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Saturday, April 19 2014 @ 03:44 PM EDT

Tucan Country Club & Resort

Real EstateLast night I sat down to discuss the new Tucan Country Club & Resort that's being built on the old Horoko golf course with Mr. Dinesh P. Vaswani, the Vice President of Marketing for the project. First of all, by way of disclaimer, Dinesh decided to sponsor Panama Guide. You can see this and all donations to Panama Guide at any time. We list our sponsors to let everyone know who's paying our bills, and to help you sort out the truth and bias.

That having been said, the Tucan development is positioned nicely. They plan to completely rebuild and redesign the old golf course. Personally, my first reaction was one of sorrow. I've played Horoko hundreds of times, and basically I'm going to miss the place.

But, as Dinesh correctly explained, there were some serious problems with the design and layout of the Horoko course. Drainage was terrible, for example. I remember (several times) hitting a drive on the 4th hole right into the middle of the fairway, and seeing the ball just disappear into the muck.

The guys that are rebuilding this golf course are the same ones that built the course at Summit. They've had the experience of building the Summit course, and five years experience managing the existing course once it was built. They are extending the existing Horoko course from a par 70 to a par 72, and are going to spend more than 4 million dollars to do it right. It looks and sounds like the golf course is going to be very nice and well done. And, it's not just a tweak here and a tweak there. It's a complete rebuild of the course.



They will be building three types of houses; stand-alone single family homes ("Villas"), townhomes, and condos. The smallest lots for the single family homes are about 500 meters in size and they range up to about 800 meters. In some areas, especially on hillsides with great views, they will build "Terrace Condo's" which means they are basically built into the naturally occuring side of the hill slope to allow for better views and ventilation.



The best part about Tucan is that it's just across the bridge from Panama City. Now, at one point in time I lived on Howard Air Force Base and had to drive across the bridge every day during rush hour to work on Albrook Air Force Base. Driving that bridge can be exciting, to say the least. If there's an accident or some other problem, then traffic can back up pretty quickly.

But according to Dinesh, they are not primarily trying to sell their properties to younger people who would have to commute to work across the bridge every day. They are primarily designing Tucan as a retirement community, and expecting to sell to people who are not tied to a rush hour drive.

But even then, Tucan sits directly between the Bridge of the Americas and the new Centennial Bridge. With the completion of the new bridge (if they ever get the access roads done) residents will be able to use either bridge to get into Panama City.

The construction style, method, and materials will be "standard" for Panama. That means poured cement foundations, columns, and floors, with concrete block interior walls and stucco finish, with red tile roofs, quality interior floor tiles, and tiles on the walls in the bathrooms and kitchen.

The golf course will be a private course. That means that residents are required to buy a membership for $10,000 when they purchase their home, and then pay a $180 per month maintenance fee for the upkeep of the golf course. But, as a dues paying member and resident you can play all the golf you want with no greens fees or additional charges. So, if you're a golfer, then this place is for you.

In addition to monthly dues for the Country Club, residents will have to pay a monthly maintenance fee of approximately $1.25 per meter of construction. So, if you're in a 100 meter condo your monthly fee would be $125 per month. The bigger your house, the more you pay. That fee pays for your cable and high-speed internet connection, maintenance of the common areas, 24-hour security, fire and emergency monitoring, and full resident services for doing things like paying phone bills and the like. They are going to install their own satellite dish farm and will be providing stateside programming direct from the US, as well as high-speed Internet connections.

But what I like the most about the land is the view. There are several high points and hills where you can see the bay and Panama City, with breezes coming in off the ocean. I can remember lots of times, when playing at Horoko, that I would just sit on the top of the hill between #13 and #14, let other groups play through, and just enjoy the view. The land they are on is tucked up against the side of the jungle, and there are "critters" all over the place. Birds and cute stuff, sure, but also iguanas, snakes, and the cayman that used to live in the lake between the fairways on #3 and #4. The developers are taking an ecologically friendly approach, keeping all of the existing trees, and trying to blend in as best possible to preserve what they have.

There will be a total of 424 residences in the complex, all built around the par 72 golf course and a 100-room hotel and resort. They have not decided yet if they want to put a casino in the hotel, but they can qualify if they want to later.

