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“Muy Bonita” 4 of 5 stars
Review of The Westin Playa Bonita Panama

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The Westin Playa Bonita Panama
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Road to Veracruz Km 6, Panama City, Panama   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #20 of 112 Hotels in Panama City
Lower Gwynedd, PA
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
“Muy Bonita”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 11, 2013

Our party of 18 checked in to the Westin Playa Bonita after a delightful stay at the Gamboa Rain Forest Resort. The Westin is a beautiful property located on the Pacific side of Panama City. As you enter the glass enclosed lobby the view of the infinity pool and the Pacific Ocean is amazing. As I said the property is amazing, the grounds are well kept, the pool area is well maintained, and the rooms are modern and roomy. As most of these reviews state the ocean view rooms have the best views and the garden side rooms look out onto a old bus parking yard, full of old retired buses.

When we finally checked in we had a few problems, some of the rooms were not ready and a few of the rooms that were ready we're dirty. The front desk promised to have the room cleaned immediately, it took several requests but they eventually upgraded the room cause they never were able to have it cleaned.

We went the route of the all inclusive package since there were so many of us but I would not recommend that plan. It works well for drinks and refreshments but not for the food. The food is all buffet style, there's plenty of it but after a few meals it all begins to taste the same. It would have been great to eat in one of the several restaurants on the property.

Overall service is okay, but I found that tipping will definitely get you priority attention. Service at the buffets is not as good. The person who manages your table, getting you drinks etc, are good but the staff responsible for ensuring they replace empty food trays work at their own speed. One evening I waited about 20 minutes for a replacement dish.

As I stated earlier I do recommend the hotel, its location is ideal, the gym/spa is great, the grounds and pool are very relaxing. One thing to note that Spanish is primarily spoken by the staff with few seeming able to speak English.

Room Tip: The ocean side rooms have the best views and the higher up the better. The garden rooms look out ont...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maria Gabriela U, Guest Relations Manager at The Westin Playa Bonita Panama, responded to this review, January 12, 2013
Thank you for choosing Westin Playa Bonita for your recent stay in Panama City. We have read your comments about the hotel and we greatly appreciate that you took the time to write them, as our guests' satisfaction is our main priority.

Please apologise for the inconveniences that you present at the check in time with the room.
I have shared your comments with our management team also regarding our food restaurant and I can assure you that all of the staff at the hotel are working hard to correct these issues and ensure that the quality of our services meet the correct standards.

Concerning about language barrier, we are in a Latin-American country were our official language is Spanish. Due tourism in increasing as a second economical activity, the president of Panama is considering English as a official second language. We are also having constantly training in English to our employees with an English teacher from UK so they can have the opportunity to improve this second language.

It was a pleasure to have you as our guest. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your collaboration and we hope to see you again soon at Westin Playa Bonita Panama.

Best regards,
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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North Battleford
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 9, 2013

Last year we stayed at the Westin Playa Bonita, and it was not what we had expected. The resort had just opened, and was not really ready for guests. We were given a second chance by the management to come back and let them prove to us that they could provide the excellent service that we know is associated with Westin hotels and resorts. This year, the service was excellent, the food was fabulous, the rooms were fantastic and the resort was clean and well deserving of an excellent review. We are very happy that we did return, and pleased to provide this positive review. In addition to the qualities that I just mentioned, what really impressed us as well was to see the hotel manager and chief chef mingling with people each and every day, talking, asking questions, answering questions, and making sure that everything was just right. To us, that was an impressive effort on their part to show right from the upper management that they had a commitment to excellence. Job very well done!

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maria Gabriela U, Guest Relations Manager at The Westin Playa Bonita Panama, responded to this review, January 10, 2013
Thank you for choosing The Westin Playa Bonita for your recent stay in Panama City. We have read your comments about the hotel and we greatly appreciate that you took the time to write them, as our guests satisfaction is our main priority.

It was a pleasure to have you as our guest and we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your collaboration and we hope to see you again soon at Westin Playa Bonita.

