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Thursday, July 31 2014 @ 03:23 AM EDT

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Selling Fast: Cerrito Tropical, Isla Taboga

Hotels Less than an hour from Panama City, Cerrito Tropical is nestled on a quiet hillside above the shores of Isla Tagoba. The charming B&B is the perfect getaway for anyone looking to escape from the city - whether as a family vacation or a romantic getaway.

There's no better time to explore this gem. Check out today's 50% OFF offer, currently running on OfertaSimple.com.

http://ofertasimple.com/ofertas/panama/cerrito-tropical-bead-and-breakfast-hotel-isla-taboga-junio-mango

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50% OFF Getaway in Playa Coronado Selling Out Fast

HotelsIn just 24 hours, 250 nights at the windswept TRYP Playa Coronado Resort have been booked at incredible discounts. The sale, promoted by OfertaSimple.com, is valid for weekday or weekend trips now through the end of August.

http://ofertasimple.com/ofertas/panama/tryp-playa-coronado-suite-dos-personas-desayuno-incluido

The TRYP Playa Coronado Resort by Wyndham has two fantastic restaurants, a breakfast buffet, an amazing pool space and a great beach ideal for passing a relaxing day. Close to Panama City, Playa Coronado is a fantastic option for both families and couples looking for a getaway.

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Boquete Garden Inn: 517 Five Star TripAdvisor Reviews and Counting

HotelsBy any standard, Boquete Garden Inn is among the top picks for local getaways. Awarded the coveted TripAdvisor Traveler's Choice the past three years, the Inn has a long history of success. Not surprisingly, Frommer's Travel Guide has ranked the Inn one of the top 10 small B&Bs in Panama. OfertaSimple.com and Boquete Garden Inn are teaming up to offer stays at 66% OFF valid anytime over the next 2 months.

Various room types are available starting at $75/night (normally $220/night). All options include continental breakfast along with a host of additional amenities. Check out OfertaSimple.com for more information and to reserve your nights:

http://ofertasimple.com/ofertas/panama/boquete-garden-inn-queen-king-chiriqui-abril-desayuno

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Oferta Simple - Premium Deluxe and Executive rooms at the Panama Marriott Hotel Offer

HotelsPanama Marriott Hotel is the ideal destination for frequent visitors, business execs, travelers or local residents looking for a luxury weekend stay in Panama's most desirable, central location.

For the next 4 days, OfertaSimple.com (available in both English and Spanish) is offering 50% off stays in Premium Deluxe and Executive rooms at the Panama Marriott Hotel – good for redemption over the next 3 months.

Offer includes casino credit, dining credit, breakfasts and wine.

OfertaSimple.com has quickly built a dedicated following in Panama. With offers never less than 50% off and at times inching towards 90% off, it’s no surprise the website already counts 146,000 Facebook fans and over a hundred thousand of members as loyal users.

Past deals have included over 50% off at the Westin Playa Bonita, Restaurante LaMar, Os Segredos Da Carne, Canal & Bay Cruises, Shakira concert tickets, and Playa Blanca Resort, to name a few.

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Hotel Sector Has Not Been Affected By The Energy Saving Measures

HotelsPanama's hotel sector has not been affected by the energy saving measures implemented by the National Government.

The president of the Association of Hoteliers of Panama (APATEL), Jesus Sierra, stated since the adoption of the measure they have been supporting each of the requested measures.

During this period, said the businessman, they have been using their power plants; therefore, they have not had any cancellations from tourists visiting the country and seeking for their service.

Sierra recommended the authorities to be better prepared in the case of another situation of this magnitude, as this could happen regularly. (Panama America)

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Celebrate the end of the dry season at Chiriquí’s newest hotel success story: www.bocasdelmar.com

Hotels Last Fall we told you about Hotel Bocas del Mar, newly opened on the glorious Gulf of Chiriqui mainland, opposite the beautiful islands and just 20 minutes from the InterAmerican. We’re now number one accommodations on Tripadvisor in the Boca Chica area (www.tripadvisor.com).

Well, after a strong first season, the management and owners would like to thank people who have supported and spread the word about the hotel, and that includes Panama-Guide and all its readers.

For the last 2 weeks in April, Hotel Bocas del Mar is offering EXCLUSIVELY to Panama-Guide readers a staggering 30% off its best internet rates for stays of 2 nights or more. And what’s more, when you stay 5 nights or more, we’ll give you the 5th night FREE!. That’s an unbeatable way to say thank you to our friends.

So from just 129 per room for 2 people (plus 10% tax), with a tasty waiter-served breakfast included, you can enjoy our bright airy rooms with views to the Ocean. Evening dining & lunch also available.

  • Offer valid off our best promotional internet rates for stays starting from 15th April and ending before 30th April 2013.

  • Minimum stay 2 nights for discount to apply.

  • NO other discounts can be applied.

  • HOW TO RESERVE: Easy… email us at info@bocasdelmar.com or call +507 6395 8757 before April 20th. HURRY…places are limited.

STOP PRESS!: We now have a luxury excursion boat with scheduled trips out to the islands. Don’t miss the romantic sundown cruise, to discover the mangroves and birdlife. Also beauty treatments & massages now available in your room. Ask for details!









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Latin America's first Waldorf Astoria opens in Panama

HotelsBy Danny King - Hilton Worldwide's Waldorf Astoria luxury brand has entered Latin America with the opening of the Waldorf Astoria Panama.

The 248-room hotel has four restaurants and bars as well as a 2,000-square-foot spa and more than 3,500 square feet of meetings space.

The property is within walking distance of the bars and restaurants of Calle Uruguay, and within 25 minutes of both Tocumen Airport and the Panama Canal.

