Passion Points: Green/Eco
Some vacation destinations are synonymous with European royalty: Sardinia, Gstaad, Mustique and Marbella. But Panama? The Central American country is only now coming online as one of the next It travel destinations (the New York Times named it one of its top places to go in 2012). But one European prince has been under the spell of its untouched natural splendor for years. Prince Maximilan Von Liechtenstein first visited Panama in 1999 and was immediately bewitched by its secluded, wild nature. Nine years later, in 2008, he and his Panamanian wife started construction on a beachside home on the stunning Azuero Peninsula, which dips south into the Pacific Ocean. In designing the magnificent Spanish-style estancia, Prince Maximilian worked with a renowned architect to make sure the property would blend into the surrounding landscapes.
Today AMA Estancia is a true passion project: the 17,000-square-foot house, with stunning ocean vistas, includes a main villa with six guest rooms, as well as a pool house with one king-size room. Two beaches lie within thirty yards of the house, one a protected bay with calm water, the other more open, with waves ideal for surfing. The owner is also committed to an ambitious reforesting project, with some 60,000 native trees being replanted to help reconstitute the natural corridor and landscape of the region. Management is proud to arrange for walks or horseback rides along the beaches and through the property’s 450 acres for its guests.
While AMA Estancia is Prinz Maximilian’s private family home, it can be rented in its entirety by a group of friends or families traveling together. Contact the Indagare bookings team for an introduction or for more information.
The prince spoke to Indagare about AMA Estancia, his love for Panama and the eco-projects closest to his heart.
What made you fall in love with the Azuero Peninsula?
The Azuero Peninsula is of exceptional natural beauty. The house is located on a particularly gorgeous spot, in front of rolling hills and between two very different beaches. One beach surrounds a little bay with a coral reef, and the other beach is wide and open, and gets good surfing waves. It has also attracted many sea turtles, which come to the shore to lay their eggs. As soon as I saw the spot, I immediately fell in love.
What vision did the architect, Annabelle Selldorf, bring to the property?
Annabelle took into consideration the landscape’s colors and vernacular materials in the area, when designing the architecture. The house was built in a contemporary style, incorporating such classic Spanish elements as wood balconies and terra-cotta tiles. I particularly like the simple but charming woodwork around the house, which adds a rustic yet sophisticated element.
What inspired the reforestation project at AMA Estancia?
A large portion of the AMA Estancia land was covered with a teak forest planted in 1994. Teak is an invasive tree in Panama, doesn’t provide any food to the local fauna and leads to soil deterioration over time. So we have been systematically cutting down the teak and reforesting the region with native species, thus connecting the patches of existing native forest and providing bio-corridors for monkeys, birds and other animals. To date, we have planted over 40,000 trees, and we have 20,000 more to go. We encourage guests to hike or horseback-ride through the reforested hills and get guided tours around the property.
What should no AMA Estancia visitor miss during a visit?
I encourage our guests to explore the area around AMA Estancia. Visitors can go horseback riding on the beach and along forest trails, go surfing, fishing and snorkeling. The rainy season (May through November) is a perfect time for these activities and also for watching whales and sea turtles in the water in front of the house. On a culinary note, the tuna sushi and mango and passion fruit sorbets, sourced and prepared by Andres, our chef, are incredible.
What is the best time of year to visit AMA Estancia?
The Panamanian summer (December through mid May) is the ideal time to visit. I also recommend coming between late July and late September, when the rains are not as strong and last for shorter periods, and there is a great chance that guests will see whales right in front of the house.
What makes Panama unique in your eyes and how do you see the country’s tourism developing?
Although tourism in Panama is still small and underdeveloped, I am hopeful that Panamanians will develop this sector carefully and not allow tourism to destroy the country’s beautiful nature and charm. I believe that they have the ability to develop tourism in a sustainable and ecofriendly way.
What are some other discoveries you’ve made in Panama?
In addition to a trip to the countryside, I recommend taking a fishing tour through the Panama Canal and visiting the beautiful and diverse town of Casco Viejo. Panama has been a melting pot for many ethnic and cultural groups for many years and is also home to a beautiful and isolated cloud forest, full of wildlife. From Volcan, the highest point in Panama, visitors can see both the Pacific and the Caribbean across the isthmus.
What can visitors to AMA Estancia expect from the experience of taking over the property?
AMA Estancia has been developed as a private home and property. As such, it is an intimate space with personality and flair, and offers space and freedom. The beauty and surprises inherent in the property make it an ideal destination for the curious and open-minded. While it is a beachside property, the experience at AMA Estancia compares more to an Argentine estancia or a European castle than a bungalow resort.
To inquire about renting AMA Estancia, contact our bookings team.
Read about eco-lodges in Nicaragua.
Read about a project protecting the Caribbean waters.
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