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“off season visit” 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
Seattle, WA
1 review
“off season visit”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 18, 2013

What a great place. Beautiful view of the pacific and ships lining up for the canal transit. Hotel staff have been wonderful and ala carte restaurants are reasonable. Multiple buffets are good if you want to eat lots. Pool staff even did great dance routines that had the kids in rapture. What you need to know is that this is not in panama city and will be 50 bucks for a taxi to get into the city. Once you are here you are pretty much landlocked and dependent on the hotel, unless you are secure with getting into the village of verecruz nearby. A few small markets and restaurants for locals. Very rural and will need some spanish to navigate there.

Room Tip: Bay side is best
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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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, August 1, 2013
We really appreciated your value comments regarding your recent stay at the Westin Playa Bonita Panama.

Your comments are always well heard in order to strive every day to give the best of us and provide a service of excellence.

Hope offers us the opportunity to host you again during future visits to Panama City.

Best regards,
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,145 reviews from our community

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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
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (338)
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English first
Panama City, Panama, Panama
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 6, 2013

We have been living in Panama for the last year and a half, and wanted to make reservations in the Westin Playa Bonita for my in-laws since they plan to visit Panama in August to spend time with our kids, so we thought it would be a good idea to take them to a beach resort for a week so they could enjoy their grandchildren.

I have been to the hotel a few times myself to attend corporate and social events, so I thought it would be a good idea to drive there so my wife and two children (ages 2 and 4) could see the facilities and we could learn about any special packages or plans for the days our family planned to spend there. In addition to that, one of my children is allergic to corn, so one area of concern is the menu of the restaurants, so we wanted to make a few questions regarding the available options in that regard. Our intentions were to make the reservations in the front desk after clearing all our questions.

The situation started to turn bizarre as soon as we stopped our car at the gate of the hotel, where the security guard told us we were not allowed to enter the hotel if we didn't have any prior reservations. We explained our intentions to the guard but his only reply was the telephone number of the front desk in order to call them and make a reservation (and I mean in real time, with the security guard right in front of us, while our car was blocking the entrance and a line was beginning to form!!). Then and only then, with luck, we would find a condescending individual at the concierge to authorize our entry. I was angry and reluctant to call, but my wife in all her enduring patience made the call and tried after being bounced from phone extension to phone extension to talk to someone to assist us. It never happened. She was told no visits were allowed to the premises, and we were requested to leave.

We were so astonished and amazed at the way the situation was handled, that we didn't even bother to argue or complain. The lack of customer care exhibited in the way this "policy" was explained to us both in person and over the phone, made us feel treated like if we were a band of ransackers or weekend freeloaders willing to abuse the hotel in any way. Needless to say, I will not try to make a reservation there *ever*; not for me, not for my family, not for any of my company's corporate events, not even to my worst enemy.

But fear not dear sirs at the Westin Playa Bonita, you are not alone! We tried to drive a few minutes down the road to the Intercontinental Playa Bonita, and the situation was even worse!!! Not only were we denied entry there as well for the same stupid reason, but the security guard at the gate was barely able to speak spanish (much less customer friendly) so we were almost accused of causing him to be suspended from his job because our request... then he barked some more and let us make a U-turn so we could leave!.

Someone please tell me if April's fool day in Panama is today July the 6th, because I refuse to believe this nonsense was real and not part of a practical joke.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Playa Coronado, Panama
Top Contributor
110 reviews 110 reviews
39 hotel reviews
Reviews in 51 cities Reviews in 51 cities
86 helpful votes 86 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 5, 2013

