First impressions often are lasting impressions. So, with apologies to Jack Nicklaus and his Nicklaus Design team, the first impression of the Santa Maria Golf & Country Club is the towering skyscrapers of Panama City, Panama, which look over the course like a mother bear protecting her young. It’s one of the many surprises that await visitors to the Central American country, best known for its canal, but offering so much more.
“It is one of the countries with the greatest biodiversity on the planet, including some of the most unique cultural attractions, including Casco Viejo, getaways to sensational beaches, islands, rainforests, diverse flora and fauna,’’ said Jose Ignacio Olea, the club’s general manager for the past two years.
Santa Maria Golf & Country Club, managed by Troon Golf, is the crown jewel of the beautiful Santa Maria Hotel & Golf Resort, located 10 miles from downtown Panama City and only nine miles from Tocumen International Airport. The hotel offers golf-view and city-view rooms and suites, in addition to five restaurants, swimming pool and spa.
“We want our clients to have a memorable experience while visiting our resort regardless of the reason for their stays,’’ Ignacio Olea said. “Our goal is for them to remember The Santa Maria Hotel & Golf Resort is a synonym for outstanding service, relaxation, luxury, and exclusivity, while providing a surprise factor to every guest during their visit.’’
The Santa Maria Golf Club (7,153 yards, par 72) runs on a 700-acre property, and is best know for its rolling fairways, immaculate greens and sculpted beach bunkers, each of which make it an ideal resort and members course. The course can be seen from nearly every area of the hotel.
“We receive a wide mix of golfers who visit our resort for different reasons,’’ Ignacio Olea said. “Many golfers choose Panama for their golf vacation getaways, while others book their round between business meetings.’’
Golf, according to Ignacio Olea, is beginning to play a bigger role in visitors’ decision to visit Panama.
“Golf is identified as one of the sports that have emerged and strengthened from this terrible pandemic,’’ Ignacio Olea said. “Our clients demand open, safe spaces and contact with nature now more than ever. It is a fashionable sport, and I believe that word of mouth in a relatively small country is facilitating the awareness of golf in Panama. In addition, both the Panama Golf Association and the professionals and members of the club are doing an excellent job promoting this sport and accelerating its growth.
“Panama is a diverse country that has a lot to offer. The stability of its U.S. currency, warm weather, and geographic location are key factors when identifying competitive advantages with other destinations.’’
Photo Credit: Santa Maria Hotel & Golf Club