Just returned last week from a week in the sun in Panama at the Royal Decameron. We took advantage of being in Toronto and chose a destination we can’t get to from Halifax. The Royal Decameron is a very good resort (I have posted a review), but my main complaint is that it had no soul. With the odd exception there is no reference to Panama or Panamanian flavour to denote the location of the resort.
Now I know that an all-inclusive resort is not the place to get a great knowledge of a country’s culture, but it should be able to give you a sense of the country, either thru it’s food, entertainment, decor, staff, etc. The RD was great a disappointment on this front. Of course, all my experience is in Cuba (12 times - 9 resorts), but at any Cuban resort at least they make sure you know you are in Cuba. In addition, I realise that the Decameron chain is Colombian and most Cuban managements are either Spanish or Italian so that certainly makes a difference.
Two aspects of our Panama experience were: there is no compulsion or incentive to tip for anything other than exceptional service; and either due to location or management, Canadians were a minority at this resort with the majority (or largest group being Colombian) and the rest were from Central or South America, so that give the resort more of “foreign” experience.