In summary, Tucan looks like a pretty good development, backed by established and experienced management, a sound plan, realistic pricing, and a good location. As a matter of fact, I'm seriously considering plunking down myself for one of those terraced condos on that hill I like so much. I'll let you know how that goes.

The rest of the material was provided to me by Dinesh for inclusion in this article. Enjoy.


“THE TUCAN COUNTRY CLUB & RESORT”
At the Panama Canal
GENERAL INFORMATION

The Tucan Country Club & Resort is a 180 acre private gated golf community with a wooded setting located a few minutes over the Bridge of the Americas from Panama City.

Persons wishing to purchase one of the 424 residences (consisting of Villa’s, Townhouses and Terrace Condo’s), must first make application for Membership to the Tucan Country Club, as Membership is mandatory and a pre-condition for purchase.

Purchase of a Terrace Condo includes lot and building. In the case of Villas, after lots selection, members must select a model, or can work with our architects to have one custom designed.

Terrace Condos and Model Villas are built and designed to the highest standards, and are delivered fully satisfaction guaranteed, and each member will be able to choose from a wide selection of interior finishes.

ECOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS:

The Developers are completing the required "Environmental Impact Study", and the improvement and redesign of the 18-Hole Championship golf course to a par 72 PGA standard has been completed. The placement of the villas and terrace condominiums, also completed, has been integrated into the topography of the property.

PRE-SALE PERIOD:

The prices listed for the lots and houses are the "Pre-Sale" prices, and are thus discounted from the Base Prices by 20%.

The Pre-Sale Period officially commences October 1st, 2004. The Pre-Sale Period will be for four month’s or until the first 100 lots are sold, which ever comes first.

During the Pre-Sale period, the prices clients will be offered represent approximately a 20% discount on the price of the lot, house.

HOSPITALITY STRUCTURES IN THE PROJECT

1. Hotel

The Developers will build an initial 70 to 100-room hotel within the Club complex in the second year of development. Under the existing law in Panama, a hotel in this location with 50 rooms or more, would qualify for a casino license; no firm decision has been projected for this operation at the present time.

2. Club Membership:

Membership in the "Tucan Country Club & Resort" is limited to 600 Members, of which approximately 424 would be Residents of the Development (Membership is mandatory), at a cost of $10,000.00 and 176 non-residents. The cost for Non-Resident Membership will be $25,000.00 for Lifetime Membership.

All Memberships will be for the “lifetime” of the Member, and will automatically include his or her spouse and all children under 21 years of age.

3. Golf Clubhouse:

The Developers will construct a First Class Premier Clubhouse for Members and Guests, with full indoor and outdoor dining facilities, meeting rooms, activity rooms, Ball Room, Men’s Club, Woman’s Club, bars and social areas for events.

4. Shopping Center:
The Club Complex will include a Shopping arcade for the convenience of the Residents and guests, which will include services such as a Bank, laundry, pharmacy, beauty salon, Travel and Tourist Agency, Auto Rental, and gourmet Mini-Super, plus a “Mailboxes etc.,” type operation where residents can send and receive mail and packages.

5. Spa and Tennis Club:

The Club Complex will include a Spa with the most modern equipment, Steam and Sauna Rooms, Massage Rooms and Health Bar. A Tennis Club with indoor and outdoor clay courts will also be constructed.

6. Gymnasium:

A full service, State-of-the-art Gym will be on the premises located in the Spa Building, where Professional trainers will be on hand for safety and instruction.

MONTHLY FEES:

All Residents will pay a monthly Fee, depending on the size and location of their unit, which will include complete landscaping and Maintenance of the exterior of their Villa or Terrace Condo, cable and internet connection, Maintenance of the common areas, 24-hour security, fire and emergency connections, and full Resident Services for any and all administration of their unit, such as the payment of bills, telephone connections, etc.

All Members of the Country Club will pay monthly dues, separate and apart from any residential maintenance fees.

TAXES AND ADDITIONAL COSTS:

The Tucan Project is structured to qualify for no real estate or property tax to the buyer for twenty (20) years. Purchasers who apply for and qualify for “Pensionado” Status in the Republic of Panama will receive additional tax advantages.

