Corregimiento de San Francisco Calle Punta Colón, Punta Pacifica, Panama City, Panaama
Trump's first foray into Latin America (after a failed attempt on the Baja Peninsula earlier) was never going to be anything but bold, brash, and bodacious. Conceived as the tallest building in not just Panama City, but anywhere in the hemisphere south of the U.S., every aspect of the 70–story Trump Ocean Club is meant to dazzle and amaze. It doesn't just aim to raise the bar a little bit, but to blow away anything that has come before and will follow anytime soon.
Shaped like a boat with a giant sail, with every guest room facing the ocean, this project is more a complex than just a hotel as it is also a residential building and an office complex. When completely finished it would house an upscale retail complex plus the city's largest and fanciest casino.
The huge covered entrance, with plenty of room for a fleet of limos, faces a wall of glass and a big airy atrium. From here traffic goes in two directions: to the residences or to the hotel. Staffers in uniforms based on guayaberas are multi–lingual and well–trained, ensuring that the hotel is ready for VIPs from the start. The meticulously designed lobby is comfortable and stylish, with individual check–in podiums. With 37 elevators in various parts of the building, it doesn't take long to get from the lobby to your room.
The guest rooms are of an ample size and are as well–equipped as any in Panama City, with a level of finishing materials that's a step above most others. Unique touches include LED lights in the floor and free-standing tubs that can be closed off with a curtain—a nice adjustment to from the voyeuristic tendencies so prevalent in many new hotels trying too hard to be trendy. Designer fixtures, double vanities, and rain showers are standard in the marble baths. No shortcuts were taken in the bedding or towels and guests can expect all the latest gadgets, including 42–inch hi–def TVs, DVD players, stereo iPod docks, high–end coffee makers, and slide–out electronic safes. Original contemporary art decorates the walls and stylish custom furniture includes ergonomic desk chairs that can stand up to hours of laptop deal–making.
Several levels of suites offer more room to spread out, with two styles of junior suite and then executive suites that have a separate living room, kitchenette, wet bar, and half bath. Surprisingly though, the multiple presidential suites don't outdo the competition in terms of size, maxing out at 1,562 square feet. To get a larger space, inquire about the residences in the rental pool.
The developers aimed to create restaurant spaces on par with anything you would find in New York or Miami. The open–kitchen Tejas Restaurant and Bar is the primary showpiece, anchored by a bar with a history: it's made from hardwood taken from underwater at Lake Gatun, in the middle of the Panama Canal. The Barcelona Tapas Restaurant is a nod to the executive chef's home town of Barcelona. Next to it is a deli with imported meats, specialty cheeses, and olives. Besides drinking options at those two spots, there is also a dedicated wine Bar with a deep selection, all of it displayed in glass refrigerated storage areas. Behind the scenes is what management says is the best–equipped kitchen in the country, with its own butcher shop, ice cream production room, and bakery.
While these dining options are all inside and air–conditioned, the prime spot for lunch is open–air and beside the pool. By day it's a subdued and casual affair for grabbing a bite between dips in the pool. At night it becomes a hopping lounge with specialty cocktails and live entertainment. Granite–topped tables have a space in the middle for ice and LED lights in the floor add to the clubby atmosphere. Private cocktail parties can materialize in many places around the multiple terraces facing the ocean and sailboats.
Three swimming pools are on two sides of the building. In theory one side is for residences and one for hotel guests, but with a restaurant and bar between them, guests will inevitably move to the open lounge chairs and cabanas. Poolside dining and cocktails are available all day. Cascading waterfalls drown out any traffic noise that would make it up here. The huge health club is the largest hotel one in the city and is not to outsiders. A large spa provides a long menu of massage and beauty treatments.
Some parts of this operation took a while to get moving, but are now in place. A marina on the water is home to those visiting on their yacht and a ferry shuttles guests to a private island beach club on a Pacific island where the water is clear and the sand is white, with a restaurant and bar on site.
With more than 350 rooms and even more units sold as residences, this is not a hotel for those who don't like crowds—for that head to the Bristol or DeVille. The staff–to–guest ratio is 1–to–1 here though, with high standards for language proficiency, so service should be on par with any property in town. For a full range of facilities and a clear feeling that you're in the best large hotel in this dynamic city, the Trump Ocean Club has no competition.
Web Address: www.trumppanamahotel.com
Total Number of Rooms: 369
Published rates: $231 to $3,049
Review by Timothy Scott, photos courtesy of Trump Ocean Club and Adriana Hoyos Interior Design.