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Got the winter blues? You could own your tropical Caribbean luxury island for just £7.50

Mirror logo Mirror 03/02/2018 Kelly-Ann Mills
a group of people on a beach with a sunset in the background: Credits: Magnus News Agency © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Magnus News Agency

Sunset at the Caribbean resort Casa Cayuco in Panama

A multi million-pound Caribbean island resort is being raffled off and it could be yours for just £7.50.

The couple who own this incredible resort have decided not to sell it, but to give it away in a prize draw anyone can enter.

Dave and Suzanne have spent five years turning a former rustic lodge into one that has been voted in the top five on TripAdvisor in Panama and in the whole of Central America.

Their incredible two-acre slice of heaven - Casa Cayuco Eco Adventure Lodge, in Bocas del Toro - is bordered by sloth-filled 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 owner’s suite designed by Dave and Suzanne themselves and built by skilled local carpenters.

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The resort has its own jetty

a palm tree in front of a building: Credits: Magnus News Agency © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Magnus News Agency

It has the beach on one side and rainforest on the other

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One of the suites

Outside, Casa Cayuco comes with its own jetty and thatch covered sun terrace as well as everything you need to run a business, including commercial kitchen communication tower, laundry and maintenance building and THREE power boats, each over 23-foot long.

And if that’s not enough, British competition organisers WinThis.Life are offering a $50,000 cash injection - about £36,700 - 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 – along with their two-and-a-half-old daughter Mina - run a thriving resort which attracts everyone from honeymooners and families to eco-scientists and yoga retreaters.

a group of lawn chairs sitting on top of a body of water: Credits: Magnus News Agency © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Magnus News Agency

The winner will own the 24-bed resort

a woman standing next to a body of water: Credits: Magnus News Agency © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Magnus News Agency

Dave and Suzanne Smith with their daughter Mina

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The hotel is bordered by sloth-filled rainforest

Credits: Magnus News Agency © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Magnus News Agency

The family is moving on

Dave said: “My wife and I had corporate jobs in the United States.

"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.

“He was coming down for his one week of the year at the resort and so I came down on my own for three days and we hit it off and when I got back we 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.”

When Dave and Suzanne first arrived Casa Cayuco was off the electricity grid, which it still is so no bills, but there was virtually no internet and the electricity generator would give enough for a few hours of light a night.

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This is the living room

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The winner will get a $50,000 cash injection too

a living room filled with furniture and a large window: Credits: Magnus News Agency © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Magnus News Agency

One of the rooms

Dave said: “The thought of off-grid living is pretty romantic, but actually living and running a business without those things is something else.

“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.”

The Smiths’ employ 14 indigenous people from the local village and Dave said they had become more of a family now as well as people that work for them.

The locals help with everything from cooking and spear fishing excursions, to helping build and maintain the resort itself.

And Dave and Suzanne’s immediate family has expanded too, with the birth of their daughter Mina who has spent her first years in paradise.

Dave said: “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.

“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.

“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.”

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The Smith's home is being given away

a large body of water: Credits: Magnus News Agency © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Magnus News Agency

It could be yours for a £7.50 ticket

a kitchen with a table in a restaurant: Credits: Magnus News Agency © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Magnus News Agency

You also have the use of three speed boats

Dave said Mina was born in Panama City which is only a 40 minute flight away and has some excellent hospitals as well as all the amenities you would expect from a major city.

He said the couple’s reasons were moving on were because they wished to expand their family and build another resort from scratch in a different part of Panama.

He said: “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.

“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 (part of the company Ultra Primus), said any prospective winner would not be left to sink or swim once they took over the business.

He said: “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.

“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.” 

For your chance to win click here .

These paradise islands cost less than a city apartment (Lovemoney)

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