An Adventure Filled Destination Wedding in Panama

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Wyatt and Lilly hosted an exotic destination wedding at the Valle Escondido Resort in Boquete, Panama.  They traveled with close friends and family to Central America for several days of surf, sand, white water rafting and hiking before the big day.  We asked the couple about their experience and the location, which was selected after a vacation they spent there, during which they feel in love with the area.  Lilly has a lot of family in Colombia and some in Panama. Central America was a good in between spot for her family and the family in the States. They also wanted to have an intimate wedding with their closest friends that was unique to them and their particular styles and preferences.”

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On their previous vacation, Wyatt & Lilly buried a bottle of McCallan 18, which Wyatt dug up on their wedding day and enjoyed with his closest friends!”

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Wyatt and Lilly love to travel and spend time with family, so they planned a week of adventures on either side of their wedding day including a cloud forest hike to a waterfall, rafting the Chiriqi River, and taking a boat ride out for the day to an island in the Pacific to relax, play ultimate Frisbee, and soak up some sun.”

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We asked the couple for advice for you!   “If you can, fly into David rather than driving the long route from Panama City to Boquete. We rented houses in the resort for ourselves and our guests, which was very convenient. There are also a few hotels close by where many guests stayed.”

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Lilly and Wyatt wanted the event to be colorful and elegant, and reflective of the tropical paradise they married in. They chose bright turquoise and fuschia and incorporated these colors tastefully into the decor, fashion, and invitations.”

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 Wyatt and Lilly love a good party and so do their families. The local DJ and band had the crowd dancing all night long. A local tradition at weddings is “Hora Loca”, which is “Crazy Hour” and all kinds of goofy props and sound makers are handed out to everyone, and the party gets even more fun!”

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Congratulations to the newlyweds!

Destination Wedding Photographer: Jemma Coleman Photography

Wedding Vendors: Ceremony & Reception Site: Valle Escondido, Wedding Coordinator/Planner: Dora Esquivel, Officiant: Enrique Sanchez, Caterer: Sabor Escondido, Gown Designer & boutique: David’s Bridal, Bride’s shoe designer: Badgely Mishka, Groom’s attire: Hugo Boss, Thomas Pink, Rings/Jewelry: ShaneCo

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Tantalo Hotel, Panama City, Panama

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Part two of Laura Grier, from Beautiful Day Photography’s adventures in Panama is a look at the swanky new hotel property, on location approved – the Tantalo.

I had always been intrigued by Panama and curious to go visit, but it wasn’t until earlier this year when I received a call from my longtime friend Adam Rosenberg, that the invitation to fly down became a reality.  Adam called me he had been furiously finalizing the construction, interior design, and completion of Panama City’s first Boutique Hotel.  Two years ago, he was asked to join forces with the founder and CEO of Blesso Properties, Matthew Blesso, in helping with the creation of a truly unique hotel experience in Panama City.  Matthew saw the need for a service oriented, true boutique hotel to exist in Panama City, which was quickly becoming a major destination for sophisticated business travelers, yet was lacking the experience that many tourists desire and expect. Adam brought his savvy NY  influence, sophistication, design and fluency in Spanish to the table and the two of them combined brought to life Tantalo Hotel/Kitchen/Roofbar, an innovative, eco-conscious, modern boutique hotel right in the heart of  the funky, artsy district of Casco Viejo.

Tantalo

When my boyfriend, Jason and I first arrived in Panama we didn’t know what to expect.  I had a chance to practice my Spanish with our cab driver, and along the way he gleefully pointed out every statue, newly constructed building, and boasted how Panama had an island for every day of the year. This fact I had no clue about.  Who knew that Panama had almost 365 islands? When our cab started climbing up this cobblestone street to the Old section of town, AKA Casco Viejo, I was shocked at the juxtaposition of abandoned and graffiti-tagged buildings with new, funky hotels and cafes. Yet, because it has been declared a UNESCO Heritage site, the original facades of all of the buildings have to remain unchanged. This is so important, because even though Casco Viejo has undergone impressive renovations in the last decade, it still feels like you are back in time and that you are standing in what will be like a bustling New Orleans in a few years.  You can just feel the energy there, like you are witnessing the beginning of something amazing.  When I paid my cab driver, I discovered another fun fact, that the US dollar is their currency, another reason why Panama is so tourist-friendly.

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Then we checked in.  The coolest part about checking in at Tántalo Hotel, is that each of its 12 uniquely designed guests rooms incorporates artwork by emerging local artists and each artist had the artistic freedom to design their own theme using numerous art mediums.  Our room had a very indigenous feel to it with tribal-looking drawings of native birds painted on the walls and it inspired me to want to explore one of the local indigenous tribes that are still living around Panama City. 

