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A Zoo, Chocolate Making and More: Families Love Buenaventura Golf & Beach Resort in Panama

by Teresa Bitler

Jan 25, 2020

Photo: Teresa Bitler

Destinations / Central America

Located in the Riviera Pacifica area about a 90-minute drive from Panama City, The Buenaventura Golf & Beach Resort offers everything a family-friendly resort should, including swimming pools, a kids’ club and dining options for picky eaters. But, that’s not all.


Buenaventura also caters to families, offering pony rides, sports camps, a chocolate-making experience and even an on-site zoo.


The Resort


One of Marriott’s Autograph Collection hotels, Buenaventura is surrounded by lush tropical foliage, a short walk from the beach. Families will appreciate having several lodging options to choose from, starting with the 527-square-foot standard room. Suites are double in size, but villas may be the best bet for families since they can be shared with another family, have separate bedrooms and come with a private pool.


The resort itself features 12 swimming pools, a playground and 10 bars and restaurants. There’s also a complimentary kids’ club for young guests (ages 4 and up) and a tiny museum, Mua Mua. The museum hosts family-friendly workshops on making feather hats, traditional bracelets and similar crafts. Ask the concierge for workshop dates and times.


Buenaventura. Photo: Teresa Bitler


Fun Stuff


The concierge can also arrange for a family-friendly Discovery Cacao Experience. Depending on the group’s size, interest and age, the program can be tailored to go into more (or less) detail about how Panamanian cacao is farmed, roasted, ground into a paste and formed into a bar. Chocoholics then get to make their own chocolate bar and customize it with candies, nuts and cookies.


If you’re traveling with an animal lover, make a point to visit the resort’s on-site zoo where they can see rescued monkeys, turtles, macaw, snakes, crocodiles and other indigenous animals. There’s also a farm yard with chickens, rabbits and goats you can feed. Horses and ponies are available to rent next to the zoo.


Sports at Buenaventura


In addition to the standard hotel gym located near the lobby, Bunaventura boasts a sports club with two soccer fields, three tennis courts (and two more on the way), a basketball court, volleyball court, squash court, diving pool and Olympic pool for laps. Day passes to access these areas plus the sports club’s gym are $20 per person.


The sports club also hosts bilingual soccer and tennis camps for kids. (The Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course holds bilingual golf camps.) Watch for packages combining June’s soccer camp for American players with a stay at the resort.


Not into organized sports? The resort provides complimentary adult- and kid-sized bike rentals, and you can fish or snorkel in the new marina. You can also rent ATVs and jet skis, request complimentary kayaks and standup paddle boards, or book parasailing or waterskiing adventures through the on-site tour company, Extreme Adventure Co.


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