We brought 52 people to Playa Bonita for our wedding and it was a fantastic time. We stayed for a week with an all-inclusive plan and truly enjoyed the property. We stayed from March 29 - April 7th and the weather held out for us. Hot and sunny with occasional afternoon showers. We had one total rain day, but we were at the lobby bar enjoying some evening entertainment. We were surprised by the variety and quality of the lobby bar musicians in the evenings which ranged from jazz, folk, blues, piano and mixed modern music. People tended to group at the lobby bar in the evenings, post dinner, since it is air conditioned.
Our party had rooms pretty much all over the hotel and feedback from our guests was good. One room lost the AC, in another the safe stopped working and they offered to switch rooms, but maintenance folks responded quickly and fixed both issues. Rooms were well appointed and they all had a great view. FYI. all of the rooms FACE the ocean! We had a suite, at one of the furthest points of the hotel and it suited us just fine. The suite was lovely.
As other reviewers noted, we felt the food was well above average with lots of variety in the buffet(s). The breakfast buffet had literally everything you could possibly want and nightly cuisine was grouped around cultural themes, which was fun. We also dined at the Lighthouse restaurant, which was exceptional, though it did cost extra.
Lots of reviewers saying the staff at Playa Bonita were "indifferent" or "rude", but we never saw it. I did have several occasions where my lack of Spanish created a communication problem, but it never came close to being rude. Quite the opposite, as we worked it out through smiles, hand gestures and even a piece of paper to draw out what I was trying to say. An open smile and a willingness to try, has always served me well when travelling. I noted that ALL of the staff made an effort to say good morning/evening, even if you were passing someone in a common hallway, on the way to your room. It was a nice touch and it made me feel welcomed.
Front of house staff were cheerful, professional, friendly and very helpful. Trips and tours were on time and excellent and since the hotel is only 30 mins from the airport, you can reach almost any tourist attraction in under an hour. We did the Canal, Gamboa, olde city tours/artisan shopping and fishing for peacock bass. They have a tour rep onsite, so you can make or change plans at any time. Bar service was slower and relaxed, but not terrible. Once you get to know a few of the guys working, they warm up to you. Drinks were strong and we tipped, since we had a big group and were often putting in large orders. This really isn't a party resort anyway, so if you are that worried about instant party and alcohol, you might try an different property. This resort of great for relaxing and that is just what we did.
The resort grounds are immaculate, clean and were constantly being groomed in some way or another. There are flowers are everywhere! The pools are also superb with an adult/quiet only pool that has a small bar and serves light snacks. There is also a pool just for kids. The beach is pretty typical for the Pacific ocean, think California beaches, turbid water and rocky. The beach was not good for sun bathing, as it is sloped, but we walked along the surf in the mornings, collecting shells. We did see people swimming, but with so many pools to choose from, we didn't bother.
Yes there are bugs along the water front (mosquito's/chiggers/no-see-ums or whatever you want to call them) and yes you will likely get bitten past 5 p.m. We brought and used 40% DEET bug spray and the hotel has free bug wipes available everywhere you look. We brought a Sting Eze max 2 pen and it was very helpful and very popular with family and friends. After the second or third day, I started wearing lightweight, long, pants to dinner and never had a problem after that. We saw no "other" bugs or anything creepy from the jungle/rain forest. They do "fog" to control bugs and we were glad that they did. Fogging uses a gas powered blower to disperse insecticide into micro droplets. These micro droplets are so tiny it can kill even the smallest bugs. Other reviewers were "shocked" and "sad" to see them them fogging, but seriously? The resort is a) on a beach and b) right next to the jungle - what would you expect? Imagine if they didn't fog for bugs at all. They only fogged once while we were there and it was fine.
Seemed like most of the guests were a mix of mostly Canadians, Panamanians and folks from other Latin countries. The vibe was relaxed and friendly at the resort with a balance of families and adults. Wedding services were top notch, they made everything work and did it with exacting detail. If you are thinking about this property for a destination wedding, my wife and I were extremely happy with the results.
Don't be shy about a visit to this property. Playa Bontina was a great stay and we'll be back again for sure.
- Also Known As:
- Intercontinental Playa Bonita Hotel Panama City
- Intercontinental Panama City
- Intercontinental Playa Bonita Resort
- Intercontinental Panama
- Playa Bonita Panama
- InterContinental Playa Bonita Resort And Spa Panama/Panama City
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- InterContinental Playa Bonita Resort & Spa offers tropical resort seclusion just minutes from Panama City and the wonders of the Panama Canal, where the Miraflores Visitors Center is a must. The colonial and shopping districts, Amador Causeway, Punta Bruja Nature Reserve and the Gamboa Rainforest Resort aerial tram are all less than an hour away. ... more less
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