Earlier this month, Hilton opened Germany's first Waldorf Astoria in Berlin. (travelweekly.com)

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Skip Carnaval, Take A Mini-Vacation To Casco Viejo

Hotels Panama Guide Special Promotion: If you’re looking to skip the noise, heat, and chaos of this year’s Carnival celebrations, why not opt for a mini-vacation in Casco Viejo?

The historic district’s oldest boutique hotel, Canal House, is offering up their nicest available suite for just $150/night (that’s more than 50% OFF the normal rate) from February 9 – February 15th.

Readers can email reservations@canalhousepanama.com -- using the reference code “Panama Guide” -- to Carnavalear in style!

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Starwood's Second Westin in Panama - Analyst Blog

HotelsBy Zacks.com - Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. recently unveiled a Westin branded property, The Westin Panama, in Panama. Starwood opened this property in association with Bern Hotels & Resorts; and this new property marks the opening of second Westin branded property and seventh Starwood branded hotel in Panama.

Previously Bern Hotels & Resorts was involved in developing and managing two other Starwood branded property in Panama.

Strategically positioned at Costa del Este, one of the most important financial and business hubs in Panama, the new hotel lies in proximity to Panama City and Tocumen International Airport. The Westin Panama features 218 rooms, which includes 45 suites and 14,460 square feet of meeting space.

Starwood has set a new trend in hotel design with its Westin brand, which embodies modern design and peaceful ambience. The brand offers signature retail services including the Heavenly Bed, SuperFoodsRX and WestinWorkout Studio among others.

Owing to the saturation in the U.S market, major hoteliers are exploring growth opportunities abroad. The current trend shows that economic strength has been shifting from the developed to the rapidly growing economies. Latin America is one of those regions to promise solid growth going forward.

In order to beef up its Latin American presence, the company has included approximately 2,500 guestrooms in its portfolio in the last two years. The company's Westin brand continues to be a star performer in the region. Currently, the company possesses 12 Westin branded property across five Latin American countries namely Panama, Mexico, Peru, Costa Rica and Guatemala.

Starwood Hotels competes with major hoteliers like InterContinental Hotels Group ( IHG ), Hyatt Hotels Corporation ( H ) and Marriott International Inc. ( MAR ).

We currently have a long-term Neutral recommendation for the stock. Starwood currently retains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Editor's Comment: It seems like there are new hotels opening up in Panama, practically on a daily basis. All of this new inventory has to be saturating the market, and occupancy rates will continue to drop until the floor is reached. And, that won't happen until all of the new hotels are opened and absorbed. The bottom line for consumers and travelers to Panama should translate to lower prices and better deals.

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Panama’s Finest Hotel That No One Knows About

HotelsFive years ago on a busy street corner of Casco Viejo, an ultra-boutique hotel quietly opened its doors to the public, sort of. There would be no sign. No advertising. No grand opening in lights.

Its launch spawned one of those temporary paradoxes that make Panama City’s historic district so unusual: a luxury guesthouse preserving the enchantment of a bygone era, but a luxury guesthouse that nobody really knew was there.

The initial question was pretty straightforward: Have you ever heard of the Canal House? Neighbors were unanimously confused. One immediate neighbor said he thought the building was “a governor’s association” and another had heard the name, but believed the establishment was located “somewhere along the Canal.”

Five years later, the question is a little more complicated because many people have heard of the Canal House. They just don’t know much about where or what it is. Which is not to say that the hotel has shied away from the press…

“Follow in the footsteps of Daniel Craig,” suggests a writer in Conde Nast, “who stayed at the Canal House for 3 months while filming James Bond 007 Quantum of Solace.”

Families and groups “hold court in this colonial mansion,” styled with “individually designed rooms,” said a travel writer for The New York Times.

We liked their “spacious rooms with exposed brick walls and plush beds,” echoed a lifestyle piece in the WallstreetJournal.

But to understand completely what Casco Viejo's first boutique hotel really is, these sorts of accolades don’t really help. You need to somehow get inside.

Located on the back corner of Casco Viejo’s historic Canal Museum sits a yellow-hue villa with wide bougainvillea balconies and a hidden doorway with the letters “CH” frosted in glass. As is oftentimes the case, you could be standing in front of the Canal House and have no idea what's beyond the wall.

Buzz the unsigned doorbell and one of the guesthouse’s staffers – all motherly women who've graduated from the neighborhood’s famed Calicanto hospitality program – welcome you into a small lobby to ask about your purpose. “Are you looking to stay the night?” “Would you care for a tour?” “Perhaps a drink at our private honor bar?”

What’s so incredible (and strange) about the Canal House is that it’s over-the-top intimate customer service has a way of winning over any and everyone who is either a) lost enough to wander up to its door or b) insider enough to make an actual hotel reservation. It’s as if the moment you cross that doorway threshold, you transition (from anonymous street denizen) to being at home.

The hotel itself has just three rooms (which makes 100% occupancy a frequent obstacle), each of which are distributed throughout four floors of preserved cherry hardwoods and vases of fresh tropical flowers. The décor is antique and immaculate and the furniture supremely functional; a vibe designed to replicate the type of high-society living Teddy Roosevelt or Ernest Hemmingway might have selected when visiting the isthmus.

The Canal House’s staff-to-guest ratio is 2:1, which is to say, after a few hours, your coffee preferences have already been memorized. As for entertainment, tour itineraries are tailored to guests’ interests and can include deep-sea fishing, dinners at the local chef’s tables, and helicopter outings in the islands.

As the neighborhood’s first-ever boutique hotel, the Canal House’s “grand” opening in 2006 was subdued with anonymity. But that few Casco Viejo residents today even know the guesthouse’s location is perhaps a testament to its secluded charm. And this is why the Canal House really matters: it raises real questions over how locals and travelers alike are supposed to appreciate hidden gems, without ever knowing they are there in the first place.

