by Amanda Norcross
Upon entering The Santa Maria, a Luxury Collection Hotel & Golf Resort — which made its debut in 2018 — “family-friendly” may not be the term that comes to mind. This is a brand-new, five-star hotel in Panama City, after all.
Look past the ultra-luxurious lobby and surrounds, however, and you’ll discover a city hotel (which feels more like a resort) that’s perfect for families, with features including a complimentary buffet breakfast and stunning pool complex. Family amenities also include childcare services and a Family Excursions package that covers spacious accommodations, a welcome amenity for kids, in-room breakfast, and late check-out (3 p.m.) on the day of your departure. Another family-friendly amenity? Budget-friendliness. You’ll find rates for under $200 USD per night depending on the time of year you visit! The hotel doesn’t charge any resort fees, either.
That’s a reasonable price to pay for a centrally located hotel that also features a Jack Niklaus-designed golf course with a clubhouse, a fitness center, a lovely spa, several onsite restaurants, and comfortable, kid-friendly accommodations.
Our Editor Loves
- Pool complex
- Free buffet breakfast
- Family Excursions package
- Connecting Rooms
- Free Breakfast
- Onsite Dining
Rooms & Rates
The hotel offers 182 luxurious guestrooms and suites with city or golf course views. All accommodations are equipped with coffeemakers, mini-fridges, and bathrobes.
Cribs are available upon request, as are connecting rooms. Note that tubs are not available in any of the rooms; the hotel offers spacious, heavenly showers instead. (Seriously, this may be the best shower of your life).
Guestrooms are equipped with one king or two double beds.
Suites are available in the following variations: King Executive Suite (extra space), Executive Suite Parlor (living area), and Master Suite (private terrace). The Executive Suite can accommodate up to four guests.
Went with a group of 18 golfers. Resort is beautiful and clean. The staff is very friendly and helpful. Breakfast buffet was great with many choices. The golf course was very well maintained and lovely. This is a five star resort.
This hotel had an exceptional staff. They were all very friendly and accommodating, making sure we felt welcomed and relaxed. There were several events going on at the time of our visit and we could tell they were extremely busy, but the staff didn’t waver from good customer service and they made sure we received our food and drink orders at poolside without delays. Robin van der Lee and her colleague at the front desk was very nice and extremely knowledgeable about where to go in the city and in the old city. The golf course was great and even though it was under a hot sun there were cool breezes making it a good place to play.
The hotel has a sprawling pool complex with plenty of lounge chairs and shaded areas -- it's the best place to be on a hot afternoon in Panama City! Kids will love the waterfall features.
Towels are available by the pool; there are no lifeguards on duty.
Mestizo Restaurant at The Lobby
Open between 6:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. daily, Mestizo is our top choice for family dining. The casual, airy restaurant offers a complimentary breakfast buffet complete with eggs, pancakes, bacon, fresh fruit, pastries and the like. Local dishes are also featured. Lunch, dinner and on Sundays, brunch, are served, and families can choose between indoor or outdoor seating that overlooks the golf course.
Mestizo offers both a kids' menu and a special Kids Corner brunch menu on Sundays.
Visit Ocean Prime for delicious steak and seafood entrees. It's open between 6 and 10:30 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday. Reservations are required.
Visit the onsite coffee shop for coffee, specialty drinks, and grab-and-go meals. Tip: Buy a bag of Geisha coffee as a souvenir or gift. It is the most expensive coffee in the world -- made from a bean harvested in Panama -- and is well worth the cost. It's also not too strong or rich in body. We paid about $40 USD.
AQVA Pool Bar
Head to AQVA for refreshing cocktails (or mocktails) and light, healthy bites. It's open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Kids' options are available.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Check-in time is 3 p.m.; check-out is noon.
Parking is valet-only; cost is $5 per day.
Located near the pool complex, the hotel's fitness center offers strength and cardio equipment. Cool towels and water are available. The gym is open 24 hours.
The Best Time to Visit
Panama's summer (high season) takes place between December and April. May to November is the rainy season, but don't let that deter you from a visit! You'll still enjoy sunny days, as well as lower rates at the hotel.
The Santa Maria is located less than 20 minutes from Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, making it a good place to stay the night before you depart or right after you arrive.
You're going to hit traffic in Panama City during rush hour -- there's no doubt about it. But generally speaking, this hotel puts you close to the city's top attractions, including Casco Viejo and the Miraflores Locks (Panama Canal). It's about 15 minutes to the center of town.
Visit the spa for a relaxing treatment! Many of the treatments are inspired by the Holly Spirit Orchid (Panama's National Flower). We highly recommend the Herbal Sachet and Stone Thermotherapy. The spa features a full-service salon, as well as yoga and Reiki classes.
The hotel has a Niklaus Design 18-hole, par-72 championship course.