Panama’s steamy rainforests, swampy mangroves and kaleidoscopic coral reefs are all within easy reach of El Otro Lado, a remote retreat on 110 hectares of land that prides itself on local integration. Guests are invited to sit back and take in these idyllic surroundings, while sipping a passion fruit mojito, and encouraged to discover more about the region’s Afro-Panamanian heritage. Situated near Portobelo, and adjacent to centuries old fortifications that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the surrounding jungle – which wraps itself around the hotel’s four villas – buzzes with natural life. This thriving landscape provides the backdrop for endless hours of relaxation. But should the mood strike you to get active there are countless options, including fishing, rainforest tours, and snorkeling at one of the nearby beaches, transported by one of the hotel’s four motor launches.
With a tropical soundtrack curated by renowned broadcaster, Gladys Palmera, it’s possible to gaze across an azure bay to Portobelo, a 400-year-old town built by Spanish colonialists. Closer by, sensory thrills come straight from El Otro Lado’s interiors, which integrate Arte Povera with 20th century sculptures and contemporary black-and-white photography. The four villas draw inspiration from the natural colors that surround them – green from the jungle, blue from the sea, yellow from the sun and purple from the Portobelo spirit. Social activity centers on the Gazebo – the hotel’s restaurant, bar and lounge – adorned with Carnival masks and white sofas splashed with brightly colored cushions. Here, Caribbean ingredients and colonial flavors are brought together nightly and guests can while away hours gazing over the infinity-edge pool, which appears to flow seamlessly into the pristine bay.
Surround yourself with color and culture at El Otro Lado, a remote and jungle-wrapped outpost where ancient Panamanian traditions are celebrated and embraced. Retreat to your private villa, sample Caribbean fusion cuisine or gaze into the dense forest with a cocktail in hand from the Gazebo.
El Otro Lado is a private retreat situated in an exceptional enclave of Portobelo Bay. The Hotel is located just over an hour from Panama City, and surrounded by the National Park of Portobelo.
• member Design Hotels