Since 2009, I’ve been working in the interior design industry. I’ve interned for a hospitality design company, worked in various furniture and fabric showrooms, and been an interior designer for a design-build firm. I decided to hang out my shingle and launch m studio interior design in 2015. And now I get to do what I love best: Design homes that are totally customized to the clients I work with!
As we get ready to plan some exciting travel and vacations this upcoming summer, a friendly reminder that a home away from home is always just as important as the place you call home. (Say that ten times fast!) While the design of our vacay stays are not a perfect replica of our own homes (and hey that’s sometimes what makes it a vacation, unless you’ve designed your own vacation home), it’s comforting to find accommodations with good taste and creature comforts.
I spent some time during the Thanksgiving holiday in Central America… Panama! What I love about traveling to Central America is the vast diversity of experiences. The city is so robust, filled with sculptural high-rise buildings, bustling with people, bright lights, casinos… and the famous Panama Canal of course! And while I regret not having time to do the Panama Canal tour, I still very much enjoyed all the glorious design inspiration! A short 45 minute flight from Panama City and behold the Caribbean and its gorgeous islands covered in palm trees, surrounded by sparkling teal-blue water.
Although a major contrast of scenery, the juxtaposition of the design palette found in our lodging was rather minimal in regards to the “flow” of a short-stay accommodation. The continuous use of the teal-blue color to compliment the ocean that surrounds both sides of the country was commonly used. So how does city & island life compare in Panamá?
Located in the heart of Panama City, the W Hotel by Marriott Bonvoy was maybe less than 25 floors high, but such a lively concept with plenty of visual stimulation as soon as you step out of the elevator lobby to the check-in desks! The W over an AirBnb in Panama City, Panama was a great choice- the location was central, it was incredibly safe… and there was so much design candy at every turn!
Regarding the room itself, the “Wonderful Guest Room” (yes, that’s what they actually call it)- is a really cool concept! As soon as I opened the bright yellow, high-gloss door, my design brain was going nuts on this loft-like experience with the dual-sided vanity sink that differentiated the “living quarters” from the “bathing area”. One of my fave features was the space-saving shower enclosure that was wrapped in a decorative decal, exposed to the rest of the living space- a somewhat monochromatic color palette with exciting pops of colorful accents in the upholstery and jungle-esque textures against the more modern decor.
Other faves that made our stay comfortable at the W Panama:
From Panama City to Bocas Del Toro! A bed and breakfast nestled along the coast within a jungle, The Firefly is one of the most quaint ocean-front places I’ve experienced. This place is quite secluded!
[How to get to Bocas Del Toro? We flew from the airport closest to Casco Viejo in Panama City, then from the main island of Bocas Del Toro took a shuttle and then a boat to Bastimentos.]
Back to The Firefly! Though only 5 total bungalows, the common areas of this bed and breakfast from the bar to the charming pool are so thoughtfully designed with an earthy palette and pops of that turquoise blue to compliment the natural beauty surrounding it.
We booked the Air Bungalow, the unit that sits highest up along the hillside. 2 small flights of wooden stairs later and just… wow…the view is spectacular. It’s simplicity at its finest with pleasant ocean breezes flowing through the windows. While the room itself is cozy with a boho vibe, there’s an airiness about it. Perhaps it is the fact that the bed is floating in the middle of the room with the headboard serving as the partition for the sink vanities. Or just the lighter finishes from the walls to the bed coverings that sit on top of the rich wood floors. The bathroom door handle was a detail I found intriguing and unique… and substantial to grip! Lastly, I LOVED the outdoor shower with its continuation of greenery and The Firefly’s signature turquoise tone that covered the shower walls.
Other faves design details that made our stay comfortable at The Firefly:
Both The W Hotel and The Firefly were spectacular! Each with their own individual charm. Could I choose one over the other?! Well, I suppose with my Filipino background, I could get real comfortable living that island life. Although the mosquitos love me, so that could get old pretty quickly!
I’d love to hear your thoughts! City or island stay, which of these 2 might you enjoy for your vacation?! Please share in the comments below!
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