Published on December 4th, 2013 | by Mark Chesnut
HOTEL REVIEW: Veneto Wyndham Grand — Vegas Flash & Fun in Panama
During my latest visit to Panama City, Panama, I stayed at the Veneto, A Wyndham Grand Hotel and casino in the heart of the bustling El Cangrejo neighborhood in Panama‘s capital. Here’s what I experienced.
THE STYLE: Las Vegas excitement is served in generous portions at the Veneto, A Wyndham Grand Hotel. We were picked up by a black stretch limo at Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport (that service isn’t included with normal room rates, but it can be arranged as a reasonably priced splurge; there is also a more standard hotel-airport shuttle available). The car whisked us to the sparkling front entrance of the hotel, where glittering, Vegas-style signage — including a giant “V” that could stand for either Veneto or Vegas — make it easy to identify this property, which is centrally located in one of Panama City‘s most popular neighborhoods. In case you haven’t heard, Panama City is in the midst of a hotel boom, with thousands of new rooms opening at various price points. The result of this fast growth is increased competition and lower room rates, and the Veneto offers some of the best deals for a full-service, internationally branded hotel in Panama’s capital, with room rates available as low as about $60 per night for a standard room.
THE GUEST ROOMS: We were upgraded to the Winston Suite, a spacious two-bedroom, two-bathroom suite with high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows and conservative style, with soft shades of beige and brown. There were four flat-screen televisions (one in each bedroom, one in the dining area and one in the living area), a mini-fridge stocked with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, plus bathrobes, two safe-deposit boxes and other amenities. The room is located on the 17th floor, which also includes access to a comfortable lounge, where a free hot breakfast buffet is available in the morning and a free cocktail hour takes place in the afternoon (complete with hot appetizers, including surprisingly good Buffalo wings). Free WiFi in the guest rooms and public areas is a plus.
The Veneto has the benefit of offering two different decor options, so you can choose the style that fits your taste. The Premium hotel rooms, which occupy two floors, are bathed in purple and dark tones, for a contemporary ambiance reminiscent of The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas (which actually was a source of inspiration for the designers here, the management told me). Guys’ getaways are popular at this hotel, and for groups of friends, it can be a good idea to reserve at least one suite with a living area, so that everyone has room to relax and socialize (the hotel’s extremely attractive pricing makes this not too taxing on the wallet).
HOTEL FEATURES: The large, lively casino is the most visible feature in the hotel, attracting hotel guests as well as locals and visitors from other hotels every night. It’s not uncommon to see slinkily dressed women click-clacking in impossibly high heels into the casino lounge, where live entertainment takes place nearly every night.
Since my partner and I aren’t gamblers, our favorite amenities were the swimming pool, located on the roof of the 7th floor, and the adjacent spa, which has been partly renovated and offers excellent massage treatments at reasonable prices. There is also a gym on the seventh floor — together, these amenities make up what the hotel calls the Social Area — and plans call for continued renovations next year to bring a more contemporary ambiance to this section of the hotel. On-site restaurants include the New York Steakhouse, a small Sushi Lounge and Vivaldi, which serves Italian food. The hotel’s central location also makes it easy to walk to many restaurants and bars in the El Cangrejo district.
BEST FOR: Adult travelers looking for a full-service hotel with a lively casino environment and deeply discounted prices at a Panama City hotel will find lots to like at the Veneto. The central location and meeting space can also be a selling point for budget-minded business travelers looking for entertainment and relaxation — and members of the Wyndham Rewards program can accrue and redeem points at this Panama City hotel.