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Islas Secas: A Panamanian Dream

I’ve just returned from an archipelago off the coast of Panama where a massive, privately-funded conservation endeavour is now being shared with the outside world via a top-tier hospitality project. And I can’t say enough good things about it.

Genuine hospitality can be the perfect vehicle for the expression and transmission of culture. However, resort hospitality can be something else altogether. As the fictional resort GM Armand puts it on HBO’s show White Lotus, “guests expect a kind of pleasant blandness, or an impression of vagueness from the staff”. “We are asked to disappear behind our masks,” he says. “It’s tropical Kabuki!”

This very dynamic is what makes me allergic to the word ‘resort”, and so I was hesitant when first arriving at Islas Secas. What I found instead was more reminiscent of Soneva Fushi in the Maldives, which I wrote about here – a kind of Gilligan’s island with characters rather than staff, genuine hospitality rather than politesse. Nothing I’ve experienced in the Caribbean holds a candle to this mix of relaxed atmosphere and elevated service.

Islas Secas is owned by the great conservationist Louis Bacon and run by The Moore Charitable Foundation. With just 7 keys (accommodations range from tented suites perfect for a couple, to the 4-bedroom ‘villa grande’ perfect for a large family), Islas Secas is above all an intimate affair. With the archipelago protected and with sustainability cred to spare (they are B-corp to boot), the resort also benefits from deep pockets which means every finish is perfection, every toy imaginable is on property (including sea-bobs and e-foils), and everything is included in the rate – even Scuba and the spa – so you never have to contemplate a transaction.

Panama City is tons of fun for a night on either end, and scheduled airplane transfers between Panama City and Islas Secas operate 3–4 times per week depending on the season: a 1-hour journey in a brand-new sea otter with outstanding scenery en route. If you are looking for a getaway, a reset, or new favourite place in the Americas, we would be happy to help you figure out if this one’s for you.