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Welcome to b í k u

The Panama treehouse retreat!

Inspired by friends and family, laughter and living slow – sloth style! We’re on a journey to build treehouses on a jungle island in the sun – oh, and make chocolate as well. We’d love for you to join us to help make this dream a reality. Register your interest to find out more about b í k u; join the family and be the first to get updates on our project, exclusive offers when our crowdfunding launches in spring 2018, and special prices when we start taking bookings for our treehouse holidays! 

We look forward to you being part of our journey and hopefully someday, our guests! There’s an island, a treehouse holiday and chocolate waiting for you …

About Us

Who are we?

So who are we? We’re the two halves of b í k u – one is Panamanian, from Bocas del Toro (Ariel) and the other is British (a true Welsh, Scottish and English mix – Zabrina). See our interviews in our blog posts to get to know us even better!

Ariel has lived outside of Panama since he was 17 and has been living in the UK for more than 15 years. He has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years. Customer service is his main passion; as he notes himself, “it’s what I love and it’s what I do well”. He has worked at some of the top hotels in London including The Soho, Covent Garden (both of the Firmdale family of hotels) and ACE Hotel. And as for Zabrina, well, she’s always been a little unconventional – she’s a nature and culture lover with a passion for Latin America.

For both of us, now the timing is right to head to Panama and create something amazing, create something that will benefit the local community and environment – things that we love and care about deeply. Our dream, really, is chocolate in the treetops, on a tropical island. It’s pretty exciting!

We are crowdfunding in spring 2018 to raise the capital for the build – and as part of the crowdfund all you lovely people will be able to get great offers and perks! Register your interest to stay updated.

10000
Plant types
40%
Tropical rainforest
7
indigenous groups
1500
types of tropical trees

What's The Story

Protect, Preserve and Share

We have always been driven by a desire to own our own business. For Ariel, to do this in his home country would be a real dream come true. Since he left Bocas, there have been significant changes – some for the better and some for the worse.

A large amount of investment has flooded in to Bocas in the past 20 years or so, and with that, a tourism boom. “I’m proud that so many people want to visit the beautiful islands where I come from – but I also hope that we are able to protect, preserve and share the colourful community, culture and nature I grew up with – including the sloths.”

Sloth
Fishing - net throwing

Unfortunately some of the investment and subsequent businesses have not had these considerations at their core – and there is a real danger that in the pursuit of success, irreparable damage is being done to the local environment.

For the Bocas community in particular, we want to demonstrate that the land can be used in a sustainable and innovative way – that protects, preserves and shares what our small part of the world has been gifted with. The key is education and creating opportunity for sustainable income.

At b í k u, we hold these values at our core. We will reinvest money in to the community – to address environmental, educational and social issues.

Why Panama?

A COUNTRY OF CONTRASTS

When I think about Panama I think about colour, life, nature and laughter. It’s a place full of warmth, it’s tropical, it’s vibrant, it’s green – and it’s a little crazy! In the best way possible.

Panama is a fascinating and unique country, and still relatively undiscovered. In many ways, Panama is a country of contrasts. It’s the perfect destination for whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s adventure, history and culture or pure relaxation and nature at its most beautiful.

For me, it truly is a treasure – and for many – an undiscovered one.

Don’t just take my word for it, Lonely Planet describes Panama as ‘a humming metropolis’, ‘a road trip adventure’; a land of ‘sun kissed panoramas’

Where is Panama? … Panama is that tiny, thin wiggle of land that connects North, Central and South America. It borders both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean and sits between Colombia (to the East) and Costa Rica (to the West).

Panama is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. It has a population of just over 3.6 million.

Panama has a tropical climate and boasts 2,490 km of coastline. Its dry season runs from December through to May and the green season from June to November.

Panama has over 1500 types of tropical trees. Deforestation of tropical rainforest and mining of natural resources are both threats to Panama’s environment.

Latest blog Posts

The Blog

Speaking with Lara Sengupta, founder of CorkYogis

Speaking with Lara Sengupta, founder of CorkYogis

‘In time it might change but at the moment it’s quite hard for social businesses to get investment’ CorkYogis founder Lara Sengupta on Dragons’ Den confusion, the future of CorkYogis and what’s needed for social business to thrive To be honest I was completely terrified for two months before! You go to the audition for…

A prickly business

A prickly business

Ananas Anam and its ‘natural leather alternative’ Piñatex® are the brainchild and vision of ‘ethical entrepreneur’ Dr Carmen Hijosa. Concerned by the toxic impact of mass-produced leather and polluting synthetic textiles seen by Dr Carmen Hijosa during her time in the Philippines advising on the leather industry, Carmen set out on a mission to find…

In the pursuit of profit or social purpose?

In the pursuit of profit or social purpose?

Wow, November already. How did that happen? Am I allowed to use the ‘C’ word yet … or should I wait until December!? Over the next few weeks, in the run up to the Christmas (yes I said it) month of December, we will be taking a look at the concept of social business. Or…

News from the isthmus

News from the isthmus

Hello my treetop lovers, As some of you already know, we decided to divide and conquer! I have been in Panama for the past couple of weeks now, hunting down potential investors, following up leads, speaking to potential partners and just getting the bíku name out there. Back home I must say it has been…

Whether Willy Wonka or Bocas Bonkers…it’s all about chocolate

Whether Willy Wonka or Bocas Bonkers…it’s all about chocolate

As many of you will know, we’re not just developing a treehouse retreat, we’re also developing a chocolate farm. Part of the bíku land is a cacao plantation. Bocas del Toro – home to the bíku retreat – is the cacao-growing region of Panama. And boy does it produce wonderful cacao. To stay on the…

Getting to know Casco Viejo

Getting to know Casco Viejo

We’ve got to know Panama City fairly well over the past few years as we always make a two-three day stop there before heading to Bocas del Toro, on our bíku project recces. Without fail, on each trip we’ll make sure to spend some time in Casco Viejo – the ‘old quarter’ – a beautiful…

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