Location and Hotel
Q: In what part of Panama will the Year-end Vacation be held?
A: We will be at the Westin Playa Bonita Panama hotel in Panama City, which is the capital of Panama. The Westin is located in a private, secure compound situated along a semi-private beach, adjacent to the 340-acre protected Gamboa Rainforest.
Q: What is this area known for?
A: Panama is located on an isthmus that joins Central and South America. On the north is the Caribbean Sea and on the south is the Pacific Ocean. The official language is Spanish; however, English is spoken frequently. The Panamanian currency is the Balboa; however, the U.S. Dollar is used everywhere and is a 1 to 1 exchange with the Balboa. Located at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, Panama City is an international center of banking and commerce. Also, home to seven indigenous groups, this region of Panama is known for its ecotourism, whale watching, snorkeling, scuba diving and surfing.
Q: What is there to do and see in the area?
A: Casco Viejo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is nearby, along with Biomuseo (a bio museum designed by Frank Gehry) and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the only Smithsonian outside of the U.S. Walking tours of the Panama Canal, helicopter tours of the rainforest, an IMAX theater with a historic film narrated by Morgan Freeman, up close interactions with sloths in the rainforest, world-class shopping, along with coffee, chocolate and rum tours. Specific tour dates and times will be announced in October/November 2022.
Q: What is unique about the Westin Playa Bonita in Panama?
A: Located approximately 20 minutes from the airport, the Pacific side of the Panama Canal, and downtown Panama City, the Westin boasts a single tower with 22 floors and 611 rooms that either have ocean or rainforest views and is located on a private, secure compound. Its six restaurants range from Asian fusion fare to an international steakhouse, a pizza parlor, an ice cream parlor, and three cocktail bars. There is a swimmable beach, a full-service spa, three infinity pools and a myriad of physical activities such as yoga, pool volleyball, salsa and merengue dance lessons, aerobics, stretching and aqua fitness classes.
Q: Is it an all-inclusive resort?
A: Landmark will have an all-inclusive package that will include all meals, drinks, taxes and gratuities, except room service.
Q: Will I be able to use or get Marriott Bonvoy points?
A: Because this is a group reservation, Marriott Bonvoy points do not apply.
Logistics and Travel
Q: How do I find specific logistical information about traveling, the hotel and tours?
A: After you register, you will receive a Welcome email from our travel agent that will have all this information. In addition, a packet will be mailed to your home in late October/early November with additional information about excursions and traveling to Panama.
Q: What do I need to know about traveling to Panama?
A: Airlines may have specific requirements such as a negative COVID-19 test or mask wearing, and these requirements might change. You will fly into Tocumen International Airport (PTY). Passports are required for travel. Participants are responsible for adhering to any requirements and being up to date on what those are. Up-to date information is available at https://www.tourismpanama.com/plan-your-vacation/advisories/
Q: What is the best season to go to Panama?
A: The dry season is December to April and is the best time to see all the diversity in the country from heavenly beaches on both coasts, to rainforest trails, and the rich cultural fusion of 7 Indigenous Communities.
Q: What language is spoken in Panama?
A: Spanish is the official language of Panama; however, a large part of the population speaks English.
Q: Do I need to exchange money?
A: Panama uses the US Dollar as it legal tender, which is on par with the local currency, the Balboa. 1 US Dollar equals 1 Balboa Dollar.
Q: How safe is Panama
A: Panama is among the 10 safest places in Latin America and has easy connectivity with 89 direct flights from Europe, Asia, North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The Panama Canal is considered one of greatest feats of historical engineering and one of the wonders of the world, and security is constantly monitored. The Panamanian Ministry of Health has implemented Safety Protocols throughout the country including physical separation barriers such as protective glass or acrylic sheeting, hand sanitizer stations in the public places, lobbies and rooms are cleaned three (3) times a day, maximum capacity regulations for elevators must be complied with, etc.
Q: What about my electric appliances?
A: Panama operates on 110 volts
Q: When does the Year-end Vacation begin?
A: There is an optional Orientation on Monday, November 28, 2022, at 6:00 pm local time.
Q: When does the Year-end Vacation complete?
A: The optional Farewell Breakfast is Sunday, December 4, 2022, from 7:00 am to 10:00 am local time.
Q: What is the difference between the General and Parallel Sessions?
A: The five General Sessions are led by Tobin White and the Year-end Course Leaders and Co-Leaders and is where we will directly engage in the inquiry (which will be officially titled later). The five Parallel Sessions explore the theme of the Year-end Vacation from an alternative perspective and is a complement to the General Sessions.
Q: Do any sessions overlap?
A: Yes, the Workshops will consist of concurrent sessions (more than one session scheduled to start at the same time).
Q: Can I go to more than one at a time?
A: No, you can only attend one session/event at a time.
Q: Do I have to stay in the same session the whole time?
A: No, you are free to leave at any time; however, we highly recommend that you plan to stay for the entire session.
Q: What if I miss a session?
A: If you miss a session, we recommend that you connect with a fellow Year-end participant and ask them to share with you.
Q: Can a non-course participant attend any of the events?
A: Yes, your non-course participant may attend the optional Orientation, the Welcome Reception on the 1st night, the Welcome Dinner on the 2nd night, the Farewell Dinner on the last night, the Farewell Breakfast on the last day, and Evening Sharing held throughout the week.
Q: Will there be breaks?
A: Yes, the sessions are scheduled in a way that allow for breaks throughout the day.
Q: How can I find out who is registered?
A: There is a closed Facebook group just for registered participants: 2022 Year-end Vacation.
Q: How do I book excursions?
A: A packet will be sent to you from our travel agent at the end of October/beginning of November containing information for the excursions planned especially for the Landmark group. When you arrive at the hotel, you will be able to sign up for the excursion(s) you want.