The beauty of Bocas may leave people awestruck. They think that there’s no work being done to maintain and keep an island pristine and unique. That’s not the case, at all.
Several entrepreneurs are actively working to make sure their businesses and community, are thriving.
Danny Alamo is one of these entrepreneurs. A hard-working, tri-state area guy that brings the NY/NJ hustle and mentality, in an island that embodies tranquility. Every day that we were there, he was figuring out new problems and already thinking of solutions.
The preconceived notion that exists about individuals “retiring” and starting a business on an island to fade off into the sunset is absolutely false.
A lot of the rental owners we met had the motivation to build their business and keep adding amenities onto their property. They still have the same concerns as a large hotel chain. Being that they operate on a small scale, they can act faster when it comes to making changes.
Don’t let it fool you; there will be plenty of problems that you’ll encounter and as resources are always scarce.
If you’re currently renting out a property or starting any kind of business on an island here are a couple of things to think about.
Though we’d like to think that Amazon Prime, or expedited shipping of any kind, has made it out to every region of the world, it hasn’t. It’ll be absolutely difficult to get something delivered overnight in Panama.
Danny let us know of the tedious supply runs he has to make for his hotel and shop (which has yet to open). He has to take a boat taxi and spend hours out driving and collecting things that he’ll need for his store.
He also mentioned having people out in Panama City; which is a good 45-minute plane ride away that would deliver goods to Bocas.
So aside from managing the property, worrying about all these different moving parts that can make or break your business, adds to the daily grind of island property management.
Hotelito was a prime example of a well-managed property. The service was exceptional and being a privately-owned small hotel; everything was done at the highest level.
This is mostly because of the hard work of Danny and his employees; who he treats like family.
A pitfall that they all seem to agree on was the lack of supplies that are available on the island. I’m sure that the same can be said for all other island properties, being that it’s tough to get just about anything that is not grown or developed nearby. To have things shipped or picked up becomes a cumbersome task.
Just be sure to prep for this when investing in business out in a good destination. Something as simple as getting better wi-fi, getting fresh food, or some extra supplies like wood, concrete, etc. can be extremely difficult.
When we arrived at Danny’s location, he let us know how difficult it was to get all the wood to make his [stunning] outdoor deck. It was a process that needed to have massive piles of wood brought on small boat taxis; which to me, sounds horrifying.
One of the problems that Hotelito faced when getting off the ground is hiring the right people to come in and help.
First, Danny lets us know that the service levels of the local businesses aren’t up to the standard that Americans are accustomed to. There’s no polite greeting when you walk in somewhere, and if you go to some of the markets and don’t have your money out, the clerk will move onto the next person.
Though everyone is extremely polite, the demeanor in which one conducts business is a bit different.
One of the things Hotelito does well is add a level of comfort through good service. The staff walks around with smiles and make conversation with guests; they allow people off the street to come in and check the location out. If guests are there at the right time, they might get offered a drink or a bite to eat.
Being that I have a background in HR tech, it’s worth noting that the treatment of employees at Hotelito was beyond exceptional. Danny makes sure to take care of them like family and he looks out for them. So much so that a lot of the well-known employees from other locations inquire about jobs, regularly.
The main takeaway is that the treatment, pay, and responsibilities, is important, but having them adapt to the culture of what you’re trying to build is a major key.
Don’t let the different culture affect you, or your business. Make it into what you want it to be, and what you believe would be most beneficial to your business. More importantly, treat your employees well.
It’s worth noting that the location of Hotelitos is in a perfect spot. It’s literally right in the middle of the city and has all of the things one would need and then some.
Bocas is a tight-knit community and in the middle of it all lies Hotelito, a location that is trying to be a staple of the island. If you want the comfort of home, along with the ability to go out and adventure, Hotelito Del Mar gives you the best of both worlds.
As Danny would say, there are different levels to what he’s trying to do. He wants to make Bocas a destination island, without having it lose its novelty. Which is why he’s investing his time and resources to opening up more businesses, employing more people, and having them work at a high level.
The location itself lets you see firsthand all the potential and beauty. If you make it up to see the scenic balcony, the view allows you to overlook the block and surrounding area, as well as the ocean, both of which are equally interesting. The environment exudes calmness and opportunity, which I’m sure is the same in any island getaway.
This begs the question: what can VR owners do to improve the experience at their location? Moving forward, we’re going to examine this and talk to people in different locations to help improve their property.
Though it seems like a dream lifestyle, it’s a lot of hard work. I had the chance to talk and listen to some of Danny’s experiences. He gave the team and me, a good understanding of the stresses that are associated with running his vacation business.