Contact Information: http://www.canalhousepanama.com Email: reservations@canalhousepanama.com, Phone: unlisted

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The Best Way To Get Ready For the Holiday Season Is To ... Relax!

Hotels Bocas del Mar Hotel, under the warm tropical sun on the fabulous Gulf of Chiriqui, is offering Panama Guide readers a special early Christmas present!

Number 1 accommodations on Tripadvisor for Boca Chica, this superb new hotel is on the mainland right opposite the islands & is offering readers a spacious bungalow room for 2 for just 139 USD per night, including breakfast. That’s almost 50 USD below the cheapest internet rate. What’s more, for stays of more than 2 nights you get some extra special late Fall treats:-

When you stay for 3 nights or more from 29th November-20th December 2012, enjoy the following EXTRA special offers (one per reservation):

For stays of 3 nights: A complimentary bottle of wine in your room on arrival. Please state choice of red or white wine on your reservation.

For stays of 4 nights: 1) A bottle of wine AND 2) $20 spending voucher for hotel bar drinks.

For stays of 5 nights or more: 1) Wine, 2) $20 drinks spending voucher AND 3) 10% discount on island excursion of your choice.

THE WEATHER IS GETTING BETTER AND THE HOLIDAY PEAK PERIOD HAS YET TO ARRIVE – SO GET OUT AND PAMPER YOURSELF AT BOCAS DEL MAR HOTEL NOW! Visit www.bocasdelmar.com to see the hotel.

Offer valid for stays until December 20th. Rate offer valid every day except Saturday. Ask also for our special upgrade rates to spa rooms. Cannot be combined with any other discount offer. Reserve only by telephone (+507 6395 8757) or email: info@bocasdelmar.com and mention “PANAMA GUIDE OFFER”. 10% tourist tax will apply.

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Riande Airport Hotel and Resort - OfertaSimple.com

HotelsRiande Airport Hotel and Resort is the ideal destination for frequent visitors, business execs, or travelers wishing to stay near Panama's international airport at the start or close of their vacations. For the next 4 days, OfertaSimple.com (available in both English and Spanish) is offering 50% off stays at Riande Airport Hotel and Resort – good for redemption over the next 3 months. The Riande is far from what one would typically expect from an airport hotel as it features three paddle courts, gorgeous gardens, and full pool facilities.

OfertaSimple.com launched just over two years ago and has quickly built a dedicated following in Panama. With offers never less than 50% off and at times inching towards 90% off, it’s no surprise the website already counts 128,000 Facebook fans and tens of thousands of members as loyal users. Past deals have included over 50% off at the Westin Playa Bonita, Restaurante LaMar, Os Segredos Da Carne, Canal & Bay Cruises, Shakira concert tickets, and Playa Blanca Resort, to name a few.



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New Luxury Hotel Celebrates First Month Open With A Fantastic Special Offer

Hotels Hotel Bocas del Mar in Boca Chica, Chiriqui Province is celebrating its first full month operating with a great offer for readers of Panama-Guide. The hotel is a splendid new vacation option for Panama visitors and expat residents set on the glorious Pacific Ocean in Chiriqui Province.

Now by mentioning “Panama-Guide” when you reserve for stays until the end of October 2012, you can stay for just $99 per night per room (plus tax). That’s a huge reduction on the normal standard rate and the special internet rate, giving you the chance to try out this smart new addition to the Panama hotel scene. Offer valid any night or nights from Sunday-Thursday.

Located in an unbeatable spot right on the water’s edge with views out to sea, the resort has eleven large beautiful bungalows, with modern luxury features and furnishings, plus plenty of space. Access is easy as it’s on the mainland, yet with the islands right on the doorstep. This beautifully designed development, set in a verdant paradise, promises to be an important addition to the hotel and restaurant scene in this area and a must-visit for vacationers in the Gulf of Chiriquí. The investment in the hotel by the Lagache family from Belgium demonstrates the increasing awareness of the Boca Chica area for vacation and leisure investment and an opening up of this relatively undiscovered coastal area of Chiriqui, which is as interesting and as varied as anywhere in Panama. (more)



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Playa Bonita Concession in Legal Limbo

HotelsPlaya Bonita, a luxury hotel built on the banks of the Panama Canal on the Pacific side, could be in the midst of a profound legal limbo. The Office of Administration issued their opinion, in which they ask the Third Division of Administrative Litigation in the Supreme Court to declare "illegal" the contract for the development, leasing and investment number 40-2003. The agreement was signed on June 17, 2003 between the then Interoceanic Region Authority (ARI) and the company Paradise Beach Corporation.

It turns out the contract supporting the construction of the Playa Bonita hotel was sued by Desarrollo Urbanístico del Atlántico, S. A., the consortium that competed against Paradise Beach Corporation for the concession in the lush coast of Veracruz. As a result of legal actions taken by the losing consortium, on 22 February 2008, the Third Board outlawed the resolution that awarded the grant. By then the hotel was a stunning and luxurious building that had changed the name from Kobee to Playa Bonita.

Based on that ruling of the Third, the plaintiffs filed a motion to vacate. Acting as prosecutors in the case, the prosecutor of the administration issued their opinion in this case, asking for the contract to be declared as illegal. (Estrella)

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Taboga Island And The Sea

Hotels Taboga Island people have lived from the sea for centuries. Many are fishermen, using small local pangas and handlines while some have traveled on large fishing vesels into the Pacific Ocean for months on end leaving their families behind and often coming back with the scars of such dangerous work. But the sea is what they know and love.

Historically for hundreds of years, Taboga Island was the first and only port for Panama City. The Pacific Steamship Company was based there. The company built and repaired steamships and brought workers to Taboga Island from as far afield as Scotland.

