Avenida Balboa-Multicentro, Panama City
A striking architectural statement with an exterior almost entirely of blue–tinted glass, this hip high–rise combines an excellent location with first–class service and designer pizazz.
Rising twenty–nine stories over the MultiCentro shopping plaza and Majestic Casino, on Avenida Balboa, on the edge of the business district, the Radisson offers a convenient location that grants swift access to the plaza's two dozen restaurants and multiplex cinema by elevated walkway. The stunning lobby is a real breath–taker. Cavernous and chicly contemporary, it shines, with halogen lights gleaming off brushed steel and glazed cement floors. The reception area makes tremendous use of tiger–striped hardwoods, while contemporary art pieces and Kuna Indian molas infuse the lobby with a museum–like intrigue. On a hot and sultry Panamanian day, this is an invitingly cool place to hang.
With a stunning metal sculpture in the form of an Easter Island giant looming overhead, the sophisticated Fusion restaurant is one of the city's trop draws. Appropriately, the cuisine is Pacific fusion—admirably executed and artistically served. That motion overhead catching patrons' attention could well be someone swimming in the mezzanine level glass–bottom swimming pool! Panama's monied urban elite are drawn at night to the hotel lobby's Martini & Sushi bar—a suavely minimalist space featuring en–vogue blazing whites with neon lighting. For a combo evening of dining and drinking, patrons could hardly do better outside the hotel.
The Radisson pays attention to fitness buffs with an inviting and well–equipped gym, while candles, soothing music, and an Oriental motif create a serene ambience in the luxury spa. With a Turkish bath and whirlpool, the spa provides a wide range of treatments, including a signature stone therapy massage. Personal trainers are available on weekdays in the air–conditioned gym. A big draw is the small heated outdoor swimming pool, surrounded by comfy cushioned lounge chairs on a handsome tile deck. The hotel rounds out its impressive complement of services with a beauty salon, tour services, a complete business center and large meeting space, plus a gift shop, while serious shopaholics have the MultiCentro a stone's throw away.
The spacious, centrally air–conditioned accommodations on 20 levels are designed for those looking for luxury and contemporary class. Huge blue–tinted windows offer views of adjoining skyscrapers, while most rooms also manage at least partial views of the Pacific Ocean. Queen and king beds have pillow mattresses, quality linens, and duvets highlighted by cream throw pillows and turquoise fold–down spreads. Oversize photographs of Panama's colorful indigenous art provide a tasteful nod to the local culture, while many rooms have leopard–print chairs. Flat–screen TVs and high–speed Internet (free in public areas, for a charge in the rooms) are standard features. The bathrooms impress with their pink–marble countertops and large shower–tubs with frosted glass windows. Robes and slippers are in all rooms.
Staffing is of a high quality, and the well–managed hotel runs like clockwork, with room service available 24 hours. In what is still a rarity for Panama, all rooms are designated as non-smoking. Patrons who favor brash design chic over traditional ensconcing will find little to complain about at this suave modern option that offers a stylish capital experience. While rates have gone up as Panama City has boomed, they're still a better value than at many competitors, especially for the suites.
Web Address: www.radisson.com/panamacitypan
Total Number of Rooms: 240
Published rates: $176 to $352
Review by Christopher Baker, photos by Timothy Scott except for room shot courtesy of Radisson Decapolis.