Panama City, Panama: Ocean Reef Islands
By Gina Kramer
On a diverse island rich in culture, just off the coast of Panama’s capital city, history and modernization come together in perfect unity with the development of the new Ocean Reef Islands. The $350 million project will consist of two private luxury islands interconnected by bridges, nestled conveniently in Panama Bay.
Unlike other man-made islands, the Ocean Reef Islands were initiated with a different concept in mind: providing a smaller gated community designed to cater to those looking for a tranquil living environment, while also having direct access to the ever-growing city of Panama. Prospective buyers have their choice of single-family homes or apartments with up to three levels. Residents also will have access to the private marina located on the islands, which will include a yacht club with a restaurant and bar.
According to Victoria Levitam, sales director at Grupo Los Pueblos, the development company for the project, Panama is one of the best places to live in Latin America. This is because Panama has just about all of the amenities that can be found in the United States and Europe available for a fraction of the cost — not to mention the ideal location and proximity to historic landmarks, rain forests and jungles, beautiful beaches and some of the best golfing in the region.
“Our geographic location is a cornerstone for serving the North, Central and South American markets,” says Levitam. “The ever-expanding development of the Panama Canal makes all shipments and transshipment a reality not existent anywhere else in the world.”
Aside from the Panama Canal, Panama City draws its attention in other ways, such as its renowned shopping, nightlife, fine dining, business and world-class health services. Bob Hurwitz, president and founder of Hurwitz-James Company, the real estate company currently representing the Ocean Reef Islands, has high expectations for the future of the islands.
“The project will positively impact tourism for a number of reasons, not the least of which Ocean Reef Islands is a stand-alone project unique in Latin America, that when finally completed and built-out with the scope of our marketing, I believe will be emblematic of the country like the Sydney Opera House is to Australia, and the Palm is to Dubai,” says Hurwitz.
“In terms of investment,” he continues, “any oceanfront property, whether man-made or natural, is relatively scarce and will hold its value better in bad times and have much more accelerated appreciation when the market is good.”
Traveling Northern Italy is an adventure best experienced with all the senses. And with such an abundance of authentic, expertly prepared food and wine, it can become overwhelming as you try to taste your way through the countryside. Enter Pamela Marasco, a seasoned pro, having traveled more than 10,000 miles throughout Northern Italy with family and friends exploring the best of what local restaurants and vineyards have to offer.
In her new travel guide, “Seeing and Savoring Italy: A Taste and Travel Journey through Northern Italy, Tuscany and Umbria,” Marasco weaves her own travel anecdotes with the cultural traditions of Italian food. As a result, she deliciously divulges little-known facts on the greatest food, wine, art and history of the region.
“Looking at food in the historical landscape of the art and history of the region made what I saw and ate more meaningful,” says Marasco. “We often traveled off the tourist radar and on our road trips I began to develop a ‘taste’ for Italy, traveling le strade dei vini e dei sapori, (Italy’s wine and flavor routes) eating like an Italian with an appreciation for the reputation of the food, the producers and purveyors of the food and the heritage of the people who were eating the food.”
Readers take note, if you’re planning a trip to Italy and want to dig in to the finest culinary experience there is to offer, be sure to consult Marasco first.
Isleworth Marks Silver Anniversary
A golfer’s paradise nestled among the Butler Chain of Lakes in southwest Orlando, Fla., Isleworth is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. Anchored by a world-renowned, Arnold Palmer-designed golf course, the 600-acre community, now owned by Tavistock Group, has seen vast changes since it opened in 1986.
Originally a prosperous citrus grove, the expansive property is now hailed more for its fine homes, grand clubhouse, numerous children’s programs and serene grounds than for its history with oranges.
“We embraced Isleworth’s surrounding nature with several environmental efforts — flowers and trees were planted by the thousands, a community quail breeding program was established, and we became an Audubon-certified community for our environmental preservation efforts,” says Vivienne Lewis, Tavistock Group director. “We introduced estate-style homes with exquisite architecture and a collection of luxury villas in lush garden settings to appeal to the most discerning homebuyer. Multi-million-dollar upgrades to the golf course and clubhouse and new amenities created endless recreational activities. These enhancements marked a turning point for our community and helped make Isleworth the address of choice for many prominent families.”
With all that Isleworth has to offer, it’s no wonder top executives, star athletes and Central Florida’s most prominent families have flocked to call the community home. Today’s membership still includes 35 of the founding families and more than 200 members under the age of 18.
This spring saw anniversary celebrations that ranged from a private performance by the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra to a hosted petting zoo. More events are scheduled exclusively for Isleworth’s adult members in the fall.