Nowadays many still fish, and others work in tourism as guides offering boat and hiking tours, or renting umbrellas and chairs at the beach. A number have small kiosks at the beach selling cold beer. Some are hosting visitors at one of the few small hotels on Taboga Island such as Cerrito Tropical B & B and cafe.

Without a doubt one of the main attractions of Taboga Island is the sea. Several months during the year Taboga and surrounds is visited by whales migrating and all year round it is home to numerous dolphins. Taboga Island is known for having great fishing, for that reason the whales and dolphins love it too!

July is one of the main months when the whales begin to appear around Taboga, although they have been spotted during other months of the year. Just this week a huge humpback whale was spotted from the balcony of Cerrito Tropical fishing and playing in the ocean in front of Taboga Island!

This month between Taboga and Contadora there have been dozens of whales spotted on whale watching tours; pods, mothers with babies, males vying for attention.

Visitors can reserve a Whale Watching tour to pick them up from the Taboga Pier for a day on the sea. Or if they prefer, a boat trip to see the Brown Pelican Refuge at the back of Taboga Island, a Fishing Tour with a local guide, or snorkeling by boat. More information on these and other tours offered through Cerrito Tropical B&B can be had by contacting them at the email address below.

For more information and background on Cerrito Tropical B&B Hotel and Restaurant please see this article on the Panama-Guide.com website: Visit the Heart of Taboga Island and its Historic Beach Community - B&B Hotel Cerrito Tropical.

Contact Information:

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The Westin Resort, Gamboa Rainforest Resort, and Lumicentro: All 50% OFF or more

HotelsOfertaSimple.com always features amazing deals on local Panama restaurants, hotels, and activities, but today the site is generating an even greater amount of buzz than usual. Currently, the newly inaugurated Westin Resort at Playa Bonita is being offered at 50% OFF. The legendary Gamboa Rainforest Resort, set deep in the heart of Panama's natural beauty, is 72% OFF. And, to top it off, any and all products at the lighting megastore, Lumicentro, are being offered at a 50% discount.

To view any of these three deals, simply click here: OfertaSimple.com

As always, OfertaSimple is available in English as well as in Spanish. Our customer service team is bilingual and is happy to help answer any and all questions related to the deals. Purchase these deals now and use anytime over the next 3-6 months, depending on the offer.





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Visit the Heart of Taboga Island and its Historic Beach Community - B&B Hotel Cerrito Tropical

Hotels
Cerrito Tropical on Taboga Island
Cerrito Tropical on Taboga Island
The closest beach island escape from Panama City, just minutes by Ferry - By Cynthia Mulder

Twelve years ago, Cynthia Mulder and family travelled by Ferry to Taboga Island to explore a location for their planned B&B Hotel Cerrito Tropical. They fell in love. The ferry ride is exciting for the first time, with views of the Panama Canal, and the panorama of Panama City. The Taboga Ferry takes you to Taboga as if in a time machine. The Taboga village is quiet, historic, fishing community, with some nice tropical hikes, good fishing and boating. Taboga Island is often compared by visitors to a tiny village on the Mediterranean.

Cool Location: B&B Cerrito Tropical is located on the edge of a magnificent forested green hill and is hosted by Cynthia Mulder and her team of local employees and cooks (including chef Aristides). Cerrito is at the edge of the village beside the rainforest which offers a nice combination of both land-based activities, nature and sea excursions, not to mention the delicious sea breezes which waft up from the ocean. (more)

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Special Discount at Casa Ramirez B&B For Panama-Guide Readers

Hotels The Casa Ramirez Bed and Breakfast has now been open for two months and has become a great alternative to Panama City Hotels. We want to extend a offer out to all Panama-Guide.com readers. Any reservation made for our Deluxe or Garden rooms between now and June 15th using our online reservation system at CasaRamirezPanama.com can receive a 20% discount if you enter "panama-guide.com" in the coupon/discount code box. For further information you can give Casa Ramirez a call at +(507) 390.81.91 or via email at info@casaramirezpanama.com
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Hotel Occupancy In Panama's Interior At 90% During Easter

HotelsMore than 200,000 Panamanians and foreigners traveled into the interior of the country to celebrate Easter. The number of tourists who migrated towards the interior during Holy Week exceeded the number who traveled to different provinces in the celebration of the Panamanian Carnival. These figures benefited the tourism market, because about 90% of hotels within the country had no rooms available. The most visited places on this occasion were the central provinces, Bocas del Toro and Chiriqui.

According to data from the Land Transit and Transportation Authority (ATTT), more than 71,000 cars crossed the Centennial Bridge or the Bridge of the Americas, which went into the country.

Sara Pardo, president of the Panamanian Association of Hotels (Apatel), said normally during Easter many people living in the capital and foreigners travel to the countryside, most in the company of family to share and enjoy together. "In these days of Easter, the hotel sector, specifically within the country, will have a large number of visitors, because there is high demand and have a high occupancy rate," Pardo estimated. Pardo noted this year there has been a large increase in the hotel sector, but even though there has been a high availability of rooms, there are still opportunities to venture into this business because every day the tourist market demands more hotels, especially at the beaches. She also said every year for the holidays, the hotel industry in the capital city sees a decrease in occupation, because customers choose to go for a ride into the country.

For many years, the highest concentration of tourists during Easter is registered with the country's beaches, either in Bocas del Toro, in central provinces in Coronado or Farallon, said Pardo. According to the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) in 2011 more that 2 million tourists reached the Isthmus, many attracted by the beautiful beaches in Panama. Shamah Solomon, general manager of the ATP, during his speech at the fair Expocomer 2012, said that competitiveness and confidence of the tourists are two elements that will attract new investment to the country, because Panama is a new tourist destination.

