Where has July gone?

Wow – I really try to keep things going on the blog here, but I have not done a great job this month. Things have been a bit off schedule. Here are the highlights for the days in between:

July 12 – Marilyn, Greg and Victoria – Jim’s stepmother, stepbrother and niece show up for a week long visit

July 14 – Happy Birthday Jim

July 16 – All day meetings for all of the USAID funded projects in Panama and Costa Rica – I attended on behalf of BSTA

July 18 – Missy and Allison show up for their annual two week visit

July 19 – Happy Birthday Boty

So a few things – I will share many of the photos over the rest of the month.

Paradise the Hard Way

I can’t begin to describe how cool it is to read someone else’s account of what we have been up to down here for the past few years. I just read the article Paradise the Hard Way in Inc.‘s May 2008 issue about how Tranquilo Bay came to be what it is today. Obviously you can’t capture all of it in 5000 words or less, but the folks at Inc. did a pretty good job. We came down here and built Tranquilo Bay for a change in lifestyle. We got what we bargained for and then some. All of us share ups and downs on the island. Fortunately there have been more ups than downs. We are celebrating this article as a definite up!

We have been pretty busy over the last few months as my lack of posts indicates. I am going to try and post some of the photos from the past few months over time in order to give you a feel of what it is like to be here. We have done all the hard work for you. You just have to come down and enjoy. Give us a call – we will find the right time for you and your group to visit.

Wow!

I can’t believe that it has been over a month since my last post, but alas it has. We have been busy – which is such a good thing.

We were very fortunate to really catch the attention of one of our guests during the holiday season. Bob Sutton is a professor and an author. He teaches at the d.school at Stanford and has heard a variety of stories about start up companies. He thought ours was an interesting one and he decided to tell a few people about us. He wrote to Leigh Buchanan at INC magazine. She found the story also to be intriguing and in less than one month she was here interviewing us and learning all about what it took to build Tranquilo Bay. The photographers, Rob and Brandon, followed shortly thereafter. We worked with Leigh and Ryan at INC to verify the facts in the story as it was being edited. Then we waited. Yesterday, Jay, Stefanie and Scott went to the USA to visit family and they found the May issue of INC on the newsstand. Jay tells me that he and Stefanie are pleased with the article. Jim and I are waiting for someone to fax a copy of it to us as it is not posted on INC’s website just yet.

We are very appreciative of all the attention granted us from Bob, Leigh, Ryan and all the other people involved in making this article a reality.

Thanks to you all for making Tranquilo Bay a reality 😉

What happens when…

What happens when you take one very funny retired high school government teacher, one of his fraternity brothers, one of his former students, all of their spouses and a few of the kids and toss them into the Panamanian jungle on an island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea?  Oh yea – they are all Texans tambien. A rocking good time 🙂 

We ended up with a group of friends (who have come together over time) vacationing here at Tranquilo Bay last week.  It was great fun.  I had an idea of what we might be in for as I communicated with them via email, but my expectations were exceeded.  We have fun with all of our guests, but this group seriously tickled our funny bones.  They began by playing jokes on us the first night they arrived and ended the week with us being in on the jokes as other guests arrived.  

One of the things I am truly appreciate about our clientele is that they REALLY are on vacation.  They kick back, have fun and forget about the every day.  Our location definitely helps people to enter this zone, if you will, but I continue to be impressed by people who can turn off and tune in to nature so that they re-enter their day to day lived recharged.

Here are some photos of one of our porch sessions.  

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Singing and joking

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Hook Em Horns

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Chicken foot dominoes

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And look at what they did to Bimini!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Exciting, Exhilarating & Exhausting

Our little business is growing tremendously this first quarter of 2008. Our occupancy rate for the first quarter is up over 100% over last year. This is exciting, exhilarating, and a little exhausting.

Exciting because this is the business we came down to Panama to have. Watching our business grow and keeping it running smoothly gives us all a wonderful sense of accomplishment.

Exhilarating because we are participating in a group of special memories for our clients. While our clients all share a love for adventure and nature – each one experiences it differently and comes here from a different place. We are fortunate to be exposed to all of these wonderful people. It is really cool to have the opportunity to enrich their experiences while at the same time we gain insight and perspective from the encounter. We experience our place with a fresh set of senses each time a new guest arrives. To hear the way they describe things and see the delight in their faces is truly rewarding experience.

Exhausting, yes, but in a good way. We work seven days a week for many hours out of each day. As with any business as you continue to learn what it takes to make it great it takes a bit out of you. However, the upside of what we are learning and how it is getting easier each day for us and for our employees is that we are building a business that we believe will stand for a long time.

