FAM Trip Highlights from Ecuador and Panama

FAM Trip Highlights from Ecuador and Panama

In May and June we led FAM trips to our properties in Ecuador and Panama. Clark escorted a group of 11 travel professionals to Casa Gangotena, Mashpi, Galapagos Safari Camp and Hacienda Zuleta in Ecuador while Kirsten led a group of industry 7 veterans to both sides of Panama with stays at El Otro Lado on the Caribbean Coast and Isla Palenque on the Pacific side. Shout out to Monica Irauzqui of YAMPU tours for being our frequent flyer as she attended both FAM trips! Read on for some trip highlights and photos.

Want to join us next year? Drop us a line a clark@clarkkotula.com

Ecuador Fam Recap - May 2019, 9 Nights

The 2019 Ecuador Crew (from L to R): Laurel Perry of Ciao Bambino, Danielle Diaz of Scott Dunn USA, Katy Lotz of MayaMaya Travel, Barbara Davidson of Kensington Tours, Monica Irauzqui of Yampu Tours, Sarah Groen of Bell & Bly (Brownell), Jessica Hart of Travel by Hart (Brownell), Shana Mandel of The Local Foreigner, Michele MacDonald of Core Traveler, Lindsay Schou of Landed Travel, Anna Sizer or Ciao Bambino.

The 2019 Ecuador Crew (from L to R): Laurel Perry of Ciao Bambino, Danielle Diaz of Scott Dunn USA, Katy Lotz of MayaMaya Travel, Barbara Davidson of Kensington Tours, Monica Irauzqui of Yampu Tours, Sarah Groen of Bell & Bly (Brownell), Jessica Hart of Travel by Hart (Brownell), Shana Mandel of The Local Foreigner, Michele MacDonald of Core Traveler, Lindsay Schou of Landed Travel, Anna Sizer or Ciao Bambino.

I knew that a trip to Ecuador would be interesting, but I was truly blown away by all that the country has to offer. Even after 2 weeks, I didn't want to leave! The diversity of the regions, from the city to the cloud forest to the Galapagos and the Andes, is so vast and there is so much to do and learn in each place. The properties that Clark represents are incredible, and learning the backstory about each, how they all began and the work they are doing to preserve Ecuador and showcase its beauty is remarkable. I was always impressed how Clark would tell us about certain aspects of a property prior to arriving, and then not only would we get to see or experience what he mentioned, but it was always so unique and made me feel that "OHHH yes, now I really get it," feeling. I must have felt that about 50 times during the 10 days. I loved how active and in touch with nature this trip was, and I cannot wait to send more clients, and myself again, to Ecuador!” - K Lotz, Maya Maya Travel

“When I help families plan travel, I don't sell a room or a widget, I offer them a memorable experience that will be a part of their family's precious and short time together. Clark Kotula's FAM trip offered a sampling of many great experiences that we can offer to our clients for their adventures. Clark took time to describe and feel the soul and unique elements of each property and then helped us understand which clients would be the right fit for each property and activity.” A. Sizer, Cioa Bambino

“Clark did a great job of organizing this FAM, everything was perfect! We had adventures, tons of laughs, felt like we got to know the properties intimately, and Clark gave us all the sales details we needed. It was also very meaningful to have Michael (owner of Galapagos Safari Camp) and Fernando (owner of Hacienda Zuleta) there with us while at their properties. I feel like a true insider now.” - M. Irauzqui, YAMPU

“This was one of the best FAM trips I have ever been on.  Clark is one of the most well respected representatives in the travel industry and spending time with him on this trip showed me why.  There is a reason why he represents every property, he has an intimate connection with each place, and chooses places that are not the norm in most destinations.  I didn't just fall in love with each property, but felt I was offered insider access to the people that run each place that will pay off for my clients.  Before this trip, I essentially thought of Ecuador as "The Galapagos" and a "cruise destination" - the perception most of our clients have, but my eyes were opened to the true Ecuador which offers a dizzying array of experiences when put together.  From the colonial grandeur of Quito, to the magic of the cloud forest, to a side of the Galapagos I never knew existed, to Hacienda Zuleta which I now feel is a mandatory inclusion for anyone is coming to Ecuador - I'll never sell the destination the same going forward. “ - Anonymous trip participant


Panama Fam Trip - June 2019, 6 Nights

The 2019 Panama Crew (from L to R): Turney Maurer of Latin Excursions, Diosamary Lore of El Otro Lado, Joe Sandillo of Almaz Journeys, Jose Irauzqui of Yampu Tours, Jonathan Borgida of Southern Explorations, Susan Bruce of Susan Bruce Travel, affiliated with Tafari Travel, Kirsten Gardner of Clark Kotula Representation, Monica Irauzqui of Yampu Tours, Carolyn Consalvo of Andrew Harper Travel

The 2019 Panama Crew (from L to R): Turney Maurer of Latin Excursions, Diosamary Lore of El Otro Lado, Joe Sandillo of Almaz Journeys, Jose Irauzqui of Yampu Tours, Jonathan Borgida of Southern Explorations, Susan Bruce of Susan Bruce Travel, affiliated with Tafari Travel, Kirsten Gardner of Clark Kotula Representation, Monica Irauzqui of Yampu Tours, Carolyn Consalvo of Andrew Harper Travel

Loved El Otro Lado - it is so easy to sell what that it was so close to Panama City and the boat ride was so short and easy. It's easy to incorporate El Otro into itineraries and flights departing in the afternoon. The staff were incredible and got the sense that they really enjoyed working there and respected El Otro Lado’s owner. They went out of there way for you and were on it. What really sold me was the art, music, individuality of each room and the little touches everywhere. The art class was a highlight for me. - Jonathan Borgida, Southern Explorations

Clark Kotula Representation and Sales Support -- the name says it all ! The hotels they represent (El Otro Lado and Isla Palenque) offer barefoot luxury, unique settings and truly immerse travelers into Panama's culture and natural beauty. My fam trip to Panama with Kirsten was 'sales support' at it's finest. With a thoughtfully organized itinerary, that included extraordinary hotels, delicious meals and activities -- the knowledge I've gained and the contacts I made at each hotel will help me in selling Panama with confidence. - Anonymous Trip Participant

Both properties were outstanding. Isla Palenque was a destination that made me feel detached from society and surrounded by wildlife completely. At El Otro Lado, the Congo culture mixed with Spanish settlement and pirate invasions was an amazing experience – unlike anything I ever expected – inspiring and unique! The staff of each property was what really made the difference. From the guides, bartenders, chefs, to general managers, I felt nothing but respect and welcome arms at each property. - Anonymous Trip Participant


Originally I had viewed Panama as a possible extension for my clients going to Colombia, but this trip showed me different ways to talk about it as a stand alone destination. Kirsten & Clark, you guys are really a delight to work with - your knowledge of the destinations and properties and the generosity with which you share it have been invaluable to me selling your properties (which in turn really helps me grow our business).

Joe Sandillo, Almaz Journeys

Elian, an 8-year old student at La Escuelita del Ritmo in Portobelo, demonstrates what he’s learned from the school’s free music classes.