Published on November 26th, 2012 | by Mark Chesnut
HOTEL REVIEW: Trump Ocean Club International Hotel, Panama
While visiting Panama City, Panama, I was a guest at what is likely the city’s most recognizable piece of hotel architecture: The 70-story Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower. The only hotel in all of Latin America to bear the name of a certain attention-getting developer and television personality, the property has been compared to structures in Dubai. Here is my own personal take on the experience of staying at the hotel.
THE STYLE: If you’ve seen any recent photos of Panama City’s fast-growing skyline, you’ve probably already seen the Trump Ocean Club. Open since 2011, the hotel — a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts — is set in an eye-catching skyscraper that resembles a giant sail, on the Pacific coast in a largely residential section of the luxurious Punta Pacífica neighborhood (the Trump property has a large residential component as well, with a separate entrance).
The arrival at the Trump Ocean Club is designed to impress, with a grand ground-floor lobby and a 15th-floor Sky Lobby where hotel guests check in. Interior design was handled by consultants Hirsch Bedner Associates, with pleasant light colors and wood tones, with artwork and décor elements made from locally produced materials, all of which helps to create a warm ambiance throughout; a pleasant counterpoint to the building’s overwhelming size.
THE GUEST ROOMS: We stayed in a standard, 554-square-foot/51-square-meter Deluxe Guest Room, which like other rooms was nicely decorated with soft colors. The focal point for the room is the stylish bathtub, which sits between the bed area and open twin sinks (designers wisely installed floor lights around the tub, to prevent walking accidents — which has already happened to me in other hotels with open bathtubs). The shower and toilet stalls are divided by frosted glass walls. The semi-open style of the bathroom in these rooms makes them best for singles and couples; those seeking more privacy will do better with an 894-square-foot/82-square-meter junior suite or an Executive Suite, which features a separate living room and bedroom.
Our room had a nicely sized balcony with partial ocean view. Additional praise-worthy features include a diverse selection of free in-room coffee (and a Nespresso Essenza machine), free WiFi and electrical outlets both on the desk and also on the nighstand, which makes it easier to work in bed. And just so that you don’t forget the name that’s behind this property, Ivanka Trump is the host of the hotel channel’s welcome video; she also designed the attractively subtle bellhop and doorman uniforms.
AMENITIES & SERVICES: The five swimming pools are among the most memorable amenities in the public areas, thanks to the dramatic views from the 13th-floor terrace. Of the ten or so Panama City hotels in which I’ve stayed, in fact, the Trump has probably the most inviting pool area, with its combination of relaxed-but-hip social vibe, multiple pools and photo-friendly views. Two infinity pools make the most of the waterfront location, and create a perfect spot to stake out a chaise lounge and gaze at the seemingly endless Pacific Ocean. Poolside drinks ($4 for a domestic beer, $7 for a rum smoothie) and snacks ($10 for ceviche) are reasonably priced for a hotel of this caliber.
All guests have free access to the spacious, well-equipped fitness center as well as the business center, and in 2014, a new spa and casino will debut. Multiple on-site restaurants include Tejas, which specializes in fresh seafood, BARcelona, which serves a breakfast buffet and tapas for lunch and dinner, Cava 15, a sumptuous wine bar, and Azul, which serves light fare and tropical drinks. Also worth checking out is the ground-floor, open-air Ocean Deck, which is home to three different restaurants that serve cuisine with Mediterranean, Asian and Panamanian influence. The hotel also has extensive meeting and event space for business meetings and private celebrations.
HOLIDAY EVENTS: The Trump Ocean Club restaurants feature seasonal special events. Coming soon is a Mother’s Day breakfast and brunch at BARcelona, celebrated in Panama on December 8 and priced $65 per adult, with a $169 overnight rate that includes breakfast. On December 25, BARcelona will host a Christmas day brunch for $65 and buffet dinner for $35. New Year’s Eve dinner buffet at Barcelona is priced at $60 per person.
The hotel’s New Year’s Eve celebration will take place at Azul Pool Bar & Grill, and is priced at $280 per person, including dinner buffet, dessert table, open bar and live performance by Latin Grammy 2012 nominees Gaitanes, a duo from Panama.
BEST FOR: Business travelers and vacationers looking for an upscale hotel with great views in Panama City’s Punta Pacífica neighborhood (bragging rights for staying in one of the city’s most recognizable skyscrapers might also be a justifiable motivating factor). Prices on Hotels.com start at about $159 a night.
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