Heaven on Earth

I consider Tranquilo Bay to be a slice of heaven on earth. There are few places in this world where a group of people can end up and have the opportunity to participate in a dream. Obviously Tranquilo Bay is our dream. We are grateful we get to live it each and every day. However, when we get to watch other people enjoy themselves doing all of the different activities we have to offer while immersing themselves in nature it is so rewarding. It is wonderful to have a lively discussion at dinner amongst the guests we have from all over the world sitting at the table.

Here is an example of the different kinds of “thank you” we get from our clients once they return home. This one came to my Dad’s house along with a favorite book of our guests’ children when their boys were Tres and Scott’s age. We will be reading it to Scott, Tres and Boty for many years to come.

Dear all – A belated thank you for a wonderful time at Tranquilo Bay. We loved EVERYTHING. You did an amazing job and despite the weather we had a fabulous time. Thanks for the biscotti recipe. Mine won’t be as good because the atmosphere just isn’t the same. For the kids, I am enclosing one of our favorite books. Hope they like it. Love and hugs to all: R, N, E, G & I

Behind every…

I am into quotes right now. They seem to help one get the point across far better than one’s own words at times. This one caught my eye the other day:

wife

It is a variation on the common theme of behind every good man is a good woman. It is fitting for our situation as we were separated by 1800 miles as we built Tranquilo Bay. I would not have wanted nor could I have completed what Jay and Jim did to build Tranquilo Bay. However, they could not have done it if they didn’t have a regular influx of cash coming their way from the girls they left in Houston.

We have been reviewing our quest to build and create Tranquilo Bay recently. It is quite a gift to be able to look upon what it has become and is continuing to develop into – almost as one watches a child grow. It is a labor of love. One that has its ups and downs of course, but oh what a ride it is.

Kid Friendly

There are those hotels and those destinations which are not a good fit for people traveling with children. We are neither of those things. We love kids – we have three of our own on site. Bocas del Toro Panama has plenty of places where the kids can have a fun and safe day.

This morning I was trying to help a former guest find another place in Panama to visit next year as he and his family want to return to stay with us, but they also want to explore a few different parts of the beautiful little country. We both happened upon a few new lovely places which look great but they are not appropriate for children. One place is completely over water which is not the best location for children. The other place does not accept children under the age of 13.

There is a reason that we are right for people with kids and for people without kids. We live here on site. We have our own kids living here with us. So we know what it is like to make sure both the kids and the grown ups have a good time. We send our kids to bed early or to the library downstairs to watch television while the adults enjoy a delicious meal with white tablecloths up stairs.

So, bring the kids and have some fun.

Blogging

It makes me happy. I love that I can live in the middle of the jungle on an island in the Caribbean Sea and I can still access good content on things which interest me. In the past it was necessary to get a subscription to a magazine or to watch a television show in order to get this stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, I still like to read books and magazines, but I can’t load up on them these days like I could when we lived in Houston, Texas.

I have several groupings of blogs saved in my browser of places I check out several times a week for education and inspiration.

We recently had a guest stay here who is both an esteemed author and professor as well as a dad, a husband, and a nice guy – Bob Sutton. I have been reading his blog, Work Matters, ever since. Speaking with him and his amazing wife, Marina, reminded me to open my eyes to other types of blogs for both education and information. (BTW – Bob’s most recent book is helpful even if you don’t work in a “normal” workplace. I read it before his family’s arrival based upon some information his tour operator provided to me. It is a good read!)

If I had to pick my top nine blogs as of today – they would be (in no particular order):

– Amanda Soule’s Blog
– Amy Karol’s Blog
– Erin Harris’ Blog
– Jessica Jone’s Blog
– Bob Sutton’s Blog
– Ali Edwards’ Blog
– Kathy Mack’s Blog
– Sew Mama Sew Store Blog
– Suzanne’s Blog on iWeb and other technical stuff

It is not at all unusual that I begin on one person’s blog and then follow the links to the next and the next and the next. I have a variety of tutorials and recipes and scrapbook ideas stored away in my favorites. I pull inspiration from these when it comes time to make something for the kids or for the cabanas, etc. But honestly, I am a lurker. I do not leave comments and I rarely communicate with the authors of the blogs. It is more like reading a book or a magazine for me. I must credit Ali Edwards for getting me started in all of this. I get a newsletter for a digital scrapbooking website called Scrapgirls (my husband loves that one) and Ali was interviewed in the newsletter. There was a link to her blog. And from there I was hooked. I only hope that someday someone will feel the same way about our blog, or trip reports, etc.

Have a great day!