ownership of it, yet neither had occupied it, so it was impossible to confirm. One party had been around longer and had permitted the other party to build in front of a different piece of land. That second party never purchased any land – only built over the water in front of a piece of land. Over time the second party expanded its footprint and abused the gift the first party had given them. We knew that we had to purchase whatever rights both parties believed they had to eliminate any possible issues in the future. So we did – we bought the possessory right to that islet from two different people.

Why? We purchased a tiny island from two parties to maintain community and to dispose of any future problems for ourselves. Lauren Morton defines community as act, “Community is an intentional action rooted in faith, peace, truth, and love.” We chose to buy land from two non-possessory parties because it circles back to having a permanence mindset as part of our decision-making compass.

Bocas Eco Lodge Describes Its Unique Guiding Principles

At Tranquilo Bay, we believe that people who experience an authentic, regenerative vacation create treasured memories, but we know treasured memories do not come easy. ⁣

How do you make sure you pick the right vacation? Are the places you are considering transparent about their sustainability and regenerative practices? ⁣

We hope so. That is why we are sharing this type of information about Tranquilo Bay within our transparency and impact series. ⁣

In “Move Over, Sustainable Travel. Regenerative Travel Has Arrived,” the New York Times writes, “Sustainable tourism is sort of a low bar. At the end of the day, it’s just not making a mess of the place. Regenerative tourism says, let’s make it better for future generations.” ⁣

We know that the best measurement we can track is how we improve against ourselves, not against a third party. Thus, we monitor specific metrics to determine how we are doing today and how things change over time. ⁣

If you fail to choose the best location, you could travel to another country and lose your hard-earned vacation time at a commercial green-washed “resort.” We want to help you make the right choice for you and your party. ⁣

We care about your vacation. We care about Bocas del Toro, Panama. We care about doing our part to be the change we want to see in the world. We know you want to do the same when you plan your vacation. ⁣

So, at Tranquilo Bay, we have a set of guiding principles that help us make decisions. This graphic gives you a basic overview of those principles and what’s behind them: steward, serve & sustain.⁣

Stewardship in Action

Under our first principle, which is stewardship, we work to conserve and regenerate that which has been placed into our hands such that we are accountable to the community and the world.⁣

⁣For us, stewardship is where regeneration comes in because regeneration is about “whole systems thinking.” It considers the history of a place to understand one’s role as a steward of the location and its people.⁣

⁣It is no easy feat – it requires specific critical actions to help us make the next right move each day. Within stewardship, we practice ownership or accountability, and we take responsibility for our actions or inaction. We remember to efficiently, diligently, and happily complete our work because we each have commitments to support our team.⁣

Service in Action

Our second principle is that we serve. We support all stakeholders through open-hearted curation and creative communication. This principle is where we practice “after you.” We put others before our self-interest to support our stakeholders: employees, families, guests, the local community, and the world. ⁣

⁣With some profit staying within Tranquilo Bay, we can support a group of employees, guests, the community, and the local economy. As you can see with the connected circles, each group is more inclusive than before. We all rely on one another to preserve and protect Bocas del Toro’s culture, flora, and fauna. A company must be profitable to continue to be a force for good. ⁣

⁣The Singapore Tatler writes, “More than sustainability, regenerative travel allows us to actively participate in reversing climate change and enriching communities.” While there are many definitions for sustainability and a growing number for regeneration, all include serving one another. We must get past our desires and work for the greater good. Our decision-making processes need to consider all creation because we live within that creation – there is no planet B.⁣

Sustainability in Action

Our third principle is that we must Sustain. We do the work that considers the long-term effect of our actions, and we must sustain the business to be a force for good. ⁣

Here we take responsibility for our actions or inaction. Because we know we must sustain this business, this principle reminds us to efficiently, diligently, and happily complete our work.⁣

⁣Under this principle, we place our work in community tourism, education, and science. We work with several different community tourism organizations in Panama, including the Chamber of Tourism of Bocas del Toro (“CAMTURBO”). CAMTURBO is responsible for supporting tourism throughout the province of Bocas del Toro through education, policymaking, and marketing for the destination.⁣

We are also members of APTSO – the sustainable tourism foundation for Panama. We have previously been a part of BSTA, a sustainable tourism alliance for Bocas del Toro. Sustainability is also where we assist local organizations that put children in Bocas del Toro first. We provide field trips for children or auction items for fundraisers for these groups.⁣

⁣As part of our education focus with our guests, it is vital to work with international and national organizations that document, preserve and catalog flora and fauna of Bocas del Toro. We also work with various scientists who study wildlife here in Bocas. You may see an inclusive list of these projects in our Impact Report.⁣

Our Why

Our values and decision-making process have evolved over the years. We embrace aspects of several different philosophies.⁣

We embrace the Triple Bottom Line at the bottom of the pyramid – people, place, and profit. This is where companies are responsible first and foremost to all their stakeholders, including everyone involved with the company, whether directly or indirectly, as well as the planet we’re all living on. But without making a profit – the company cannot continue to be a force for good, so it must make money to keep going.⁣

⁣With the next level – the World We All Deserve. Both environmental and social justice intersect for the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income concerning the development, implementation, and enforcement of laws, regulations, and policies. It’s a lot – but we work on it bit by bit.⁣

⁣The third level – is the aspirational side of regenerative tourism. We are never finished, and we can always learn more and do better once we know more.⁣

⁣And the last level – the one most easily defined as The Golden Rule, where we treat others as we would want to be treated.⁣

⁣We do all of this because it is just and right AND because doing so truly supports our guests’ vacations.⁣