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Pool Crashers: A Panama Pastime

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Written by Alex Ramos   
Monday, 13 August 2007 09:23
Among the many things I enjoy doing on the weekends in Panama, there pool crashing has become a favorite, almost religious pastime. The deception, the anticipation, the spirituality of it all. There are a number of hotel pools in Panama City and I consider myself to be an expert on every single one.
It helps immensely in this discipline to look the part of a gringo. Speak as much English as you possibly can, wear a fanny pack, anything. The only way you'll get the boot is if they detect you to be a local-at which point you're not necessarily done for. Some quick thinking, a reasonable amount of charm, and a viable room number can do the trick.

Perhaps the easiest of them all is the pool deck at the Veneto Casino and Spa where all you have to do it hop in the elevator and hit floor number seven. It's a beautiful area overlooking the city skyline and the ocean, where tightly rolled towels and beautiful women occupy almost all the lounge chairs on weekends. The three-dollar beers come cold as ice and there's full, albeit slow and mediocre, food service up there too.

I often like to wander from the Veneto over to the pool at Hotel El Panama which is arguably the nicest in the city. It's a sprawling turquoise lounge area smack dab in the middle of El Cangrejo with a swim-up bar and tons of comfy chairs lining the rim. To get a towel here you've got to get around a devilish pool boy, but speaking no Spanish is a handicap even pool boys cannot help but surrender to. Just give him a three digit room number starting with 1-8 and you'll be good to go.


The Radisson, known for its beautiful people and trendy drinks, has a beautiful pool to match. This one's a little bit tricky as you need a key to operate the elevator, so I just perform fake cell phone conversations until I see someone approach at which I'll ask them to courteously push the pool deck button. One time, there were two guards actually checking room keys at the entrance, so I waited for a cute couple to pass and blatantly interrupted their conversation, joining in commenting "oh yea, that's really amazing that you could do something like that." I needed a little bit more time. "I could never do anything like that, so you're really...that's amazing." You can order drinks while dangling your feet in the icy water (it's always abnormally cold which I love) and the landscape is very Miami chic. Great views, stiff drinks, and extremely friendly staff-as long as they don't know you're a fake.


On occasion, I'll sneak into the huge Intercontinental Miramar pool which overlooks the stinky yet picturesque Bay of Panama. There's rarely anyone guarding the door but the first time I tried to sneak in, a man in a black suit asked me what I was doing. I tried the English shtick but he spoke perfect English, so I told him I was in room 719 and he asked me my name. In a panic I said the first name that popped into my mind: Frank Rizzo-the former mayor of Philadelphia. After letting me pass, he came back several minutes later and called me out, stating that room 719 wasn't registered under a Frank Rizzo. It wasn't even occupied. Dammit. He liked my style though and let me stay.


At the Country Inn at Amador, I once slipped past the concierge and front desk wearing only sunglasses and a bathing suit, still wet from a morning dip at the Hotel Continental (which is pretty lame by the way). I find that when you walk around looking like you just wandered from your room-and that means not carrying anything-you can pass easily. The Country Inn pool looks out over the world-famous Panama Canal and I sat there sipping a non-alcoholic Bloody Mary watching as boats passed. I met an inquisitive little kid named Raphael from Venezuela and let him in on my little secret. "It's OK," he whispered. "I won't tell anyone."


Perhaps the most difficult pool to sneak into is the Intercontinental Playa Bonita Resort located just over the bridge on the sands of the Pacific coast. This thing's laced up like Fort Knox! Just to get passed the guard at the front, you and your vehicle description need to be on a list which I've discovered is quite easy as long as you call ahead and tell them you're picking up a guest. Next step is avoiding the front desk people who are clearly on the lookout for fakes and impostures. Reading a book as you walk is handy as no one, not even a fussy concierge, wants to interrupt a good read. Make it through the lobby and past the greeter (who generally likes to ask how he can help you) and you're home free, at liberty to enjoy their number of pools, restaurants, and bars. This is like the Carnegie Hall of pools in Panama: once you've gotten yourself here, you know you've really made it big.

Pool crashing in Panama is really fun. Since everyone else is on vacation, they're always in a good mood. The staff at all the aforementioned places is spot on and very kind. If you look anything other than gringo, you may have a bit of trouble getting in. Once you have made it though, the feeling is oh so sweet.





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The Man
written by Frank Rizzo , August 29, 2007
I'll be looking for you. Next time ask before you use my name. Frank
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Hillarious read
written by JessiMIA , January 31, 2008
I just read your post and almost peed my pants. Uhm...not almost! I did! smilies/cry.gif
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good fun
written by Jo , May 05, 2008
But I think you confused the Radison pool, is there two Radisson's in Panama City? At Decapolis I never had problems with the elevator (maybe out of luck) but the image you have looks like a pool about 30 years older than that at Decapolis.

Fun hobby, I also like to do this
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Decisions
written by getting a good tan , September 06, 2008
But should we men be wearing speedos or dork shorts?
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Last Updated on Monday, 11 August 2008 22:47
 
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