BEHIND THE GREEN WITH TRANQUILO BAY IN PANAMA

BEHIND THE GREEN WITH TRANQUILO BAY IN PANAMA

Behind the Green is all about giving you more insight into the places we feature. Our interviews reveal what happens behind the scenes, tells stories of the people on the ground, exposes the challenges they face, as well as the communities they impact; essentially the bits you don’t usually hear.

Meet Renee, one of the owners of Tranquilo Bay. Previously an attorney, she loves nothing more than taking the time to walk, particularly if she has any problem solving to tackle. When she isn’t managing Tranquilo Bay, she homes schools 4 children! Quite an impressive lady who shows no signs of slowing down.

Learn more about Tranquilo Bay here >

Who started Tranquilo Bay, how did it come about?

“My husband and I met our now business partner Jay after graduating at University in Texas. When we learnt Jay was interested in starting a lodge we knew this was aligned with our own vision. We embarked on the partnership with a much smaller project, we bought a boat and did it up, enjoying regular fishing trips together. As this mini project was such a success we decided to look to a bigger project. Jay had been to Panama a no. of times, so it came up as an option. In October 1999 we went down to take a look, however we didn’t find what we wanted. Jim my husband decided to quit his job in December 1999 and travel around to find the perfect spot. Back then I stayed at home bringing the money in as an attorney, whilst Jay and Jim started building the lodge, bringing our vision to reality.

Many years have passed since then and our initial piece of land has grown. We now own 5 pieces of land, which has significantly expanded the conservation area we actively protect. A jigsaw of pieces makes up 200 acres of pristine nature. If more land is sold in the area and we cannot take it on, we offer it to our guides to call their own.”

What is the latest positive change that’s happening at the lodge?

“We are looking into improving our processes which will help us to better educate people, such as new team members as we grow. We are beginning to document how we got to this point, as a timeline, the key learns, how to maintain the standards we have achieved. This is an essential part of what we need to do going forward”.

What are you most proud of when you reflect on your journey so far?

“There are 2 things that immediately come to mind…
1) There is a large reserve adjacent to the marine national park which we helped to put in place, we worked with the community and local tribe to implement this. Back then, real estate was going crazy. There is no value in the construction industry for mangrove forests, however mangrove sites are hugely valuable to nature.

2) We get to see the differences in the lives of the communities that are touched by Tranquilo Bay. To hear one of our team explaining to a new member why we do what we do, for example with littering, it is a very proud moment for us. One story which will always stay with me is the 2 sisters we had in our team. Their mother was losing her sight, because of their work and the skills they developed they were able to put money aside to pay for the operation their mother so desperately needed.”

What is the biggest obstacle or challenge you have overcome to date?

“Our location. It is funny as this will continue to be our biggest asset and in parallel our biggest challenge. Location is an obstacle which we will continue to meet over and over again. It is a positive thing, as where we are positioned means we don’t have problems with neighbours. However, everything that comes here travels by boat. Things we take for granted like finding staff and suppliers are also much more complex due to our location.”

What is the biggest surprise or misconception guests have prior to arriving at Tranquilo Bay?

“A lot of people think it is hot here in summer. The truth is we pretty much have the same temperatures all year round, there are no defined seasons like in the UK for instance. We say we have rainy seasons and then rainier seasons, with 75% of our rain at night, that is how everything looks so lush and green. Our weather just means there is no bad time to visit!”

Drone shot of the Tranquilo Bay accomodation as advertised by Kiwano Hotels
Drone shot of the Bird Tower at Tranquilo Bay as advertised by Kiwano Hotels

Tell us about the best local food or drink that guests can look forward to?

“We serve a lot of fresh juices here which is a favourite amongst guests. Our delicious passion fruit pie is very popular, in fact, we grow passion fruit on-site at Tranquilo Bay.”

What is one of the best way guests can engage in your eco approach?

“We love to show guests how chocolate is grown and made. People are usually unaware of just how labour intensive it really is. So when ethical brands ask for more money for their chocolate people can appreciate why this is.”

What’s next for Tranquilo Bay?

“For us, it is a certification process. We want to implement this as it exposes us to thought leaders. We have a growing team here at Tranquilo Bay and we are working on how we can keep it personalised and retain the same feel our guests have come to love.”

Find out more about Tranquilo Bay & do your own green checks here >

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