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Playa bonita


Redtag.ca is offering this new ai in Panama,Intercontinental Playa Bonita. It is very new, opened supposedly a few days ago. I know it is new, but has anyone seen or heard anything about it in their travels? I am consdering Panama this year, getting ready to give up on Cuba.



Depends on when you’re going to go. We were going to try the Playa Bonita this year so I did some research to that end (well as much as possible considering there are no actual reviews because it hadn’t yet opened). We were planning to go with a January 9th departure date and I was very concerned about whether the resort would be completely up and running so soon after the official opening. The last thing I wanted to run into was ongoing (read: LOUD) construction and not having all the amenities available. When I read on another forum that a poster had called the Playa Bonita and been informed that the spa wouldn’t be opened until at least the middle of January and that 100 rooms were still under construction I decided against booking this year.

If you are considering booking later (say March for example) you will likely be ok. From what I saw the resort looks like it will be fabulous. The rooms look beautiful and they all have an ocean view and are quite close to the beach. The pools also look awesome. One of the best things about the resort is that it is just a short drive from the airport and is very close to some attractions/day tours (like Panama City, the Panama Canal, ferries to the Pearl Islands, nature preserve, etc.). The other AI’s in Panama are a discouraging distance away from these things.

As far as going to Panama over Cuba I would highly recommend it. Panama is a wonderful country. We’ve been twice and we will likely go back next year and book at the Playa Bonita. If you are planning to go in January and/or are concerned about the Playa Bonita being totally ready I would recommend you consider the Royal Decameron. It is a great resort with lots to offer and even though it is a long ride from the airport (2 hours) it is well worth it.


Gromstrela and HeatSeeker~ Where is this new resort located? Is it on the Caribbean or Pacific side? That drive to Decameron is a killer so anything closer would certainly be appealing to many tourists…

Northgal :sunglasses:


Northgal, the Intercontinental Playa Bonita is on the Pacific side. It is quite close to the Panama Canal entrance. It is apparently only 40 minutes from the airport and only 20 minutes west of Panama City. The website is:


As I said, the resort looks great. It fronts onto approximately 2 km of private beach. It is rated as a 5 star whereas the Royal Decameron is only a 4 (although I just love the Royal Decameron!). One of the reasons we really want to try it though is the location. You’re right that the long ride to the Decameron sucks. More importantly, we never did the tours of the canal or tried the shopping in Panama City because we didn’t want to spend half a day on a bus. I would love to check out Panama City and the canal. Also, I really want to take the ferry to the Pearl Islands which I hear are just wonderful - beautiful white sand beaches, clear water and great diving and snorkeling. Also, you can take a ferry to Taboga Island which only takes about 20 minutes.


This resort is part of the Holiday Inn chain, so do you think a person could collect Priority Club Rewards???


Here’s some comments from a poster on another forum who just returned from the Playa Bonita:

[i]I just returned from Playa Bonita in Panama. Dec. 26/05. The hotel is not finished. Construction all over the place.

It will eventually be a very beautiful hotel. Presently, it is really under construction and I would not recommend it. When we arrived on the 19th of Dec. they were workers were still grinding down the edges of the pool with electrial devices. The walkway lights were not all connected and had hot wires. The bar was not completely stocked so we only had basic drinks and half the time the staff didn’t know how to make the drinks requested. We ordered drinks around the pool and it took us more then 1/2 hr to get our orders. No gift shops, no entertainment, no music, no Christmas decorations for Christmas. Christmas Day was a disaster. It took us 2 hours to get our meal. At present, it should not be occupied by clients. Go at your own risk.[/i]


This really doesn’t sound good. My boss has booked for two weeks at this resort in March, I hope they are up and running a bit better by then. It looks like a great resort from the pictures and I like the fact that it is closer to the airport and Panama city.
I hope a few people do reviews and post them so we can watch the progress.


Here’s another post from today from a Montreal traveler - doesn’t sound too promising but they still have more than 2 months to get everything done by March. I will be watching the reviews closely over the next year because I really had my heart set on trying the Playa Bonita in January 2007:

[i]I am currently at the Playa Bonita. I agree that it currently should have no guests.

Furthermore I think it is extremely over rated for what is.
Although the rooms are pretty, the hotel area is small and you can hear through the walls.

The managment of the hotel also wants to charge the clients extra for everything, including the New Years party…In all the hotels I have been to I have never seen this before.

It takes a long time to get any services and for the all inclusive package only certain things are included. It is not a true all inclusive.

