Banner

Panama Travel and Investment Resource

Banner

Recommended Sites (advertise with us)

Los Cuatro Tulipanes is Matt's apartment rentals in the historic district of Casco Viejo

Panama Vacation Rentals is Matt's go-to place to find rentals in Panama

- Habla Ya Spanish Schools are Matt's top choices for Spanish immersion vacations in Central America

- United Country – Panama is Matt’s go-to site to find premier properties all over Panama

Panama's Bristol by the Beach

PDF Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Tuesday, 07 April 2009 09:03
El Faro ClubhouseWalking through the palatial entrance of Panama's Bristol Hotel Buenaventura, ed I may have been wrong to envision the resort as my own private villa with several sets of men at attention wearing finely pressed pants, and their hands folded behind their backs. "Wilson, bring me my Cool Aid in the study, treatment " I wanted to say. "No, make that a glass of orange Crush. Orange Crush in the study...Wilson! Chop chop!" While the top-notch etiquette is typical for Bristol employees, I couldn't help but wonder how long they'd been waiting to put their moves to work considering the woman at the front desk said business was slow. The last guest left three days prior. The front desk of the hotel is framed by this spectacular piece of driftwood so spiny and delicate that it looks like a giant set of deer antlers. The colors in the lobby are khaki, accented by pieces of bright artwork and fresh plants: everything is open and breezy (though oddly, in a coastal project of massive proportions, not on the beach). Every staff member smiles, chairs on the deck are uniformly angled to the sun.

The Bristol Rooms Just outside is a turquoise moat that says deep bayou more than it does the advertised "local lake," with cat tails and marshy shrubs: this is where the hotel offers its $1200/night villas. So not to confuse, the quality of the Bristol's work is expectedly first class, but an eerie, cautioning quiet looms over the grounds. It's like walking into a renowned restaurant that hasn't seen a client for days: do people know something I don't?

The restaurant, an iteration of the famous (and award-winning) Barandas located in the Bristol, Panama City, is open I'm told, however reservations are required a few hours in advance (perhaps to fly in chef Cuquita?). There are no waiters yet all the tables in the dining room sit perfectly prepared as if waiting on a tardy assemblage of connoisseurs. A small gazebo-type monument sits above the water: I saw a gorgeous blue heron take a dump on the edge. The dining scene reminded me of a time I took a girl on a date to the Tobacco Company in downtown Richmond, a classy, prohibition-style saloon. It was late and we were the only people in the establishment so when the waiter, carrying our entrees, tripped and fell in the main dining room, this creepy spotlight shone on the piles of broken glass. It was hard to ignore, like a private comedy show with bad jokes. I went over to help the man pick himself up, but thinking I was making fun of him, he brushed me away and said "fuck off."

The soft opening was in March, yet according to staff, the hotel sits empty during the week, a time for them to catch up on their crossword puzzles or crochet. Weekends are full with Panamanians who spend anywhere from $200-$1200 on accommodations and weddings are booked sequentially for several months. Their market is clearly a wealthy Panamanian clientele and if I didn't know better, I'd say the empty grounds symbolized a loss of prosperity.

We drove down a deserted road to the El Faro Clubhouse that's exclusively for property owners. It was a sprawling establishment with (what looked to be) an Olympic-sized pool, about thirty white cabanas with couches, and a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. It's not until you hear of "beach butler service" that you desperately need it. There were a total of two couples at El Faro: an older Panamanian duo who sat making out in the corner and a younger American couple who chased each other around carrying a six-pack of Balboa. If this was what the brochures meant by refined elegance, I wonder what they'd say to boxed wine.
{adsense}
Of course, the employees at the clubhouse demonstrate the same top-notch service you expect at a Bristol establishment. Food was delicious, drinks were cold, and staff was always attentive and thoughtful (overlooking the fact that we were the only ones eating). In the distance I could hear a man hammering down a plank on the sun deck, not even the dogs were barking: that's how quiet everything is.

I looked it up when I got home: Buenaventura means good happiness or good luck. The second meaning, a bit further down the page was good risk or good danger. LOL. I found the polarity fitting to my experience: as in, the project could instantly be perceived one way or the other. It's advertised as Panama's highest-end Pacific Beach resort, which I'd not argue after being there twice. But the crowds haven't yet arrived. The really weird (and sort of scary) thing is that the nearby tacky all-inclusive resorts, places where beer flows non-stop into plastic cups and troughs of baked beans are doled like prison rations: these places are booked to occupancy! If that doesn't say something about Panama's tourism market, I don't know what does.

Trackback(0)
Comments (3)Add Comment
0
Total Joke
written by Samuelson , April 08, 2009
Total joke of a resort - I wouldn't stay there in the City. The beach there isn't even that nice - $300/night to stay in a ghost hotel, I mean luxury resort? No thanks. smilies/grin.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
0
Hotels called Bristol
written by Roger Williams , April 09, 2009
The new Bristol Buenaventura is, as far as I know, only the third hotel called Bristol in Central America, the others being in Panama City and Mexico City. I reckon there are around 200 hotels called Bristol in the world, pobably originally named after a reprobate Earl of Bristol. You can see where they are, read abou their history and and check out news about them by following the links on http://allbristolhotels.blogspot.com
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
0
To Samuelson
written by Sue Kamacock , January 17, 2010
Hey, don't knock it. This is luxury, Panama style. At least the bar staff will go out and get coke for you at a reasonable price.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0

Write comment

security code
Write the displayed characters


busy
Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 April 2009 09:06
 
Banner