Grupo del Sol takes luxury oceanfront living to new heights.

Focus in on Isla Saboga in Panama’s Pearl Islands and you’ll find Armel Gonzalez, the man behind Grupo del Sol, a respected builder of eco-luxury resorts founded in 1991. Isla Saboga is host to a new $20 million development, El Encanto, whose Phase I of construction should be complete by mid- 2010 with 33 TreeTop Villas in three ohos09_business_1models (Sol, Luna, and Olas) and five Oceanfront Estate Villas. All 38 residences are tucked between a lush wildlife sanctuary and a west-facing view of the Pacific Ocean, where sustainability is the name of the game.

This is the first time Grupo del Sol has ventured onto the shores of Panama, where obtaining environmental permits can be a slow process- it took Grupo del Sol two years to get theirs. Then, tack on an additional six months to build a TreeTop Villa. Once the space is chosen, Gonzalez takes into account the health of the trees, as well as the efficiency of water, electrical, and plumbing necessities. “Working with the environment requires skilled workmanship- not necessarily following 100 percent of the plans the architect gives us,” says Gonzalez.

Grupo del Sol and architects GVA & Associates excel in creativity when it comes to sustainability. “By building on studs,” Gonzalez explains, “you can allow the tree to naturally pass through the side of the home without cutting thohos09_business_2e tree. Even though you’re on studs, the tree hugs the house. The sensation when you’re in the house is that you’re living in the trees even though you’re on solid ground.” TreeTop Villas range in price from $285,000 to $580,000, while the exclusive Oceanfront Villas sell for $750,000.

Gonzalez says he’s very excited for all of the new additions happening in the Pearl Islands, beyond his El Encanto development, which he estimates is receiving a total of $2 billion in investments. “I love my job. What I like best is fulfilling my vision. What I have ingrained in my mind is what Isla Saboga is going to look like; it’s like art. That’s the way I see my projects.”

Grupo del Sol, 305-735- 3810, -Sarah A. Ditkoff