All lots and residences are titled to an individual Panama Corporation, the shares of which are transferred to each owner upon completion of the purchase.

PURCHASING PROCEEDURES:

Clients wishing to purchase a residence at The Tucan Country Club & Resort must first qualify for Club Membership by completing a Membership Application and paying a $1000.00 Application Fee. If Membership is approved, this fee will be credited against the membership cost of $10,000.00 (if not approved for any reason, this fee is returned). Selection of residential unit location can be accomplished with the Membership Application for a 30 day reservation fee of an additional $1000.00.

Notice of Approval or Rejection of Membership will be provided in writing within 30 days to the Applicant. If approved, the applicant will then have 30 days to pay the balance ($9000.00) f the membership fee, as well as the required down payment on the residence selected.

Monthly Membership Fees will not commence until the Club is officially open, which is scheduled for January 2006. Monthly Resident Fees will not commence until the residential unit is complete.


++++++ 5 December 2004 - Recently a local online publication, The Panama News published this story about the Tucan Country Club & Resort. The story alleges financial ties and connections between the Tucan development and some characters who apparently (according to the Editor of the Panama News, Eric Jackson) have some colorful backgrounds.

I wrote an email to Dinesh about the story and allegations, and he sent me the following reply:

In a message dated 12/3/2004 8:56:21 PM GMT Standard Time, dpvaswani@hotmail.com writes:

Don,

As I mentioned to you on the phone, I did speak with Eric today to try to clear up some of these misconceptions he’s got. He asked me about this “infamous” person and I have informed him that this person has nothing to do with Tucan – he is not a shareholder, or director, or manager, or even janitor or anything else at Tucan.

So, who is Tucan?? Let me explain this all very clearly and in writing so that there is no further confusion:

Tucan Real Estate Holdings, Inc. is the Panama Corp that owns 100% of the Tucan Country Club & Resort. The Parent company of Tucan Real Estate Holdings is a Panama company called “Grupo V&V” which is the developer and constructor of Fort Espinar in Colon, as well as several other residential projects mostly in Colon – Residenciales San Judas, Residenciales Espinar, Altos de Espinar etc., They also have a major development here in Panama City called “Vista Real” a 4-tower Residential Apartment Complex over in Tumba Muerto. They are also the owners of the YMCA buildings in both Panama City and Colon.

Tucan is 100% financed by Grupo V&V, we have no outside shareholders, no outside investment, and we are not looking for any outside investors.

If anyone has questions as to who I am, well, as I mentioned to you Don, I am from New Jersey and have been living here in Panama for about 7 years. I am also the Executive Vice President and Director of Marketing for Tucan.

In regards to Move to Panama: As I mentioned to Eric, I have no formal arrangement with them. I am aware that they have information on their website about Tucan, and they have put this up WITH our permission, as our Sales Manager – Jorge (who you met) has made an arrangement to split his commissions with them if they send him referrals. Now, I have checked out the information that have posted and definitely it is very old information and no longer valid. I will get with them to update their information ASAP. However, I still don’t see where he got the link from Panama-guide to Move to Panama, or even Tucan’s website to Move to Panama – as we have no link with them.

Regarding the question of providing a corporation with the property, again this is an issue of old info mixing with new. Originally, we had planned to provide each property with a corporation already formed. The reasoning for this is simple – our main clientele are not locals or people who have been living in Panama for quite some time already and who know their way around. So we thought to do this just as an additional “value-added” service that we could provide.

However, in researching this with our attorneys (who are one of the oldest and most respected law firms in Panama – GALA), they have presented us with various different options – each with its own benefits and drawbacks, and so obviously each client would need to choose what option would suit him or her the best – be it a corporation, a trust, a foundation, or even individual title. So it just makes more sense to have each client do this on his or her own directly with the lawyers. Now, let me also add, Tucan clients are not required to work with our law firm, they are free to work with any lawyer or law firm they choose. Furthermore, if they do choose to work with our law firm, what they pay will be directly to the lawyers and Tucan does not get any “referral” or other fees from them – unlike with several other Panama developers.

