Janell & Dennis won our honeymoon trip to Westin Playa Bonita in Panama and had a romantic time. Here’s their honeymoon story...
The Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort
Kicking off the New Year, we arrived in Panama and were immediately greeted by a long lost friend, warm weather and sunny skies. Goodbye New York, hello Panama!
A hotel representative holding a sign with our names greeted us once we left Customs. We arrived at the Westin Playa Bonita and in the lobby, as far as the eye can see, the blue ocean is framed by gigantic floor-to-ceiling windows with expansive views of the property. We were in awe!
We loved the large jacuzzi tub in our suite. An open window gave us an unobstructed view to the ocean. Thoughts of a romantic candlelit bubble bath with an ocean view quickly came to mind. On the table was a welcoming note along with a bottle of wine and a plate of chocolate-dipped strawberries.
Lucky for us, there were seven different restaurants to choose from and the variety of food in the buffets changed nightly. We had our choice of an American steakhouse, Mediterranean cuisine, Asian-inspired dishes, sushi, Mexican, BBQ, and Caribbean entrées. The breakfast buffet was our favorite since there was such a wide variety of fresh colorful fruits, yogurts, pancakes, waffles, muffins, and more.
After almost every meal, we indulged in the desserts, bite-sized cakes of every kind, including carrot cake, lemon meringue, key lime, strawberry shortcake, dulce de leche, and tiramisu. With our rigorous swimming regimen and hiking agenda (to the pool and back), neither of us gained an ounce. Something we can both toast to!
We took three tours during our stay. The first was to the Panama Canal and the museum at the Miraflores Locks. Just as we arrived a large cargo ship from Germany was passing through the locks. The engineering feat of this canal is something to behold. We loved the historical element of our adventure. We then drove around some of the main parts of Panama and stared at the incredible skyline, impressed by hundreds of buildings. We learned that over 700 banks operate there and it is fast becoming a place where Americans are retiring, for its beauty, affordability, and tax breaks.
The second tour was an all-day adventure to the Gamboa rain forest. We rode in a gondola through the forest, hiked, and took a boat tour to some woodsy areas. We were lucky to see howler monkeys, sloths, white-faced monkeys, a baby crocodile, iguanas, and hundreds of colorful butterflies!
The third tour we took was an hour and a half car ride from the Pacific Ocean side to the the Caribbean side. Immediately we saw the color of the water was much more turquoise, a true tropical destination. We took a boat tour to Portobello Beach and stopped at a few spots to snorkel, spotting several blue and yellow fish happy to be seen. An enjoyable afternoon adventure indeed.
Next to our three tours, the activity we loved the most was lounging pool-side. Dennis loves to just relax and read when we travel, while I am an adventure seeker. We were able to have a lot of both adventure and down time, where we could enjoy frozen margaritas and pina coladas. Our kind of relaxing.
The coolest part was hanging out on our balcony and seeing the hundreds of ships lined up to enter the Panama Canal. By day there was nothing but ocean, but at night, way out in the distance between all the dotted islands, you would see massive ship containers lit up with white lights. We were informed that the ships must wait a full 24-hour period before being allowed through.
In the evenings, Westin Playa Bonita also provided entertainment. One night dancers performed authentic numbers from the Philippines, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Jamaica, and Panama. Their outfits were so flashy and ornate they could have easily been dancers for Carnival! At the end of their performance they all invited us up to take a photo with them, cheesy we know, but why not? We loved our honeymoon and want to thank everyone for making it so special!