Published on August 29th, 2012 | by Mark Chesnut
Panama Hotel Review: Westin Playa Bonita
One of the newest hotels in Panama, the Westin Playa Bonita is located about 20 minutes outside of Panama City, just across the Panama Canal. While staying as a guest, I checked out what the hotel has to offer.
THE STYLE: Contemporary but not overpowering, the 611-room Westin Playa Bonita Panama is a luxurious, resort-style hotel with extensive meeting and event facilities. It’s located adjacent to the InterContinental Playa Bonita, which is also owned by Panama-based Bern Hotels & Resorts.
The hotel enjoys a picturesque view of the Pacific Ocean. In the distance, like a painting, are tiny islets and ships queuing to enter the Panama Canal. I first visited the Westin Playa Bonita hotel during a hard-hat tour while it was still under construction, so it was a pleasure to see the finished product (you can also check out my video of the hotel during construction).
THE ROOMS: Guest rooms at the Westin Playa Bonita are handsome and comfortable, with 42” LCD televisions, iPod docking stations and the Westin Heavenly Bed. I stayed in a Renewal Suite, which is essentially a large, one-bedroom apartment with one and a half baths, two balconies, two televisions and a bathtub located close to the bed (making it a great choice for romantic couples’ escapes). Unlike many hotels, which call their rooms suites when they are really just one over-sized room, this was really a large, multi-room suite — a distinction I appreciated.
HOTEL FEATURES: The most striking feature of the hotel, in addition to its soaring height and soothing views, is the array of attractive swimming pools, which hug the small beach.
I enjoyed the all-inclusive option, which included three meals a day (when the inclusive restaurants were closed, snacks were served poolside). Eight dining venues offer a variety of cuisine; I especially enjoyed the upscale international fare at Tierra y Fuego and the pan-Asian creations at Asiana. Much of the food served is prepared with produce grown on site, inside two greenhouses that sit near the entrance to the property.
The hotel has a well-equipped fitness center as well as a beautiful and spacious Aquabella Sensory Spa by Clarins, which was to open just after my departure (I did enjoy a good massage treatment on the spectacular balcony in the presidential suite, which they had repurposed temporarily to treat our small group).
The Westin Kids Club offers activities on a daily basis, including arts and crafts, beach sports and family-friendly movie screenings.
Meetings and events are a big market for this property. The hotel has 66,000 square feet/6.200 square meters of meeting space, making it a popular choice for groups and meetings (it’s billed as having more meeting space than any other hotel in Panama).
BEST FOR: Families and couples interested in luxurious accommodations with a view, as well as groups interested in meeting and event space in a scenic location, not far from the excitement of Panama City and the Panama Canal. The all-inclusive option provides additional flexibility for groups and individuals.