Meanwhile, Jaime Campusano, president of the National Tourism Council, said at Easter, usually the hotel occupancy behavior is reversed from the capital into the country, especially because Panamanians go to visit their families or enjoy a holiday. Jaime Campusano said: "Practically, because of this celebration inside of the country hotel occupancy in the capital drops down to 50%." The interior always has a high demand of tourists, for example, beach hotels have reservations well in advance and although supply has increased, the occupation continues to record high levels, Campusano said. (Panama America)

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New Luxury Bed and Breakfast Now Open In Panama City - Casa Ramirez

Hotels We are proud to announce the opening of a new and unique Panama City Bed and Breakfast run by the team at Bahia Del Sol Managed Properties - Casa Ramirez. Bahia Del Sol currently runs a bed and breakfast of the same name in Bocas Del Toro as well as KoKo resort also in Bocas Del Toro. After the success of these two properties over the last five years in Bocas, Bahia Del Sol Properties had been on the look out for a Panama City location. Well the wait is over and the doors of Casa Ramirez are now open.

Casa Ramirez was built as a private home in the late 1950s in the exclusive Altos Del Golf area of Panama City, Panama. The area the home is located in is seconds away from Panama Viejo and has some pretty famous Panamanian neighbors. The presdent of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli lives down the street as well as other ex presidents and even the former home of Manuel Noriega is close by. Over the years the house has been used for several different business including at one point a high end brothel for Panama's elite. (more)

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Many New Hotel Rooms Available - Forcing Rates Down

HotelsThe hotels in the country have been growing in recent years. The hotel chains are joined by suites, aparta-hotels, independent hotels and hostels. The entry of the new hotels to the market not affiliated with chains is forcing down the average nightly rate in Panama City. The hoteliers are saying the average rate is currently at $120 per night, and in the last year the average has dropped by $10 dollars. This ultimately benefits the consumer, because they have more options to choose according to their budget. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: I expect this downward pressure on hotel rates to both continue and increase. There are thousands of new hotel rooms entering the market, and there are now more hotels than demand. Therefore, the hotels will be competing for the existing clients - so it's a great time to shop around, ask for discounts, and negotiate for specials, bargains, and upgrades.

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Underground Hotels - A Practice That Is In Fashion

HotelsMany tourists are only looking for a cheap place to stay. Apart from a 340% surplus in the supply of hotel rooms, the hotel industry must do battle with another hard flank - illegal lodging. During 2010 and 2011 about 6,813 new hotel rooms were constructed in Panama, and in 2012 another 4,135 additional hotel rooms will be added (bringing the total expansion to 10,948 new hotel rooms in just three years). Currently, number of visitors is increasing by about 15% per year. Against this background, the companies who are involved in the tourism industry (hotel owners) believe "clandestine lodging" is an unfair practice. The Administrator of the Tourism Authority of Panama, Solomon Shamah, said within the reforms they intend to make to Law 8 that regulates tourism in Panama, one of the points at issue is precisely this issue ("clandestine lodging"), with their respective laws and penalties. Shamah added they are studying the idea of changing the law, before the challenges represented by the power to keep as many hotel rooms full as possible.

Hotel sector - Annette Cardenas, the President of the Chamber of Tourism (CAMTUR), said when there is an oversupply of apartments, some condo owners, in order to recoup their investment, rent their apartments out by the day. Cardenas said "an apartment is not a hotel, it does not have the same levels as a hotel, and it requires much less investment." The president of CAMTUR said this issue also covers the fact that these accommodations do not provide any services, to the detriment of the labor force. As an example, she said the Marriott was built for about $50 to $60 million dollars, it was a big investment, buy it is easy for a person to buy five apartments and rent them by the day, at prices much lower than a hotel.

She acknowledged that currently there is an oversupply of hotel rooms, which is only going to get worse this year with the addition of more than 4,000 new rooms. "I put forward an easy equation. If you have 4,000 rooms, you need to have about 2,000 guests 365 days a year, in order to have a relatively standard rate of occupation," said Cardenas. "It's very difficult to grow this volume of visitors from day to day. For that you need airline seats, and to encourage an additional 2,000 new tourists to come to Panama, because there are an additional 4,000 rooms coming on line," she said. Cardenas said faced with the secrecy that exists in the rental of these apartments there must be a standard.

Armando Rodríguez Tatis agreed with Cárdenas with respect to the need to develop laws governing this kind of activity, because they generate unfair competition. He recalled this practice began many years ago when there was a hotel shortage, and this system was an alternative. Rodriguez said there have been cases in the area of ​​Via Argentina. To combat this lawlessness they are asking for the practice to be regularized through the modification of Law 8, because there are also small hotels that have not been registered to the ATP, which also fall into this illegality. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Extreme Bias Alert. This article contains only the points of view of the government, provided by Tourism Minister Solomon Shamah, and the hotel industry. They did not include one single word from anyone who is renting their condo or apartment on a short term basis. There are some very simple underlying facts. A couple of years ago when it became apparent that the apartment and condo market was being over built and over developed, all of the builders decided (at the same time) to switch to building hotels. It is a fact that there will now be a massive oversupply of hotel rooms, and it will take about ten years or so for the demand to grow to meet the new supply. Until then, competition between these hotel owners is going to increase. Not only are they going to rip one another's throats out as they fight for customers and clients, they are also going to try to kill off any other form of competition where they can. And, hotel owners see private property owners who rent their apartments out short term as "illegal competition" or "clandestine." You are their target.

Underlying Truth: A great many of the foreign investors who purchased their apartments in Panama City over the past few years did so with the knowledge they could, in fact, rent them out until they were ready to use them for themselves. It is not currently illegal to rent your private property out over the short term - there's nothing "clandestine" or illegal about it. This activity is perfectly legal according to current Panamanian law. If the hotel owners want to bitch about "unfair competition" then this practice of renting private property should be clearly regulated, but not made illegal. The hotel owners themselves decided to overbuild the hotel sector. Why should private property owners be penalized because hotel owners can't do very basic and fundamental market research. I could have told them at any time they were overbuilding, and the rate of hotel room occupation would drop like a rock.

