InterContinental Playa Bonita Resort & Spa
What We Love
- The 10,000-square-foot spa has Turkish steam rooms and meditation rooms
- The private beach is secluded and tranquil
- There are three restaurants and several bars, including a swim-up pool bar
What To Know
- Located near the mouth of the canal about 20 minutes from downtown Panama City
- Dogs are allowed, but there’s a cleaning fee ($200) and adaily fee ($16.50)
- The resort is very family-friendly, with dedicated kids play areas
- WiFi costs extra
- Kids Club
- Parking On Site
- Room Service
Radiating out in a V shape through lush jungle facing a perfect Pacific Ocean vista, this family-friendly getaway close to downtown Panama City offers a kick-off-your-shoes escape with all the amenities you need to take things down a notch. The 303 guestrooms have a modern aesthetic, with flat-screen TVs, black four-poster beds, beige walls, rattan sofas and private furnished balconies. If you’re looking to be pampered, book a treatment at the luxurious spa, which offers everything from facials using Clarins products to seaweed wraps — there are also hammam-style steam rooms and alfresco beachside massages available. Go for a dip in the lagoon-style infinity pool, and paddle up to the bar for a frothy cocktail before heading to the thatch-roofed Pelican Grill for light lunch options. And for dinner, the open-air Lighthouse restaurant offers a more fine-dining experience, offering Panamanian flavors that rival the view of the palm tree–fringed beach below.
In the Area
It may feel like a remote haven, but the resort is only a 20-minute drive from downtown Panama City, so you would be remiss to leave without seeing the country’s greatest claim to fame, its majestic and well-trafficked canal, where you can watch vessels pass through the Miraflores Locks. For a taste of Panama’s history, pay a visit to Casco Viejo, a 16th-century district of the city containing many gorgeous Spanish and French colonial buildings. Refuel at Casa Sucre Coffeehouse, which in an 1873 colonial home; you can get your caffeine fix and try a Panamanian breakfast of chicken tamales wrapped in banana leaves. Before heading back, stock up on artisan-made gold jewelry at Reprosa, a two-story boutique helping to revive ancient indigenous methods.
How to Get There
We stayed at Dreams Playa Bonita for 7 days. The resort is beautiful. The grounds are impeccable, the staff are amazing, the food is very good with lots of selection. It is not a 5 star resort, but it is a solid 4. I would stay here again without question. Don’t be discouraged by any negative reviews, this resort is terrific.
Day 1: Upon arriving at the resort we were greeted by Yannyreth Leal and promptly taken to check in at the preferred VIP area. The check in was very smooth and we also checked in for our friends that we had booked for because they had to change their plans due to the death of his father. As we completed our check in Yanny asked if we had eaten because it was almost time for the Seaside Grill to close for the lunch period. Yanny walked us to the Seaside Grill and made sure we were able to get some lunch, which was greatly appreciated.
Once settled into our room, and getting things that were broken (safe didn’t work, dresser drawers wouldn’t open) fixed we walked around the resort to get familiar with the area. We had decided to eat at the Oceana Grill for dinner. The service was good, but the steak was the worst meat I have ever eaten. It was over cooked, and tough as leather. There were several other tables that also experienced this and were not very happy. No matter how it would have been cooked, it was just plain terrible meat. My wife had the fish and it was just ok. Mashed potatoes were great though. Time for bed, when we arrived back in our room we discovered they didn’t do the turn down service. Thought, well maybe it’s just because it’s our first day here?
Day 2: Went for breakfast at the Market Café. The omelets were very good, as was the service. But the real issue was all the food on the buffet was barely warm, and some even just cold. We finished breakfast and decided to go to the pool until our other guest arrived. At the VIP pool we met Zancheliano the bartender. He was a very upbeat man that seemed to always be busy tending to the pool area, and the guest. We went to the Seaside Grill for lunch again, and everything was hot and very good. Now it was time to go meet with our guest as they would be arriving soon. While waiting for them to arrive we discussed the very bad dinner, and the breakfast with Yanny. She was very concerned, and started making contact with management to fix these issues. Once our other party arrived Yanny swept us up to the preferred area so they could get a bite to eat and get copies of their passports. All went very smooth and we got them settled into their room. Once settled in we took them around the resort so they would know where everything was located. Now it was time to go get ready for dinner so we went to the rooms to get ready. We decided to go to the Seaside Grill and the food and service were very good. After dinner we went to see what we could find for entertainment. They were playing bingo in the lobby, so we decided to call it a night. Upon arriving to our room we found that once again we did not receive turn down service.
