Wednesday, October 3, 2012

So Much More

The InterContinental Playa Bonita.
The Westin Playa Bonita is to the right.
When you think of “Panama”, what comes to mind? The canal, of course. And maybe Panama hats, or maybe even rain forests and Manuel Noriega. But this week, I got a first hand chance to see that Panama is all that, and so much more! I just returned from the 4-day inaugural meeting of the Bern Hotels Advisory Board – affectionately dubbed the “Bern Brain Trust”. This is a group of incentive travel and meeting industry leaders who were invited by owners Herman Bern and family to experience everything Panama has to offer, especially to those groups looking for a truly unique and exotic destination. The Bern Hotels collection includes the fabulous Westin Playa Bonita (the second largest Westin resort in the world), the InterContinental Playa Bonita’s newest luxury retreat, Villa Bonita. The trip which focused on equal parts networking, fam trip, and customer feedback sessions designed to help Panama - and the Bern Hotels Group in particular - develop the country’s image as a world class incentive and meeting destination. We visited the new Panama Canal “Panamax” expansion site, explored the fabulous Gamboa rain forest resort, took an excursion train from Panama City to Colon on the Atlantic coast of the country, got a sneak peak at the new amazing Biodiversity museum, and enjoyed fabulous cuisine and hospitality courtesy of the Bern family. It was a wonderful experience!
The pool area at the Gamboa Resort adjacent to the Panama Canal.
The pool area of The Westin Playa Bonita's new spa.
The construction of the new, larger, Panamax canal at the mouth of the Caribbean.
The new, wider canal will accomodate today's largest cruise ships and tankers.
The Biodiversity Museum
Panama has so much to offer as an incentive destination, from natural rain forests and native tribes, to Panama City’s world class restaurants, clubs, casinos and nightlife. And the close proximity to the United States allows many groups to leave the US in time to have lunch on the beach at one of the Bern resorts. The entire Bern family and staff represent the epitome of gracious hospitality, which is immediately felt in each of their unique resort properties.

Come visit Panama’s more than just a much more!

One of Panama City's many private marinas.
The downtown skyline can be seen in the background.
You can travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific in 55 minutes
on this train that runs adjacent to the Panama Canal.
Panamanian folk dancers greeted us at the closing reception.

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