A Designer Jungle
Remote jungle lodge… check. Modern design hotel… check. It takes a certain craziness to mix these two things, and a certain genius to do it as well as they have here at El Otro Lado (meaning the “The Other Side”), a superbly curated space in the Portobelo National Park on Panama’s Caribbean Coastline.
At just 90 minutes by car from the hub of Panama City, the lodge is as easily accessible as it is out-of-the-way. Once you arrive in the wee colonial village of Portobelo, you jump on a speedboat or yacht to head out to your designer jungle home across the water. The bay has an enticingly appealing Caribbean quality, quite different to anything found on the Pacific Coast.
Brightly-hued furniture greets you as you cross the gentle waves, and an infinity pool glistens as you cruise closer. There are 5 independent casas, housing a total of 8 unique rooms. Eclectic, fun, stylish and with all you might need for a stress-free stay, it makes for a pleasingly colourful habitat and the staff are ready to welcome you with a local cocktail and cooling towel.
My brief stay at the lodge included one of my favourite excursions whilst travelling through Panama, called “La Faraona” – a calming evening cruise along the local river, complete with fizz and excellent ceviche. A truly memorable experience. Other options include snorkelling off the private hidden beach (accessible only by boat) or a hike in the splendid rainforest. This truly is a destination hotel, putting Panama on the design map, and should be included on any visit to this emerging destination.
Anton Lynch has sipped cocktails, cruised sunset rivers, accessed hidden beaches and tramped thick rain forests the world over, but he’s still a sucker for a fridge with a union jack on it.