Our recent stay at this lovely property met our expectations and then some. A standout for us was the service received from everyone! The staff were friendly, attempted English (although I preferred to practice my Spanish which they tolerated with gentle assistance), and were generally efficient. Are they at that 5 star level - no not yet but I do believe progress is being made all round - based on prior reviews. For some reason consistency in behaviours is not a strength of Panamanian nature. (i.e. regular coffee service one morning - same server next day not the case?) I have witnessed this in many areas of Panama - and speaking with employers it is a frustration that is addressed with patience and perseverance.
We enjoyed the quiet weekdays and felt like we had a chunk of the place to ourselves. The food was ok - I am not a fan of buffets in most cases as the food is never hot/fresh and this was not an exception for the few meals we had there. Choices were basically fine - a pasta station may be a hit for people. The two dinners we had at 'Tierra y Fuego' were excellent. Starfish for lunch a few days was okay. The menu is limited and could improve with a few more salad choices and maybe a fish serving. We did not have the all inclusive feature. The wine pour was very inconsistent varying from maybe 3 oz upwards to 8 oz for a $6 charge. I sent one glass back indicating would like 'mas' (more) which was topped up no problem.
The spa was first rate - the services we had were the best ever- and that speaks very highly as we frequent the spa most everywhere we travel. We will do day trips from home in the future to enjoy this spa again.
A special recognition of their front desk staff - Miriam and Guest Relations manager - Maria. We had an un-solveable issue with our room - as it was too late for us to move to another. I wanted to ensure the staff were aware of this and to be more aware when placing guests in this particular room in the future. They were most receptive and grateful for becoming aware of the issue. Maria comped our last evening dinner which was very kind. She even went so far as to phone me at home the next day to ensure our dinner was enjoyable. Thank you.
We went with intention of a enjoying a few days of 'getaway' which was a success! We look forward to the next time.

Room Tip: Room 1840 is situated below a club level lounge area - it can be extremely noisy (thus ranking of po...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
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, July 13, 2013
We really appreciated your value comments regarding your recent stay at the Westin Playa Bonita Panama.

Your comments are always well heard in order to strive every day to give the best of us and provide a service of excellence.

Hope offers us the opportunity to host you again during future visits to Panama City.

