|Beach & Pool at Playa Bonita Resort|
March 2015 – In between attending conference sessions, we managed to explore several parts of Panama City. The first full day we enjoyed the beauty of the Intercontinental Playa Bonita Resort, which is located 15 minutes north of Panama City just over the impressive Bridge of Americas. The resort is situated on a beautiful blond sand beach on the Pacific, with a view of the massive ships lining up on the horizon to wait their turn to enter the Panama Canal. There are many different types of seabirds that come to the resort during low tides, and brown pelicans and cormorants roost on the rocky formations offshore. Behind the resort are nature trails where we saw sloths playing in the trees. The Westin is also located along this beach.
|Spa at Playa Bonita Resort|
The swimming pools and beach beckoned to us, and we spent several relaxing hours swimming, reading, and wading in the ocean. The first afternoon we checked into the spa where I had a 50-minute hot stone massage and bath during their March special price of $95. There is also a great gym, as well as salsa dance and stretching classes each day near the pool. The resort has three restaurants, including the gourmet Light House Restaurant (see post on Wine & Food of Panama).
I stayed in the Executive Club Level, and would highly recommend it. For only a few dollars more, I was given a 5th floor room - the top floor with excellent view. However, I should mention that all of the rooms have ocean views, but the lower ones are not as good, and the bugs can be worse. Mosquitos are an issue in the evening, but the resort provides free wipes.
The other nice aspect of the Executive Club was the free breakfast every morning that was always changing, and including many local dishes, such as cheese empanadas and green enchiladas, as well as egg dishes. It also has very fast Wi-Fi, which the rest of the hotel did not. In the evenings, the club offered multiple appetizers and a free open bar with red and white wines from Chile, as well as a variety of spirits, including Tangeray (my favorite gin), and local rums and spirits. It was definitely worth it.
Traditional Dance of Panama with Pollera Dress
|Panamanian Dancers in Pollera Dress|
Another positive of the resort was the free show featuring the national folkloric dances of Panama. These were held in the disco on Friday evening. The traditional “pollera” costume is beautiful – similar to a Spanish dancer, where the dancers whirl and stomp their feet. The musicians played drums, tambourine, and accordion, and the beat was lively and contagious. (See short video here)