Twenty minutes from Tocumen Airport in Panama, the 369-room Trump Ocean Club Hotel is the only hotel within the luxe Punta Pacifica financial and residential district. On the drive in, I was amazed by the preservation of 16th century historical structures and all of the new construction of architecturally-intriguing modern skyscrapers.
Even from afar, the 70-story Trump hotel stands apart from its high-end condo neighbors. Two sloping towers resembling curving butterfly wings rise from the glass and steel frame on the edge of the Pacific. Open since July 2011, Trump Ocean Club is a triumph of design. Registration is on the 15th floor Sky Lobby, a soaring contemporary space anchored by the Cava 15 Wine Bar for welcoming cocktails and light bites.
On the 14th floor, you’ll find two of the three restaurants, BARcelona Tapas Restaurant and Tejas, a fine dining seafood restaurant. Like everywhere else in the hotel, the beauty of Tejas is the historically-rich details. Tejas’ rough-hewn wood tables and bar were carved from scavenged sunken trees that lay at the ocean’s bottom for 100 years, when a town was flooded to facilitate construction of the Panama Canal. Tejas also has a gorgeous patio deck with ocean views, popular for executive groups up to 50.
“Guests love our year-round 80° average temperatures and they love being outside where they can see the lights from passing cruise ships and hear the ocean,” says John Cardona, director of sales/marketing. “We’re a meeting destination that caters to executive groups. Give us up to 150 people for a 3-day stay and we will pamper them completely.”
Each morning we dined al fresco at BARcelona at a buffet with rich Panamanian coffee and specialties like carimanolas, ground and boiled yucca formed into a dumpling and filled with minced beef or chicken and pieces of boiled egg. Full American breakfasts are also served.
About 35% of Trump Ocean Club’s business is from the U.S., 75% of which is corporate. There is an elegant ballroom that can hold 600 for a sit-down dinner and five oceanfront pool deck areas on the 13th floor for events. Total meeting and function space is 46,000 sf.
Director of Catering Jose Barreda says the favorite group meal is Panamanian barbeque and water ballet performance. “People have no idea what’s going to happen when these ballerinas start down the stairs and enter the pool. Then the music begins and they start to dance,” he says.
During that, Barreda offers Central America rum tastings for 50 max. He says, “We let them sample rums from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Aruba and Panama. Then we include a cigar roller who represents five generations of cigar rollers.”
The White Champagne Party is another popular event. Guests are asked to dress in white and Barreda gives each man and woman an artisan necklace made of colorful seed beads that emits a tinkling sound when shaken.
“The necklaces are considered lucky,” says Barreda. “It signifies a wish for them to return.