Jump for Jubilado

©istockphoto.com / SimonDannhauer

Government-sponsored incentives are drawing retirees to Panama.

From superior benefits for retirees and an assortment of visa options, to the captivating sights and real estate options available, there is much to see and even more to experience as a resident of Panama.

For retirees in particular, the benefits offered through Panama’s programs have crowned it as “one of the top retirement destinations in the world,” according to Stephanie Villarreal, president and Realtor for Your Panama Real Estate Connection. She notes that the government-sponsored “Jubilado” retirement program provides impressive discounts on a range of expenses, including dental/eye exams, medical consultations, restaurant bills, airline tickets and even car purchases. What is needed to qualify is an annuity/pension-like income of $1,000 USD per month. Having good, affordable medical services like, amongst others, the Johns Hopkins-affiliated hospital in Panama City is another added benefit, Villarreal says. New residents find themselves taking on the Panamanian lifestyle in no time at all.

The process of immigrating to Panama is relatively simple as well, Villarreal says, and with the help of experienced law professionals, the process is straightforward and easy.

Basilica of the Mother of God is prominent in Casco Viejo, where churches dating back hundreds of years blend with activities for those of all ages.

Photo  ©istockphoto.com / rchphoto

“We work alongside attorneys to assist our clients with immigration and residency,” she adds. The Panama Friendly Nations Visa, for example, is also a popular special immigration program for citizens of selected countries who have professional or economic ties with Panama.

Those exploring their immigration options should also understand the differences in lifestyle of Panamanians, from “slower pace of life” to the fact that Spanish is the country’s main language. However, every difference also offers an opportunity to learn and experience the unique nuances of Panama. “Things in Panama move slower than in North America and Europe,” says Villarreal, “but with our team’s extensive knowledge and experience of how things work in Panama, we can assist our clients to adjust to life in the country.”

Adjusting to life in Panama can come easily with the help of the right brokerage team who will help guide potential buyers to their dream home or neighborhood. Villarreal says her team recommends that buyers should visit the country first to get a feel for what Panama is all about. “There are established ‘expat’ communities in Panama City, various communities at the beaches … there are many clubs offering get-togethers, bingo, Spanish courses and more.”

Add this to the plethora of good restaurants, cafes and bars amidst the cobblestone roads and churches of Casco Viejo, Panama City’s old quarter, and the amazing beaches and archipelagos, and there’s too much to fit into one trip. So, perhaps, make it a trip to last the rest of your life?

 

This article originally appeared in the Unique Homes Spring ’20: Elite edition

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ELITE 2020: Elegance Abounds in Massachusetts

This newly constructed shingle-style home on coveted Smith’s Point in Manchester by the Sea, Massachusetts, is strategically set on 3-plus acres.

The property has been artfully designed to provide magnificent water views from all major rooms. The home is exceptionally well-appointed with soaring ceilings, crown moldings, wainscoting, and hardwood floors throughout. The sprawling entry way leads to an open floor plan that allows for sophisticated and comfortable entertaining — highlighted by an exquisitely appointed kitchen. The master suite has stunning views, a barrel ceiling, a luxurious marble bath/spa, dressing room, and sitting area for relaxed enjoyment.

Other amenities include a guest suite, service pantry, a three-story elevator and a heated three-car garage with an inclusive mud room. Plans for a dock have been started. The property, listed for $5.95 million by Anthony Bullock IV of Churchhill Properties, is a short walk to Singing Beach, one of the top ten beaches in the U.S., and to downtown.

 

Churchill Properties originally appeared as an Elite company in the Unique Homes Spring ’20: Elite edition

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Elite 2020: Trusted in Marblehead

Heather Stewart Kaznoski and Mary Stewart:

Offering Integrity, Trust and Consistent Communication

Representing home buyers and sellers in Marblehead, Massachusetts and the surrounding North Shore communities, Heather and Mary (Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Agents) bring over 60-plus years of real estate experience.

