Forbes: Panama set to become new luxury travel destination
Panama is famous for its 100-year-old canal, but it has recently been put on the map as an emerging destination for luxury and adventure. The Latin American country now boasts the Soho Panama Mall in Panama City, the first subway in Central America, and an array of upscale hotels, including the InterContinental Miramar Panama and brand new Ritz-Carlton, Panama.
It boasts a 100-year-old canal, but now Panama is about to become known for more than its maritime history as its tipped to be one of the newest luxury travel destinations.
Panama is one of the fast-growing economies in Latin America and thanks to new developments, it is set to attract thousands more international travellers who are seeking luxury, adventure and tropical landscapes.
Last April, the Soho Panama Mall was launched in downtown Panama City. The luxury centre boasts worldwide fashion designers including Chanel, Versace, Burberry and macaron masters Ladurée, and it will also house 220-room Ritz-Carlton, Panama with two swimming pools, a spa and four restaurants when it open in late 2016.
Ritz-Carlton is due to open a second hotel in the Panama in 2018 under its Reserve boutique brand. The luxury hotel will open on Pearl Island, a pristine private island situated 45 miles south of Panama City.
Existing hotels are also getting a makeover, and the InterContinental Miramar Panama, which has been around since 1997, is undergoing refurbishments to its accommodation, lobby, and Club Lounge on the fifth floor.
The transport system in Panama is also improving and in 2014 Central America’s first subway was opened in Panama City. There are plans to add a second line that will connect Panama City to Tocumen International Airport.
Tocumen International Airport is building a new second terminal in a bid to double its capacity in 2017, and boutique shops like Carolina Herrera and Valentino are already open to travellers.
The iconic Panama Canal is being improved with a $5.25 billion expansion project. It’s the largest canal project since it was first constructed in 1914, and it will double its capacity when completed in 2016.
The Panama Canal is 77 kilometres long and connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The locks at each end of the canal lift the ships to the Lake Gatun, an artificial lake that was created to reduce the amount of excavation work required for the canal.
For sightseeing, holidaymakers can visit "Casco Viejo" (old town), to stroll through grassy areas and the 16th-century ruins of the first European settlement. The cathedral is well preserved and tourists can climb up 72 feet in its bell tower for breathtaking views.
Adventure-lovers can head to Gamboa Rainforest Resort, a half-hour drive from Panama City, and take the aerial tram 280 feet above the rainforest floor for stunning views of colourful flowers, trumpet trees, mountain figs and balsa trees.
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