Surely you have heard of villas on the water… but what about an “aerial beach”? Dan Behm, owner of the new Bocas Bali resort, one of the hotels for adults only in Bocas del Toro, Panama, bet you’ve never come across a beach on stilts.
The former tech executive turned hotelier say what its “air beach” is the first of its kind anywhere in the world. “I had heard of projects in the Netherlands where people were building beaches on floating pontoons,” Behm tells Bloomberg. This is not that.
The sprawling pier-like structure is filled with sand and supported by 40-foot-tall concrete-filled PVC pilings that were drilled into the ocean floor with high-pressure water jets. On the edge of the rooms, some steps go down to the deep water 30 feet, about 9.14 meters, something like walking straight into the deep end of the pool.
Unlike an average beach, given the immediate depth of the water, guests can grab snorkel gear and see everything from nurse sharks to raysright near the steps without having to swim.
On the surface, the beach is bound to feel like the real deal almost everywhere else, with lounge and food truck service; a sophisticated (and invisible) drainage system that prevents the water from being polluted.
beh presents himself as a competitive professional: the kind of business problem solver who dleft his technology company Open Systems Technologies Incbased in Michigan, after growing from a $5 million hardware reseller to a $160 million IT business in 2015.
Dan Behm was interested in opening a hotel in Bocas del Toro not because of a longstanding connection to the place, but because he saw the opportunity to build bungalows on the waterthe kind found in the Maldives or Tahiti, within easy flying radius of the United States.
How was the “aerial beach” built?
the resort bali mouthswhich opened its doors in September 2021, offers 16 solar-powered accommodations, made of woodflanking a small peripheral island surrounded by mangroves and corals. Rates start at around $1,000 per night.,
To reach to this exclusive hotel a one-hour flight from Panama City is required, plus a boat ride of 15 minutes.
“In technology, I could always use my creativity to create things, but you could never see them. This time I wanted to create something you could see, with features you couldn’t find anywhere else,” says Dan Behm, when trying to explain why he bought a plot of three hectares of land, 35 more of mangroves, along with about five kilometers of coastline facing the Caribbean Sea that lack that one key amenity for an island resort: sand. “But you can build one,” he remembers being told.
The Bocas Bali resort beach design process was a process of yearswith sustainability as the goal. “To introduce sand into areas where it doesn’t occur naturally, we were afraid that we would disturb the coral and mangroves,” he explains. And building a floating option on pontoons was prohibitively expensive.
Without ruling out the carbon footprint of imported materials (the sand and palm trees came from other parts of Panama, the green quartz steps came by plane from India), Daniel Cáceres, an environmental auditor who evaluated or helped create some 300 ecological projects throughout Panama, provided guidance about the least invasive way to approach the project.
What’s next for the Bocas Bali resort?
With the beach finished, Dan Behm looks towards his next projects to Bocas Bali, including elaborate tree houses designed by Balinese bamboo architect Elora Hardy.
Also think of a number of botanical gardens, a dozen or so “secret” and a “massive” masterpiece. That five-year-old garden project is a somewhat unconventional choice, namely the introduction of non-native species in a pristine location, when you consider the unglamorous but sustainability-oriented investments that have already been made in the island complex. , such as rainwater and gray water catchment systems. treatment facilities.
But Dan Behm is not intimidated. He wants to introduce more color into the landscape, he says. “And by introducing new plants we’re also attracting a ton more hummingbirds and butterflies.”
Speaking ecologically, he continues: “We really believe that we are giving more than we are taking.”