They are trustworthy negotiators offering a high level of service, consistent communication, integrity and trust. Heather and Mary are well known in the real estate industry and have long-standing relationships —  not only with loyal clients, but with fellow agents, attorneys, and lenders — which ensures that your sales transaction will have a successful and positive conclusion. 

 

Heather Stewart Kaznoski and Mary Stewart originally appeared as Elite agents in the Unique Homes Spring ’20: Elite edition

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A Peaceful Paradise

Tired of being cooped up working from home? Work from the beach! Make your summer of 2020 as enjoyable as possible on peaceful Isle of Palms.

Located just a block from the beach, this rental property situated 3005 Cameron Blvd in Isle Of Palms, SC boasts a beautiful private pool and fenced yard outside. Inside, the well-designed open floor plan offers elevator access and large spaces to enjoy inside and out, including the rooftop deck with ocean views, and private yard with plenty of seating to lounge around the pool and enjoy a poolside barbecue.

The well-maintained home is like your own private resort, boasting two master suites with oversized showers and Jacuzzi tubs, four additional bedrooms including a bunk room off the main living space, fully equipped gourmet kitchen, Brazilian cherry hardwood floors throughout, and elevator for easy access for all guests.

The light-filled great room with exposed beams and a cathedral ceiling is a comfortable place for your whole crew to gather for entertainment around the 60-inch HDTV with surround sound. Some may opt to enjoy the evening breezes and sounds of the ocean from the adjacent covered porch.

 

When it’s mealtime, preparation is a pleasure with the open kitchen and gas cooktop island where the chef can be in the center of the activity of the group. Large dining table seats 12 with additional options for seating at the breakfast bar, covered porch, or al fresco poolside.

A “reverse floor plan” with the living space above 4 of the 6 bedrooms, the master suite on this floor has a coffered ceiling, walk-in closet, and huge master bath with a double sink vanity, Jacuzzi tub and oversized shower. Just across the hall from the powder room is the bunkroom with two sets of bunk beds and TV.

The floor below has another master suite with the same layout as above, and an additional king-bedded room – each with their own private porch overlooking the pool. There are two more bedrooms with queen beds on this floor, the laundry room, and another covered porch with a row of rocking chairs off of the main entry foyer.

The location is ideal – just a short stroll one block to the beach access path at 30th Avenue to the gorgeous wide stretch of beach that spans the eastern side of the island halfway between the Isle of Palms Connector and the marina. See dolphins play near the shore, and on moonlit walks you will encounter crabs scurrying out of your path and you may even find sea turtles nesting during the summer or their hatchlings racing toward the ocean on warm evenings. Bike for miles on the beach, or tool around the island on a golf cart – rentals available.

Make Admiral’s Roost your summer home this year!  

For more information contact Michele Miller, Realtor®
Charleston Realty Services – eXp Realty LLC
843-388-4693 mobile
michelemiller.realtor@gmail.com

 

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In the Heart of Key West

Currently owned by legendary Dale Earnhardt Jr, the property is in the heart of Old Town, Key West, Florida. “This truly is a unique property steeped in rich and mysterious history,” says listing agent Bob Cardenas of Ocean Sotheby’s International Realty. “One of the highlights of the home is, undoubtedly, its secret hatch door in the parlor, which has been a part of the house since its inception.

This five-bedroom, three-full- and 1-half bath home, listed for $3.7 million, was built in 1863 during the Civil War era, and it retains most of its original architecture that was lovingly maintained. It has one of the deepest and largest pools in Key West, reportedly being about 13 to 14 feet deep. A gate from the second-floor porch opens allowing daring (or crazy) individuals to jump off the second floor into the pool. 

The kitchen was artfully designed by Earnhardt to resemble the inside of a pirate ship, including a large ships wheel at the end of the bar, bringing in a taste of another era of Key West history. A legal guest house at the other side of the huge lot is currently one huge bedroom, however the owner had planned to turn it into two bedrooms and one bath. His local contractor has the plans and estimated costs ready for construction. This house must be seen to be appreciated. 