Day 3: Went for breakfast at Market Café, and it was obvious things were different. There were managers out checking, and stirring the food on the buffet. Today the food was a good temperature, and had a very good assortment to choose from. Again, service was good. After breakfast we went to talk with Yanny about not getting turn down service, and she assured us she would check into this as all preferred members should get this service. We also discussed what we would like to do for excursions and was given some recommendations from Yanny. We decided to go to the pool and just have a relaxing day, and told Yanny we would discuss what we would like to do and get with her later in the day with our decisions. So, off to the pool we went. We had a great day just relaxing at the preferred pool, and walking on the beach. Again, Zancheliano took great care of us all day. We went to the Barefoot Grill and enjoyed some of the nachos they had prepared, and they were very good. We also enjoyed lunch again at the Seaside Grill. In the afternoon, we went back up and scheduled our excursions, and also spa time with Yanny. She was very helpful with getting everything booked and made it very easy for us to make our plans. Yanny did inform us that our guest had a complimentary shuttle and dinner in the Old Town that had come with their booking, and she would see what she could do to make this a dinner for all 4 of us. She later informed me that after speaking to the head Concierge that there would be an additional $56 charge for the two of us to join them, and we would also have to pay for our dinner. Seems a bit pricey when an Uber for 4 people to the Old City was only $6 and $11 coming back. After questioning the Concierge about this, he just did not want to try and help in any way, and I walked away before the situation got any worse. I did not expect a free dinner, but I did expect a bit more help with the transfer of all 4 rather than just the 2 that were already getting this for free. This is when we decided that none of us would schedule to go to the Old City dinner. So, now it was time to head to the room to get ready for dinner. We decided to go to the Portofino for dinner on Yanny’s recommendation. The food and the service were very good. The fillet steak was amazingly good and very tender, and cooked perfectly. After dinner we went to see what we could find for entertainment. Didn’t seem to be much going on. Did walk down to the area that was supposed to be the night club, and it was a huge disappointment. This was a regular room with tables set up like a dinner was going to be held there. Once we had seen that we just went to the room for the night. Upon arriving to our room, we found that after talking with Yanny, we finally received our turn down service for the first time.
Day 4: Today we got up early because we had an excursion planned for the day. We ate breakfast at the Market Café and again things were much better. We went out to meet our transfer to go to the Old City Tour, And Panama Canal. After waiting a bit, I asked the lady at the front pick up area if she could check on our transfer. This is when we found out that the company had made a mistake and didn’t have us scheduled. I know for a fact Yanny had spoken with them and they confirmed with her our reservation while I was standing there the previous day. They did quickly get us a transfer which was a smaller car and a bit crowded for 4 people plus the driver. They did offer to get us another vehicle and driver, but we knew if we waited any longer we would miss the morning ships going through the locks, so we proceeded with the smaller vehicle. The Panama Canal tour and the Old City was very nice. We loved all the older churches. Upon arriving back at the resort, we went to the Seaside Grill and had a bit of lunch before heading back to the preferred pool area to relaxed until dinner. Dinner time came around so we headed back to the room to get ready as we decided to go to the Bordeaux for dinner. The wait staff was amazing, there was really nothing on the appetizer menu that most of us were interested in, and when I mentioned could we get a appetizer from the Portofino as we liked the fried mozzarella our waitress was more than happy to make this happen for all 4 of us. I truly wish I could remember her name as she was a very amazing waitress. Food was also very good. Leaving the restraint we went to the main Lobby where there was a saxophone player playing music, so we sat down and enjoyed it for a bit. Once it was time for him to take a break, it got very quiet, and we wasn’t sure if he was just taking a break, or if he was done for the night as no one communicated anything to any of the guest. So after a few minutes I walked up and asked him if I could plug my phone in and play some music over his speakers and he agreed. Once the music started playing there were several couples that camp up and started dancing to the music. When it was time for him to come back and play a bit more, he actually joined in playing his saxophone to the remainder of the song I had playing. Finally, we returned to our room for the evening, and were very disappointed as we again didn’t receive our turn down service, and they had taken my wife’s robe that was left on the bed and did not replace it. I called to the front desk, and got no answer. Then I contacted the maid service and they told me to call the front desk. I just gave up and figured we would talk to Yanny in the morning since she seemed to be the only person that could make anything happen, or even cared to for that matter.
Day 5: Today was another early day as we planned to go on the Gamboa Rainforest Combo Tour. We ate breakfast at the Market Café, and all was good. Went to lobby and checked in for the tour and soon after departed. Had a good day on the trip other than the rain. We returned to the resort in the afternoon at which time we spoke with Yanny about the robe being missing. We decided to go back out to the proffered pool area for a while and got some snacks from the Barefoot Grill to hold us over until dinner. As usual, the service at the pool and grill were great. After the long day, we decided to just have dinner at the Seaside Grill again. Service and food were good. After dinner we went to the outside patio area to watch the Mariachi band play but in that area there is only about 10-12 chairs set up. We stood there for a few minutes as did several other guests and since the area was very poorly set up to have a show we along with many other guests just left as no one wanted to have to stand for the show. Getting back to our room we again had no turn down service, but we did get my wife’s robe back.
We stayed at Dreams for 6 nights and loved it. The food was good and plentiful. Especially liked the fried red snapper at Oceana. The rooms were up to par, clean and perfect for the little amount of time we spent in them. The staff were great, and helpful in every way. We asked and they delivered. Xanche at pool bar went above and beyond to make us feel special. Roger In preferred club was also especially attentive. Spa was nice, massage good. What was most enjoyed here though was how relaxing it was, no loud dance music at pool, and nice ambiance at restaurants. Definitely recommend, loved Panama and Dreams. The upgrade was worth it for top shelf liquor and adult preferred pool.
Also got to go on a whale watching excursion that is definitely recommend.