Panama City, Panama
Matt launched a boutique hotel in the historic district of Panama City.
Who: Matt Landau, 28
Launched: Websites and boutique hotel
As a travel writer, Matt Landau was backpacking around Costa Rica when friends told him he should visit Panama. It started as "a whim," but he ended up falling in love with the country and stayed.
He started a website, ThePanamaReport.com, a resource for travelers and potential investors. It quickly gained readership and advertising dollars. "The tourism numbers here are nuts, the growth here is nuts," said Landau. "Panama is booming and has been booming since I got here 5 years ago."
Two years after arriving, Landau decided to buy a boutique hotel with the help of two capital investors in the U.S. The hotel, Los Cuatro Tulipanes, was financially a mess. "It was a little bit of jumping into the deep end," said Landau.
But he's since managed to pull the hotel, located in a historic district of Panama City, out of debt. He's also trying to add a third venture to his portfolio: The Country Report, a brand management company for nations.
Meanwhile, he says life in Panama City is pretty wonderful. It's a 45 minute drive to beach towns with great surfing or snorkeling. There are rainforests everywhere. It's a great place for an active lifestyle, he says -- he's even started training for a triathlon. And the weather is ideal: "It's 82 degrees year round," he said. "Around 4 or 5 in the afternoon, it starts getting breezy and the sun goes down a little." Not bad for a whim.