Travel Courier
Issue Date: May 24, 2018

A casual escape

Relaxation and adventure await at Panama Jack Resorts


It all started with sunscreen. Since launching in 1974, Panama Jack’s product line has evolved to include sunglasses, clothing, hats, bags, accessories, and more.
But today, thanks to a partnership with Playa Hotels & Resorts, the brand has taken part in an even bigger evolution by stepping into the all-inclusive resorts market in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
“Last year, Panama Jack and Playa made a fusion, and since then, we created the new brand of Panama Jack Resorts,” explains Matias Klein, general manager of Panama Jack Resorts Cancun.
With 458 rooms including new swim-out suites with an infinity pool, Panama Jack Resorts Cancun is the very first Panama Jack-branded hotel in the world.
“The concept is basically to enjoy your vacation, it’s basically to have a carefree vacation,” he says. “It’s casual without strict rules. Just enjoy yourself, be a traveller, and that’s what we try to give our guests. It’s more casual, it’s more genuine, it’s more heart, that’s what we are.”
Although the property, formerly the Gran Caribe Cancun had its soft opening in December after undergoing multi-million dollar renovations, additional upgrades are still underway this year.
“What has changed? Basically, all of the decorations have changed,” he says. “We renovated all rooms, they’re all similar, all rooms have the same furniture, the same decorations, the same colours. And we renovated the whole lobby.”
In addition to new bars and a renovated restaurant, one of the latest additions is Panama Jack Coffee Co., which serves up coffee and baked goods to grab and go.
Although the look has changed, he says it’s the people who set the resort apart.
“The staff is our biggest asset in this property,” he says. “We can have the best decorations in the world, but without the staff, and without the service from our heart, it’s not the same.”

Possible day trips from Panama Jack Resorts include one of the many cenotes in the area like Ik Kil

There are inspiring lines and words of wisdom throughout the resort like ‘Travel is the search for belonging.’

What’s in it for you?
Rose Cosentino, vice-president, sales – Canada for Playa Hotels & Resorts, says there are many perks for the trade booking Panama Jack Resorts.
“Essentially, they are double-dipping (and in many cases triple-dipping),” she says.

Here’s how:
1. Travel agents earn the tour operator agent incentive (i.e. ACV+Me points, BonBon, Loyalty Rewards, Star Points) when they book any of the resorts.

2. When they register a booking (regardless of the tour operator), they earn AGENT CASH, which the company pays in USD. The rate starts at $30 per room and goes up to $160, depending on occupancy and room category.

3. Finally, agents who book three rooms at Panama Jack Resorts receive a complimentary three-night stay for two once their clients have travelled, as part of the Book 3 Stay 3 Free grand opening incentive at Panama Jack Resorts.

As for why clients should choose Panama Jack Resorts, she says the properties have undergone significant renovations and upgrades to the rooms, lobbies, restaurants and bars.
“We have enhanced the physical part of these resorts and enhanced the level of our guest experience that is loaded with fun and memorable experiences,” Cosentino says, adding the resorts are in prime locations in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. “At Panama Jack, our guests are travellers, not tourists, and they will very much appreciate the Panama Jack- lifestyle experience.”
Set to be completed by the end of the year, further updates to Panama Jack Resorts Cancun include the kids and teens area, the Italian and Mexican restaurant, upgrades to the wedding chapel and spa, and current renovations to the main buffet.

Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World


  • When you hear the bell ring, it means fresh cinnamon rolls are available at Panama Jack Coffee Co.
  • Featuring a traveller aesthetic, the lobby is a perfect spot for a selfie. The check-in area features vintage-looking suitcases, and there are inspiring lines and words of wisdom throughout like ‘Travel is the search for belonging.’ “I’ve been in the hotel industry more than 20 years, and believe me, this is the first time I’ve seen guests taking selfies at the front desk,” says Klein.
  • Jack is a real person – Panama Jack was founded by Jack Katz. “Jack exists, he’s a traveller, he loves to travel, he loves the vintage, he loves collecting, he loves these types of decorations,” he says.
  • Guests receive a one of a kind hand-painted keepsake with their stay. “Each guest the first night they receive a little gift,” he says. “This one is a turtle, it depends on the time of the year, we change it to hearts for St. Valentine’s Day, or to a turkey when we have Thanksgiving or a Christmas Tree. All the hand-crafts we giveaway are made by real Mexican people from Oaxaca. We’re not supporters of anything that’s mass-produced.”
  • There are daily activities to partake in, ranging from trivia or morning yoga to tequila volleyball or salsa dance lessons.
  • Panama Jack is now helping the Melipona Maya Bee Sanctuary, as the bees are in danger of becoming extinct. Guests can tour the sanctuary and even take home honey made from the stingless bees. “We’re grandfathers of some of the beehives,” he says. “They bring these hives to different communities in Quintana Roo for conservation and secondly for giving the people another way to make income, make resources for themselves with the right education about the bees.”
  • Upon arrival, guests are greeted with a popsicle in flavours like hibiscus or mango.
  • Cancun is a man-made destination. As local tour guide Alberto ‘Beto’ says “48 years ago it was a dream; today, Cancun is the most important tourism destination in Latin America.”
  • Panama Jack Resorts Cancun has a certified assisted turtle release program. Depending on the time of year, guests will be able to catch a release. “We are recognized by the authorities. Last year, we were parents of more than 8,000 turtles here at the resort,” Klein says. “We’re very respectful with nature. It’s part of our philosophy at Panama Jack that we need to do something for our planet.”
  • Weddings are huge at Panama Jack Resorts, with one of the only recognized Catholic wedding chapels in the area. “Weddings are very important to us. We have a team of six wedding coordinators that manage between 200 and 220 weddings per year,” he says.

There’s lots of entertainment on offer at Panama Jack Resorts

Let the adventure begin

Possible day trips from Panama Jack Resorts include…

Ruining it: A trip to the oceanview ruins of Tulum on Mexico’s Caribbean coast or the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The centrepiece of the popular archeology site is El Castillo.

See you at the cenote: With thousands of different cenotes (natural pits or sinkholes) in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico alone, there are countless options to choose from, but one that will please both photographers and thrill-seekers alike is Ik Kil cenote (featured on the cover) as it’s Instagram-worthy, and visitors can jump in from high ledges.