The Buenaventura Golf & Beach Resort Panama, Autograph Collection
What We Love
- Heaven for golfers, with the Jack Nicklaus-designed Buenaventura Golf Club
- The hydrotherapy center of the Corotu Spa and the gracious staff
- Choice of five restaurants, from local Panamanian fare to sushi
- 24/7 Room service
What To Know
- Somewhat isolated location around 80 minutes west of Panama City
- Restaurants are pricey for the region
- It’s a five-minute walk to the well-manicured beach
- Free WiFi
- Golf Course
- Kids Club
- Parking On Site
- Room Service
A beach, spa and golfing playground for grown ups, this sprawling coastal resort was formerly known as the Bristol Buenaventura and joined the JW Marriott family in 2012. The open-air reception area echoes its beachy, undeveloped setting, done up with warm hardwood floors, Spanish colonial elements, tropical fresh flowers and original artworks. The focal point of the high-ceilinged lobby is an exquisite sculpture by Cuban artist Manuel Carbonell.
Bed and Bath
All 109 guestrooms have private balconies and a mix of rich, dark woods, light furnishings and bright white bedding. All bathrooms have standalone showers and separate tubs, and the natural tiles and stone floors lend an earthy look. If you want to stay connected, all the mod cons are present, from 42-inch flat-screen TVs, coffee machines and newspapers delivered daily. Villas are two-floor homes for up to eight guests and come with a private pool.
An eclectic mix of restaurants dots the sprawling grounds, from poolside lunch bites at El Faro to steak galore at Prime 19, within the Buenaventura Golf Club clubhouse. Signature restaurant Tamarindo serves traditional Panamanian fare using ingredients from nearby organic farms and local fishermen, while recently opened Tai Kai offers fresh sushi and well-crafted cocktails under the stars. Steps from the beach, the El Faro Club House has a choice of three pools, each with a sprawl of white loungers and private cabanas, plus multiple swim-up bars. For a different sort of pampering, head to the five-room Corotú Spa and try one of the polishing facials of body scrubs. Just remember to save time for the resort’s main event: the par-72 Jack Nicklaus–designed golf course, which traces the curves of the coastline and has spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.
In the Area
Just west of the nearest town, San Carlos, Playa Rio Mar is one of Panama’s best surf beaches, and it attracts a mix of weekenders from Panama City and local surfers. Ask the concierge about group or private morning surf lessons. Alternatively, stay on dry land and explore the charming highland town of El Valle de Anton, which lies in the caldera of an active volcano. Go hiking or horseback riding in the cloud forest, walk to the El Chorro Macho waterfall or simply wander the town’s plazas and markets. Back in the capital, make a stop at the brand new Frank Gehry–designed BioMuseo, at the mouth of the Panama Canal, then head to the charming, and rapidly changing, Casco Viejo for brunch at sceney Las Clementinas, a walk along the sea wall to Plaza Francia and a dance at the salsa club Habana Panama.
How to Get There
My husband and I just had an amazing 7-day trip to the Buenaventura resort to celebrate our anniversary. From the moment we arrived we were treated so well by all the wonderful staff. Our room was beautiful with a balcony overlooking the pools. The bed was super comfy and room kept very clean.
We flew into the Rio Hato airport and it was a quick 15 minute transfer to the hotel. We ate at all the restaurants. The breakfast buffet was always good. Unlike other reviews we thought there was good variety in food and never got bored with the selections in any of the restaurants. The beach was clean. The pools were plentiful and refreshing. All well kept up.
Here are some staff that made our stay memorable. Leonardo, Irisheel, Emir, Denia and Elvia and the staff at the Asa’o et Pesca’o are truly amazing.
Looking forward to coming back.
Unfortunately even though we received an upgrade the room floors were popping up. Seems like there had been an issue with flooding. the rest of the hotel is in an incredible venue but again it seems like it’s a bit run down in general. The breakfast was really good.
This is our time to take a vacation every year this year we chose Panama. I booked This property because it looked fantastic and it was except for a couple of reasons. As a seasoned traveler and Platinum Premier for life I didn’t even think to look that it was over 2 hours from the airport. My fault. We arrived and checked in to a absolutely wonderful room. The front desk staff was wonderful. Marilyn, Rafael, Carlos and others were awesome as well as the restaurant and pool staff. Here is why we left after 4 days instead of 10 booked. Absolutely nothing close to do or any restaurants nearby. Also a huge food and beverage mistake 2 out of the 3 restaurants basically have the same menu. We tried all 3 but the Japanese restaurant was closed multiple days. Even the little convenience store had odd hours. We got sick and tired of eating the same thing. Now come the bird. I don’t if this just started but you can’t sleep they come at 6 pm and start leaving at 6 am. Very beautiful resort but if it’s slow season it is like being on a stranded island. We also went to use the computer to look for things to do in Panama City and it was loaded with porn. Notified management and they promptly took care of it but there has to be some sort of program to block entry. We weren’t offended but it could have been a kid that viewed it. We moved to a Westin in Panama City as we wanted to see some sights. If you want to decompress at a beautiful place this is the place.
Lovely setting, some 21/2 hours from Panama City with gorgeous landscaping, lush gardens, beautiful villas, but with some maturing to do.
The resort is classic JWMarriott. We stayed in their resort in Costa Rica, which was very similar in layout and character-villas, landscaped gardens, golf course, all leading up to a stunning ocean front resort.
The trouble is that the resort still needs to evolve into the luxury venue it strives to be, which it could do easily by upping its customer service a notch.
Service in the restaurants is very friendly, but slow. Small touches are absent from rooms, which already look dated, even though the resort is quite new.
It also lacks the usual gift/beach attire shops that people staying in resorts love. Where else will you buy that atrocious coverup?
A big minus is the tiny beach. The resort is huge, but the beach confined to a small strip, where, predictably, people stake out the few palapas and never return. (Which should be a punishable offense anywhere!!)
That said, the restaurants are solid, drinks tasty.
The property is gorgeous. Just needs a few tweaks to be first rate. Hope it ups the ante!!
Although this hotel is extremely far from the Panama City airport (a 2.5 hour drive on a good day) it is easy to get to and incredibly worth it. My husband and I decided to stay here for the golf course but we were greatly impressed by absolutely everything! There are many restaurants on site with a wide variety of food as well as many pools - so you never felt crowded. Our room was well kept and hospitality was incredibly helpful!