Central America, Destination, Panama

The Most Surprisingly Awesome Destination & Resort Goes To

Westin Playa Bonita Pool

To be honest, my expectations weren’t high. I’d never heard of it as a top vacation destination, but after visiting the rest of Central America, I wanted to give it a try. Well, let me tell you… Panama and the Westin Playa Bontia blew me away! From the activities and amenities to the views and the food, every experience was a “Wow” moment and I will definitely return for more.

I arrived in Panama in the evening. I was tired and just wanted to get to the hotel. The driver from Gamboa Tours was awaiting my arrival. His knowledge of the city was exceptional and the drive passed by more quickly than I anticipated.

After a quick and easy check-in, I made my way up to the room. I didn’t need to walk all over God’s creation to get to another building and another floor around another corner; nope, it’s all one building with a centrally located elevator. I just had to push a button and wait a few seconds. My room was the first door on the right. I saw the double doors and started to smile. I bet it’s huge!

I swiped the key and pushed open the door. Wow! 

Westin Playa Bonita Room

With warm wood furnishings and pale beige ceramic floors and seating, the room inspired relaxation from the moment I arrived. The crisp white linens were calling my name but only after a hot bubble bath in the huge soaking tub.

It wasn’t until morning that I drew back the curtains and realized my spectacular ocean view. The large sliding doors opened onto a private balcony that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. It was the perfect spot to enjoy room service and the warm ocean breeze. In complete privacy, I reveled in the natural beauty of Panama and the Pacific Ocean.

Westin Playa Bonita Pool Location

By 9 am I was ready to transfer to Gamboa Rainforest Reserve with Gamboa Tours. All Gamboa Tours can be arranged in the lobby of Westin Playa Bonita making them quick and easy to plan.

A boat tour took us through the Panama Canal where Capuchin and Howler monkeys were leaping through the trees above. One curious little fellow even came onto the boat to eat a piece of fruit. I’d never been so close to monkeys in the wild before. It was awesome enough to make me giggle like a school-girl the entire ride. It was only the first tour and I was already more impressed than expected.

Monkeys in the Gamboa RainforestMonkeys in the Gamboa Rainforest, Panam

Monkey Photobomb

One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the Panama Canal made it possible for ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in half the time previously required. On August 15th, 1914, the S.S. Ancon became the first ship to pass through this man-made wonder, making August 15, 2014 the 100th anniversary. As part of the celebration, we made our way to Mirflores Locks.

My Gamboa Tours guide pulled some strings and got us spectacular views of the Mirflores Locks so we could watch the first ship journey through the canal on its anniversary. Music played and the ship’s crew waved Panama flags as they passed hundreds of spectators.

Panama Canal 100 Year Celebration

Panama Canal Locks

Panama Canal Ship Crew

Before returning to the hotel, we made one last stop atop a mountain to get a bird’s eye view of the city. I still can’t believe all of the skyscrapers that dot the city skyline. As if that’s not impressive enough, there are beautiful bridges that surround the city and parks around every corner. Even at night, people were walking, running, and biking through the parks and trails.

Panama City View from Above

Bridges Around Panama City

All of that was in one day. I didn’t think it could get any better. Then, on the second day of tours I was more impressed again. Once again, I was promptly met in the hotel lobby by the Gamboa Tours driver for our Embera Indian Village excursion. Even the heavy rainfall didn’t dampen my spirits on this tour.

In a dug-out canoe, we made our way up a beautiful river surrounded by rainforest to an authentic Embera Indian Village. Before arriving at the village, we stopped at a hidden waterfall. Sometimes you just have to jump in so I took the plunge in the refreshing water.

Waterfall in Panama

Part of the adventure on the river was the heavy rainfall. Luckily, my guide had ponchos so I didn’t arrive at the village with wet camera gear.

Greeted by dozens of friendly Indians in traditional attire, I learned about their way of life, history, and traditions. A few of the local children took the time to braid my hair and I felt more connected than usual. It’s always in the presence of children that I feel most at home.

Indian Village in Panama

Embera Indian Village, Panama

Exhausted from an amazing two days in Panama, I returned to the hotel for a spa treatment at Sensory Spa and dinner at Tierra y Fuego.

Sensory Spa Westin Playa Bonita, Panama

I enjoyed Sensory Spa‘s hydrotherapy room while waiting for my massage. I began the circuit with the Raindance Rainmaker Experience Showers, then moved on to the Vitality Pool. Afterwards, the cold plunge sealed in the warmth to sooth my muscles. I did all of this before my actual spa treatment.

Sensory Spa at Westin Playa Bonita

The massage was Heaven on Earth and I reflected on my unbelievable journey while rejuvenating my mind and body. All that was left to create Utopia was a perfect meal.