What's A "Tourist"? Let's say I rent my apartment for a full year on contract - then it's a house, and I'm not threatening any hotel, right? The issue comes when it's less than a full year. So, what's the cutoff? Six months? Three months? One month? I would start with a definition of "tourist." That should be really easy. Most true tourists stay in Panama for about two weeks or so. These are the people most likely to stay in a hotel room. So, why not make it illegal to rent a private apartment for less than two weeks? Or, if you want to rent your private property for less than two weeks, you have to treat the income as is you are a hotel, pay the hotel tax, etc. Or, make the private property owner get certification as a "hostel" and then be free to compete in the market. If the Marriott or the Veneto or any other hotel wants to offer a room at $120 per night, why can't I offer a room at $15 per night, if I want to? Do these hotel owners really think someone who's paying $15 per night is going to stay at a hotel that's much more expensive? Of course not.

Apartments Offer "More Bang For The Buck" If you rent an apartment short term, then you not only get a bedroom and a bathroom, but also the kitchen, living room, dining room, and the social area of the building to use. If I'm spending $100 per night to stay at an expensive hotel, I get just the room and a bathroom. If I stay for two weeks I spend $1,400 for the privilege. For that same amount of money or less I can rent a fully furnished two or three bedroom apartment. It's not "unfair competition" but rather a much better deal for the money. Hey, the hotels can always lower their prices if they want to compete, right? That's what fair market practices are all about, not having the government intervene on behalf of one sector of the market to the detriment of the other.

With Regards To Investment: I love the example of the Marriott hotel, built with an investment of $60 million dollars. Let's use that. The Marriott has 363 guest rooms, 15 suites, and 8 master suites. In Panama City the average price for a good apartment with a view of the ocean is about $250,000 dollars (low ball estimate). Let's double that to $500,000 for the "suites" and let's use $750,000 (penthouse) for the "master suites", just for sake of argument. If these apartments were purchased by individuals, they represent a total investment of $104.25 million dollars - or about twice of what it takes to build a hotel with the same number of rooms. This makes perfect sense when you think about it for a minute. When you're building a hotel you don't have to build all of those kitchens or living rooms or dining rooms - just bedrooms and bathrooms. So, the argument flies right out of the window on the math. Individual investors spend about twice as much money to buy their apartments, compared to hotel owners. And, it's mostly foreign direct investment - new money pouring into the country from overseas.

Shamah Linked To Hotel Owners: There's an underlying truth to all of this. The hotel owners have the Tourism Minister Solomon Shamah firmly in their back pocket. He will do whatever they want him to do. The hotel owners don't want private property owners to be able to rent their apartments out, to anyone, ever. Back when it was learned that the government of the United States had cancelled the visa of Solomon Shamah to visit the United States (due to alleged links to drug traffickers and money launderers) and there was mounting pressure for him to either resign or for president Ricardo Martinelli to fire him, it was the hotel owners who held a press conference to express their support for Solomon Shamah. This show of support moved him to tears at the press conference (*sniff*), but more importantly, here's the payback. The hotel owners don't only own hotels, they also own Solomon Shamah. If they want this law, then he's going to fight for it. Period.

Opposed? Get Organized: I know there are a great many members of the English speaking community of expatriates in the Republic of Panama who are property owners participating in this "clandestine" activity of renting your properties out for less than a year at a time. First of all, it's not illegal nor is it "clandestine." The simple choice of words used in this highly biased article are an indication of the government's position on this issue. The Panama America is now practically the "official" newspaper of the government of Ricardo Martinelli so don't expect to see many dissenting opinions published there. If you are opposed to his proposal to modify Law 8 to make this practice illegal, then I would strongly suggest that you begin to get yourselves organized. Personally speaking - I don't have a dog in this fight. I don't own any property and I don't rent anything out short term - but I know many of you do. If you don't get organized, develop your counter arguments and counter positions, and fight this proposal from a unified front, then you're going to get steamrolled. Here's an idea - let's say you create an organization and you have 250 members. Those people each purchased an apartment for about $250,000 dollars. Do the math, and there's direct foreign investment of $62.5 million dollars. Those are the kinds of arguments you need to build.

Not The First Time: Tourism Minister Solomon Shamah tried to do this once before by issuing a resolution from the Ministry of Tourism. It was so clearly illegal and unconstitutional (he tried to change the basic and fundamental law regarding the ownership of all private property in Panama with a simple resolution) they had to backtrack, and cancel their own resolution immediately. Now, they are going to try to do it through a law in the National Assembly. It's not a mistake that this article appeared on a Saturday - they were hoping you would not see it. If you sleep at the switch, you will wake up one day, and it will be illegal to rent your apartment to anyone in Panama City for less than a year. Mark my words...

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6,000 New Hotel Rooms To Open This Year in Panama City - 66% Increase in Rooms

HotelsMore than 20 new hotels opening will be opening their doors in Panama this year, representing an investment of more than $1.5 billion dollars, said Sara Pardo, president of the Panamanian Association of Hotels (APATEL). She said about 6,000 new hotel rooms will be added to the current inventory. Among the hotels that will open their doors are the Hyatt Place, Wingate by Wyndham, Aloft, Megapolis, the Westin in Costa del Este, the NH Hotel, Sonesta Hotel and Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts. The latter will be the first structure of this chain in Latin America, and the fifth developed by Hilton Worldwide in Panama, because this year the same company will complete three additional projects. She also said many older, existing, and established hotels are undergoing major expansions or renovations, such as the case with the Hotel Bristol. She acknowledged that most of these facilities belong to large chains. She said by the end of 2012 there will be more than 15,000 hotel rooms throughout the country.

