Front row seats to witness the world’s largest ships in waiting and four pools to boot who could ask for more?
At the Westin Playa Bonita on the edge of the windswept Pacific Ocean in Panama, sun seekers, couples, and families are indulging in an exotic vacay where every whim is met.
As the massive Panamax ships and cruise liners dot the horizon in a surreal floating city waiting for their turn to enter the must-see Panama Canal, beachcombers hit the sandy shoreline. For corporate types, it’s a two-in-one stay at this jungle beach paradise good for work with the ample meeting rooms and play. Mine was to shake off the city stresses and splurge in solitude.
The secluded beachfront property is nicely spread out – not a huge footprint like most other brands – making the luxurious hideaway manageable and enjoyable. Guests check-in at the spacious, sun fused marble interior lobby then are whisked away to cozy suites.
At my Renewal Suite overlooking the coastline the one-bedroom suite was stylishly furnished and boasts two private balconies with exquisite sea views. The sprawling living area uses neutral tones with golden accents and teak-style furniture and has a separate mini bar area. There is a large HD wall TV if inclined to watch it. I preferred my balcony seats zooming in on the bobbing vessels in the distance.
For those interested in hosting an ensuite private meeting the adjoining bedroom is separated by a clever sliding pocket door that closes off the living room. The bedroom is equipped with an open deep soaker tub, an enclosed relaxing walk-in rain shower, duo marble sinks, including another walled HD TV facing the plush king-sized bed.
For even more spectacular sea views and resort privacy, Club Room and suite guests have access to the stylish Westin Executive Club Lounge. Business travelers can log onto their devices using the complimentary High Speed Internet access and depending on the time of day help themselves to the daily refreshed food and beverage services.
In the morning, pass the time by the adults’ pool, go for relaxing beach strolls, or have a spa day at the Sensory Spa by Clarins where spa guests can book the intense 75-minute Swedish massage if inclined. I did.
In the evenings, the lobby bar turns lively with performances from a local band and the a la carte restaurants teem with guests interested in quiet sit down dinners. The seafood restaurant Starfish Grill serves a delicious Peruvian inspired ceviche while my go-to restaurant for fish and steaks was Tierra Y Fuego, an upscale Latin steakhouse. A filet mignon was grilled to perfection as was my generous fresh seared tuna. The wine menu also has a good selection of vintages from Australia, California, and Chile.
Sightseeing is another bonus at this property. While the hotel is located outside the city center a local tour operator Gamboa Tours provides half day and full-day guided tours. Guests also can take a round trip hotel shuttle bus with scheduled pick-ups to the nearby Albrook Mall where designer labels are heavily discounted.
When the tours are over afternoons turn into more renewal time spent lounging at the pools and enjoying sweets at the hotel’s sleek pastry and ice cream parlour aptly dubbed, Ice Cream & Sweets. After a necessary caffeine and cookie fix, I was off for another beach stroll, this time to inhale the warm sea breezes and to see the mystical floating city as the illuminated ships glittered like jewels in the horizon.
I checked the time as speckled sunlight hit the horizon and decided before hitting one of the a la carte restaurants a beach cocktail would make the ultimate vacay at splendid Playa Bonita.
Review by Ilona Kauremszky. Her stay was hosted by Westin Playa Bonita, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.