What a gem! The American Trade Hotel, unique design hotel, combines “Mexican modernity with Italian post-modernism” says Brad Wilson himself, president of the Ace Hotel Group. Recipient of the 2014 Wallpaper* Design Award, home of many stylistic influences and temple of impeccable taste tinged with environmentally friendly touches, it rises on Plaza Herrera, in the heart of Casco Viejo, Panama City’s historic district, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997. A perfect place to settle down and let time fly.
A slow design
This unique concept, result of Conservatorio Panamanian real estate group – dedicated to Casco Antiguo’s renewal – and the Ace Atelier – the Ace Hotel Group’s creative team – is absolutely stunning. The interior design is inspired by Casco Viejo’s colorful history, reflecting its mix of cultural influences. The neoclassic exterior façade has been refurbished by Leonardo Villanueva Mayer, famous Panamanian architect.
The courtyards and the private library are inspired by Moroccan gardens and Colombian haciendas. We especially love the charming view of the neighborhood from the pool’s so chic terrace, small navy-blue pond of great beauty.
The lobby, the restaurant and the café, accessible from the inside – hallmark of the Ace Hotels – offer a menu imagined by Chef Clara Icaza, and plunge guests into an enchanted Eden. The furniture, placed in a minimalist tropical environment or straight luxuriant, adopts a style sometimes industrial French, sometimes modern Mexican, or colonial ranch.
The exquisite rooms unveil a beautiful view and offer an absolute sense of comfort and impeccable taste. We love the hotel’s kind thoughts; Radio Monocle broadcasting jazzy tunes, Fretten Linen high-quality sheets, The Travel Almanac magazine slipped in a drawer, Aesop cosmetics, sweet candies put on the night stand every night. What a pleasure to sit on the balcony and appreciate all this luxury…
A committed hotel
The American Trade Hotel has been thought of in a responsible way and is highly committed to the Panamanian community. Many “green” practices have been incorporated during the design and development of this old restored building. For example, all the wooden floors and furniture have been conceived with recycled wood coming from Hurricane Felix, or from the submarine forest exploitation of the Panama Canal. The hotel has also joined forces with Foundation Calicanto, which has developed several programs aimed at training women and former criminals or gang leaders to the tourism industry.
A little history
American Trade Hotel’s society of real estate development was founded in 1971 by Ramon Arias Feraud, one of the current owners’ great grandpa. By the time the construction of the canal was coming to an end, this neoclassic building was considered Panama’s first modern skyscraper. In the 50’s, rich locals left the area for prosperous suburbs, followed in the 60’s and the 70’s by the middle-class, escaping the dictatorial regime and leaving Casco Viejo in a great instability. In 2000, the American Trade building was completely abandoned and occupied by bandidos who used it as a watchtower overlooking the neighborhood. It’s only in 2007 that the Conservatoria bought the property to make it the Panamanian gem where the well offs and the arties are now rushing.
Casco Viejo still looks as if it was in a transition phase, full of contrasts, where ruins stand alongside charming cobblestone streets, colonial or neoclassic mansions and a few Art Deco and Afro-colonial architectural treasures. A diversity modeled on the country’s own history which, including the construction of the canal, has mixed together a myriad of ethnic groups and cultures, now deeply rooted in the city.
Discover Casco Viejo by night
You’ll find all our good addresses in this Air Transat guide, including the highly select Danilo’s Jazz Club, nestled in the heart of the American Trade Hotel.
Booking and information: American Trade Hotel.
Room from $250 per night.
Photo credits: American Trade Hotel, Laure and Livia.