Celebrating our one-year Anniversary at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast

Blog by Terry Richmeier & Manzar Lari

 

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            January 10th, 2015, marks the one-year anniversary of Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast! We have had a joyous and productive first year that has been full of growth and pleasure in having guests make Casa de Montaña their home away from home.

            It all started with our open house just days before we opened. We had around 350 people attend over a 5-hour period – it was mind-boggling! Our first guests, Panamonte Estates residents, wanted to stay with us to check out the rain shower and see how it worked and the open floor plan of the bathroom. This couple was looking at possibly remodeling their home to incorporate something similar. Along with our local guests, we had a lovely couple from Amsterdam that joined us and a couple from the Chiriquí region. This turned out to be a very successful opening night!

            Just days after our opening, we were lucky enough to have the ex-president’s staff and right hand man and his family stay with us. They were here during the flower festival and had rented the whole Bed and Breakfast. It was an incredible compliment to have them here during that time.

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            We sponsored several events and organizations last year that included Amigos de Animales (friends of the animals), Buenos Vecinos de Boquete (good neighbors of Boquete), Boquete Knitters Group, Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival and Bid 4 Boquete. Sometimes we provided our time and skills and other times we offered resources and money. We are proud that we have become part of a community that really cares about its people and gives them a helping hand if they need it.

Our staff has been with us since almost the beginning and we have enjoyed tremendously working side by side with them. They are working as if they owned a share in the company and they are what has made us successful is such a short period of time! Although not hired to do multiple tasks, they have all stepped up to the plate to begin to learn kitchen duties, small maintenance, gardening and office tasks that go beyond their comfort level. They do this seamlessly, out of their own initiative and without complaints. We are truly blessed. All of this hopefully results in our guests having a comfortable and pleasant stay!

We had started out by hiring a landscaping company to put in flowers, shrubs, trees and grass since the land around our home really needed to “come to life”. Recently we hired a proper gardener with many years of experience to work part-time for us. Our goal is to continue to create and maintain the garden so that it gives our guests a feeling of serenity and beauty throughout our compound.

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We have added a small store featuring coffees from different coffee fincas and even bags of Geisha coffee that our guests can conveniently purchase and take with them after their stay. We also have some snack items that our guests can purchase. We have developed a tour (Boquete Overview Tour) designed for those who are looking to relocate to Boquete. This tour gives our guests an overview of the neighborhoods around Boquete, including some planned and gated communities.

One thing that we did right, at least in our eyes, is our Social Hour in which we have a chance to get to know more about our guests, their travels and their personalities. Social Hour has created a space where our guests have had a chance to share what they did earlier in the day, compare notes, and just relax and get to know each other. It has been amazing to realize that we have many different countries represented during most Social Hour gatherings, making the world just a little bit smaller and a more wonderful place for all of us!

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We began the process of keeping our guests informed with newsletters, emails, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Our goal is to inform our guests about what to expect when they come to Boquete, Panama, as well as what tours and adventures are available to them.

This has also been a year of growth for Boquete as well with a new president and a new mayor coming into office and a new vegetable market being created with apartments and stores above it. Copa Airlines reduced fare flights have started as of January 15th, 2015, direct from Tocumen instead of the international travelers having to drive over to Albrook Airport.

The new mayor has begun to remodel the park and several new restaurants have opened such as “Nikitos”, “Mi Jardin Coffee Bar and Café” and “Stop & Go”. There is a beautification project all throughout the town with stores being painted and sidewalks being fixed. New stores and have opened up such as “Chox Chocolates”. Several stores have been remolded, expanded or relocated such as “Video Club”, “Sandwich Factory” and “Sugar and Spice”.

It has been a year of some wonderful changes in Boquete and Panama in general. We are excited about the upcoming changes for the coming year. We will continue to make our guests a number one priority. At Casa de Montaña, we are looking forward to our future guests coming to visit and make our Bed and Breakfast their new home, at least for a short time!

Helping Others!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

Helph OtherYes, our main job is to take care of you while you are staying here at Casa de Montaña. We want to make sure that you have the best experience possible and that includes the people that we partner with to set up tours, breakfast and our social hour.

And, with that said, we also want you to know that we are involved in our community as well. Our entire team is dedicated to spending our time, talents and money working with different non-profit organizations. If you are interested in volunteering for a day or two (or more?) while you are visiting Boquete, please let us know. Here is a current list of what we are involved with:

1 Amigos de Animales (Friends of the Animals). This program raises money that is used to spay and neuter dogs and cats in Boquete and the surrounding Chiriquí regions. With many of the animals, they do not have homes or owners and are still a part of our surroundings and neighborhoods. Amigos de Animales has a staff of veterinarians who will volunteer their time to spay and neuter these animals. They also provide this service for furry friends of our local Panamanians and Ex-Pats alike. When possible, they ask for a $10.00 donation to cover the costs of supplies, anesthesia and all other expenses. Over the past several years, the quality of life for our four legged friends has increased dramatically! We have attached the website here to learn more: http://www.fadab.org/

2. A partner to Amigos de Animales, ARF (Adopt, Rescue, and Foster), it does an amazing job in finding the owners of their new pets. We witnessed a motherless kitten that was less than three weeks old that was rescued and fed every two hours for several days straight. The end results were astonishing! We’ve attached their website to learn more: http://www.arf-boquete.com/

3. Another area that we are involved in is Buenos Vecinos de Boquete (Good Neighbors of Boquete). This program is similar to a food bank. Money is raised to buy food from a local vendor at a largely reduced price. This food consists of very basic staples such as rice, beans, oil etc. Several of the locals do not have a stove to cook on and will cook on an open wood fire. Others are handicapped and are in need of more support from the outside community. This program connects with another program called “The Handicapped Foundation of Boquete” (which also receives donated food from Buenos Vecinos de Boquete). Casa de Montaña has volunteered to fill bags of food and our staff has helped deliver the food donations to the people who are in need of it. Many of our staff, being raised in Boquete, are familiar with the families and feel that this is a great way that they can support their community. Casa de Montaña is also going to be part of the efforts to raise money for supporting Buenos Vecinos de Boquete. The cost for providing monthly food rations is currently at $360.00 per family per year. Here is the website for Buenos Vecinos de Boquete with more information: http://www.buenosvecinosdeboquete.com.pa/

Side Note: Here is an article of thanks that goes out to those who support the Handicapped Foundation of Boquete. http://vive-boquete.blogspot.com/2014/05/news-boquete-fwd-thank-you-from.html

There are many more volunteer opportunities in Boquete and as Casa de Montaña strives to deliver an even better experience for you during your stay, we could help arrange for some volunteer opportunities for you if you have an interest. Our community would welcome your support and you could become a part of our community during your visit, leading to a much richer and fuller experience of Boquete!

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