It is also extemely boring. There are no shows, no animation and nor board games or cards to offer the guests. Forget taking long walks the resort is tiny.

The only positive aspects are very good food and nice beach.
Skip this one![/i]


Just read all these posts…we are leaving Monday, January 2nd…OMG. We knew a new resort could go either way - be fantastic or be a bomb. Well, looking at the bright side, there is a beach and good food from what it sounds like. Questions: are there are mosquitos or bugs that I need to worry about? How about the water in the hotel. Is it filtered or do we have to drink bottled water and do they supply it. Is there a safe in the room? Will we have to pay extra for it? Needless to say, I am feeling a little concerned about this vacation, but at this point will have to make the best of it. Any problems with tourista? I am hoping to be able to eat lots of great fish and fruits…will I??



There is now a huge thread on Trip Advisor (where the previous quotes I posted came from) about the Playa Bonita’s current status. You should check it out at:


You will see that unfortunately things are not looking good if you are departing on January 2nd. Some of the posters are looking into switching resorts. It does sound like the food is very good and the beach is beautiful so those are positives. Also the rooms are apparently very nice (which doesn’t surprise me because they look beautiful on the website).

At this time of year you shouldn’t have to worry about bugs because it’s the dry season. We went twice in January and never once used our bug spray even in the rain forest. Of course, we were staying at the Royal Decameron which is an hour or so away but since they’re both on the Pacific Ocean I suspect it will be the same at the Playa Bonita.

As far as water goes, Panama has a very safe water system and the food is safe. The resort should have bottled water anyway but you don’t have to worry about brushing your teeth with the water or eating salads washed in water. You could literally drink the water out of the tap if you wanted to. The fresh fruit in Panama is amazing. We ate tons of it, especially at breakfast, every day. We ate food both on and off the resort (at non-tourist places) and had no problems.

The Nolitours brochure does not indicate that there is a safe in the room so there likely isn’t. They didn’t have them at the Royal Decameron (unless you made a special request and you had to pay). We never bothered renting one either time we were at the Decameron. You will find that the Panamanian people are wonderful and Panama is a very safe country on the whole (although there a few places in Panama City and Colon that may be less than desirable but that’s no different than any other country I suppose).

If you decide to go ahead with the Playa Bonita (as opposed to trying to switch to another resort - it sounds like due to the state of the resort Nolitours is offering that option from the thread on TA) I hope you have a great time. Panama is one of my favourite countries and there is lots to do and wonderful places to explore off the resort (even though it sounds like at the moment there are no activities on the resort).

If you have any other specific questions about Panama I would be happy to try to answer them if I can. GOOD LUCK!!


Thanks HeatSeeker. So far, Dec 31 10:30 a.m. we are still planning on going to Playa Bonita. There is a beach, the food sounds great. We will bring cards and make our own fun. Hey if enough people do still go, we can organize our own things - beach football, Olympics on the beach, sand castle contest, I can think of all sorts of games - hey I have a 13 year old and a 7 year old so can always find something to do. Last year we were at the 5 star RIU in Puerta Vallarta and except for an hour of entertainment, there was ABSOLUTELY nothing to do there, no organized things…I used to go to the old Jar Tars and they knew how to run entertainment. So far no resort has matched that chain…however, they no longer exist…

We will just have to make our own fun!!! I cannot deal with the stress of trying to book something at this point.


It’s great to see you have such a positive attitude Ren! On the upside, maybe you can teach the bartenders how to make the drinks - I would be jumping behind the bar myself to give them some lessons if I was going! :slight_smile: It’s pretty easy to learn how to make the standard tropical cocktails and I’m sure they would appreciate the help.

The good thing is that you are already aware of the status of the resort so it won’t be a nasty shock when you get there and likely they are making progress every day with the construction so maybe it won’t be so bad when you arrive. I still want to give it a try next year so I’m hoping you’ll post a comprehensive review here on Debbie’s when you return.

Your kids will just love the beaches and the pools! One tip though - if I was bringing my kids I would be packing some good ole Canadian ketchup because your kids will hate the watered down tomato paste stuff they give you to go with the fries.

Just remember it is much hotter in Panama than in the Caribbean and the sun is much stronger because it’s closer to the equator so lots of sunscreen is required.

Have fun!!


For those of you who have stayed at the Playa Bonita, are there trees on the beach for shade, lounge chairs on the beach and do they have beach towels available? Doesn’t sound like many of us will be there next week so am assuming that we will not to get up toooo early for space on the beach. And how is the coffee?