Meanwhile, Armando Rodriguez Tatis, of the Association of Small Hotels of Panama (Hoppan), said they expect a large number of new small hotels and hostels will be opening their doors in the interior of the country. He admitted they do not have exact figures on how many there will be, because many of these businesses do not yet appear on the records of the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP). However, he thinks with the new law they are thinking about implementing on tourism, this situation will change because they may carry clear statistics. He said the most number of new small hotels will be opening in the central provinces of Cocle, Herrera and Los Santos, and Veraguas. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Wow. So just in 2012 the total inventory of hotel rooms in Panama will increase from the current 9,000 to 15,000 - that's a massive 66% increase in just one year. There's no way the market can absorb all of that new inventory without there being some impact on prices. Hotel room occupancy rates will drop. I expect some operators will lower their prices in an attempt to lure tourists and businessmen to their hotels, and away from others. They will put together all kinds of package deals and generally get creative. The projections for the future are based on a continued growth in demand over time, and in the next five to six years then demand will increase to the point where occupancy rates will improve, so the dip will be temporary. In the meantime I expect a sort of cat-fight over customers, for awhile anyway. And all you hotel owners and managers who are reading this - you might want to consider advertising on Panama-Guide.com. I know you're out there... (grin)

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Hotel Occupancy Rates Falling As New Rooms Come On Line

HotelsHotel occupancy rates in Panama City are falling as the result of a greater supply of hotel rooms now available, thanks to the opening of several new hotels. In October 2011 occupancy rates in hotels with more than 100 rooms in Panama City reached 62.3%. By comparison during the same month last year occupancy rates were 68.4%. Overall for the year occupancy rates have fallen by 1.4%. This year more than 600 new hotel rooms have come online, including those in the Trump building, the Victoria, Hilton Doubletree, and others.

Hotel industry projections had indicated that in October 2011 there would be an increase of 4% in occupancy rates as the result of a climate change convention held in the capital city during the month. During the first 10 months of 2011, occupancy rates reached 66%, while last year from January to October the rate was 66.9%. For next year, the Panamanian Association of Hotels (Apatel) estimates that hotel occupancy rates will fall to 50%, with reference to the number of rooms that are entering the market versus the number of tourists entering the country.

Although through October 2011 tourist arrivals increased by 11%, hotel room occupancy rates have not recorded the same growth behavior. Starting in December the Tourism Authority of Panama will incorporate into its analysis the new rooms that have been opened this year, about 2000, so therefore occupancy rates are expected to reflect a more pronounced decline. There are several hotels in the capital that will begin operations in early 2012. (Prensa)

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Punta Galeon Resort on Isla Contadora - OfertaSimple.com

HotelsThose who enjoy great getaways in Panama, read on. For the next 4 days, OfertaSimple.com (available in both English and Spanish) is offering 50% off stays at Punta Galeon Resort on Isla Contadora – good for redemption over the next 6 months. Hotel Punta Galeon Resort is tucked away on a tranquil island off the Pacific coast of Panama. Located in the Pearl Island archipelago, Punta Galeon is just a short, 20 minute flight from Panama City. The resort is architecturally inspiring, thoughtfully designed and is located in true exotic paradise.

OfertaSimple.com launched just over a year ago and is quickly building a dedicated following in Panama. With offers never less than 50% off and at times inching towards 90% off, it’s no surprise the website already counts 57,000 Facebook fans and tens of thousands of members as loyal users. Past deals have included over 50% off at The Wine Bar and Caffe Pomodoro, LaMar, Os Segredos Da Carne, Canal & Bay Cruises, Enrique Iglesias concert tickets, and Hotel Mandarinos in El Valle, to name a few.

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Panama Hotel Occupancy Rates Will Fall To 38% in 2012

HotelsHotel occupancy rates will fall from 70% in late 2011 to 38% in 2012 in hotels with more than 100 rooms, according to estimates from the Panamanian Association of Hotels (Apatel). The percentage decrease is attributed to the 6,000 new rooms will become available, surpassing demand, although the number of visitors grew by 10% during the first half of this year. Among the hotels already under construction that will open next year include the Megapolis (2000 rooms), Renaissance, of the Marriott chain on Calle 50 (300 rooms) Panama Hilton (351 rooms); Waldord Astoria (126 rooms); Garden Inn (170 rooms) and Hyatt Place (167 rooms), among others. Between 2010 and 2014 more than 10,00 new hotel rooms will become available in Panama City, bring the total to about 18,000 in the entire province of Panama. After this drop off, hotel owners will have to wait until 2016 for hotel occupancy rates to return to present levels, said the president of Apatel, Sara Pardo. In that year Panama is expected to receive approximately Panama 4.6 million tourists. "Growth in the hotel industry has been rapid, and although more tourists are arriving every day there are not enough to fill the new hotel rooms that are being built," she said.

The Megapolis hotel, soon to open in Panama City under the Hard Rock flag, will add more than 2,000 new hotel rooms to the market.

In the first months of 2011, hotel occupancy rates in Panama City fell by 2% compared to the same period last year. Reports and analysis prepared by Apatel indicate the average nightly hotel rate in Panama City has gone down by $5 dollars, indicating existing hotel owners are feeling the entry of new competitors. Ernesto Orillac, advisor to the Panama Tourism Authority, said they are working to attract more conferences and conventions which, in their opinion, is the sector within tourism which will maintain hotel occupancy rates in Panama City. For 2012 there are already 53 confirmed conventions, mostly of 1,000 participants each or more. Among those is Herbalife, representing the arrival of 9,000 people.

