Author Topic: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!  (Read 11011 times)

Offline Yordai Dooma

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #75 on: July 06, 2017, 01:31:25 PM »
Did you choose the Hilton because it was close to the shuls? I looked at the westin but seems its too far to walk to shul

Offline Denverite

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #76 on: July 13, 2017, 10:11:40 PM »
Did you choose the Hilton because it was close to the shuls? I looked at the westin but seems its too far to walk to shul

I picked it because of the location to shul, it was right on the waterfront, with an awesome pool on a high floor overlooking the water, and I could also walk to a number of kosher restaurants and markets.  If you want to use SPG points, just book the LeMeridian right next door to the Hilton.  ;)

Also, BarryLincoln, I'm giving you a shout out because I have it under good authority that you recently went to San Blas and I know everyone (including me since I didn't make it there yet)  would love to see some pics since it's never been in a TR, so even if you don't want to write up a whole big thing please just post some pictures here (other people, please feel free to to peer pressure him too)!  :P

Offline saw50st8

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #77 on: July 14, 2017, 01:11:51 PM »

Offline Denverite

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #78 on: July 14, 2017, 01:14:17 PM »
San Blas

When I click it says something like "this item is unavailable or you might not have permission to see it" :(

Can others view them?  Maybe I am doing something wrong.

Offline saw50st8

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #79 on: July 14, 2017, 01:14:46 PM »
When I click it says something like "this item is unavailable or you might not have permission to see it" :(

Can others view them?  Maybe I am doing something wrong.

Let me try something different.

Offline saw50st8

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Offline Denverite

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Offline yuneeq

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #82 on: July 16, 2017, 07:16:02 PM »
Anyone visited Pearl islands?
Live forever or die trying.

Offline Denverite

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #83 on: July 17, 2017, 09:59:00 PM »
Anyone visited Pearl islands?

My good friends did and they enjoyed it but they said San Blas was a whole other league...

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #84 on: July 18, 2017, 03:49:44 PM »
Wow, I just found this TR! Great write up so far. Looking forward to the rest. You may have convinced me to go there next time we go away.

Offline Denverite

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #85 on: July 18, 2017, 09:38:27 PM »
Wow, I just found this TR! Great write up so far. Looking forward to the rest. You may have convinced me to go there next time we go away.

Thanks! It really was great and it would be such easy travel from LA.  Hopefully I'll write up some of the Shabbat and other info soon!

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #86 on: July 18, 2017, 09:42:13 PM »
Thanks! It really was great and it would be such easy travel from LA.  Hopefully I'll write up some of the Shabbat and other info soon!
I know. I'm seriously considering it for our next vacation.

Offline Denverite

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #87 on: August 03, 2017, 04:40:22 PM »
Shabbat and Cancun Stopover on the way home:

Just a short little final installment.  We went to Shevet Ahim shul for Shabbat and there wasn't any kiddush there that week.  I just wanted to note that because others have been and had full kiddush lunches there but I wouldn't count on that.

Our return flight was early Sunday morning so we mostly just packed up after Shabbat.  I was having trouble finding good saver flights/connections for us back to Denver so I booked us on a Copa flight to Cancun, with two nights at the Westin Lagunamar and then a direct United flight back to Denver.  We arrived early to the airport but the line to check a bag for Copa was INSANE and in the future, if I have to check a bag I would only fly on Copa out of PTY if I was in J.  The line didn't move at all and was total chaos.  Because our tickets were booked with SQ miles we couldn't check in online and really I can't empasize how bad the experience was.  If you are returning home in Y, try your best to book a flight on United or American where they don't have crazy lines and (hopefully) are more efficient.  The only way we made our flight was my husband losing his cool and literally screaming at an agent to let us go to the Business Class line.  After that, immigration was also super slow so we ran to the gate and got there as they were boarding. 

Once we were on the plane, I think it was nicer than United and they had great IFE at each seat so my kids were super happy.  The flight to Cancun was quick and uneventful.  When we arrived there the airport had all the things that I was worried about in Panama (but never happened there), literally getting rushed by people trying to pretend they were with taxis, selling timeshares, just being shady and causing general discomfort, etc.  In the end we found a taxi and headed to the Westin Lagunamar.

Maybe because we were staying at a huge resort, right in Cancun not somewhere more secluded in Riviera Maya but Cancun was just not what I expected.  I felt like I was in Vegas on the beach and although I do love Vegas, it wasn't what I was expecting.  I guess I'm including this in the TR because SO many people RAVED to me about how great Cancun is before the trip and I just never felt the love.  The hotel was beautiful and huge but you definitely had to be out early to get a seat at the pool and I kind of felt like how I'd assume it feels to be on a cruise with a bunch of people I didn't want to hang out with yet couldn't escape.

Also, a warning to those staying at the Westin Lagunamar in the future.  I booked the larger Premium 1BR for our family of 5 and they are VERY strict about maximum occupancy (and I understand why after going to the pool in the afternoon and finding like one empty chair for my whole family).  They asked for our passports upon check-in and before I could stop him, my DH handed them all 5 passports.  The front desk lady made a big stink about having 5 people in the room and said that we'd have to pay for a 2nd room for an additional $350 a night!  I told her that I totally understood their policy and that they might not be able to accomodate us.  I pulled up my Hotels.com app in front of her, found a teeny room for like $40 on there and told my husband that he'd have to go at night and sleep there after helping us unpack!  :P

After seeing that I called her bluff and that there was ZERO chance of me paying for a 2nd room there she relented and said that they didn't want to separate us and would allow all 5 of us but that we'd HAVE to pay for the rollaway (for like $15...lol) so I thanked her, said I appreciated her trying "so hard" to help us and checked us all in.  :)  So again, just a little warning about the Westin Lagunamar and extra kids.  If you want to bring more people than allowed just be prepared for some real pushback from them. 

Ok, so why DO people rave about Cancun?  Because the water and beach ARE insanely gorgeous!  We had traveled to the Maldives just a few months before the trip and even though neither of us are really dying to go back to Cancun anytime soon we did both agree that the beach and color of the water were as beautiful as the Maldives.  Below are a few pictures of the view from our room and balcony.  It was a truly lovely view.












Some final thoughts.  If you are planning to book on Star Alliance, now that United changed their stopover policy, booking on Singapore Airlines enabled us to have this nice stopover in Cancun and if you do want to go to Panama and are having trouble finding flights in either direction, Copa has direct flights from NYC, ORD, SFO, LAX, Roatan island in Honduras (check out SomethingFishy's insane Private Island TR http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=81038.0 where he flew into there), San Jose in Costa Rica, Cancun and lots of other places that might be a fun stopover in either direction.  All in all, this was by far my least stressful family vacation since I've had kids, where we got to have some great adventures AND relax, eat well and have a lovely Shabbos with a minyan. I can't wait to go back to Panama B"H next summer!
« Last Edit: August 03, 2017, 06:21:25 PM by Denverite »

Offline BarryLincoln

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #88 on: August 03, 2017, 04:54:32 PM »
Great post!!

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #89 on: August 03, 2017, 05:24:23 PM »
Great conclusion to the TR. I really enjoyed reading it. Are you not going to share what you did in Cancun for your time there?