Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I attended a Ball at Playa Bonita Resort & Spa. It was lovely. Everyone was dressed to the nines and I was able to wear a very special dress. (Click for details).

Playa Bonita is located not far from Panama City overlooking the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal close to Fort Kobbe (Howard Air Force Base). Playa Bonita boasts of beautiful sunsets and private beaches. They also have a very nice arrangement of pools. I found the staff and security to be pleasant and welcoming and saw many tourists checking in/out when I arrived. They all appeared to have cheerful dispositions but this could be either due to their stay or to the sight of our crowd donned in gowns and tuxes. They offered a special deal of $150 (+tax) for 2 adults including breakfast.

Sources tell me this resort is located in what was known as “one of the most dangerous areas of Panama.” Apparently when the air force base was active this kept criminal activity at bay but this base was closed November 1999 when it was turned over to the Panamanian authorities. The night of the ball, a separate source had an unwelcomed visitor at 2:00 a.m. enter their room while they were still inside. I don’t have any more details then that. Honestly, it could’ve been just another intoxicated guest somehow entering the wrong room.

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This resort is also where Palo Seco (“Dry Sick”) Leper Colony was located until 1972. I didn’t see that in any of their brochures but this was more of a spa-like leper colony where lepers were coming out of the wood works trying to become residents due to this facilities services. It was established by the Americans but Panama paid 75 cents a day per patient to the U.S. for provided housing, food, and care. Dr. William Gorgas (1915) stated “We established a colony on a beautifully located peninsula running out into the bay… they could have gardens, chickens, fruit-trees…the location is naturally one of the prettiest on the bay.” (source)

Regardless of history, on the surface this was a beautiful resort. Stay if you find a good deal for the night; check it out for yourself. Enjoy the pools and the beaches but DON’T go in the water. Most tourists are unaware of the water’s sewage like qualities but the locals know better and venture further away from the city to enjoy cleaner beaches. Don’t worry there is an ongoing Bay Sanitation Project funded through a loan from Japan to address the untreated sewage of 330,000 cubic meters/day that flows into the rivers depositing into the Panama Bay. (source)


Ivo Serentha and Friends said...

My compliments for your blog and pictures included,I encourage you to photoblog,


Even week another photo album

Greetings from Italy,


TheWordWire said...

What a beautiful place -- such a shame about the water quality. Hopefully the treatment project will restore it for the people who live there. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

cool place!!

Anonymous said...

I used to go there all of the time when I was stationed at Ft. Kobbe (about a mile up the road. Your info on the leper colony is wrong though, it was further to the south. Where Playa Bonita is located used to be a public beach with a huge shark cage to protect swimmers, it used to be a nice place to swim. The tides there go way out leaving tidal pools with creatures from the sea trapped in them.

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