Sincerely,
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 2, 2013

Checked in on Saturday, June 22nd (we are currently still here a few more days). Upon arriving at airport we grabbed VIP taxi service to the hotel which was rather expensive because the hotel is removed from the city. Also, the driver drove erratically (I feared for my kids' safety). The road is windy and the drivers in Panama drive like they have a death wish! Once at the Westin, we were quickly greeted by a bellman named Michael. He transported our bags and escorted us to our room. As we navigated the lobby, we were amazed at the loud (yet enjoyable) dance music. The guests were exquisitely dressed in ballgowns. My teenaged daughters were mesmerized by the atmosphere. Michael explained that there was a large wedding party. After surveying our gorgeous room and view from our balcony, we ventured throughout the resort. It was dark, so the lights lit up the pools; everything was picture perfect. We encountered several toads on our stroll through the property. We visited the gift store and noticed there were no snacks for purchase. Back in the lobby we mentioned to Michael that we needed to pick-up some snacks for our room (given we would be at the Westin for 2 weeks). On day two, we returned to our room and Michael had left a 2 liter bottle of Coke for our daughter, and he wouldn't accept our money for it. Additionally, we arrived back from an excursion and my husband's gout had flared up, he was out of anti-inflammatory medicine. Michael sent a car to a pharmacy and picked up pills to help. Michael's willingness to do whatever was necessary to make our stay enjoyable was a welcomed surprise. He is deserving of recognition for exceptional service. After scoping out the restaurant choices and other amenities we retired for the night. The beds are comfortable and the rooms are spacious. We did not experience any of the problems that other reviewers mentioned. Housekeeping has been terrific and the facilities have been great. Our room has been made up each time we head out to the pool or on an excursion. The pools are fantastic and clean. I woke up every morning at 5 or 6am and looked out from the balcony. Routinely I saw the same guys out, cleaning the pools. One young man removed all debris and added the cleaning chemicals. The security team was ever present; always surveying the beaches and pool area. At first, I was nervous because security was abundant which made me think something bad was going on, but after a day or so, I appreciated seeing them. Some of the front desk staff was helpful, particularly the two young men in the evening (they spoke terrific English). My daughters lovedd their nightly stroll to the ice cream shop, not sure how they will survive once we are state side again. The restaurants and food throughout most of the hotel was truly as bad as people have stated. The buffets are horrendous and cost way too much for the lack of quality. Do not eat in the Asian restaurant if you like good Asian food. The sushi had imitation crab! It was disappointing at best. Amazingly, getting authentic Panamainan food is impossible here at the hotel. Poolside food was not great and scarcely available. Your best choices for dining are elsewhere which presents a problem because taxis are expensive. The all-inclusive guests were typically in abundance on the weekends only. Apparently, the locals get a special deal so hundreds come and take over the hotel. The wristbands were confusing to staff and guests. Most Americans did not have all-inclusive and didn't get how it worked. The remainder of the week, we had the hotel to ourselves (only 75 people). Some of the best food we had was at the Albrook Mall (we also bought snacks and beverages there for in the room). We did discover that room service was our best food option in the hotel, but the menu items were limited. Booking excursions through the Gamboa Tour Company allowed us to leave the resort for much needed escapes. The Rainforest Tour was worth the money. We also enjoyed the City Tour, but we had to re-schedule because our guide was an hour late and arrived with a van full of people. Jose, the Gamboa salesperson was not the most reliable nor trustworthy person. You should book in advance of arriving in Panama. When I first went to book the girl in the office said to come at 8am the following day to book. Got there at 8am and he didn't arrive until after 10am. He also ensured that he would be there the next morning to see us off on our first tour, but he was nowhere to be found. We were told by Jose that it would be an 8:30am pick-up, so we were surprised when our guide called us from the lobby saying he was waiting for us since 7:45am. We scurried down as quickly as possible swallowing our breakfast without tasting it. The tour was worth it and Roberto, our guide was outstanding. The second tour, was great too because our guide, Robert (aka George) was thorough and went above and beyond. Gamboa does a good job, but Jose is a bit of a used car salesman. The Westin is a nice property and we will stay again, but there are things we would do differently and there are a few things we hope they consider changing. We would definitely rent a car so that we could dine offsite & we would pre-book excursions. The Westin should consider providing all day coffee/tea service in the lobby, teaching staff more English, adding to the room service menu choices, putting snack items in the gift store, providing complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport, better restaurant service and food, and overall customer service training. All the staff could take a lesson from Michael. When we return to Panama we will stay at Wstin primarily because he took the time to make sure we were comfortable and satisfied, every time we saw him. Most staff here in Panama, particularly at the Westin have a nonchalant attitude and there is never a sense of urgency. Oftentimes, you would see 5-6 employees standing around chatting about nothing. By most companies' standards the idleness would be intolerable and warrant discipline, up to termination. My mom is Panamainan and left the country for the U.S. years ago, but I wanted to bring family to experience Panama together. I am disappointed in the fact that most here at the Westin have demonstrated themselves as lazy and not concerned with service. The staff treat guests like an inconvenience. I hope when we return the Westin will provide a different experience; one that would make me proud to call myself Panamainan.

  • Stayed July 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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, July 8, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to share your recent experience with us at The Westin Playa Bonita Panama.

Our goal is to provide consistent high quality service. We greatly appreciate you taking the time to bring this matter to our attention. That action was taken in order to avoid future situations.

Once again, thank you for your comments and please give us the opportunity to hosted in your next visit to Panama City.

Best regards,
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Top Contributor
73 reviews 73 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
69 helpful votes 69 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 30, 2013

I stayed here on my first night in Panama and it was lovely. Getting a cab from the airport to this property was relatively easy. They charged $48 for the cab ride, which I found reasonable since it was outside of Panama City. On the ride, I got a nice tour of the city and my first view of the Panama Canal.

I checked in at noon and they already had a room available for me. This was nice because I was able to head directly upstairs, unpack, and put on my swimsuit. I headed downstairs and ate lunch at the outdoor restaurant -- Oceanica. They had a lunch buffet which was absolutely delicious. Next I took a walk on the rocky beach and then went up to the pool for the afternoon. The beach was not that attractive, but the pools were great. There were tons of lounge chairs and attentive servers coming to bring you drinks all afternoon. They started playing good music at around 3:00 and had some dancers come out at around 4:00.

