After our weeklong visit to Panama City, we rented a car and headed west along the Pacific Ocean to Playa Coronado. We had a four-week rental in a swim-up 1 bedroom condo with unlimited golf, a gym, several pools, two restaurants, and a beach club.
About the Condo
After months of moving around in Europe, we were definitely happy to stay put for a while in a warm place with a full kitchen. We cooked quite a bit during our time in Coronado, mostly Mexican food.
Our condo at Coronado Luxury Suites was almost a 1 bedroom. I say that because the bedroom was separated from the living room by a set of louvered doors that weren’t really soundproofed but the condo had everything we needed. There was even a super long lap pool right outside on our patio. The pool was shared by six or eight condos but there was never anyone in it when we were. Most of the time we would jump in that pool after playing golf in considerable heat and humidity, sometimes in our clothes.
While we don’t usually talk about money, I have to tell you that our condo only costs $1300 for the month. Again, that included golf! We rented directly through the property manager Inside Panama. We do try to alternate super expensive accommodations with less expensive accommodations when possible, so this fits in nicely.
About the Resort
The biggest selling point for us, besides being a warm place to stay in November, was the unlimited golf. But the resort turned out to be fairly empty, even during the holidays.
Most of the Panamanian holidays are in November, so there were times when the facilities were a little full. This is because people come from the city for the holiday weekends. Even with the holidays, the Luxury Suites were very chill. We even went to the Beach Club one night for a buffet dinner and a show of traditional Panamanian costumes and dance.
I went to the gym frequently and I was almost always by myself and the equipment was ok. In addition to the gym, they had a spa near the main pool. Naturally, we booked massages right away. Boy, am I glad I did. Nabi, the massage therapist, was fantastic. She was able to work out a lot of scar tissue from my three leg surgeries. I had one massage a week while we were there and Mike had one every other week. Overall, our stay in Coronado was very therapeutic.
First, let me say rental clubs suck. Especially when they didn’t really have ladies clubs. I don’t think Mike had as tough a time as I did with the rental clubs. When I complained about the clubs, they just stopped charging me for them. But we did pay for Mike’s club rental and the cart each time we went out.
We tried to play nine holes three mornings a week. We usually told the pro shop that we were coming but it didn’t really matter when we showed up. It could also be very hot and humid, hence the short play. The pro shop was very close to our unit, making it a breeze to get out any time.
Big disclaimer here, I’m only playing from 150 yards out from the green due to prior injuries. It took me until our last week to really remember how to swing a club. It has actually been about four years (before my back surgery) since I’ve played regularly. Mike says his play is typically irregular.
Aside from the usual golf frustration, it was fun looking for interesting animals on the course. We saw lots of beautiful birds, some turtles, and a few alligators (maybe crocodiles) on the course. The latter made searching for lost balls around the water hazards difficult. While we did bring a few balls and our golf gloves to Panama, we knew we needed golf balls. Amazingly, after visiting four different stores that should have had balls, we couldn’t find any. We asked our landlord what to do and she told us to ask the groundskeepers to sell us some balls. They aren’t supposed to do that so we had to be very stealthy buying contraband golf balls, all the more fun.
The resort also had two restaurants and periodic live music. There were also two bars at the main pool. We figured out the first week that the golf course, gym, pool, and restaurants were part of a country club that any of the area residents could join. All the better for us as we had access to all of the club amenities. One of the restaurants was super fancy and we had a nice meal there once. The other restaurant is more casual and also does room service, which we used a few times. We even managed to catch happy our a couple of times.
There were some decent and not-so-decent restaurants nearby. One surprising find was how much Corvina (sea bass) dominated the fish section on menus. We expected more variety being so close to the ocean. You could get other fish at roadside stands, but little other than Corvina managed to make it to the restaurants.
It’s Not All Fun and Games
Contrary to popular belief, retirement isn’t always relaxing. We still have caretaking duties for both parents and kids. Financial management still has to happen for ourselves and the parents. This time of year requires a fair amount of tax optimization actions, too.
This blog that you are hopefully enjoying right now takes us 1 to 2 days a week to produce, even while we are moving. But the biggest time suck is travel planning. While we aren’t as cost-sensitive as we were in the past, we are still value-oriented and we want to get our money’s worth. This means we spend a lot of time looking at various travel alternatives, especially with hotels and apartment rentals.
I remember fondly when travel planning was fun and I could do it to break up my work routine. But let me tell you that figuring out where you are going to sleep every night and making sure you don’t miss a night is taking its toll. However, I might have that feeling right now because we are trying to plan further in advance for next year. But that also means we only book hotels that are cancellable.
Frankly, we were expecting more of the town of Coronado. We had heard that there were lots of ex-pats in this area and I thought there would be more infrastructure. The roads absolutely suck. They are full of potholes so everyone drives down the middle of the road (i.e. playing chicken until the last moment) or risks your shocks. There are lots of taxis around to take people shopping, but they don’t really know how to drive. We drove on our own since we rented a car for the duration.
There were two stores like Walmart, three grocery stores, and a few hardware stores. All in very modest strip malls. Still, Mike was able to get a new pair of glasses for a reasonable price and we found two gourmet-type stores where we could get more American and specialty items.
We would consider another long-ish “snowbirdy” stay in the future, but this is probably not a long-term place for us.
Would you like to visit Playa Coronado?