Got the January blues? How about owning your own tropical Caribbean luxury resort for just £7.50.
That’s the genuine offer put forward by American couple Dave and Suzanne Smith, who are selling their jaw-dropping home and business in Central America, this month.
The pair, 35 and 33 respectively, have spent five years building-up the Casa Cayuco Eco Adventure Lodge in Bocas del Toro, Panama, but are now moving on to pastures new.
And, instead of listing their stunning multi-million-pound retreat the conventional way, they’ll sell it via a raffle draw which costs just $10 per-ticket.
Wow-factor: The incredible Casa Cayuco Eco Lodge in Bocas del Toro, Panama, could be yours for less than a tenner
Together, Dave and Suzanne have transformed the rustic lodge into a thriving retreat which has been voted in TripAdvisor’s top five venues for both Panama and wider Central America.
Their incredible two-acre slice of heaven is bordered by rainforest to the rear and crystal clear coral sea to the front.
The lucky winner of the 24-bed resort will become owner of four stand-alone cabins, a main lodge, two lodge suites and an air-conditioned luxury suite.
Outside, Casa Cayuco comes with its own jetty and thatch-covered sun terrace, plus everything you need to run the business, including a commercial kitchen, communication tower, laundry and maintenance building, plus three power boats, each over 23-foot long.
Not bad for a raffle prize! The 24-bedroom build also features four stand-alone cabins, such as this one
Generous: American couple Suzanne and Dave Smith are selling off their incredible property the unconventional way
Stunning: An aerial view of the luxury venue, which is also a hugely successful – and acclaimed – business
A very welcome commute: Guests can only travel to the island vi a boat, making it a very civilised way to get around
Interior: This picture shows the stylish accommodation that runs throughout the properties in the Caribbean resort
Dining out: In addition to being a residential property for the owners, it also accommodates holiday-makers
Kayaks, snorkelling, spear fishing and paddle boards and surf gear are also ready and waiting to be used by a new owner and guests alike.
And if that’s not enough, British competition organisers WinThisLife are offering a $50,000 (£36,000) cash injection to welcome the new owners. All those wishing to take part have to do is buy one or more tickets and play a spot-the-ball-type competition on the website.
Dave, 35, and Suzanne, 33, first arrived on the island in 2013 with just seven suitcases having decided to sell up from their home and corporate lives near Detroit, Michigan, USA.
Now, the Smiths run a thriving resort which attracts everyone from honeymooners and families to eco-scientists and yoga retreaters.
Family affair: Suzanne Smith and her daughter Mina at the resort (L), while an empty hammock invites guests…
And relax! The property is already kitted-out with plenty of rest-inducing features, such as hammocks
‘My wife and I had corporate jobs in the United States, which we did not like,’ Dave explains.
‘We kind of saw how everyone in our area was going in the same direction: jobs, college, get married, have kids, pay for their college, and then retire, which is a fine life, but we wanted something different.
‘We started looking all over for something else and eventually we started looking at Panama, which we found has really friendly foreign investment laws and immigration laws.
‘We came across Bocas del Toro, which is this chain of islands in the Caribbean, which we weren’t really aware of at the time. We loved the idea of island life, and after some research, we found Casa Cayuco for sale and I contacted the owner, who lived remotely.
‘We hit it off and I bought it. I guess it was an impulse buy, but it’s turned out to be amazing. We sold everything you would have for a life, house, cars and everything and we ended up moving down here with seven suitcases and just enough to be able to buy this place.’
New adventure: The couple are making the offer so they can make a start on their next life adventure…
Impressive: The pair are pictured looking out into the remarkable sunset, while a fishing boat passes them by
When they first arrived, Casa Cayuco was off the electricity grid – which it still is, meaning there are no bills – but there was also virtually no internet and the electricity generator would only give enough power for a few hours, each night.
‘The thought of off-grid living is pretty romantic, but actually living and running a business without those things is something else, Dave added.
‘We started right away re-building everything, and thankfully Bocas was starting to get really popular so we had enough business to pay for these renovations.
‘So, the last four years we’ve just been rebuilding the whole place, the solar system, the communications tower, the house for Suzanne and I with air-conditioning, Apple TV and lots of space. It’s gone now from an eco lodge to more of a luxury eco resort.’
Making a splash: Suzanne and daughter Mina lap-up the sun while paddling at the Caribbean haven
Moving on: The couple, complete with daughter Mina, are now looking to build a brand new resort from scratch elsewhere
Meet the locals! Dave and Suzanne with some of the friends and employees they’ve met while operating the resort
The Smiths now employ 14 indigenous people from the local village, helping with everything from cooking and spear fishing excursions, to building and maintain the resort itself.
Dave describes this workforce as his family, but he also expanded his own brood on the island – with the birth of their daughter, Mina, who has spent her first years in paradise.
‘It’s been amazing for Mina and we kind of envisioned having a family out here, that’s one of the reasons we wanted to move to raise our child in a really unique environment,’ he added.
‘I know in the United States and most places in the West now kids don’t really play outside anymore and they are just glued to their devices. It’s really special to see our daughter grow up around kids, who if they don’t have a toy they just play with nature or stick for four hours and they don’t get bored.
PANAMA FACT FILE
Bocas del Toro – where Casa Cayuco is situated – is a series of islands off on the north eastern Caribbean coast of Panama, close to the Costa Rican border.
Panama is a Central American country with a population of around four million people, the capital is Panama City, home to around 800,000.
The country is home to the 48-mile long Panama Canal, completed in 1914, which connects the Pacific ocean in the west with the Atlantic in the east.
Panama’s tropical wildlife diversity is staggering with 125 animal species found nowhere else in the world. The jungles are home to monkeys, sloths and jaguars and birds like toucans, parrots and macaws.
‘To grow up with that imagination is something we’re really pleased she has, and we’re right on the Caribbean sea which has crystal clear waters and having the ocean be a big part of her life is very special.’
However, despite loving life on the resort, the family are ready for their next challenge.
‘We love hospitality and want to raise a family in a similar environment. Now that we feel Casa Cayuco is a well run operation and is truly ‘turn-key’, we’re ready for a new adventure and want to build something from the ground up,’ Dave added.
‘We could hire managers to run Casa Cayuco while we took on the next project, but we think our next adventure will require all of our energy. We’re pretty sure our next thing won’t be as magical as Casa Cayuco, but the plan is to build something that affords us more family time.’
Art Jenkins, from competition organisers WinThis.Life, said any prospective winner would not be left to sink or swim once they took over the business.
‘It’s very important to Dave and Suzanne that the local community are still involved in the resort and they have plenty of advice and tips to give any potential winner,’ he said.
‘As organisers, we have made sure all the proper contingencies are in place, and there are a wealth of resort managers in the area who can help run things should they be needed.
‘It’s an incredible opportunity for anyone to win this amazing lifestyle and resort, just like Dave and Suzanne did you could leave the rat race behind and be living in your own slice of paradise before you know it, you only live once.’