This is your chance to buy a bit of Key West history, along with a unique house with serious celebrity status!

 

Photos by Andre van Rensburg.

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Centered on the Earth

Photo by Sally Guillaume.

These three travel companies offer sustainable opportunities to see — and even help save — the planet.

Aracari

Ahead of its time when it was originally founded in 1996, South American travel operator Aracari is highly regarded in the sustainable travel industry. Founder Marisol Mosquera defines sustainable travel simply as travel that does not destroy the
destination, which in today’s standards means low impact, low-volume tourism. These pillars of tourism have been part of Aracari’s mission since it began, in order to promote natural landscapes.

One of the most important ways Aracari maintains such high standards of sustainability is by educating guests throughout their trips, to “treat the local communities and sensitive environments with great respect,” Moquera states. To follow through, the company works tirelessly with the other businesses they work with to help ensure their self-imposed regulations are effective across the board. For example, Mosquera says the company seeks boutique hotels that are more stringent on standards like waste management, energy consumption, community involvement, et cetera. With these methods incorporated into their business model, Aracari is able to fulfill
clients’ travel needs while making a smaller impact on the surrounding environment.

“People travel to learn and experience new things, and our region is very rich with cultural and natural attractions,” Mosquera says, attractions that they strive to find new ways of highlighting through their bespoke travel tours. One upcoming tour in May 2020 is an eight-day excursion in Bolivia, hosted by National Geographic photographer Max Milligan, based in Kachi Lodge which is located on Sachar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. Nestled next to Tunupa Volcano, these transparent igloo tents afford wonderful views and a unique sense of isolation while guests enjoy delicious food, hot water and comfortable accommodations.

Kachi Lodge | Bolivia

Kachi Lodge is located on Sachar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat.

Photo courtesy of Aracari.

Machu Picchu

Guests can travel to archaeological sites like Machu Picchu with Aracari’s Peru tours.

Photo by Marcella Echavarria.

Another tour featuring Milligan is an adventure through the mountains of Peru at El Albergue Ollantaytambo, where guests can visit local communities, archaeological sites like Machu Picchu, and an organic garden that stretches from the glacial snowline to the tropical cloud forest.

Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp | Kenya

Photo by Stevie Mann.

Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp | Kenya

Cottar’s Safari Camp provides an authentic and individualized safari experience by ensuring a legacy of wilderness, wildlife, comfort and security.

Photo courtesy of Steppes Travel.

Steppes Travel

Steppes Travel creates eco-luxury holiday trips that are tailor-made for people who are interested in wildlife. While it highlights giving a behind-the-scenes look into many different sensible wildlife environments and discovering different cultures, at the core, Steppes Travel focuses on giving back to the environment and communities their teams visit. An avid traveller himself, Rob Gardiner fit in perfectly at Steppes Travel as the Commercial Manager for the Africa sector with his overall knowledge and love for travel. “I love the people that you meet, I love the lessons that you learn from it, and I think it breaks down barriers, changing our perception of different places and alters our prejudices,” Gardiner says.

Gardiner says that the company’s focus on sustainable travel is driven by a need to look after the communities they visit and keep those wilderness areas as pristine as possible. Steppes Travel also works with community members and conservation groups to ensure proceeds are given back to those areas, noting that, as a whole, travel can be a force for good. “If you’re lucky enough to go to Zambia, Tanzania or Botswana on safari, for example, there should be money that goes back into the local economy so they too are incentivized to look after what they have.”

Regarding the tours, Gardiner says that the wildlife aspect is what helps keeps sustainability in mind for both guides and travellers. He notes that often these trips provide a unique educational experience, granting travellers a new, real perspective on conservation while taking part in projects like tracking rhinos in South Africa or working on a jaguar safari project in Brazil. Tourists can go further by becoming ambassadors for certain regions and work with communities around the world to be more conscious of endangered environments.