Tierra y Fuego is the property’s chic steakhouse. The food was so delicious that I kept waiting for them to bring the bill to the table. I couldn’t believe that it was part of the all-inclusive package.

Tierra y Fuego, Westin Playa Bonita

I ordered a Classic Caesar Salad to start. Then, the Filet Mignon with Merlot Peppercorn Sauce, Steamed Asparagus, and Mashed Potatoes. I finished it off with a special dessert selected by the waiter.

Dinner at Westin Playa Bonita

I climbed into the massive king-sized bed completely fulfilled. What a surprisingly awesome experience with exceptional greatest around every corner. I had no idea what to expect from Panama or the Westin Playa Bonita but its now on my list of top five places to visit. You can expect to see me here again.

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23 thoughts on “The Most Surprisingly Awesome Destination & Resort Goes To

  1. Ernest Brown says:

    Wow! I have to say that this is truly an awesome place to stay and explore. I hope that I can visit it someday.

  2. This looks like a BEAUTIFUL resort!! I would definitely stay there.

  3. This looks like a BEAUTIFUL resort!! I would definitely stay there.

  4. Wow! I normally don’t stay at the high-rise hotels, but I might have to make an exception here. What an incredible view. And I must admit, sometimes it is just nice to take a break from roughing it to get a room with all the amenities I’m used to in the States. Great photos of the monkeys too. Looks like you had an amazing adventure!

  5. Wow! I normally don’t stay at the high-rise hotels, but I might have to make an exception here. What an incredible view. And I must admit, sometimes it is just nice to take a break from roughing it to get a room with all the amenities I’m used to in the States. Great photos of the monkeys too. Looks like you had an amazing adventure!

  6. Jennifer says:

    Beautiful spot – and with that fabulous pool I’d love to be there right now. Panama is on the list! And the boat tour looks like a blast.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Beautiful spot – and with that fabulous pool I’d love to be there right now. Panama is on the list! And the boat tour looks like a blast.

  8. My sister just came pack from a trip around middle America and she absolutely adored Panama as well. It seems to be a quite an inspirational place and I hope to visit it myself some time soon as well, so thank you for sharing,

  9. My sister just came pack from a trip around middle America and she absolutely adored Panama as well. It seems to be a quite an inspirational place and I hope to visit it myself some time soon as well, so thank you for sharing,

  10. How amazing do those pool look. I’m more of a resort pool kind of person than a beach so its the first thing I look for when booking a resort. I’ve read a lot about Panama recently and it certainly looks to be an interesting place with plenty see.

  11. How amazing do those pool look. I’m more of a resort pool kind of person than a beach so its the first thing I look for when booking a resort. I’ve read a lot about Panama recently and it certainly looks to be an interesting place with plenty see.

  12. Will says:

    Such a luxurious experience – looks amazing!

  13. Will says:

    Such a luxurious experience – looks amazing!

  14. Tired or not, Westin’s Heavenly beds are always calling out to the hotel guests, I think! 😉 Anyways, I’ve always wanted to go and see Panama Canal but have never really looked into what Panama City can offer in terms of other attractions. Looking at the photos here, I’m pretty much convinced that I should try to make my way there one day! Staying at this Westin would be an added bonus!

  15. Tired or not, Westin’s Heavenly beds are always calling out to the hotel guests, I think! 😉 Anyways, I’ve always wanted to go and see Panama Canal but have never really looked into what Panama City can offer in terms of other attractions. Looking at the photos here, I’m pretty much convinced that I should try to make my way there one day! Staying at this Westin would be an added bonus!

  16. Yes, children do have a way of putting us all at ease. Our crew of 9 children is on the way through Central America and this has whetted our appetite for Panama. Thank you for the informative and alluring post. We will have to do the Canal tour and the Westin!

  17. Yes, children do have a way of putting us all at ease. Our crew of 9 children is on the way through Central America and this has whetted our appetite for Panama. Thank you for the informative and alluring post. We will have to do the Canal tour and the Westin!

  18. Orana says:

    Looks like a great place to spend a few days! I have a friend that lives in Panama and she is always raving, she´s probably right. All those pools look heaveanly, and well the food too! nice.

  19. Orana says:

    Looks like a great place to spend a few days! I have a friend that lives in Panama and she is always raving, she´s probably right. All those pools look heaveanly, and well the food too! nice.

  20. What an amazing weekend! Every single part of it looks amazing, especially being able to spend time in the village. And of course, that spa treatment! I probably would have fallen asleep in there lol.

  21. What an amazing weekend! Every single part of it looks amazing, especially being able to spend time in the village. And of course, that spa treatment! I probably would have fallen asleep in there lol.

  22. Uncover Your Caribbean says:

    Yep, this place will do! Looks inviting!

  23. Uncover Your Caribbean says:

    Yep, this place will do! Looks inviting!

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