Four capital properties that are setting new standards for luxury and comfort
Panama has emerged as Central America’s hub for international commerce and modern Latin American culture, and nowhere is this more evident that in the heart of its capital city. From the ultra-modern financial district to the historic streets of the Casco Viejo district, visitors will find an appealing mix of premier restaurants, eclectic shops, plazas, parks, and walking access to Pacific Ocean beaches. In recent years, the city has also seen the arrival of a number of world-class hotels and resorts. Here are four top choices for an upscale stay in the downtown district.
La Isabela Suites
Modern luxury melds with traditional elegance at La Isabela. This historic property, which dates from the mid 1800s, underwent a meticulous updating supervised by restoration architect, Francisco Montanes, who worked for almost two years with the cutting edge Spanish design group, Bersale, S.A., to restore La Isabela to its former elegance. Their vision was to adhere to UNESCO’s World Heritage Site guidelines and maintain the 19th century elements of La Isabela’s colonial architecture while incorporating touches of cutting edge design. This resulted in a unique historical harmony with an integration of styles, materials, and perspectives ranging from the 19th to the 21st century. To complement their efforts, selected pieces of Panamanian art are exhibited throughout the hotel.
La Isabela combines the largest suites in Panama City with the services of a luxury boutique hotel. Each one and two-bedroom suite includes en-suite bathrooms, a large living room and full kitchen. All suites open on to large balconies, and have access to a large internal courtyard with outdoor Balinese showers, or to rooftop terraces. Among the unique services provided by the hotel are in-room spa services and The Chef- at-Home Experience, in which a Michelin chef will prepare personal meals.
The Bristol Panama
This upscale favorite combines the coziness of a boutique hotel with the luxurious amenities of a larger resort. It is the first member of the Leading Hotels of the World group to open in Central America. The 215- room hotel sits in the heart of Panama City’s prestigious Financial District, where contemporary luxury, gourmet Panamanian cuisine, and the city’s rich architectural heritage merge. This location puts the Bristol within walking distance to many of the city’s best restaurants, shopping malls and nightlife venues.
The Bristol’s interior theme delivers a sophisticated twist on timeless Panamanian design, celebrating the art, architecture and history of the country. Deluxe rooms and executive suites combine a traditional ambiance with a wide range of modern comforts. On site is Salsipuedes, an award-winning gourmet restaurant that pays homage to the region’s traditional cuisines, with a spicy, soulful menu that updates traditional regional dishes with modern infusions of fresh local ingredients. Decorated with hand painted clay tiles, contemporary photography, and plenty of flowers, the restaurant takes in the best of Panama. The Bristol also offers a wellness spa located on the 25th floor.
The Santa Maria Hotel & Golf Resort
Panama City’s newest luxury hotel opened in the spring of 2018, redefining the city’s standards for luxury resorts. The resort features 182 elegantly appointed guestrooms and suites, each decorated with carefully crafted furniture and décor that showcases the work of Panamanian artisans. Authentic handcrafted Panamanian design elements balance the history and culture of the destination. These include Guna Yala-inspired traditional Mola blankets, handmade baskets from the Embera community and wood recovered from the depths of the Gatun Lake.
The Santa Maria is located within an exclusive golf course development next to the Costa del Este and Santa Maria business parks and just minutes away from both the airport and Panama City’s city center. Resort amenities include a world-class spa, chef-driven restaurants, and access to the only Championship Nicklaus Design 18-hole, 72-par golf course in Panama City. The hotel offers guests custom-curated tours designed to immerse them in the authentic culture of Panama and provide access to unique cultural attractions, including the Panama Canal, the Frank Gehry-designed Biodiversity Museum, and the country’s unspoiled Pacific islands and inland rainforests.
Waldorf Astoria Panama City
This five-star hotel occupies an ultramodern tower in the heart of Panama City’s trending Calle Uruguay, where it is close to nightlife-lined Calle Uruguay and the Pacific Ocean. Opened in 2013 as the first Waldorf property in Latin America, the property blends classic Waldorf standards with a unique regional flair, using clean lines and neutral tones to create an upscale ambiance and an understated sense of luxury.
The Waldorf Astoria has 130 rooms and suites, each with premium bedding and Egyptian cotton linens and marble baths with walk-in showers. One and two-bedroom suites add additional living areas and kitchens, along with ocean views from upper floors. Both rooms and public spaces showcase a bright, contemporary design that uses natural woods and subtle Central American influences. Dining options include a poolside terrace and bar with city skyline views, the French-American Brio Brasserie, a sushi bar and the Waldorf’s signature Peacock Alley bar and lounge. Guests can also relax in the four-room spa, fit in a workout at the Life Fitness center, or refresh in the 7th floor pool.