Westin Playa Bonita Panama = Excellent Beach Resort and Great Ambassador Treatment

100   Recommended

Renewal Suite
March 28, 2019 by
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Renewal Suite

Liked:
Location
Service
Food
Amenities
Room

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Room
Renewal Suite

We had a 4-night stay in Westin Playa Bonita Panama after spending a few days in another hotel in the city center.  It is great to have a beach resort only 20 minutes from the city to escape for a short break.  Overall I was positively impressed by the elite benefits as Marriott Ambassador guest particularly for the price paid.  I found a Best Rate Guarantee with relative ease which brought the total bill down to a very reasonable level.  

Room

Even though I booked the entry level room on a BRG, I was surprised to see in the Marriott app that we were upgraded to the renewal suite several weeks ahead of our stay, so the upgrade treatment for Ambassador level could not have been any more generous.  Our room was on the 18th floor, just one floor below the Club Lounge and was facing the ocean – the views from the room were great.  The bedroom and the living room are separated by sliding doors and there is a balcony in front of each room.  Both the bedroom and the living room were spacious and in good condition.  The renewal suite comes with 1.5 bath which is convenient.  Overall we were very happy with our room but if there is anything that could be better would be the half bathroom was quite dark, not having any window because it’s close to the main entrance door and also the single light bulb was weak.  Also it might have been better design if the two balconies in front of the bedroom and living room were connecting rather than being separated by a wall.  Apart from that, it was very comfortable and air conditioning very strong.

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Dining

Most beach resorts do not have a Club Lounge, but Westin Playa Bonita has it which I found to be an important plus for the guest experience.  For people not paying for the all-inclusive package, the lounge can be great for snacks and soft drinks, but even for guests on the all-inclusive package I think the lounge is useful to have a quiet spot to retreat to during the stay. Similarly to our room, views from the lounge are great and people can sit inside or outside to cater to different tastes.  

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At check-in we were offered points or breakfast as the welcome amenity and we took breakfast.  Breakfast in the restaurant has a wide selection of fruits, salads / veggies, and also several choices of hot food well beyond the traditional North American breakfast.  For example they had breakfast tortilla wraps, rice, pork stew, steamed vegetables, etc.  The downside of breakfast in the restaurant is that it’s a huge cafeteria-style room and it was crowded on Saturday and Sunday mornings, although in fairness much better on Friday and Monday mornings we were there.  There are some seating spots outside for people who want to enjoy the weather during breakfast.  

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On the two weekend days we had breakfast in the lounge instead to have a more peaceful environment.  Breakfast there is the complete opposite: very quiet and relaxing, but food choices were very limited.  So pick what you prefer: quiet time, or more food; we liked mixing the two on different mornings.  

While it would be unfair to expect a St.Regis breakfast, I think if you set your expectations appropriately it is clear the hotel is not trying to cut corners with food & beverage.  It should be noted that both the restaurant and the lounge had Chilean sparkling wine and Bloody Mary for breakfast.  Regarding food, not only selection was good in quantity, but also you were reminded it’s a Westin and several options were healthy and good quality, not a low-level all-inclusive offering.  

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Happy hour in the lounge is 6-8pm and once again I was pleasantly surprised with the choices for a Westin-level hotel.  Hot food changed every day and sometimes even within one evening it was different if they ran out of the first item.  On different days they had quesadillas, sausage skewers, beef, breaded chicken breast, etc.  Each day there was also a cold salad for healthy choices, such as shrimp salad, seafood salad, sea bass salad, etc.  That’s on top of sandwiches every evening and desserts.  Alcohol choices were two white wines, one red wine (served in a decanter), sparkling wine, and some liquor.  

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Similar to the room there is not much negative that can be said about the lounge, but if I need to find one area of improvement it would be that the welcome letter says no children in the lounge after 4:30pm but during happy hour were there loud children on occasion, the worst being a group teenagers who made themselves heard a couple of evenings.  The lounge should enforce their rule or remove their rule. 

Service

I found service in the hotel to be quite good, and it started even before setting foot in the hotel.  Shortly after booking the hotel was proactive and contacted me to know if we needed any assistance ahead of our stay.  Check-in with Ale was quick and efficient, staff in the lounge such as Hadessa and Ruth were also great, and housekeeping was always done exactly at the time we requested.  Another positive service-related comment is that I was notified in the Marriott app at 6:30am (!!) that our suite was ready the morning of our arrival so when we arrived at 11am it was not an issue at all to get installed in our room right away.   

Beach

The beach at this hotel is not as good as some islands in the Carribean, but it is nice for a walk and it’s an interesting beach due to the big difference between high tide and low tide because water is so shallow over a long distance which makes it a good spot for some wildlife.  I would say someone who cares greatly about a top beach might not find this Westin to be the perfect choice, but a beach is better than no beach for a resort, and you get that very close to a major city for a very competitive price. 

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Pool

I found the pool area quite nice.  Even on weekends when the hotel was busier, it was not difficult to find a chair, unlike some ridiculous resorts where you need to put your towel on a chair at 7am to ensure you have a spot for you.  There were 4 pools including one pool for children.  At the far end on the left, there was an adult-only pool which was quiet.  Some previous FT reviewers earlier in this thread mentioned a pool for Platinum members – I did not find this pool so I suspect it’s been converted to the adult-only pool post Marriott-Starwood merger in August (?).  

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Overall

Overall for a Westin brand and for the price paid, this is an excellent resort and great value for the money: good service, before arrival and during the stay; very generous room upgrades;  food & beverage on par with the Westin brand despite some folks being on an all-inclusive package.  You also get a club lounge in a resort (which is not so common) and free access for Platinum guests, you have a good pool and a decent beach.  All that only 30-40 minutes from PTY airport and 20 minutes from the city.  The hotel is not perfect but I think it scores well in almost every aspect so I can highly recommend it particularly for guests with Marriott elite status Platinum or above.  

 

 

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