Leading travel writer Anuja Gaur checks in to the W Panama, a unique luxury boutique hotel in Panama City.
Five days of peace, relaxation and tranquillity amongst volcanic hot spring and infinity pool resorts in Costa Rica soon left a niggling itch for high rise gleaming towers, jostling crowds and packed rooftop bars. My wish was soon to be granted in none other than Panama’s capital, often likened to a ‘Little Miami.’
After a lifetime overshadowed by its Costa Rican next door neighbour or confused with Florida’s own Panama City, this little jewel of a city finally seems to be finding its groove. Be it with its glittering marina home to many millionaire yachts or sushi and Champagne nights above swanky view-soaking rooftops swarmed with beautiful people, it was only a matter of time before the glittering names in the luxury hotel world jetted over to make their mark.
A new generation of brash and unashamed luxury was brought to us in the shape of a very glitzy W shaped letter – a hotel chain owned by Marriott International that is generally marketed towards a younger age group. Like it or not you certainly couldn’t escape W Hotels making its mark on the globe’s hottest luxury destinations and I was happy to go along to one of the hotels in Panama City to experience the best of this brand.
The luxury icon stamps their one letter autograph on a head-turning glistening tower with a striking lotus flower-like top in a palette of silver, black and gold that simply echoes sleek and chic. I walked into the entrance of gold bejewelled lights and chandeliers shimmering away above and smiled as I saw dozens of the iconic classic Panama hats decorating the wall. No other ornamentation was required except for a stunning gorgeous display of bright pink, blue and green flowers. Nothing but the best in W’s world, including the staff, who greeted me in high energy mode ready to party! Check in finished in record time and I took a quick soak up of the colourful surroundings as the DJ set up for the evening.
As I opened the bright yellow door to the room, I saw my sister’s smile grow bigger and I swiftly followed suit. The room remained fiercely loyal to W’s large suite-like rooms and sexy signature crisp white interiors, with a douse of colour, adding that touch of Panamanian culture in the hanging lights covered with bamboo style Panama Hat designs. With no grim and dusty mini bar in sight; instead a sleek black drawer loaded with goodies was tastefully displayed along with two cocktail glasses and shaker for a DIY shaken-not-stirred martini. Forget instant coffee, it was all about the real deal capsules to pour into your very own W coffee cup! The bathroom goes to the smaller scale but was perfectly adequate for two guests, as ever complemented with a selection of Bliss products. The true five-star moment lay with the spectacular skyline view outside, which glittered away like a mini Miami with its shimmering waterfront.
The W hotel’s public living room was bright, bold and on fire thanks to the DJ kicking off his live beats. The quirky wall and sofa resembled a Tetris-like style in little squares of vibrant blue, white and yellow. Struggling with cocktail decisions, the bartender quizzed me on my flavour choices, promising me a delicious light, fruity and floral concoction. My heart initially sank when I witnessed the crushed ice dome floating on top with a few little flowers and I readied myself for a few mouthfuls of watered juice with icy bits. A twinge hit my body on the first sip, and I experienced a beautiful passionfruit taste with a generous shot of gin and rose liqueur, while the ice dome gave it that delicious icy hit.
As the tunes turned up a notch and the evening skies descended it was the perfect opportunity to head to the Wet Deck on the 15th floor. The tunes from the DJ booth were more ear-friendly, while my sister and I sat back in one of the many private cabanas soaking up the surroundings of Panama’s coolest hotspot. The usually blue pool transformed into a seductive purple-pink display as the beautiful guests glided through the neon water in their bikini couture, basking in the atmosphere and admiring gazes. With just one night to experience the city’s must go-to destinations, we got ready and made our way to Salvaje, one of the city’s hottest rooftop destinations. After a bottle of delicious Champagne and mouth-watering shrimp tempura sushi, I delighted in dancing to my one-time favourite Thong Song and staring at the chiselled exotic crowds surrounding us.
I woke up sprawled out in my super-large, perfectly snug, gorgeous bed without stirring once during the night and headed down for the delicious W breakfast banquet. Spoilt for choice was an understatement; fresh soft breads, endless cheeses, cold meats and fresh fruits were lavishly laid out, making my mouth water. At the hot stations there were eggs two, three, even four, ways, sausages, fried potatoes and Panamanian specialities including tamales. The fresh juices were a true treat with a make-your-own juicer to have just as you like and, should you feel like an extra treat, there were some delightful super fluffy pancakes with syrup.
Sufficiently fuelled up and checked out, the valet swiftly delivered the car for an emotional airport farewell to my beautiful sister, leaving her to conquer the Gaur empire setup in this little paradise of a country.
Since my first taste of the W life in London, my global travelling itineraries have that signature letter permanently etched in the accommodation list. The W brand always aims to break all boundaries in ultra-luxury settings, targeting all cities, be they a millionaire’s playground or the shy one at the back with their modelesque guests, legendary to-be Instagrammed pool parties and lavish buffet feasts. They continue to fend off competition from fellow young rivals, The Edition and Hard Rock, to name a few, and, for me, there is nothing more to left to say except let go and lose yourself in the W state of mind.
Address: Calle 50 and, Calle Aquilino de la Guardia, Panamá, Panama
Phone: +507 302-7555