A few (five) years ago I went on a trip to Costa Rica and Panama. For the Costa Rica leg, it turned out to be one of those trips where we just kind of missed the mark. We didn't visit the right cities and didn't really get the experience that, after hearing of other people's trips to the land of Pura Vida, we wished we had done our trip differently... Oh well, I'm not going to cry over spilt Imperial, I'll just have to go back again. And don't get me wrong, we still saw beautiful beaches, lots of crazy cool wildlife, did the zip lining thing, went on ATV's, sampled coconuts and I even had a cheeky monkey try to rip my bikini top off... BAD MONKEY! But, for me and my "travel partner" (ex-boyfriend), the real highlight of the trip was the Panama portion. So amazing in fact, that I think I will need to dedicate several posts to talking about it. Therefore, today I'm simply going to be the bearer of exciting news and then tease you with the promise of additional posts so that you come back tomorrow and the following day to get the full scoop! Deal? Ok cool.
So the news: If you've been reading this blawg for a while, you may have caught my post on the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs... and perhaps picked up on my obsession with both the brand and the resort...? Well, either way, since I'm of the impression that the Ace Hotel company can do no wrong, I was elated upon hearing that they are opening an Ace Hotel in Panama! And a bit wistful, because I would have died to have to stayed there when I went and so now I'll have to go back... But there are so many other places I want to visit. #notrealproblemsproblems
One of the reasons why I LOVE Panama is because of the area we stayed in Panama City... 'twas perfect. Unlike Costa Rica, we got lucky and everything just kind of came together. I happened to come across this neighborhood during my pre-trip researching, called the Casco Viejo (translates to "Old Quarter" and is also referred to as the Casco Antiguo) in Panama City. It's the historic district of Panama City and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997. The Casco Viejo was established in 1673 by the Spanish colonists and was historically one of the richest and most densely populated neighborhoods in the Americas! However, it went through decades of neglect starting in the 1950's and only in recent years has it started to see a resurgence as many of the historic colonial buildings with strong Spanish and French colonial architecture influences, still remain and are being renovated and revitalized. I was entranced because you feel as if you've gone back in time but don't have to do without modern amenities. It also felt a bit like I was in the small old school town that was a mixture of Havana, the French Quarter in New Orleans and the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. And apparently (as I went there five years ago), the number of gourmet restaurants, bars and high end shops continues to grow as the area gets more attention. When I went, there were definitely some cool restaurants, jazz bars and salsa dancing clubs but it was amongst just as many buildings in disrepair so there was a bit of eerie-ness that made you wonder if you were supposed to be there... Although that aspect also made it feel like you were in on a cool secret... And I am all about being in on secrets. With the Ace Hotel moving in, however, this pretty much confirms that the number of buildings in need of revitalization is decreasing and the area is becoming a real player in the Panama scene.
The hotel is actually going to be called the American Trade Hotel but is the Ace people all the way. You can begin booking reservations now for January 1, 2014 here.
In addition to accommodations, there will be a jazz bar, farm-to-table restaurant, and rooftop deck and pool, plus Panamanian coffee roasted and brewed on-site.
Due to the fact that they are not officially open, I had a difficult time finding some photos of the hotel and rooms but check out what I was able sift out:
Yeah, not a lot, I know. I'm sorry. But hopefully that just adds to the magical mysteriousness that is part of the city's charm :).