By Mark Chesnut
His name has already saturated the media quite a bit this year, but the debut of the Donald Trump-branded Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower, Panama is still big news. Considering that it marks The Donald’s first foray south of Mexico — and considering that its architecture is among the most attention-getting in the city — it is perhaps the most visual symbol of how fast Panama City hotels are growing in this Central American hotspot.
The Trump hotel, which is to open later this year, is far from the only new name in town. Panama City has, in fact, been enjoying a hotel boom that has led some observers to compare Panama’s capital to Dubai. Among the newest luxury hotels are the Le Meridien Panama, which sits on the prestigious waterfront Balboa Avenue, and Esplendor Panama, an apartment-like complex owned by Argentina-based Fen Hoteles.
Soon to open are the Westin Playa Bonita, a luxury resort debuting in October just outside the city, and a new tower at the Bristol Panama, a 56-room luxury hotel that is a member of Leading Hotels of the World.
Additional brands slated to appear on the scene include Aloft, Hilton, Hyatt Place, Jumeirah, NH, Renaissance and The Panamera, which will be the only Waldorf-Astoria in all of Latin America. And in December, the 1,499-room Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis is to open, with 24,250 square feet of flexible meeting space; it will be Hard Rock’s first hotel in Central America.
Mark Chesnut is a travel writer, editor and publisher of LatinFlyer.com, which focuses on business and leisure travel to Latin America.