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Exploring PanamaDecember 3, 2009 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent
Los Mandarinos Boutique Spa & Hotel is made up of a cozy set of Tuscan-inspired villas
When visiting Panama, suggest to your clients that Panama City and its surroundings are the place to be. We were recently in Santa Clara to get a first look at SuperClubs Resorts’ latest Latin American property, Breezes Panama (see story on page 42). As most of your clients would do, we ventured out a bit. The city is just shy of two hours from there, but Breezes can arrange a personal transfer there and back for an extra fee.
What to Do
Recommend clients visit Panama Viejo, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. The creation of the Patronato Panama Viejo in 1995 heralded a new era for private enterprise and government institutions to collaborate in its administrations. The Patronato Panama Viejo is a nonprofit organization.
On January 28, 1671, the city of Panama was attacked and seized by the English pirate Henry Morgan. After this dramatic event, which left behind human and material losses, the decision was made to move the city to the place known today as Caso Antiguo.
The ruins are definitely worth visiting. A tower and parts of old houses are all that is left. But it is such a surreal feeling to explore the land where these ancient homes once stood.
A trip to Panama is not complete without a tour of one of the Panama Canal’s locks. The closest to Santa Clara is the Miraflores Locks at the Miraflores Visitors’ Center. Your clients will pay just $8 for full admission, which includes a brief film on the canal’s history followed by a front-row seat to see one or more ships pass through the canal.
Give your clients at least an hour here as the ships take roughly 30 minutes to pass through.
Not everything is hours’ away—in fact, there are a few fun excursions just 45 minutes from Santa Clara. One such attraction is the Serpentarium in a remote, jungle-like area. The best part? Besides learning about just every kind of snake in Panama, including some of the most dangerous cobras in the world, you can even hold one if you like. The admission is only $2 for adults and $1 for children.
Where to Stay
There are beautiful resorts in Panama for just about every market, but two luxury resorts deserve special mention.
The good folks at SuperClubs set up a tour at the luxury property Los Mandarinos Boutique Spa & Hotel, which overlooks the mountains of Panama and is in a very relaxing landscape surrounded by beautiful gardens and elegant swimming pools. And the prices here are unbeatable. There are just 12 rooms—eight executive rooms and four superior rooms. We saw a superior suite with an outdoor Jacuzzi on the balcony overlooking the mountain. The price? It was $155 per night.
Agents should call Reservations Manager Anne Frazao (011-507-983-6645, [email protected]).
Another property worth pitching to your luxury clients is Popa Paradise Beach Resort, which specializes in “barefoot luxury.” It is on the northeastern tip of Isla Popa in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. The resort, fronted by a white sand beach and crystal-clear waters, backed by tropical rainforests, has various styles of accommodations offering high-end amenities. Bocas del Toro is on the Caribbean side of Panama, about 45 minutes south of the border with Costa Rica and can be reached via plane and ferry from the mainland. The Bocas del Toro airport is on the island of Colon in Bocas Town, about a 35-minute boat ride through calm waters and tranquil mangrove islands from Popa Paradise Beach Resort.
The casitas are free-standing, individual suites with king- or queen-size beds and a pullout twin bed. All casitas have full bathrooms with hot and cold water and walk-in showers, as well as air conditioning, flat-screen HDTVs with satellite SKY TV service, DVD players, beautiful, custom-made hardwood Balinese furniture and large, shaded porches for enjoying the ocean view and breezes.
The luxury suites are on the ground floor, are larger and have small kitchenettes with microwaves, hot plates, coffee machines and mini-fridges. The Executive Suites have a king bed in the room with a pullout twin bed and a futon. They also have wraparound porches with views of the ocean on two sides.
But we were told the best room here is the Penthouse. It is the entire second floor of a free-standing house. It has a wraparound balcony, complete with Balinese furniture and lounge chairs to enjoy the views of the ocean and beaches. It has a full modern kitchen, dining room and living area, with matching Balinese furniture and custom-made artwork.
The master bathroom has a large couple-size bathtub and a separate walk-in shower. The tranquility of the space is matched by its incredibly quiet location, on the corner of our island with stairs down to the beach.
Agents should contact Reservation Manager Katie Brame-Della Rocca at [email protected].
Casitas at Popa Paradise Beach Resort have lounge chairs on wraparound porches with views of the ocean and beaches