Rocking the Crossroads of the Americas
by Susan Campbell
There’s never been a better time to visit this exciting and cosmopolitan city as it aims to become a major contender as the most inviting region in Latin America.
Enjoy a Rock Star Stay
Towering above the newly vibrant metropolis at 66 floors high, Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis is a perfect roost from which to sample the very best this city has to offer. My 44th floor “Rock Star Gold Suite” afforded insane views of the Pacific Ocean and stunning skyscapes on either side from a massive balcony. The suite itself was also massive- two living areas, a large dining room, two bathrooms, a kitchenette and an inviting bedroom- far too large for one person. With both couches doubling as sofa beds, it could have comfortably slept four to six. I should have brought some buddies. But the constant videos on their Hard Rock channel on two 42” TVs, plus the oversized likenesses of musical legends John Lennon and Jim Morrison did keep me company.
However, beyond enjoying room service there, I was not in the room that much, there was too much to experience on the property. But I did spend some quality time there with the complimentary loan of a snazzy Fender Guitar, amp and headphones they offer as part of their “Sounds of your Stay®” program. Playing rock classics on my balcony with that inspiring view was incredible. Really rock star living. If you don’t play- there are guitar lessons on their video, or you can also order a digital mixer with a preloaded playlist if being a dynamite DJ is more your style. Very cool perks. This was my first stay at a Hard Rock brand hotel, and I have to say, it really did rock!
Awesome On-Site Amenities
The first place to head is the infinity pool on the 15th floor. The Float Bar serves up cool concoctions and tapas and even hookah pipes to the sun worshipping guests enjoying the rays and the waves in the infinity pool and the covered cabanas and luxe lounges. There are also four hot tubs to soak in while you take in the sensational skyline views, but do claim your spot there early as it fills up fast. A DJ keeps the spot bopping right up until 8pm when the pool closes and guests carry on to dine or pursue more electric nightlife on site.
Dining on site is eclectic- you have the main buffet Bazaar- a huge room with al fresco options available beside the pool area- breakfast lunch and dinner buffets plus special themed evenings with a la carte choices. I found the presentations always gorgeous but sometimes found the food a tad bland in the main course options. However, the dessert wall was always out of this world.
Finer dining choices are to be had at Soy- a Pan-Asian affair and Tauro- a high-end steak house dedicated to rock celebrities that were born under the sign of the bull. Their craft cocktails were inspired and my steak was first rate, but my favorite dining choice of all was Ciao.
Located just above the lobby on the 2nd floor, I adored their vibe and open-concept kitchen with seriously creative tapas and artisan wood oven fired pizzas. It’s all cozy couches and comfy banquettes, very inviting, and the food was always fabulous. Their sense of play was also apparent with menu items called things like “The Sweet Bastard Burger”- a decadent tower of deliciousness.
Nightlife was also eclectic, and they often have big special musical events- live or DJ-driven being a Hard Rock Hotel after all. The Stage bar on the second floor often has live music, and offers a casual and intimate setting for artists, while Bling goes straight to the heart of old disco glam replete with stainless steel dance floors and laser light city. (They also play today’s music as well). And Austin Powers would feel right at home in the Who R U lounge anteroom with plastic bubble chairs and zebra carpeting. And the lobby bars can also get lively, especially during a soccer match.
But the real spot to take the night to the absolute heights is at BITS up on the 62nd floor. It’s a magnificent maze of indoor and outdoor bars and venues and rooftop open-air lounges where the night light scene of the city is unparalleled. The vibe swings between pop and techno to Latin and rock, depending on where you stop, and the private rooms are where the real VIPs take roost. It’s also open to the public for a cover charge; hotel guests are admitted free.
And all throughout the hotel is the added bonus of constant classic rock tunes as your musical backdrop and a superb selection of memorabilia popping up everywhere courtesy of real rock and pop legends… costumes worn on stage, musical instruments, and even Bono’s Austin Mini car in the lobby signed by the legend himself. And there is also a Rock Spa, a Rock Shop, a fitness center, comprehensive convention facilities and stand-alone teen’s and kids clubs.
Should you need anything else, the hotel is also connected to the Multicentro – one of the largest most modern malls in the downtown core – with four floors of shops, dining, bars, cinemas, a two-floor casino and a very large supermarket. So everything you could possibly need is just steps away from your suite. The location is ideal. And it’s also mere minutes away from the region’s top attractions including the famous Panama Canal, the cool new Frank Gehry Biomuseo, and the charming and fascinating old city (Casco Viejo) – a UNESCO World Heritage site.
And as far as my first stay at the Hard Rock Hotel brand? I’m now officially hooked on their fun and funky style and the way they really know how to do VIP treatment right. I can’t wait to experience their resorts in other destinations worldwide.
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