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Lola Beach and The Constant Surprise Factor

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Written by Matt   
Monday, 14 March 2011 14:45

Here’s what really happened when I stayed at Lola Beach in February 2011: the vacation rental world inverted itself. I grilled crispy coffee-rubbed pork, pharm I slept late, I watched The Tailor of Panama for the first time, treat I swam in a crystal water lagoon, I watched the sunset from a palapa on the beach, and I felt terrible for the guests of the adjacent resort.

Well, sometimes you get the feeling that I am a bit over-stocked and prepared for everything...


Here’s what nobody said when Heather Dilley bought her condo at Playa Blanca: “Well, I guess her rental will blow everything else out of the water.”

Here’s what everybody who’s stayed at her condo realizes when the owner of Lola Beach bought her condo at Playa Blanca: “Well, I guess this rental blows everything else out of the water.”

When a collective history about the Playa Blanca development of Farallon is written sometime in the distant future, there may be one redeeming feature about what otherwise is a pretty generic story of prefab buildings, grandiose towns that will never be built, and a cliché all-inclusive resort. That redeeming feature is Heather Dilley.

“Well, I am a bit over-stocked and prepared for everything,” Heather told me. This is not unlike Harry Houdini saying he occasionally dabbles in escape artistry.

Without having ever met Heather, you get the distinct impression from her rental, Lola Beach, that she’s a compulsive person. Not OCD compulsive. Rather insanely well-prepared host compulsive. This is because her vacation condo, a place she rarely occupies more than 3 weeks a year, is better equipped than 95% of most luxury yachts. Here are several of the things I found while poking around the bathroom: toenail clipper, q-tips, individual packets of Imodium AD.

Without having ever met Heather, you get the distinct impression that she’s on a different level than other property owners in Panama. Twenty years from now, she may have the only condo people will recognize: it’s precision will be emblematic of an alien (or maybe non-existent) set of standards. This is a set of standards in Panama that’s so hard to maintain, that “no one really does it anymore.” Here are several things I found while poking around the kitchen: citrus zester, apple corer, garlic press.

In defense of her guest garlic press, Heather says likes it when guests feel wowed when they walk through the door and she likes to keep them wowed when they discover all the little touches she has included. It’s the constant surprise factor.

Vacation rentals are not a new concept to world travel and nor are absentee owners. So what’s rare besides the beach you can walk to, the balcony that will breeze you, the beds that will envelop you, and the million other amenities and personal touches that will confound you: what’s rare in this industry, what’s inimitable in Playa Blanca, and what’s extraordinary in Panama– from the moment of contact to the point of departure – is a rental that is virtually uncriticizeable. Here are several things I found while not even looking for them: post cards and envelopes to write letters home, 629 beach towels, enough novels and DVDs to entertain a Chilean mining crew for 69 days, Citronella coils.

To list all the thoughtful nuances of Heather Dilley’s apartment would take up hours of my day so it’s perhaps more efficient to simply give credit where credit is due. I don’t usually write glowing reviews like this so understand that this is not simply a vacation rental: it’s a required and at times comically bewildering tutorial on how to host a guest in your home when you’re several thousand kilometers away.

To book Lola Beach, 3 bedroom ocean-view condo in Playa Blanca

USA #727-459-7376

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Go Booster Go!
written by Boosters Inc. , April 18, 2011
Are you s-t-i-l-l in Panama!
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Last Updated on Monday, 14 March 2011 14:55