JW Marriott Panama Golf & Beach Resort

Rio Hato

The JW Marriott Panama, a five-star gated beachfront resort located 80 miles southwest of Panama City on the Pacific Coast, is known as the country’s premier resort. Located within the exclusive Buenaventura resort community, it’s where Panama’s rich and famous go to unwind in their private beach homes. The feeling is very secluded and one of quiet luxury with the tropical contemporary design accented with traditional Spanish Colonial elements. Recreation choices abound and include a new 18-hole Nicklaus-designed golf course, an equestrian center with a stable of Peruvian Paso Fino horses, tennis, volleyball, a fitness center, and swimming pools, with all water sports at the beach; some of the best surfing is nearby. We camp out at the beachfront El Faro Club House, happily settling into one of the individual wicker seating areas around the stunning infinity pool. We never have to move as our private butler fortifies us with snacks of fresh fruit and sparkling water. We take a dip, a sip, recline, and repeat, as we try not to be too smug about reports of below-freezing temps and record snowfall back home. Ah, bliss. 

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But even I can be roused off a chaise lounge now and then. And the resort is a great home base from which to experience some of Panama’s other natural charms, like El Valle de Antón Volcanic Crater, via excursions. So, we hike up a mountainside and on zip-lining down are rewarded by the most glorious views of the cascading waterfalls below, and soak in a hot-water spring where we make our own mud-mask facials. Back home (we wish!), I enjoy an afternoon’s pampering at the resort’s award-winning Corotú Spa. Of course, no top resort becomes so without excellent dining options, and this one has several, ranging from casual, poolside fare to the very elegant, from which to choose. Our group raved about the superb steaks at Prime 19 Steakhouse and particularly enjoyed the fresh sushi at Tai Kai Sushi. 

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Panama, with its tropical climate, American-friendly attitudes, booming economy, and location only two hours from Miami, continues to be a popular destination for US retirees. If I can spend my sunset years at the JW Marriott overlooking the infinity pool and Pacific Ocean beyond with my butler on call, sign me up now, please. 

Details: The “Stay for Breakfast” package for high season (December-April) ranges from $209 to $379 per night and includes breakfast; taxes extra. Contact: www.marriott.com

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