“As much as possible, we don’t believe in cocooning our clients away from the streetlife in Delhi or living with a nomadic family in Mongolia,” Gardiner affirms. “I think it’s about getting to know the people and about having that personal human connection.”

Undiscovered Mountains

According to Sally Guillaume, owner and founder of sustainable travel company Undiscovered Mountains, her reasons for starting the company were driven by a personal drive to create a better world, “to do things in a way that everyone benefits without exploiting people or environments.”

Focusing on trips located in and around the French Alps, Guillaume wanted to steer away from mass tourism and “build a sustainable approach to tourism both for the communities and the rich natural environments they live in.” In doing so, she built a business that not only focuses on preserving natural environments, but also helps clients to discover authentic Alpine communities, not usually found in mainstream Alpine travel.

Guillaume’s vision of a sustainable world includes less consumerism and a deeper appreciation for experiences. And while Undiscovered Mountains, Steppes Travel and Aracari are all model companies, there is a long way to go in sustainable tourism — from updating local infrastructure to promoting lower-impact travel methods such as train or “green” vehicles. She notes, however, the ethical standards of travel companies have become more and more important consumers in recent years, as well as the destination and activities involved.

From touring preserved natural environments with abundant wildlife and flora on the southern French Alps, to immersive tours in both Nepal and Norway that are launching soon, Undiscovered Mountains will continue to make its mission about serving the environment, which has always shaped the culture around them. “The type of food people eat, the architecture of old buildings, the choice of where villages are situated is all to do with how people have survived living off the land of the mountains for centuries.”

The French Alps

Travelers can learn to paraglide and fly above the mountains on one of Undiscovered Mountain’s paragliding courses.

Photo courtesy of Undiscovered Mountains.

The French Alps

From ski touring to dogsledding with huskies, …

Photo courtesy of Undiscovered Mountains.

The French Alps

Undiscovered Mountains offers a wide assortment of winter activities that are fully customisable, all in the French Alps.

Photo courtesy of Undiscovered Mountains.

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Prestigious and Pristine Property in Portugal

The finest property in Portugal, in the most prestigious location in the country, has been put on the market – and it could be yours! 

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Portugal offers Quinta de Lago, one of the most exciting and exclusive resorts in Europe, boasting some of the most spectacular and beautiful villas in the Algarve. Founded in 1972, this 800-acre residential estate borders miles of golden coast along the Atlantic Ocean, with views of sprawling pine forests and some of the world’s top golf courses. You can rest assured this area will remain pristine, with a strict 8 percent building restriction as part of the UNESCO Ria Formosa bird sanctuary, ensuring your investment will prosper for years to come. 

On over 44,000 square feet of land, with over 16,000 square feet of living space, this 8 bedroom villa includes high-quality kitchens with full equipment, a 4-level glass electric elevator, and full fitness equipment. Enjoy a movie with friends and family in the 12-person theater with 4 Control system touchpanels, and Lutron light switches and thermostats. A wine gallery freezer in the basement is stocked with top Portugeuese wines and champagne, and drinks can be enjoyed in the basement bar lounge.

.Six indoor and outdoor gas fireplaces provide ambience, and the villa is decorated with top indoor and outdoor furnishings. Enjoy the luxurious outdoors with 3 heated pools and an outside lounge, and top garden Quinta landscaping. With spectacular views, amazing amenities and dazzling details, this luxurious villa is sure to impress. €20,000,000

Photos courtesy of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Portugal.

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A Modern Masterpiece: A Village of One’s Own

Designed by Hugh Newell Jacobsen, this estate in Meadowbrook, Pennsylvania, sits on a sloping hillside, nearly invisible from the road.

