As we close the books on 2023, the main artery of Panama City, Avenida Balboa, is adorned with sparkling lights, holiday music, and a general feeling of celebration. Restaurants and bars in the tourist-centered old town of Casco Viejo are hopping with get-togethers large and small. People are seemingly everywhere, enjoying the festivities of the season and the promise of 2024.
Celebrating Panama is easy. No place is perfect, and in 2023, Panama experienced challenges, but “The Hub Of The Americas” continues to develop and exceed expectations. The official estimate from the International Monetary Fund has put Panama’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) up by 6% for 2023, with projections of steady annual GDP growth of 4% until the end of 2028. The World Bank reported Panama’s economy grew four times the regional average of the Latin American and Caribbean region.
Panama Is Friendly!
Additionally, Panama welcomes international companies and maintains its top ranking globally as one of the most “business-friendly” countries. According to US News & World Report, Panama’s welcoming attitude and laws are only behind Switzerland, Luxenberg, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Singapore. Panama’s year-round nice weather outranks all the other top countries except Singapore.
While climate change threatens much of the planet’s growth, Panama is one of only three carbon-neutral countries. At the COP26 Climate Summit, the Panamanian government announced plans to reforest 50,000 hectares (123,553 acres) of land by 2050. Currently, a wind farm in Penonomé is the largest in Central America and produces up to 7% of the country’s electrical needs.
The Exciting Third Line
The construction of the fourth bridge over the Panama Canal continues with massive earth-moving equipment and the promise of easing traffic over the Bridge of the Americas by over 50%. The third line of the Panama City subway is making remarkable progress, considering the six-kilometer (3.73 miles) section going under the Panama Canal requires a custom boring device currently under construction in Germany. The new 34-kilometer (21 miles) elevated monorail line will dramatically change the socio-economic pattern of the region. It will run from Albrook in Panama City to Panama Pacifico and on to La Chorrera, areas previously held back due to traffic congestion and the need for easy access for employees and laborers. The project is on track and set for completion in 2026.
While the infrastructure projects under construction are exciting, other recently completed and growing projects are even more promising for Panama. Tourism has historically been a relatively small economic driver. Still, with the final delivery of the largest Convention Center in Central America and twin cruise ship piers on the Amador Causeway, tourism is beginning to attract a variety of visitors.
Eco-tourism, sport fishing, and surfing have been the dominant attractions in Panama for many years. Still, ultra-luxury hideaways and upscale urban hotels and resorts have recently arrived in surprising numbers to serve different clientele. Cruise ships no longer just transit the Panama Canal and then move on to other country destinations but now begin and end itineraries with post- and pre-cruise stays at upscale accommodations in Panama City.
Luxury Hotels and Resorts Arrive
Hotel La Compañía, a luxury hotel by Hyatt, is where La Compañía de Jesús (Company of Jesus) settled after the destruction of the original Panama City in 1671 and is meticulously restored. The Sofitel Legend is perched on the waterfront in Casco Viejo and offers luxury accommodations with Pacific Ocean views. New hotels recently joined other opulent properties in Panama, such as the Waldorf Astoria, the American Trade Hotel, and the Central Hotel, which served as Teddy Roosevelt’s headquarters when he directed the building of the Panama Canal.
Remote And Conservation Aware
Outside the urban area of Panama City, unique resorts have been arriving on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, each blending seamlessly into the natural beauty of Panama. Islas Secas is “a remote paradise with a passion for conservation,” offering casitas tucked into the rainforest. In 2023, Nayara Resort in Bocas del Toro grabbed headlines in The New York Times, Forbes, Town & Country, and Afar publications as “one of the best hotels/resorts in the world.” For 60 years, fishermen and women have been welcomed to the famous Tropic Star Lodge in Panama’s Pinas Bay, where more International Game Fish Association (IGFA) awards have been won than anywhere else on the planet. It has also welcomed many celebrities, from John Wayne to George H. W. Bush.
Twenty-twenty-four is arriving with plenty of promise for a growing and developing Panama. Sometimes, I can hardly recognize the Panama I moved to fifteen years ago. As Panama continues to have a few new things up her sleeve, so do the real estate offerings.
A Big Announcement Coming
One of the most exciting new residential projects will be announced in the first part of 2024 and will carry a Marriott-branded flag. The project’s location will capitalize on the new subway line and fourth bridge by making the area more accessible. It will also include the closest and private beach area of Panama City. This entirely new concept to Panama will take lessons from other regions, including Miami, Toronto, Dubai, London, Istanbul, Marrakech, and Kuala Lumpur.
Year-End Real Estate Opportunities
Terrific opportunities for real estate ownership are still available in Costa del Este with the Nogal property, which offers two-bedroom apartments with a long list of amenities and one of the best locations in the business district of Panama. Generation Tower in Costa del Este offers condo suites with a smaller footprint and is attractive for tourists or business executives looking for short- and long-term accommodations. World-class medical facilities and a wide variety of restaurants, coffee houses, schools, and athletic offerings are just steps away.
The recently announced Seaside House is centrally located just off Avenida Balboa and designed for the rental market with prices beginning in the mid $200,000. These one- and two-bedroom units appeal to young professionals, retirees, and middle-income local families seeking easy access to grocery, retail, and pharmacy stores, active nightlife, and views of Panama Bay. With exceptional Return on Investment (ROI) potential, Seaside House has proven to be one of the hottest properties recently introduced.
Within the luxury residences of Casa Bonita, a few units remain but are being closed out. Ideally located on a private beach, Casa Bonita homes include assigned parking, the private Pearl Club, walking distance from the Westin Playa Bonita resort, and a rooftop pool overlooking the Panama Canal.
So here’s to a new year and goodbye to an old one that gave us much to cheer about. It’s an exciting time to be in Panama. I always love to hear from you and would love for you to drop me a line with a question about Panama or the real estate on offer. Just drop me a line, and I’ll get back to you!