Bristol Panama: Split Programs Combine Smart Urban + Sexy Beach Environs

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Bristol Buenaventura

Breakfast on the beach followed by lunch overlooking the Panama Canal is easy to create when planners book split programs with two Bristol Hotels in Panama. The waterfront Bristol Buenaventura, located on Panama’s Pacific Coast, and Bristol Panama City provide the best of this burgeoning Central American hotspot on one master account.

The 56-room Bristol Panama City is situated in the center of the city’s bustling financial district. The overall decor exudes a somewhat classical romanticism with tall French windows and giant bird-of-paradise bouquets in the lobby. Custom artwork by well-known local artists hangs in my room, and dainty orchids decorate my bedside. And, while I’m lying in my big bed with fresh Frette linens, my personal butler prepares my bubble bath with scented Molton Brown bath oil.

Set to open in April, the hotel’s new tower will feature 40 condos, 63 guestrooms and eight suites, connecting to the existing building through areas on the 5th floor and ground floor lobby. The residences will offer the same services as the hotel, including butler service and personalized business cards.

With its dark wood accents and sleek, contemporary design, the hotel’s 48-pax Barandas Restaurant is a delight. Chef Cuquita Arias de Calvo, commonly referred to as “the Martha Stewart of Panama,” whips up her 22-dish tasting menu that keeps us full for the remainder of our trip. The menu consists of traditional Panamanian cuisine with a sassy ‘Cuquita’ twist.

The group’s favorite dish is the Panamanian paella, served inside a coconut shell, which goes quite nicely with our warapo sugar cane and rum cocktail. Meeting space is 3,000 sf.

We have a fantastic lunch at the Miraflores Panama Canal Visitors Center, located at the edge of Panama City. Freshly made lobster medallions, savory spicy vegetable soup and a seemingly endless selection of decadent pies are only a few of our buffet lunch options. Our tour guide, Ivan, warns us that the only problem with the chombo (local cuisine) is deciding what to eat. I go for the seafood paella swimming with scallops, calamari and lobster, finished off with guava cheesecake.

I wave hello to sailors passing by aboard a massive 1,000-ft ocean freighter, just a few yards from our table. Every planner who comes to Panama needs to see this in person.

BRISTOL BUENAVENTURA

Located 80 minutes away from Bristol Panama on a lovely private beach, Bristol Buenaventura features 114 guestrooms and four lagoon villas inspired by Spanish haciendas. The resort is enveloped with a sense of laid-back luxury and soft tradewinds.

Soothing shades of greens and browns dominate the color scheme and décor, whether you’re soaking in the whirlpool jacuzzi tub or lounging out by the chic beachfront pool, decorated with trendy residential daybeds and loveseats.

You can host an intimate group dinner inside the glass-walled palapa surrounded by the resort’s lagoon.

We scope out the local scene with Ancon Expeditions, hiking up El Macho waterfall and visiting charming handicraft markets where I stock up on local souvenirs.

“You have an amazing pool to one side and a great beach to the other that’s just so expansive,” says GM Kurt Englund. “There are so many things to do right on our grounds, and groups here really take advantage of that.”

Meeting space is 8,000 sf.

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