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Top Luxury Hotels in Panama

Joelle Mentis, Staff Writer

Nayara Bocas del Toro Bedroom

When a country has a slew of luxury hotels that take the experience to the next level, you know it has something good to offer. But when you hear Panama you think of canals and guerrilla warfare, and scratch your head as to why this is where you need to be. Well, we have the luxe abodes and the reasons this could be your next vacay. These are the best hotels in Panama, which has become a luxury destination.

The Ethos of Panama

Panama and its people have a rich multicultural history that demonstrates resilience and creativity through its music, art, and food. It’s really no wonder why some of the most ecologically responsible, creatively designed, and community-focused hotels have emerged in the country.

Our list of the best hotels in Panama are generally the top of the food chain of luxury. We mean that by experience, as well as the premium it takes. You pay to stay and play in some of the best hotels in Panama, that are also on the list of the best hotels in the world. Best though in this case is about the experience of luxury, which make these hotels unique in the space of luxury hotels. You get the full service you expect with luxury, but you also get a connection to community and land.

The Hotel: Islas Secas

The Location: The Gulf of Chiriqui, 250 miles from Panama City. Islas Secas is 20 miles off Panama’s coast on a private island in the Pacific Ocean.

Overview

Islas Secas deserves props as the pioneer, who brought in the category of luxury hotels to Panama. This is the private island resort of billionaire/finance guy Louis Bacon of Moore Capital. So you know when a hotel is owned by a billionaire, no expense will be spared, or detail overlooked.

Islas Secas is located 90 minutes by boat off the coast of Panama or a private plane ride from Panama City. When you arrive, you’re greeted by ice cold drinks and ushered to your private, ocean-view casita with 2-4 bedrooms. You’re in the middle of nowhere, so the resort is all-inclusive. The private archipelago brings an anything-is-possible vibe, where you can go fishing, whale watching and  adventurous water sports.

Now before you think that this is a lavish luxury hotel that goes over the top at all costs, it’s the furthest thing from it. A hundred percent of the property’s energy is solar generated and a hundred percent of wastewater is reused for irrigation. This is one of the best hotels in Panama because it’s based on conservation principals, where even  a 100% of food waste is composted. It’s also nice when you’re owned by a billionaire because Islas Secas supports local community education and service projects. They also support marine and wildlife conservation through the Islas Secas Foundation.

All of this comes at a premium though, if you’re lucky to stay at Islas des Secas. Rates run from $4,500 to over $12,500 during the high holiday season. So we weren’t over exaggerating when we said that Panama was a luxury destination.

The Hotel: Nayara Bocas Del Toro

Location: Bocas del Toro in Frangipani Island in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago at Panama’s northern Caribbean coast.

Overview

Nayara Bocas del Toro is the newest of the list to join the best hotels in Panama. As with the conservation principals of the top luxury hotels in Panama,  Nayara Bocas Del Toro mission is both conservation and giving back to the community and earth. The Nayara portfolio is known for their ultra upscale take on glamping, with tented camps around the world. In Panama, the hotel takes it the next step with 1,100 sq ft overwater villas and Balian bamboo treehouses for larger groups.

Despite the fact that they are totally off-grid, powered by rainwater and sunlight, the architecture is masterful. Hand carved teak furnishings detail each room, and tiled bathrooms come all the way from Indonesia. As for the activities, guests can explore the surrounding island waters by swim, snorkel, scuba or boat. The nearby coral reefs teem with wildlife, which is well protected by the property whose sustainability mission is tailored to the island.

The Hotel: Sweet Bocas

The Location: Bocas del Toro, on a 15-acre private island off the coast of Northern Panama.

Overview

Sweet Bocas is a 9 bedroom private over-the-water villa, on a private island, that’s a private 50-minute flight from Panama City. So if you didn’t get the gist of it, Sweet Bocas is as private as it gets. Sweet Bocas is an overwater villa designed to conjure connectivity with both your private group as well as with the nature of the surrounding area. Whether as the perfect destination to host a party for a special occasion, or simply the base camp for excursions into nature, there is something uniquely special about the Sweet Bocas experience.

The villa rests on what feels like a raft above the turquoise water. Your setting is so stunning, that you may not notice all of the details like the incredible outdoor showers, hidden gardens, and outdoor theater. The best parts are also all of the activities. At Sweet Bocas, surfing, snorkeling and boating  can be arranged with the help of the friendly staff, who are like a family.

The Hotel: Waldorf Astoria

The Location: Panama City

Overview

If you’ve never been to Panama, it would be a shame to miss Panama City for an evening to tour and see the canals. Home base and one of the best hotels in Panama is the Waldorf Astoria, a classic Panamanian favorite. Located in Panama City, the hotel gives proximity to explore the city’s  history, food, and culture.

The high-rise vibe makes it the no-brainer for leisure and business. But it doesn’t lack any charm either, although it is an international hotel. The staff is friendly, where don’t be surprised if you befriend the bartender and he shares his favorite cocktail recipe. If you’re with your family the sky-high pool is sure to be a hit. Calle de Uruguay nearby brings shopping and nightlife, while an award winning spa can get you that relaxation that you deserve on a vacation. Also, for a lower price than others on this list, rooms serve as a good home-base for a complete exploration of Panama City.

The Hotel: El Otro Lado

The Location: Portobello National Park, 80 minutes by car from Panama City on the Caribbean coast of Panama.

Overview

The best hotels in Panama can make a dent, in even the healthiest wallets. So we’re putting El Otro Lado on the list, as a more accessible option for families and groups. Yes, Panama is a luxury destination at the top tier hotels, but it’s also a place that is worthy to explore for any budget range. You can arrive by car or train to El Otro Lado, and not a $1,000-$1,500/person flight. Also, for the seven rooms in this private resort, you don’t have to mortgage your house. This is also a place to keep it real for your kids, while providing enough of the creature comforts and luxury experience for all.

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