The director of the company FR Consulting, Fidel Reyes, said it would be a mistake for hotels to lower their prices in an effort to maintain their occupancy rates. He believes the key to maintaining an attractive destination is to improve customer service. Besides the drop in occupancy rates, hoteliers are concerned about the lack of skilled labor available to fill the 12,000 new jobs that will be created within this industry between now and 2014. (La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Of course the hotels are going to drop their rates and offer sweeter deals in order to attract more customers. I'm personally looking forward to this swing. During the height of the Panama real estate boom when I approached hotel owners and managers to see if they might like to advertise on this website, their answer was usually something like "I'm 100% booked, why would I want to advertise?" My response was - great answer, got it, thanks, maybe later. I wonder if they'll be more interested in advertising when their occupancy rates drop to 38%. Sometimes a tough situation for one is an opportunity for another. Businesses are more likely to advertise when competition is stiff, and in the end lower hotel occupancy rates in Panama City will translate to lower prices for tourists and travelers, which is a good thing.

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New Decameron Resort Coming to the "Upper Coast" Of Colon

HotelsAlthough the Decameron hotel has not revealed the details of their beach project that will be located on the "Upper Coast" of the province of Colon, Panama's president Ricardo Martinelli said the government would build 22 km long road to allow access to the new resort. The hotel would have 300 rooms and would be built on a 700 hectare parcel of land. (La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: In Panama the Colon Province runs along a large portion of the Caribbean or Atlantic coastline. Panamanians refer to this coastline in two segments. Everything to the North and East of the city of Colon is called the "Upper Coast", and includes places like Portobelo, Isla Grande, Nombre de Dios, and Puerto Lindo for example. The "Lower Coast" is everything to the South and West of the city of Colon, and includes the old Fort Sherman area, Gobea, and Miguel de la Borda. This new Decameron resort will be located somewhere along the Upper Coast, probably past Nombre de Dios. The ocean and water out there are beautiful, much nicer than at their current location on the Pacific.

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Vacationing in Panama City Just Got Intense

Hotels Jumping through windowsills, kettleball swings, rooftop pushups, junkyard box jumps. Does this sound like your kind of vacation? Los Cuatro Tulipanes is now the first lodging accommodation in Panama City’s historic district of Casco Viejo to include FREE crossfit gym passes with its vacation rentals. Partnering with Top Level Gym, a Casco Viejo crossfit fitness company, guests at 4Tulipanes can now get military-style core strength and conditioning sessions from the pros! The rustic beachfront gym is located just a block away from Tulipanes and is perfect for active vacationers looking to get their butt kicked in the tropics! Gym passes include sunset yoga classes, brutal crossfit sessions and technical training in boxing, Panama’s national sport. Be sure to include the code #crossfit in your reservation request and take advantage of this intense workout promotion today! Email for room rates and availability: info@loscuatrotulipanes.com
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Casa de Campo Farallon Wins US Lawsuit (Royalton Playa Blanca)

Hotels On 10 February 2011 Penrod Management International presented a frivolous claim against Casa de Campo Farallon (Nikki Beach Panama). We are delighted to report on 5 April 2011 United States District Judge Jose E. Martinez, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, summarily denied Penrod’s motion, dismissed the case, ordered the case closed, and denied all pending motions as moot. This decision is a clear and resounding legal victory for Casa de Campo Farallon (Nikki Beach Panama).

Although Casa de Campo Farallon (Nikki Beach Panama) continues to have both the legal and contractual right to use the “Nikki Beach” name and branding for our project, as evidenced by the US District Court decision, poor past performance, mismanagement, and questionable business practices on the part of Penrod Management International have prompted us to reconsider our ongoing business relationship with them. Therefore we reaffirm our strategic decision to rebrand our project as the “Royalton Playa Blanca in Panama” and to seek new strategic partners.

On 14 March 2011 Casa de Campo Farallon and RG Hotels in Panama entered into a management agreement with Blue Diamond, a hotel operations company owned by the Sunwing Group of Canada, and TUI Travel PLC, a UK-based travel company, to manage the hotel property under the “Royalton Hotels” brand. The 5-star project at Playa Blanca in the Republic of Panama offers 240 rooms, five restaurants, two pools, an events hall, and entertainment amenities.

Maru Galvez, the company owner and chief executive officer, said “The Royalton Playa Blanca is one of the most stunning resorts we have ever worked on, and now, thanks to our partners at Blue Diamond, our guests will enjoy an unparalleled luxury experience. Immaculate service, attention to detail, and casual beachside elegance at one of the country's most desirable locations is a winning formula.” (Press Release)

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Stay At The Casa Grande Bambito Resort for 65% OFF

Hotels If you enjoy spectacular vacations, I highly recommend that you read on. For the next 5 days, OfertaSimple.com (now available in English) is offering a two night getaway at Casa Grande Bambito Resort for 65% OFF – good for redemption anytime during the coming nine months. Casa Grande Bambito is a luxury boutique hotel nestled in the midst of mountains, rainforests, natural springs, volcanic structures, and beautiful surroundings that nurture the soul, calm the spirits, and revitalize the body. At Casa Grande Bambito, one of the few true luxury resorts in the Chiriqui Highlands, first class service is the norm rather than an exception. Only now, with OfertaSimple.com, can you take advantage of this luxury two night getaway for just $68 (regular value $198). OfertaSimple.com launched in August of last year and is quickly building a dedicated following in Panama. With offers never less than 50% off and at times inching towards 90% off, it’s no surprise the website already counts 31,000 Facebook fans and tens of thousands of members as loyal users. Some of the best sellers on OfertaSimple.com have included half off at LaMar Restaurant, $13 for $50 worth of food/drink at Ego y Narciso Restaurant in Casco Viejo, 70% off at LT Burger in Hotel Manrey, 50% off a stay at Hotel Los Mandarinos in El Valle, 72% off food and drink at Habibi’s and 57% off a jump at Panama SkyDive.

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