Calle Colombia, 3ra Avenida Sur, Bella Vista
In a prime spot in the business district but with lots of trees on one side, Marriott Executive Apartments is a calmer spot than many other hotels in the capital, plus the suite–only rooms allow more space to spread out.
Operated as independent Finisterre Suites when opened in 2010, this hotel has joined up with Marriott to increase bookings, but retains most of its original character and features. It is one of the freshest and most welcome additions in Panama City so far this decade: an all–suite hotel with a large outdoor pool, great restaurant, and spacious rooms loaded with amenities.
The entrance to this white tower is on a busy intersection off a main thoroughfare, but effective double glazing makes the traffic noise disappear inside the airy lobby. There the friendly bilingual staffers and bellhops are at the ready and the wall of glass provides plenty of natural light. A staircase winds up to the mezzanine restaurant level and a bar right in the lobby is open during the day and into the evening. A welcome drink and cool towel arrive as you're checking in.
This isn't a huge hotel, but facilities are good, especially the pool on a terrace, surrounded by lounge chairs. It is meant to evoke a cruise ship, with metal railings and a view of the Pacific Ocean past the trees on one side of it. It's one of the best hotel pools in town, with enough length for swimming laps, and it's certainly quieter—it's one of the few that's not next to a construction site in this booming skyscraper city.
The seldom–staffed bar that was just inside is gone, but you can order by phone. Panama was apparently not ready for the ayurvetic spa that was on this level as it disappeared when the Marriott sign went up. A whirlpool provides a nice evening spot. Views are good from the pool deck, with mountains in the distance near the entrance to the Panama Canal. The small gym doesn't have much equipment, but oddly it does have a boxing bag.
The restaurant at this Marriott Executive Apartments Panama is a real standout and competes well with the neighborhood options nearby. Reflecting the fact this hotel is owned by Spaniards, Adegas has a Mediterranean focus that makes the most of local seafood, and the good wine list features mainly Spanish wines at reasonable prices. The L–shaped room gets light from the two–floor wall of glass on one side, with a terrace outside, while the other section is more private, with art on the walls and wine bottles on wooden racks. It serves all three meals and the included buffet breakfast is more than an afterthought, with an excellent array of local and international dishes, imported cheeses, and a good range of bread and fruit.
The rooms are the main draw though, of course, all of them set up as some kind of suite. The smallest are double the size of most standards at competing hotels, at 600 square feet. These are either junior suites or a regular suite with a separate living room. The only real difference in these is a separating wall and a second TV in the latter. All have some kind of kitchenette, with the full-sized refrigerator also functioning as a stocked minibar, but the kitchen itself is not stocked with anything. If you want to use besides the fridge, you have to make a request for silverware and utensils to be delivered. (There's a good grocery store two blocks away for stocking up.)
Each suite has a sofa bed, making Finisterre one of the best choices in the city for families. A dedicated desk area with shelves and easy–to–reach outlets is a welcome change from the norm. So is the complimentary Wi–Fi with a strong signal. Amenities are all luxury hotel level, with supremely comfortable pillow top beds having 300 thread-count imported sheets, robes and slippers at the ready, and baths stocked with Clarins toiletries. Colorful contemporary furniture, bold artwork, and ample lighting that's easy to figure out make these quarters stylish but functional. All suites have flat–screen TVs, iPod music players, and electronic safes big enough for a small laptop. There are no bathtubs here, but the showers are spacious and baths are luxurious, with dark granite vanities and leather accents.
Two levels of suites are some of the best upscale values in town. They offer two bedrooms and larger baths. The penthouse Master Suites are 1,300 square feet and have walk-in closets, fantastic views, and a full–sized kitchen that has a granite bar with seating.
Dedicated taxis are at the ready for jaunts around town or to the airport. There's also complimentary parking—a huge plus if you have a rental car.
Marriott Executive Apartments Panama gives you plenty of space to spread out and does it at a price that's more than fair for what you get. Thanks to effective double glazing and a lack of next–door construction, this is a tranquil choice in the heart of the city and a great option for both families and business travelers spending more than a few days in Panama.
Web Address: Marriott Executive Apartments Panama
Total Number of Rooms: 126
Published rates: $179 - $600
Review and photos by Timothy Scott.