Best regards,
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego, California
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed January 3, 2013

We recently returned from a 5 night stay, and wanted so much to love this hotel. We read all of the reviews before booking, and were hoping that the negative ones were just written by picky travellers, but this was not the case. From the outside, everything looks perfect. The hotel itself is stunning, nice pools, nice rooms and beautiful view. However, everything inside was completely broken. There is no communication among the employees who all pass on your questions to other staff members. The concierge never once answered the phone and the "express guest" operators were of no help (they got our special lunch request wrong 3 days in a row). None of the staff knew which restaurants were open on which days and at what times. Because of this we had to order room service on Christmas since we were unable to get a reservation at the only non-buffet restaurant that was open (and they even got the order wrong!) The food at the pool was terrible (nachos and hot dogs) and the trash was never picked up, at the pools, in the game room, drink cups spilled everywhere, etc. The only shining star at the hotel was the SPG (Platinum) Club upstairs. The staff there were all truly professional, (especially Aristides and Ruth, thank you) and very helpful there. We ended up having all of our breakfasts there (because the buffet downstairs took 20 minutes just to get a cup of coffee) and dinner for our kids. Please Starwood, get more training for your staff (and as we speak Spanish it was not a language issue) so you can improve and live up to Starwood/Westin standards.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maria Gabriela U, Guest Relations Manager at The Westin Playa Bonita Panama, responded to this review, January 4, 2013
We are very sorry to hear that your experience with us at the Westin Playa Bonita did not meet your expectations and I would like to thank you for taking the time to contact us with your feedback .

I have shared your comments with our management team and I can assure you that all of the staff at the Westin Playa Bonita are working hard to correct these issues and ensure that the quality of our services meet the standards that all of our guests expect.

Once again I do apologize and I hope you give us the opportunity to service in the near future.

Best regards,
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Montreal, Canada
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 3, 2013

We were two girls travelling to Panama City for our first time, ages 29 and 30. I have always wanted to visit Panama and I was advised to stay at the Westin because it was built in 2011, and because it is a Westin. Originally, I was going to stay at the Decameron, but was told that there are many locals and it was located much further than the Westin.

To begin,

HOTEL LOCATION - 30 minutes from airport, very convenient in terms of sightseeing for the Panama Canal and Cusco Viejo. Other excursions are about 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Unfortunately, I didn't get to do the drive from pacific to atlantic, or check out beaches in decameron. Look for anton valley and a waterfall to swim in, and rafting if you're more adventurous.

HOTEL GROUNDS - The hotel is beautiful. The layout is perfect, there isn't much walking to get around. This is the one thing you cannot complain about.

HOTEL ROOMS: The rooms are beautiful and clean. Ask for an ocean/pool view. Mini fridge is not included.

INTERNET: 15$ for 24hours, or just under 60$ for a 5 day package.

BUGS: there are little bugs that fly around and bite you. I wasn't attacked like many of the people I know, but the bugs are so small you can't even see them. Bring some bug spray.

NIGHTS OUT: there was minimal to no entertainment in the hotel. Both daytime and nighttime. Very dry. We left the hotel 5 out of 7 nights there. Check out the city: Trump Hotel, Hard Rock. Go to the old town and go to Tantolo - rooftop patio with music, great view of both the old and new city. If you want to dance (wear flats if you are girls) go to Zona de la Rumba. If you are younger, early twenties go to Calle Uruguay (street full of bars, clubs). The music in Panama is great if you love to dance. You just have to find the location that suits you best. Watch out for when you order shots of tequila, they often give you the highest price one, so you may order 4 and have a 70$ bill. Otherwise, drinks are really cheap.

TRAVELLING - this is where it is expensive. The Westin has a taxi cab service. If you do a 20 minute commute back and forth altogether it is 50$ (25 one way, 25 return). If you do a 30 minute commute, you will pay the same price. Negotiate. If you are not afraid to go using a regular taxi service I would recommend it, they may be cheaper and easier to negotiate with. However, they sometimes try to scam you by charging per person, even though the length of the route is the same. Anyway, best thing to do is negotiate, and if you do take a taxi from the hotel, make sure that they speak english.

