by Michael J. Shapiro | February 22, 2018
Panama welcomes its first Luxury Collection Hotel today in the form of the Santa Maria, a Luxury Collection Hotel & Golf Resort, Panama City. The 182-room urban resort is in an exclusive neighborhood next to the Costa del Este and Santa Maria business parks, not far from the airport and city center.
The property is filled with authentic Panamanian touches, such as the traditional Mola blankets on the beds, locally handmade baskets by the Embera community, reclaimed wood from Gatun Lake and a curated collection of artwork. Rooms offer both urban and golf-course views, and on-site amenities include a  spa, a fitness center, an outdoor pool and 18,000 square feet of naturally lit meeting and event spaces.
The Troon-managed golf course is a 72-par Jack Nicklaus-designed oasis, with 18 holes, rippling fairways and sculptured bunkers. Much of it is on display from various locations within the hotel, including the signature waterfall hole.
Among the resort's restaurants are Mestizo, which offers Panamanian cuisine as well as international dishes, and the country-club-styled Ocean Prime. 
Meeting space includes a grand ballroom, three breakout rooms and a private boardroom, as well as a variety of outdoor venues. A number of group activities highlight local experiences, such as the coffee tasting, in which participants sample exotic international brews as well as those made from Panama's unique Geisha bean. 
Custom tours include lunch at local restaurants and canoe excursions down the Chagres River to spend the afternoon with the local Embera community.