Rooms were amazing. I got an ocean view room which a great little balcony. Room amenities include bug spray wipes, toothbrush/toothpaste, razor with shaving cream, and the typical Westin bath items (nice soaps, shampoos,etc). My closet had an extra plastic laundry bag, so I took it to store my dirty clothes in. At night, when you sit out on the balcony, you can hear the waves of the Pacific crashing on the shore while you watch the lights from the line of ships waiting to get into the Panama Canal.

The breakfast buffet was included in my rate. I found the buffet good and very filling, although it wasn't as delicious as the lunch buffet.

There is a tour agency located inside the lobby, so it's easy to arrange trips to other locations for the day. I didn't take advantage of this, but I did look through their tour book and was impressed by the offerings.

My only complaint was that there appeared to be some type of "all inclusive" option at this hotel and I wasn't told about that option when I checked in. A la carte drinks and snacks were pretty expensive at the pool, and I didn't see a pricelist anywhere, so I racked up quite a tab on things that weren't even that good. I probably would have enjoyed my trip even more if I had purchased an "all inclusive" wristband so I wouldn't have had to think about how costly all the food and drinks were at the pool.

At checkout, the concierge is able to arrange taxi service to your next destination. I decided to head to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort for the next night, and they found me a very nice cab very quickly the ride was $45. Overall, I thought this was a great hotel. I would definitely consider going back, but I would investigate the all-inclusive option next time.

Room Tip: The rooms facing the water are worth the extra money. If you have an SPG membership, book through t...
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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
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, July 8, 2013
Thank you for writing a review regarding your experience with the Westin Playa Bonita Panama. We greatly appreciate you taking the time to bring this matter to our attention and apologize for any inconvenience may have caused you during your stay.

Our goal to consistently provide superior service and your comments are very important to us. The feedback we receive from our valued guests, like you, enables us to target problem areas and take the necessary actions to ensure similar situations can be avoided in the future. We appreciate the candid feedback we receive and welcome any opportunity to improve.

Please give us the opportunity to service in a near future and welcome back to Panama City.

Sincerely,
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mexico City, Mexico
Top Contributor
51 reviews 51 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 27, 2013

This is quite a new hotel, 20 minutes away from Panama City. Since the hotel is new, it looks great and has everything you may expect from a hotel on its category. The pool area is beautiful. Rooms are very nice, equipped and clean and the staff is really friendly and efficient. I had a problem with the shower on my room and in less than 20 minutes after I reported it, a guy came, checked what the problem was, and changed the damaged parts. From rooms with ocean view you can see the ships that are in line to enter the Canal. This is a great choice for a business or a pleasure trip.

Room Tip: Get a room above the 10th floor with ocean view.
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled on business
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
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, July 8, 2013
We really appreciated your value comments regarding your recent stay at the Westin Playa Bonita Panama.

Your comments are always well heard in order to strive every day to give the best of us and provide a service of excellence.

Hope offers us the opportunity to host you again during future visits to Panama City.

Sincerely,
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta, Georgia
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 27, 2013

This location pleases many. Not only is it tropical, it also has an educational aspect with the Panama Canal and the soon to open BioMuseo.

Watch the boats lining up to pass through the canal out your window and then scurry down to the Clarins Sensory Spa and stay all day due to the amazing facilties and the low prices.

Room Tip: You can get a Renewal Suite for the price of a US hotel room. They are amazing and have luxurious b...
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  • 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
    • 5 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.
Maria Gabriela U, Guest Relations Manager at The Westin Playa Bonita Panama, responded to this review, July 8, 2013
Thank you very much for your wonderful comments regarding your recent stay at the Westin Playa Bonita Panama.

We always happy to assist you everything that you and your family decide visit Panama City again.

Sincerely,
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative 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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