At times we will write a hotel off as not being upscale enough for Luxury Latin America, but then the owners will put through an upgrade and it’s a different story. That’s the case with the Panamonte in Boquete, Panama.

For a long time this has been the hotel of choice for real estate buyers coming in to check out the scene, but when it started out the area was pretty sleepy and undiscovered. All that changed as the Boquete real estate market took off and the region started pulling in more tourists. Thus renovations to the rooms, an addition of suites, and a spa. See our new Panamonte Inn & Spa review.

We also recently added another hotel in Panama and more are on the way as the country wakes from its tourism slumber. When Chavez went all loco on us, a flood of wealthy Venezuealans high-tailed it out of their country and headed to Panama. That has driven up real estate prices, packed out the hotels, and created a whole new class of domestic travelers who can afford to splurge.

One hotel benefitting from Panama’s rise is Hacienda del Mar in the Pearl Islands.

This is one of those hangouts that the “in the know” people love: it’s on a private island with its own airstrip. Your plane lands, vehicles transfer everyone to the resort, and you relax with welcome drink in hand before heading to your casita or suite.

I spent some time in the Pearl Islands while on a Panama yacht trip and can attest that this is a gorgeous area, though one mostly enjoyed by Panamanians rather than foreign visitors. They’ve been happy keeping this secret to themselves.