The main home is grand without being grandiose, a quiet elegance that offers multiple experiences. Features within include two entertainment patios, a two-story library, four bedrooms, three full and 1 half baths, and a private office in the master suite. There are many fine details throughout, including five wood-burning fireplaces, a circular staircase, a custom light tower in the foyer. granite countertops and a kitchen island. 

As one turns down a pea-gravel drive past a series of perfectly placed pines and hemlocks, a sharp 120-degree turn to the west reveals a remarkable village-like cluster of five buildings on the left with the barn across the drive. From the moment you turn down the drive, there is a sense of calm discovery. “Good architecture doesn’t really over-power its surroundings, it makes the site look better,” said Jacobsen.

The property is listed by J. Scott Laughlin of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox and Roach for $1.295 million. 

     

This editorial originally appeared in the Spring 2020 edition of

Unique Homes Magazine. Click here to see more.

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Live the Island Life on Panama’s Isla Saboga

In the exclusive El Encanto development on Isla Saboga, Panama, this home has stunning views of the jungle, ocean and beach.

“This home in the beautiful Las Perlas Archipelago in Panama is perfect for a couple looking to get away from it all,” says listing agent Stephanie Villarreal of Your Panama Real Estate Connection. “Life on the island is very relaxed and the expansive deck on the main level provides a perfect space to enjoy endless views.

The total indoor and outdoor area is approximately 2,700 square feet (or 250 square meters) on three levels. The three-bedroom, two-full- and one-half bath is equipped with all the modern amenities.

“The house is meticulously maintained by the present owner and comes equipped with top-quality furnishings,” says Villarreal. “Attention to detail is evident throughout starting from the custom kitchen cabinets imported from Italy to the screened dining room and sitting area which is perfect to enjoy the gorgeous sunsets.  

The home, listed for $629,000 USD, is ready for immediate occupancy and the property is located only 35 miles from Panama City (next to Contadora Island) and is easily reached in under 2 hours by ferry from Panama City, or only 20 minutes by airplane to Isla Contadora and then a short 10-minute boat ride to Isla Saboga.

“Perhaps one of the most unique features of the property is that there are many mature trees including mango, papaya, coconut and plantain,” says Villarreal. “The ease of having tropical fruit at your doorstep is definitely a plus — not to mention that being on a tropical island, you are steps away from the beautiful beach and can relax in the clear Pacific waters or try your luck fishing.”

For more information on this property, please visit www.yourpanamaconnection.com

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Salt of the Earth

Surrounded by the natural beauty of the pink himalayan salt blocks, salt spa visitors are encouraged to focus on their breathing as they embrace the benefits of the salt-infused air. 

Dry salt therapy, or halotherapy, is a practice that originated centuries ago in the natural salt mines of Eastern Europe. Dry salt therapy is thought to provide an array of health benefits, helping with stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as skin conditions, arthritis and asthma.

“People are seeking more natural and alternative ways to feel better and relieve pain,” says Maryann Corcoran, co-owner of the Corcova Salt Spa in Genesee County, Michigan. “They are tired of taking pills and getting little or no relief and often additional ailments due to the side eff ects from their medication.”

 

 

Royal Salt Cave & Spa. Photo by Rafal K Gdowski. 

“With medications you have to worry about side effects and short- or long-term effects on the body, but with salt therapy, there’s none of that. It’s simply a healing process that also throws relaxation into the mix,” adds Izabela Przybyla, founder and owner of the Royal Salt Cave & Spa in Frankfort, Illinois.

 

A man-made salt cave reproduces the climate of a natural salt mine. Surfaces are covered with layers of himalayan salt and saline aerosol is
dispersed into the room to create a space that feels authentic. 

“The salt cave is climate-con-trolled to recreate a micro-climate as if you were within a salt mine,” says Shannon Coppola, founder of Montauk Salt Cave in New York City. “Salt is super sensitive to heat and humidity. There is a very intricate climate-control system to ensure that the air is always moving and super clean to maximize the benefits.”