WEATHER: It is hot in Panama. Most of the days was mid 30's. There is overcast though, so you will see clouds come in and out. Rain didn't last long, as it is heading into dry season.

HOTEL FACILITIES:

Spa - It's a spa by clarins, including hot and cold baths, massages, facials, sauna, steam room (was out of order when we were there). The baths, sauna and steam room are accessible, however you must pay for any additional services. Massages are priced based on normal pricing standards. They did have a few holiday packages while we were there. The massages were highly recommended. I believe you can upgrade your package to a "vip" package, where for every week you stay, you're eligible to two massages.

Pools - the pools are big, they are nice. One has a volleyball net. There is a pool bar, but it was only open on the weekends, which was a shame. However, there is another bar located in the pool area outside the pool.

Gym - the gym has elliptical machines, stationary bikes and treadmills. Also includes loose weights and weight machines with a few benches. The gym is really hot, so make sure you have water. Otherwise, there is sufficient equipment to have a decent workout. They supply towels and there is a fridge with water.

Game room - there are two ping pong tables and one pool table.

Kids Club - at the very end of the pools on the right side there is a kids club and shallow pool where the kids can play.

Lobby bar - Look for Luciana, she makes the best drinks in the whole hotel.

ENTERTAINMENT - well there isn't really any. Everyday they do some dances beside the pool, and you hear the same songs daily. My friend is a zumba instructor and took it upon herself to hold a class beside the pool. The entertainers even said that the hotel is boring. If you want peace and quiet, then definitely stay here. If not, leave the hotel.

BEACH - the beach runs from high tide to low tide. Not recommended to swim. The only activity you can do is kayaking when the tide is high around 4pm. Otherwise, if you are looking for a more swim-friendly beach, you are looking to stay a minimum of 1 1/2-2 hours away from the airport. When it is low tide you see mounds of rocks, that go in as far as few hundred meters I'd say from eyesight. I've seen people walk in it, but don't think it is safe. As to why you cannot swim, you don't know where the rocks are when it high tide. To the right of the beach is another hotel, also not recommended - Intercontinental.

RESTAURANTS -

Tierra y Fuego - ate at once. If you are a steak eater then this is your spot. I didn't eat any red meat, and my friend said the fish was terrible. My chicken was decent, but the portion was for a child. We went to the buffet after. This is their best restaurant according to other guests.

Asiana - we didn't bother to eat at, because we were satisfied with the buffet and didn't hear anything great about this restaurant.

Starfish Grill - we had to pay for this except during lunch times. You should really check what is included in your package, as we got an all-inclusive package, which doesn't include everything.

Buffet - the buffet is decent, but there isn't a vast selection. If you aren't picky you will be fine. this applies to both the Oceanica (lunch) which is outside and the main buffet which is right near the lobby; inside.

Room service: you have to pay for.

SERVICE, SERVICE, SERVICE: where to begin...

this is a Westin, and therefore it is recognized worldwide as a good hotel, a choice of most starwood preferred guest members.

There is a major language barrier, if you do not speak any spanish you will notice how fast you communicate with your hands. The service is very slow. Especially at the bar at the pool. There were days that there was no bottled water in the hotel. This should not happen. It is a hot country and we need water to drink. Most often you will find yourself talking to the staff and they will ask if you speak spanish. Hopefully in the years to come they will improve in this area.
However, as much as the service isn't up to par with other Westin hotels, there is a handful of staff that speak english. They were very accommodating. Although the service wasn't there, you could see that in some way effort was made. Look for Nodiel (restaurant manager, tall), Pastor (front desk manager). When there was no water, that one day, every time Nodiel saw us after that day, he always brought us two bottles of water. Very sweet. Some people do care.


Overall,

This is a very relaxing hotel. Definitely not for singles. This is a more family oriented hotel. Service needs improvement, and bring a spanish dictionary. Beach, well there really isn't one. Maybe in a few years it will improve, but for now the service really needs some work. We were there from Christmas to NYE.