The Isthmian: I have no idea why our add was removed from this site – possibly it’s because classified adds expire every 30 days and I suppose they will be removed if not renewed. However, if Okke did remove it, then I would also like to know why. In the meantime a new ad has been posted.

I hope this clears things up for you and for everyone else on this forum. If not, I am a very accessible person and can be reached anytime by phone or email so if anyone has any more questions or doubts, please feel free to contact me.

My Email: dpvaswani@tucancountryclubcom (mailto:dpvaswani@tucancountryclub.com) or dpvaswani@hotmail.com (mailto:dpvaswani@hotmail.com)

My Tel: +507-673-3466.

Regards,
Dinesh.
(7 December 2004 - Additional information provided in a response from Dinesh regarding the article that appeared in The Panama News)

In a message dated 12/7/2004 9:15:30 PM GMT Standard Time, dpvaswani@hotmail.com writes:

Don,
Re: Tucan…
I am attaching herewith a written statement of the facts with sincere hope that this will make clear once for all what is fact and what is fiction. I am copying Mr., Eric Jackson on this directly.

Best Regards,

Dinesh.
Dinesh P. Vaswani
Executive Vice President
Tucan Real Estate Holdings, Inc.
Tucan Country Club & Resort, Panama.
Calle Bruja, Cocoli,
Panama,
Rep. of Panama.
Tel: (Dir.) 507-673-3466
Off: 507-211-3472
Fax: 507-211-1308
E-Mail: dpvaswani@tucancountryclubcom
www.tucancountryclub.com
Tucan Real Estate Holdings, Inc.
Apdo. 242, Balboa Ancon, Panama, Rep. of Panama.
Tel: +507-211-3472 / Fax: +507-211-1308
December 07, 2004
To: Don Winner – Panama-Guide.com
Cc: Eric Jackson – The Panama News.com
From: Dinesh P. Vaswani
Executive Vice President – Tucan Real Estate Holdings, Inc.
In regards to the allegations recently made by Mr. Eric Jackson of The Panama News, I would like to further clarify the alleged involvement of one Mr. Gilbert Straub in the Tucan Country Club Project.

First of all, yes – I do personally know Gilbert Straub, and yes, I have had several discussions and meetings in the past with Mr. Straub regarding the sales and marketing for Tucan, however, no agreement was ever reached. But this was not the question asked to me by Mr. Jackson. He asked if Straub was a shareholder or partner in Tucan – which I replied that he is not. This is fact.

As for any “rumors” that Gilbert Straub is an investor, or has any other financial involvement in Tucan Real Estate Holdings, Inc., or in Tucan Country Club & Resort (TCCR), Inc. – either in front or behind the scenes is completely a distortion of the facts. I don’t know who Mr. Jackson’s sources are, but definitely they are misinformed.

As regards to the alleged history of Mr. Straub, this is all new to me. Whether it is true or false, I have no way of knowing. And besides, I was only about 7 months old at the time of the Watergate incident.

When asked about MovetoPanama.com, I clearly explained to Mr. Jackson that Tucan has no direct relationship with them, and I went on to further explain that I was aware they had information about Tucan on their website and this was a result of an understanding reached between our commission agent and the owners of MovetoPanama.com to split his commissions with them for sending him referrals, and frankly, I see no problem with this. However, when Mr. Jackson quoted some of the information available on MovetoPanama regarding Tucan, I realized the information was old and no longer valid which is why I had our commission agent contact them to update that information. Later I heard the allegations from members of PanamaForum that MovetoPanama engages in questionable business practices, and until this is further clarified, I have instructed our commission agent to request MovetoPanama to remove all information of Tucan from their website. Tucan has not and does not have any link to MovetoPanama from our website.

End of story!
Sincerely,
Dinesh.
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Tucan Country Club & Resort
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 24 2004 @ 06:46 PM EST

This is good news, bad news. I was stationed at Howard and have played Horoko a lot. On my return visits to Panama I have played Horoko. Good to see a renovation of the course but unfortunately I won't be able to play unless they somehow allow public access. I have also played Summit which has public access and is a very nice course to play but will now be the only course in Panama City open to the public I believe.