Chairs, whether recliners or loungers, are added for comfort and relaxation, while dim lighting is used to recreate a true cave-like experience.

One of the most well-known salt mines is the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland, which draws tourists from around the world. It was also the fi rst location to off er salt-related health treatments. In the 1830s, Dr. Feliks Boczkowsk began off ering salt baths when he began to notice the surprisingly good health of the local salt miners.

Mei Leung, a holistic healer at Montauk Salt Cave, uses Reiki and sound to help visitors feel calm and balanced. Photo by Mike Vitelli.

The historic Wieliczka Salt Mine began offering salt-related health treatments in Poland as early as 1830. Photo by Ryszard Tatomir. 

United States spa owners draw inspiration from Wieliczka Salt Mine, which has played a pivotal role in the rise of halotherapy. Cheryl Krouse and Jim Fittante, owners of the Samana Salt Spa in Lewiston, New York, traveled to Poland to gain a deeper understanding of the ancient form of wellness therapy. “We were able to see firsthand how the Wellness Center in the salt mine has been operating since the late 1800s,” explains Krouse.

Another notable salt mine in Eastern Europe is the Salt Mine Berchtesgaden, which is the oldest active salt mine in Germany. The mine attracts visitors, who are able to tour the mine and learn of its history while taking in views of the natural salt. “Enjoy the underground, starting with a train ride. Go down two long slides (which were used by mine workers in former times), take a raft ride over a mystic salt lake, and see traces of colored salt in the rocks,” says Peter Botzleiner-Reber, tourism manager for Salt Mine Berchtesgaden.

“I’ve known about salt therapy my whole life, since I’m originally from Poland. Salt caves have been popular in Europe for more than 70 years,” says Przybyla, who has seen the trend grow in the U.S. in recent years. “There’s no doubt in my mind that salt therapy is on the rise simply because it’s relaxing and beneficial to your health.”

Salt Mine Berchtesgaden is home to two long slides, which are surrounded by salt and were once used by mine workers. Photo by Georg Grainer Fotografie, courtesy of Salt Mine Berchtesgaden, Südwestdeutche Salzwerke AG. 

The salt used in halotherapy is antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antimicrobial, according to Shannon Coppola. To fully take advantage of its ben-efits, Coppola suggests a 30- to 60-minute session in a salt cave at least once a week — preferably two times a week.

While most salt therapy sessions are a solo experience, Montauk Salt Cave also offers guided sessions with experienced healers. The healers elevate the typical salt cave experience — whether it’s promoting peace and tranquility through the use of tarot cards and astrology, a meditative soundscape, or Reiki therapy.

Luxury developments and real estate properties are also experimenting with the benefits of halotherapy. “There has been an increase in awareness of the benefits of halotherapy and in turn a rise in demand for locations to off er it,” says Alison Howland, vice president of wellness programs and resourcing at Amrit Ocean Resort & Residences in Riviera Beach, Florida.

The luxury development will soon debut its inhalation halotherapy chamber, which will off er residents the opportunity to experience salt therapy from the comfort of their homes. “The concept of luxury is changing. No longer is standardized luxury acceptable. Personalized luxury is the new standard,” says Howland of the develop-ment’s decision to open the salt chamber.

For luxury spa owners, the choice to open a salt cave is often much more personal.

“My daughter was my biggest inspiration for opening this business,” says Przybyla. “She struggles with asthma and severe allergies, which tend to act up a lot seasonally. I wanted to help get her healthier in a natural way.”

Coppola echoes a similar message. “Ultimately, our inspiration for opening the spa was our son,” she says. Coppalo and her husband discovered salt therapy in 2014 when searching for a cure for their son’s respiratory issues. “We had tried everything under the sun — nebulizers, chambers, adenoidectomy, tonsillectomy, Flonase, Nasonex, and more. A friend suggested salt therapy. After one session, he slept through the night for the first time at 4 and a half years old,” says Coppola.

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