The new Santa Maria Hotel & Golf Resort is a welcome addition to Panama City’s hotel landscape. Panama City is Central America’s most cosmopolitan capital and a fast-growing vacation destination. If you like luxury hotels with authentic local touches, you’ve struck gold.
A Hotel With Indigenous Flair
The hotel’s common areas are adorned with bold masks and colorful paintings made by indigenous artists.
The 182 uncluttered rooms features Panamanian-made items including the Guna Yala traditional Mola blankets adorning the beds, hand-woven baskets made in the Embera community and furnishings constructed from wood mined from Gatun Lake.
Whether you’re relaxing in your guest room or sipping a cocktail or a cup of coffee in the lobby, there’s a sense of place wherever you turn.
A Resort Feel
The Santa Maria is located in an upscale community just 15 minutes from the city center and a speedy 10 minutes from the airport. It feels like a spacious resort as opposed to an urban hotel.
The swimming pool is a beauty, surrounded with sunbeds that may entice you into a nap. The 18-hole, 72-par Nicklaus Design golf course adds to the resort feel.
Even if you’re not a golfer, there’s a stunning view of the course from Mestizo, the onsite restaurant where the delectable buffet breakfast is served. The outdoor patio is a nice spot to savor the morning meal, with tropical birds singing and local business people enjoying an early morning round of golf before they head to the office.
The spa offers a variety of health and wellness treatments inspired by Panamanian healing traditions.
The signature treatment is the Espiritu Santo Signature Massage. The treatment gathers its inspiration from the Holy Spirit Flower, a wild orchid that is the country’s national flower. The treatment is infused with floral aromas in homage to this gorgeous orchid with a light fragrance. Don’t miss it.
Things To Do In Panama City
You could never leave the pampering cocoon of the Santa Maria but that would be shame. Panama City is a dynamic vacation destination that merits time and attention.
Don’t miss the charming Casco Viejo neighborhood, the city’s old town. There has been a recent push to gentrify this area and the efforts have paid off. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the perfect place to wander. Glimpse the colorful colonial architecture with touches of wrought iron. Casco Viejo is awash with flower-filled courtyards, galleries, bars and dining spots, many with a hipster-chic vibe.
Of course, you can’t depart Panama without seeing the famous Panama Canal. The Miraflores Visitors Center is the place to watch massive ships pass through this engineering marvel.
There’s a short video screening on rotation as well as a museum. They both give some interesting nuggets of historical information on the construction of the canal.
An Urban Oasis
The Parque Natural Metropolitano is a rambling urban escape. It offers hiking trails through the tropical forest and the chance to see titi monkeys, sloths and iguanas right near the city center.
Museo de Arte Contemporaneo
This privately owned collection features a phenomenal collection of Panamanian art as well as work by artists from other Latin American countries.
Hotel images courtesy of the Santa Maria Hotel & Golf Resort.
Panama image courtesy of the author.