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Tantalo, already chosen as the “Sexiest New Hotel in Panama;” it boasts a communal-style restaurant with international-inspired comfort food dishes designed by Panamanian born Chef Pierre DeJanon, and THE hottest rooftop bar/lounge in all of Panama.  That rooftop bar, the first of its kind boasting some of the most unique views of the city skyline, and it had a line around the block to get in!

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I was definitely excited to experience staying at the hotel, but was equally curious about what Panama really did have to offer as a country and what all the buzz was about.  Adam said that I would leave Panama with a completely different perspective on what I thought Panama was, so I of course accepted his challenge.

And he was right, I was completely wrong about Panama.  I was wrong to think I could sum up everything this country has to offer in only a week.  I honestly left feeling a bit teased by my experience.  There is SO much to do here and so much more ground to cover.  What makes it even more fabulous is that you can do all of this in style and comfort now, since Boutique Hotels like Tantalo are becoming more popular and prevalent there.  It is so exciting to watch Panama as a country growing and booming as quickly as they are.  I am excited to see where it will be in a few years, and you can bet this is where I’ll be staying!

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All Photos by Beautiful Day Photography.

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Honeymoon in Panama

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Laura Grier from Beautiful Day Photography is here today to share with us her recent trip to Panama, scouting the trendy new destination for honeymooners everywhere. 

All I ever really even knew about Panama was that it had a canal that connected the North and South Seas otherwise known as the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans.  But it has been on the horizon as the next “it” spot to travel to for the past five years.  This influx of popularity is due mainly because of the massive expansion project of the Panama Canal by 2014.  This anticipation of the new and improved canal is causing excitement all over the country and it is almost palpable in the energy that you feel there.  Everywhere you look there is new construction, causing an often surreal juxtaposition between the third and first world. 

You can be standing in Casco Viejo, the old section of town and now a protected UNESCO Heritage Site, with churches and buildings dating back to the 1600’s and be overlooking the Panama City skyline that now resembles a mini Dubai.  You can go visit a five star resort in the jungle and get spa treatments, then take a canoe to visit the nearby indigenous tribes, still living in huts, wearing loin cloths. This constant contradiction is prevalent in all areas of Panama, a country that boasts so much more than just a canal, and to me is the very essence of what gives it its charm.

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We spent a couple of days in Panama City biking around Casco Viejo, taking photos and enjoying their local food.  I was obsessed with Casco and all of the colors and textures of the old buildings.  As a photographer I was in heaven there. 

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At one point we decided to take a detour through the Jungle to go visit the nearby Embera tribe.  You park at the edge of a river and a hand-carved canoe with an Embera tribesman in nothing but a loincloth paddles up to collect you.  We were then paddled out to their village through crocodile infested waters and glided through a sea of gorgeous green lily pads in order to cross over to their village.  Once we were there they took us on a hike through the rainforest explaining the flora and fauna and what they use for herbs and cooking.  Then they toured us around their village, performed their native dances, prepared us a meal from fresh fish and plantains, and then showcased their gorgeous carvings and weavings that you can purchase to help support the tribe.  They weave these pots from palm leaves that are so perfectly woven, that they can hold water without leaking. It was pretty impressive.  I attempted to dance with them, and epically failed, but it was truly a unique experience and so amazing to think that people still live like this only minutes away from a major bustling city like Panama City.

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We also decided to visit Panama City’s three closest islands, Maos, Perico and Flamenco where a causeway connects all three of them to the mainland and it is a quick bike ride or taxi there.  If you have time for a few extra days, I suggest going to the San Blas islands off the Caribbean coast of Panama.  You can either charter a yacht or take a jumper plane there, but these islands have pristine white beaches and turquoise water with amazing coral reefs to go snorkeling. 

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I suggest you take time out to stay at Nitro City, an Extreme Sports Resort nestled in Punta Chame, Panama.  It is only about an hour and a half outside of the city and is basically an adult playground where you can learn kite surfing, wake boarding, surfing, BMX, motocross, skydiving, or just do nothing and relax by the pool. I felt like we entered the strangest adult summer camp when we got there, but once you were around the sporty energy of everyone else, it was addicting!  We even saw a lot of pro athletes there training and just trying out new sports for kicks.  The rooms were all themed with different famous X-Games athletes or their sponsors, each with their own private deck and hot tub.   It was such a fun getaway from Panama City, but close enough to do as just a day trip. 

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And of course when back in Panama City we took a tour of the canal (a must do)!  It’s amazing to have lunch and watch these Mammoth Ships pass by and to learn its history.  You can sit at their restaurant and order lunch as you watch the massive ships go through and it’s not as easy as you would imagine.  Each ship takes an enormous amount of man power and about 45 minutes of technical maneuvers to get these ships through the locks…Amazing.

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I am going to go back and enjoy it there as often as possible while it’s still Central America’s best kept secret!laura grier photographypanama harbor photospanama harbor

All Photos by Beautiful Day Photography.

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