The winter of 2017 marked record snowfalls in Kelowna that began almost as soon as November did. By late December, SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) had officially set in. My husband and I began to plan our escape.
A month later, we found ourselves driving along a winding road in the Boquete Highlands of Panama. The open windows let in the fresh mountain breeze, the sun was shining and we were soaking it up. Winter at home was a distant memory.
That morning, we had left the charming town of Boquete, where we spent the last four days, and set out for Lucero – one of the finest golf course communities in the area. We had an opportunity to stay in one of Lucero’s luxury treehouses, and we couldn’t wait to discover this place touted as “a paradise in the sky.”
Calle Raideep winds through miles of lush forested areas, going higher and higher along the mountainous range. We drove for about twenty minutes. Soon we were through the manned gated entrance and at the Lucero clubhouse. I was already taking in the incredible views, the vibrant colours of tropical plants and flowers, and the clean, fresh air. We were 3,600 feet above sea level.
The friendly Panamanian girl at the desk was expecting us. She loaded our luggage into a golf cart, and gave us a set of keys to another cart for our personal use during our stay. We eagerly jumped in and followed her to our accommodations.
Lucero has four incredible treehouses available to rent. They are built 18 feet above the ground around spreading tree branches. Each one is positioned to allow visitors the best possible panoramic views.
After enjoying a local Panamanian beer on our deck, we decided to make use of the golf cart and explore.
Although we didn’t come to Lucero to play golf, we were anxious to see the golf course. Our host in Boquete pronounced it as “second to none in the area.” She also spoke very highly of Lucero’s Seasons Restaurant, which was located in the clubhouse. We decided to make dinner reservations before starting our tour.
Chef Paolo came out of the kitchen to greet us. He said he was just preparing our breakfast, which is part of the package. Breakfast would be delivered to our room and placed in our fridge so we could enjoy it the next morning. He rhymed off the list: boiled eggs, cinnamon buns, various cheeses, local tropical fruits, yogurt and orange juice. Nice.
While we were at the clubhouse, we took a quick walk around. There is an infinity pool and a hot tub overlooking the first hole of the golf course. It was quite breezy that day so we passed on going in the water deciding instead to use our time before dinner to explore the golf course – hole by hole.
The par-72 course is Panama’s highest golf course, and is designed by J. Michael Poellot. Poellet’s website says that he “utilized more than twice the area typically set aside for an 18-hole championship golf course in order to preserve ample space between holes so that members could enjoy the serene, rolling terrain with unbelievable 360-degree panoramic vistas.”
We stopped at every hole to take pictures and to lose ourselves in the surroundings. I can see that it would be challenging to play golf here, but honestly even if your game is off, all you have to do is look around, breathe deeply, and move on.
We drove for about an hour around the undulating course through woodlands – where we were greeted by a flock of chickens – apparently expecting food – across meadows and along hill crests.
I spotted greenhouses in the distance where fresh produce is grown and harvested for use in the restaurant. I also noticed that there are young coffee plants everywhere around the course. Lucero is growing coffee beans, which will eventually be roasted and served in the clubhouse and Season’s restaurant, and made available to guests for purchase.
At the ninth hole, we observed there was construction underway. The land was being formed in a tiered, semi-circular fashion. Lucero’s landscape architect was on site, and he proudly unrolled his blueprints to explain what they were working on. Lucero is building an outdoor amphitheater where they will host shows and musical events. A new concession building is nearly complete, and they hope to use the amphitheater this summer.
When we finished our tour of the golf course, we returned to our treehouse retreat to relax before dinner. The treehouse is lavishly appointed with a queen size bed and fluffy linens, housecoats and slippers, a small kitchenette with fridge, toaster oven and microwave, a full washroom with a shower that has a pebble floor and a gentle rain showerhead. Unique Panamanian accents add the finishing touches.
Dinner at Seasons Restaurant was wonderful. The farm-to-table menu uses locally sourced ingredients and produce grown in the on-site greenhouses. We ordered beet salad, ceviche (a Panamanian delicacy), pan-fried local mountain lake trout and ribs. Again Chef Paolo came out to say hello and ask how we enjoyed our meal.
The next morning, the birds woke us early to announce a new day, and we watched the sun rise over the mountains – right from the bed! We rose and brewed a pot of rich, dark Panamanian coffee before tucking into the breakfast that was so thoughtfully prepared for us.
It was time to continue on to our next Panamanian adventure, but this visit to Lucero will be hard to top.
Editor’s note: To book a Lucero treehouse, call +507-730-8101 for rates and room availability. For more information on our golf course and rental units, visit http://lucerogolfandcountryclub.com.