Room Tip: Oceanview, we were on 6th floor, and it was great.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maria Gabriela U, Guest Relations Manager at The Westin Playa Bonita Panama, responded to this review, January 21, 2013
Thank you very much for taking the time to share your experience following your recent stay at the Westin Playa Bonita Panama.

I was sorry to read that your stay had been marked by the lack of service and better food and I do understand your dissatisfaction.

Please, accept our sincerest apologize and be assured that your comments have retained all our attention. This is not the type of service we want our guest to experience in our hotel and I have discussed with the manager of the service concerned to take the appropriate actions to improve the quality of our service.

I do value your patronage and look forward to many opportunities of welcoming you again at the Westin Playa Bonita Panama.

Sincerely,
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Panama City, Panama
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 3, 2013

I took advantage of a package offered by my bank to their clients, and took my family for the weekend to this great hotel. I can say this was one of the best experiences ever for all of us. The service was amazing, and the food, oh the food! Breakfast was our favorite time of the day, and my daughter went through all the pools they had: from the kiddy pool to the larger ones. The place is very relaxing and it's hard to believe is so close to the city. Since Sunday was Easter, they had an egg hunt activity for all the guests' children and we had a blast! I would definitely go there again at the first chance I get.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Maria Gabriela U, Guest Relations Manager at The Westin Playa Bonita Panama, responded to this review, January 4, 2013
Thank you very much for express all your good comments regarding your recent stay at the Westin Playa Bonita and we want to invite you in a near future to be part again of our exclusive service.

Best regards,
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Quebec City, Canada
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2013

I was a bit trepidatious given some of the other reviews online, but I was pleasantly surprised at how lovely this resort is. The rooms are brand new and have contemporary style the entire place is maintained with such care and pride, I promise you will lack for nothing. The rooms are spacious and airy with gorgeous views the pacific with ships at large lining up to cross the Panama canal.beach. I never heard my neighbors, the staff was unintrusive but always interested in making you happy.

The buffets were good for a all-inclusive. The food was excellent all-around. Just need a little more variety. There is something for everyone, a kids' club, a very lovely spa, brand new gym, warm ocean steps away, helpful and knowledgeable concierge staff.

Wine was from chili was good so very much like americain wine.

Sometimes service is slow, but like any all inclusive... Pools are great, beach is average, but then again it the pacific, not the caribbean.

Maria at customer relations is great and always taking care of us. We will be back.

Its an all-inclusive model with a Westin infrastructure. Very nice mix.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maria Gabriela U, Guest Relations Manager at The Westin Playa Bonita Panama, responded to this review, January 3, 2013
Thank you very much for your email in relation to your recent stay at The Westin Playa Bonita Hotel. For us it is very important to know that your stay was pleasure and the hotel fill out your expectations.

I have shared your comments with our management team regarding the different issues that you mention and I can assure you that all of the staff at the Westin Playa Bonita are working hard to evaluate the way to modify and ensure that the quality of our services meet the standards that all of our guests expect.

Once again, thank you for your important comments and welcome to come back in the near future.

Best regards,
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
toronto
Top Contributor
63 reviews 63 reviews
28 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
57 helpful votes 57 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2013

We visited this hotel a year ago during the so called "soft opening", although not advertised as such by Air Transat Vacations. Needless to say, the Westin gave us a voucher for a free stay and so we returned for the week between Xmas and New Year.

Air Transat were not as gracious and gave us a small discount for the return flights, which ended up not being a discount at all as I checked the prices a few weeks prior to departure and they were far less than we paid when we booked in June. I still believe Air Transat too be responsible as they should have monitored the construction, and offered us at least an alternative destination when they knew the hotel opening was delayed.

Well, things have improved in a year, but they still are not the 5 star quality that is advertised. The property itself can't be faulted and the buildings and pools are top notch. They have completed the workout facility and spa in an adjacent building and the facilities are good, although the gym could have a larger variety of equipment. This building is shared with a uncompleted condo building on the same property and therefore is currently under utilized. The only issue we had with the room was that our "hot water" was always lukewarm at best. This was not resolved throughout the stay notwithstanding complaints and attempts to resolve by the maintenance staff. To be fair, our children in an adjacent room had abundant hot water.

