Tucked within Panama’s fertile Boquete Valley, the Panamonte Inn & Spa has been catering to international travelers for close to a century. With new and recently renovated rooms stamped with the Small Luxury Hotels of the World brand, the Panamonte Inn has regained its footing as a premier boutique hotel.
Just steps from the vibrant town center, Panamonte retains a very historic feeling with its wood–slat façade and long flower–festooned porch. The quaint lobby opens up to mature landscaped gardens decorated with white wrought iron benches. A small stately seating area with a window to the gardens also invites lingering. A separate entrance leads to the reception area where friendly and professional staffers attend to your needs.
Home to one of the most acclaimed restaurants in Panama, the Panamonte Inn attracts its share of day visitors, who receive the same level of attention. The owner’s son, award–winning chef Charlie Collins, prepares gourmet dishes with an International and Panamanian flair using fresh local ingredients. With the formal table settings, suede high–backed chairs and meticulous staff, you may feel encouraged to flip through your mental pages of Miss Manners.
For an equally delightful yet more casual ambiance, there is the inn’s cozy fireside bar and lounge decorated with plush sofas and rattan table and chair sets. Opening up to the gardens, you can breathe in Boquete’s cool mountain air while sipping a glass of port and warming your back to the fireplace. In addition to the full bar serving expertly mixed cocktails, an appetizer menu offers typical Panamanian fare such as carimañola, yucca fritters stuffed with ground meat, and almojábanos, corn and Roquefort cheese sticks. Dinner is also served in the lounge area and on the adjacent outdoor patio.
The Panamonte has never been considered a luxury hotel in the past, but the owners have put the guest rooms through a major renovation and they recently added a second building with eight new deluxe rooms. All rooms tastefully blend an air of the past with contemporary accents. Rooms come equipped with orthopedic mattresses topped with high thread count linens, 42” flat–screen TVs with Sky cable, wireless Internet, phones, safes, minibars, soft robes, slippers, ceiling fans, and air–conditioning—the latter rarely needed at this altitude of 1000 meters (3200 feet) above sea level.
The Garden Junior Suites numbers one and two are closest to the lounge area and share an outdoor patio. Number three has its own private patio. Each Junior Suite comes with two queen beds and night stands topped with reading lamps. Bathrooms have granite countertops and large walk-in showers with rain shower heads. The Garden Honeymoon Suite, in addition to its spacious room and king–sized bed, has a large private outdoor patio complete with a stone fireplace. The room’s unexpected luxury is the spa–like bathroom with its own 8-person Jacuzzi tub and adjoining tiled shower area.
In a new L–shaped building surrounding the gardens sit eight equally satisfying Garden Terrace rooms. Spanish tile flooring, vaulted ceilings, recessed lighting and front and back doors create an open-air feel. Front doors open up to a small patio facing the gardens. Back doors open up to a wrap–around patio looking to the forest, four facing east and four north. Two cramped standard rooms form part of the main building. Though these rooms have received some new touches, avoid them unless you don’t plan on lingering in your room.
After a day of exploring, you can choose to recline on one of the garden benches or order up a massage. The small upstairs spa is nothing fancy but provides quality treatments overseen by the reputable Haven Spa. Treatments range from hot stone massages to facials to manicures and pedicures. Guests also have access to an intimate dry sauna and a steam bath.
Combining historic charm, modern amenities, and worldly sophistication, the Panamonte Inn and Spa will appeal to those looking for a serene and elegant, yet understated type of luxurious accommodation. It is a conveniently located alternative to the more residential resort feel of Valle Escondido.
Web Address: www.panamonte.com
Total Number of Rooms: 25
Published rates: $93 - $350
Review by Beverly Gallagher photos courtesy of the hotel