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After a jam-packed week of hustling and bustling through heavy traffic in downtown Panama City for the Latin American Travel Writers Conference , a relaxing getaway to Secrets Playa Bonita Panama Resort and Spa ( now known as Dreams Playa Bonita) was a much-needed treat for my mom and me. Indulging in a few magnificent beach days (tropical cocktails in hand) really helped us recharge before heading back to that mean old Montreal winter.
So, if you’re thinking about visiting Panama in Central America, just minutes away from the colonial streets of downtown Panama City, Dreams Playa Bonita Panama Resort and Spa ( formerly Secrets) is brand new and it’s fabulous.
Playa Bonita also happens to be one of the closest beaches to Casco Viejo and the other sights of Panama City. The resort even offers a daily shuttle to Casco Viejo so it’s easy to go exploring!
However, if you want to visit the BioMuseo, also known as the Museum of Biodiversity, in Panama City ( the first building in Latin America by architect Frank Gehry), your best bet is to take an Uber as taxis are surprisingly expensive in Panama City. Check out this post on using Uber and get some Uber promo codes.
All of its 310 rooms offer oceanfront views, private balconies and a fully-stocked mini-bar refreshed daily. Dreams and Secrets Resorts have built a stellar reputation for their brand of all-inclusive, adults-only, luxury vacation — they call it Unlimited-Luxury® — which means the service is spectacular, the restaurants are top notch, the inclusions are extensive and the properties are architecturally striking. This location in Panama is no exception.
Here’s what you can expect to find on the food scene — an alluring choice of fine-dining restaurants with various themes, 24-hr room service, poolside BBQ and an extensive lunch buffet. Even those with restricted diets will enjoy an array of culinary choices. All restaurant menus have clearly marked gluten-free and vegetarian options, which is great for those worried about finding food they can actually eat at an all-inclusive resort.
The buffets have a wide arrays of veggies and fruits to choose from, as well as gourmet vegetarian options such as grilled veggie sandwiches at the Seaside Grill, make-your-own tacos from the lunch buffet, lovely pastas at Porto Fino and delicious quesadillas from the room service menu. Whether you’re in the mood for Italian, French, Seafood or local specialities, the staff at each of the restaurants are always happy to accommodate special diets, which is very highly appreciated.
My personal favorite detail about Playa Bonita? It’s ideal for nature lovers. Every morning at 11 a.m. guests have the opportunity to journey through the rainforest, just steps behind the property. On the two-hour guided trek, they can expect to learn about a wide range of exotic plants and critters. While the clans of mini monkeys are a barrel of laughs, sloth-spotting is all the rage in the rainforest. If you’re really lucky like I was, you’ll see one waking up from an afternoon snooze.
It can get blazing hot on that nature trail, but that will only make your premium cocktail from the swim-up pool bar all the more rewarding. Or, for the ultimate follow up, treat yourself to a pedicure at their luxury spa. There’s an extra cost for spa treatments but check the daily resort activity sheet (delivered to your room with the evening turn-down service) for spa specials.
For shopaholics and city-slickers, Panama City is a 20 minute drive away, and makes for a fun day trip. Laden with loads of fascinating architecture to gawk at; even the city bus designs have attitude in this artsy city. A night out in the town is a must-do, so brush up on your Spanish, find yourself a rooftop terrace and check out that gorgeous cosmopolitan skyline. Oh, and don’t forget your dancing shoes. Panama City has plenty of Latin-American flair, so the salsa music is loud and the nightlife is booming.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Panama the only place in the world where you can watch the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean, and then drive across the country to watch it set over the Atlantic?
For more info on Panama see http://www.visitpanama.com/
You can catch the latest news such as photos, events and deals on resort getaways by visiting the Secrets Playa Bonita Facebook Page.
For more on Secrets and Dreams Resorts, check out these posts:
Day Pass ( take the kids!) to Dreams in Huatulco Mexico