They now have a games room with a pool table and a couple of ping pong tables that didn't exist a year ago and several kayaks although resort type 'water sports' is still lacking mainly due to the bay in which the resort is located.

The beach, of course, is the same and really only is swimmable at high tide and then the area is very limited by the rocks that lurk close to the surface. There were never more than a dozen people in the sea at any time and then usually children wading in the shallows. No waves to speak of and when the tide is out, all there is left is rocks and mud for about 300 meters.

The no-see-ums are there in abundance and on the first two days we chose the loungers between the pools and the beach and I have hundreds of bites to attest to the veraciousness of these insects. At night mosquitoes are in abundance and have those bites to attest to there presence, even though I did not see or hear these silent predators. I have been back for two days and I am still suffering. I have travelled the world and this is the worst i have ever experienced.

One big improvement is the provision of shade. Last year at the begining of the stay there was no shade to be found. They did provide umbrellas at towards the end of our stay. They have now built many permanent awning structures that are in high demand, so you have to do the normal resort grab and get up early to stake your claim.

Apart from this, the biggest issue was with the food and service. I understand that staffing in Panama is a major issue, but then so is it elsewhere and it's something that the Westin should have anticipated. In fact this franchise is owned by the Bern Group who have the franchises for many other properties and therefore, knowing the staffing issues, should be on top of it.

The food at the buffets, though abundant, was mediocre to poor, certainly not the 5 star quality we have experienced at other resorts throughout the Caribbean and Central America. This is actually not a 'resort' in the true sense, but a hotel by the sea. I really fault the 'chef de hotel'. A year of training has not improved the quality of the buffets. One could always find something to eat and we never left the table hungry, just unsatisfied. Remember this is billed as 5*.

On the other hand, the quality of the food in the two 'a al carte' restaurants has improved substantially. The issue here is the service. At the first meal at the steakhouse it took two hours to get the hors d'œuvres, and to wit, the waiter didn't get the order right. To be fair though on the second occasion our waiter Eliezer, was on the ball and got the order right and the kitchen staff were able to get it out to us in just an hour. Now, one has to remember, that this hotel also caters to non-inclusive clientele, and if if I was one of those, I would be 'pissed as hell', as were several guests. There are not alternatives unless one wants to pay for a $40 or more cab ride each way into the city.One is really captive. The meal at the Asian restaurant wasn't as good, but certainly acceptable by all-inclusive standards save for the service, which took forever. I just got an mail from a friend who is there for two weeks, and he said this improved substantially when he and his family ate there last night. Perhaps it was having to serve 8 people at once previously that was the issue. Also none of us were Spanish speaking and most of the wait staff are not conversant in English, therefore having us to resort to mispronouncing orders from the Spanish menu or simply pointing to the item on the menu.

Still a long way to go to fit the billing, however quite acceptable for a free weeks stay. Needless to say I won't return if I were offered another free week. The Westin chain are not doing their job. Quality control of their franchisees is a big issue if they want to keep their credibility.

Room Tip: Stay in Ocean view rooms - view is worth the extra $'s. Avoid 550 if you want hot water.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Westin Playa Bonita Panama

Address: Road to Veracruz Km 6, Panama City, Panama
Location: Panama > Panama Province > Panama City
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#7 Spa Hotel in Panama City
#12 Luxury Hotel in Panama City
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — The Westin Playa Bonita Panama 4*
Number of rooms: 611
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The personification of the destination: Where natural serenity meets industrial glamour - Westin Playa Bonita Panama is strategically located alongside the Pacific Ocean, on a mile long stretch of golden sand on Playa Bonita Beach, surrounded by lush tropical rainforests, and a quick 20-minute drive from the metropolitan capital of Panama City. Nestled alongside the stunning Pacific Ocean, The Westin Playa Bonita is near celebrated sites like the Panama Canal's Miraflores Locks and just a 20-minute drive from Panama City, the exhilarating capital of the Republic of Panama ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Westin Playa Bonita Panama Hotel Panama City
The Westin Playa Bonita Panama Panama City

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