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Transat Holidays’ seems to be the major Canadian supplier offering non-stop flights from Winnipeg to Panama this year.

for those who have not considered this destination because of distance or lack of knowledge about it, it really is too bad!
It is an area with a
tremendous opportunity to develop a very large and successful tourist product.
We vacationed there last year and it was an excellent find for us.
During our stay we
chose to stay at a beach resort for four days and spend the last three nights
in the city. It was an excellent decision because, while the beaches and resort
were excellent, Panama City is an education unto itself. 

UNESCO has recognized the
historic district of Panama and the archaeological site of Panama Viejo as World
Heritage Sites.
Panama Viejo, founded
in 1519, is the oldest European settlement on the Americas Pacific coast.
Second only to the
Panama Canal the Old Quarter of Panama, as it is identified, has become
extremely popular with tourists who come to see the historic buildings, some
still needing refurbishment, but many being restored to their original lustre
and magnificence.
Going forward this
will become a prime global attraction.

With huge modern
skyscrapers as a backdrop to the Old Quarter, the city offers a kaleidoscope of
progressive design interspersed with traditional architecture.
With the Panama Canal
as its foundation it has become the financial and business hub of the region.
It, once again, is the headquarters for one of the world’s largest construction
projects for the second time in its history, as the biggest companies in the
world begin the expansion of the canal that forged its place in world commerce
decades ago.
The other option that
is available to those interested in visiting Panama is a combination package
that includes a beach stay as well as a few days in the Gamboa Rainforest.
Feedback from those
who have selected this experience say the jungle adventure on the aerial tram
and the visit to Monkey Island were particularly satisfying.
But in the end the
primary motivation for going to Panama in winter is for a beach resort
vacation.
Most of the popular
beaches in Panama involve up to a two-hour motor coach ride from the airport,
which can be quite tiring after a long flight. Once at the resorts however,
guests are warmly greeted, invited to dine, and are welcomed into excellent
rooms with all the expected amenities.

While Panama is a
country that has been hosting tourists for many years, in some ways it is just
beginning the development of the name-brand resorts we find in Mexico and the
Caribbean. Considering the fact that there are almost 2,500 kilometres of
coastline which can be developed we can expect to hear more and more about them
over the years.
The reason Transat
Holidays pulled out was not because of lack of interest from Manitoba, but
rather a shortage of the kind of quality accommodation tour operators demand
for their clientele. They still offer the destination from Calgary, Toronto and
other gateways but could not accommodate all of the full flights that could be
sold from Canada.
We stayed at the Royal
Decameron Resort, which is in high demand because of the casino on its grounds,
and its own golf course very close by it.

The resort itself is
composed of a series of three story structures which were once military
barracks. The resort sprawls over two kilometres of fine sand beach offering 10
restaurants, eight of which are a-la-carte. For those choosing the two-week
options, this can be really important.
The beach may be long
but 11 bars on the resort property, a number close at hand to the beach, make
it easy to stay and tan for most of the day.
There is always a lot
to do on the resort with an abundance of water sports offered during the day, a
discotheque that goes deep into the night and an entertainment program every
evening in an outdoor theatre.
While we chose to stay
right on the resort, guests can stay in accommodations right on the golf course
adjacent to one of the fairways, and an easy walk to the clubhouse. They have
access to all the restaurants and other facilities of the resort or can book a
housekeeping option as well.
A short shuttle ride
to the golf course for us was always available, and we were able to join other
Canadians, Americans, as well as the occasional South American guest as golf
partners. Panama is a popular destination for many of the countries south of
the Panama Canal that use the beach for the same kind of escape from work that
tends to refresh most of us enough to face the coming year.