The Gamboa Rainforest Resort in Panama, located where the Chagres River and Panama Canal meet, does not come to mind as a major business destination, but it has hosted conferences for corporations like Cola-Cola, Ford, General Motors, Philip Morris, along with some pharmaceutical and insurance companies within the past two years. One incentive for these companies to bring their meetings to Panama is that travelers don't have the hassles of exchanging money as the U.S. dollar is its form of currency, according to property officials. [more]
The Gamboa Resort is 70 percent corporate business and 30 percent leisure, according to Luis Antillano, resident manager of the Gamboa Resort. Many corporate meeting attendees received coffee breaks with massages, boat tours down the Panama Canal, access to the property's business center, spa and fitness rooms, and an opening and closing reception for an inclusive price of $200 per person.
Located within the Panama Rainforest, the massive but tucked-away resort offers complimentary breakfast and the rooms were practical for conducting business, equipped with wired and wireless Internet access. Every room had a small terrace with a hammock affording business travelers some--dare I say it--down time.
Although Internet access is not free, it could be negotiated in the contracts. Antillano said he typically hosts at least 10 meeting planners a year from the United States and despite the meetings business retracting in 2009, business is picking up again.