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Panama Hotel Setting Standards in Casco Viejo

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Written by Matt   
Tuesday, 13 January 2009 14:06
canal house panamaPanama's historic district Casco Viejo has been the epicenter of socially conscious development in Panama City for around a decade now, capsule with the majority of injected money coming from foreign investment and tourism: from people who appreciate deeply the human scale of the neighborhood as well as its architectural and cultural importance in the construction of a nation.  For the longest time visitors to the old quarter looking for accommodations were limited to small hostels and obscure one-stop apartment rentals, but as a symbol of growth the neighborhood has welcomed the reemergence of its first formal boutique hotel in years, The Canal House.

Located on Avenida A (the street everyone drives in on) and Calle 5, The Canal House occupies a stately corner of Casco Viejo: marked by a large wrap-around balcony and discreetly elegant door emblazoned with its initials. The entryway is underestimating considering the remainder of the building, the rooms of which can be rented out individually or all together as a guesthouse concept. Deep dark wood floors contrast with bright plants and contemporary art in a way that can be best described as old world sophistication injected with a splash of modern-day nonchalance.

There's a decidedly tropical feel to the main floor and living room, which are utilized as common space for all guests. A modern kitchen and open sala or living room are kept almost compulsively clean and organized and play host to an included breakfast during ones stay, while a small adjacent TV area with a well-stocked honor bar has the lived-in feel of a well-aged bed and breakfast. The honor bar: a major misnomer that dishonors the notion of trust-based self-reporting systems.

Besides being featured in The New York Times and various other publications, perhaps their greatest claim to fame, in only the little time the Canal House has been open, is having hosted the famous Daniel Craig (James Bond) when filming took place in Casco Viejo. People like to stay in the same hotels as celebrities and at the Canal House, there's a one in three chance that you'll have shared the same bed.
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Those three odds are the three sleeping arrangements in the Canal House, each suite aptly named after locks on the Panama Canal. The Miraflores, Gatun, and Pedro Miguel suites which range from $165-$340 depending on the season. Each come with complimentary welcome drinks, wireless internet, cable TV, and personal iPod docking stations. Additional thoughtful details go above and beyond, with management even able to set up private massages, nightlife concierges, and in-house catered events.

Originally a grand city mansion in the once-thriving old quarter, the Canal House prides itself on reintroducing Casco Viejo to the intimacy and comfort of a boutique hotel alongside the spaciousness and down-home-living associated with a private villa. The staff consists largely of local women who've been through the hotel's affiliate hospitality school system, a touch that's setting standards in Casco Viejo's socially conscious tourism sector. The historic building also stands out as being one of only two real luxury accommodation options in the old quarter; so those who do manage to book a room feel both literally and figuratively like a part of history.

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a few thoughts about Casco
written by Lamer , January 20, 2009
Staying in a boutique-hotel with historical flavour is pleasant, to say the least. But in my view, these places are rather expensive in the current context of Casco Antiguo, a work in progress with lots of unsafe areas where foreigners stand out too much. One day, yes, Casco will be IT, must be IT because it simply has too much potential! Employing Casco locals is a great way to act upon that community. But now we live in a money-conscious world and more than ever, those who do travel choose places that offer tremendous value and safety for less... I tried La Estancia up on Ancon Hill and loved it, me and all the other Americans, Canadians and Europeans who have tried it over the past few years. See what they say on TripAdvisor... It is not enough that Casco is different and "historic", it must compete on all levels, including price to attract more tourists and investors in ... and faster, because it either becomes what it is meant to become, Panama City's golden tooth, or it remains what it is, the taste of gold in a toothless mouth. I guess I am expressing my anger at those who raised the prices of property and of life in general everywhere, including Casco, anger alleviated by good work ethic and down to earth business surviving everywhere.
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About IT
written by Sue Kamacock , January 17, 2010
no, it is not IT, it is just SH. Not enough for more than an afternoon.
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