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
Parking on site
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Golf retreat 80 minutes from Panama City, with a Jack Nicklaus-designed course, destination spa and beach
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
The Buenaventura Golf & Beach Resort Panama, Autograph Collection