advertisement
  • The Panama Marriott Hotel (Panama City; tel. 210-9100; www.marriott.com): Of all the upscale options in Panama City, the Marriott consistently outshines its competitors. The hotel is in excellent shape, chock-full of facilities and amenities; guest rooms are roomy and comfortable, and the staff provides outstanding service. A central location close to restaurants and shops is an added bonus.
  • The Bristol Panama (Panama City; tel. 265-7844; www.thebristol.com): It's button-up luxury with conservative textures and hues, English furniture, and carpeted guest rooms, but still the ambience at the Bristol feels cozy rather than stuffy. The Bristol is known for its bend-over-backward service and fine dining at Las Barandas Restaurant, though it doesn't have a pool.
  • Intercontinental Playa Bonita Resort & Spa (Playa Bonita; tel. 800/424-6835; www.playabonitapanama.com): If you're looking for a full-scale resort with all the trimmings yet not too far from Panama City, this brand-new destination resort fills the bill. Set on a small inlet on the Pacific Coast, and backed by lush jungle, the Inter-Continental feels more exclusive than other resorts on the Pacific Coast. The beach itself is just a step above mediocre, but the swimming pools, outdoor activities, and sybaritic spa will keep you busy enough. The Intercontinental is so close to Panama City that you can dine there at night; and they offer access to the Tucán Golf Course.
  • Islas Secas (Isla Secas; tel. 805/729-2737 in the U.S.; www.islassecas.com): Casual elegance and an eco-conscious design using deluxe, solar-powered yurts for lodging are the hallmarks of this exquisite boutique resort, located on a private island in the blue waters of the Gulf of Chiriquí. Expect outstanding cuisine, impeccable service, access to world-class sport fishing and diving, and the smug feeling of having escaped the crowds. Islas Secas offers a bevy of activities, or they can leave you "stranded" on an uninhabited island for the day or back at home base at their spa.
  • Coral Lodge (Colón Province; tel. 317-6754; www.corallodge.com): Spread around a dreamy inlet ringed with white sand and backed by coconut palms and thick jungle, this is a diver's and snorkeler's paradise, and one of the more luxurious and handsome lodges in Panama (it's eco-conscious, too). Lodging is in cozy individual thatched-roof casitas with snorkeling just outside your door -- and the property is close enough to the Comarca Kuna Yala to tie in a visit there.
  • Hacienda del Mar (Isla San José; tel. 866/433-5627; www.haciendadelmar.net): If you're looking for a lodge in a pristine island setting that isn't too far from Panama City, but that offers plenty of outdoor activities -- this place fills the bill. Accommodations are in individual bungalows spread across a promontory and offering dynamite views. The overall ambience is intimate and romantic, making it an ideal place for a honeymoon.
  • Villa Camilla (Los Destiladores; tel. 232-6721; www.azueros.com/villacamilla1.html): It's one of Panama's finest hotels and one of its most exclusive, tucked away on the wooded shore of the Azuero Peninsula. French architect Gilles Saint-Gilles employed traditional, local woodworking and iron casting techniques to build a gorgeous and sophisticated hybrid of a hacienda and Moroccan villa, with locally produced furniture, individually designed rooms, and a wide veranda with wonderful views out to the sea. Surprisingly, the hotel is little-known, and with so few guests you can expect a high level of intimacy and privacy. Villa Camilla prides itself on eco-friendly practices.
  • Tropic Star Lodge (Piñas Bay, Darién Province; tel. 800/682-3424; www.tropicstar.com): For more than 40 years, the Tropic Star Lodge has drawn VIPs, sports stars, and actors for its world-renowned sport fishing -- which is the focus of this lodge. If you're not a VIP, that's okay; this lodge just wants fishing fans, and they openly welcome families to get the kids interested in this high-adrenaline sport. The luxurious Tropic Star is located in the Darién Province on the Pacific Coast, and must be reached by small plane.
  • Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.