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American eco-preneur pioneers nature friendly hospitality in latest eco-travel hot spot

American eco-preneur pioneers nature friendly hospitality in latest eco-travel hot spot ( WASHINGTON & CLEVELAND & BOQUETE, PANAMA – As President Obama and others stress the importance of wind, solar, and other clean energy technologies on a large scale, an enterprising American woman practices clean energy in her own way - in the tropics.

Even before carbon footprint became a household word, Gina Cronin - entrepreneur and mother from Cleveland, Ohio - was among those who feel that one of the greatest strides anyone can make is to move towards greater energy independence.

Her children grown up, one day Cronin and her then husband resolved to escape cold winters, move to the tropics, and try to live a green, sustainable lifestyle that might one day serve as an inspiration to others.

Convinced that sustainability and comfort are not incompatible, Cronin - after much trepidation – considered Panama as a possible home for her dream. (More on her vision at )

With the help of Google, Cronin determined that the lush green hills of Boquete – close to where Panama meets Costa Rica – seemed to match her criteria: not far from the US, pleasant climate, friendly locals, and affordable cost of living.

A website on the Boquete area confirmed her impressions. A Conde Nast Traveler quote said: “Panama is the new Central American bargain where the US dollar - the market currency - goes a long way.”

A Modern Maturity Magazine quote claimed Panama as “The Number One Retirement Destination in the Western Hemisphere," and according to the Harper’s Bazaar quote, “Panama is the most beautiful retreat in the world and almost undiscovered.”

Encouraged and hopeful, on her second visit to Panama, Cronin and her then husband found suitable acreage with the help of a friendly local.

Despite formidable obstacles (including not speaking the language and no experience) they prevailed, developed a plan, and began construction on a low-carbon footprint, clean-energy resort project that was to be their new home.

Soon they realized that sometimes things take a lot longer where you don’t know the ropes - or the lingo. Yet, against all odds, Cronin’s pioneering spirit prevailed: Today, six years later, her dream has come true.

Rancho de Caldera resort eco-project - close to natural hot springs - serenely overlooks the hills of western Panama - often bathed in the golden glow of spectacular sunrises. ( )

Thanks to hydro-, solar-, and wind power, the mostly self-sustaining hospitality project is able to operate off the grid year round. ( )

Besides Madre Tierra gourmet restaurant ( ) - under the care of slow food Chef Craig Miller ( ) - and space for workshops, Yoga retreats, meetings, and classes ( ), the sustainable Rancho features horses, a swimming pool, furnished terraced guest suites, and there are plenty of eco-activities in Boquete for visitors. ( ) ( )

Owing to clean power and carbon-footprint reducing green policy, Rancho de Caldera was recently awarded the coveted Green Globe Hospitality certification. ( )

Meanwhile, favorable reviews on TripAdvisor - among the world’s most popular travel portals – confirm the public’s appreciation of Cronin’s Earth-friendly approach to hospitality. A guest from West Palm Beach, Florida, sums it up in a nutshell, almost like a Zen poem: “Beautiful, relaxing resort in the mountains with awesome chef!”

Part of the relaxing mountain resort: four organic green houses. Made with bamboo, they supply fresh herbs and greens for Chef Craig’s slow food creations at Madre Tierra, the Rancho’s onsite restaurant.

That way, though in the tropics, Rancho residents and visitors do not miss out on delicious edibles they have come to love at home. One lady commented: “Far fetched as it may sound - for the best French fries in the world – I go off-the-grid - to Madre Tierra in the green Boquete hills in Panama.”

In the Rancho’s guest book ( )
one guest writes that he cycled 4,000 miles to get there.

While his review is thumbs up on Rancho food, it remains unclear if he was inspired to cycle there all the way from Atlanta, Georgia, to taste Chef Craig’s famous French fries at Madre Tierra…

Follow us on Twitter: @panamatravels


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