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October 20, 2009updated Feb 08, 2013

Le Meridien Opens First Hotel In Central America

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT) has announced the opening of Le Méridien Panama, the European rooted hotel brand’s first property in Central America. Set in the heart of Panama’s cosmopolitan capital city, Le Méridien Panama, owned by developers Bern Hotels & Resorts Panama, is a modern, contemporary building located on the edge of the Bay of Panama, boasting spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the Panama City skyline. Surrounded by the intimate cafes and chic galleries of Panama City’s vibrant Uruguay Street, Le Méridien Panama is within the city’s financial district and a short distance from Panama City’s major tourism attractions, such as the Panama Canal, considered one of the “Eight Wonders of the Modern World.”

“We take pride in this new hotel in Panama, as the property will be a key hotel for international travelers interested in exploring the modern and diversified culture of Panama,” said Osvaldo Librizzi, President of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Latin America. “The pipeline of Le Méridien hotels in Latin America has a focus on city centre hotels and resorts in leisure destinations to complement the brand’s footprint worldwide.”

“We are honored to open the first Le Méridien hotel in Central America and look forward to being part of the brand’s development into a contemporary lifestyle brand,” said Glen Champion, VP for Bern & Hotels and Resorts Panama.

Designed by renowned Panamanian architect Ignacio Mallol, Le Méridien Panama features a jaw-dropping double height entry with an overturned glass pyramid that reflects vibrant colors throughout the sleek black granite lobby. Offering 111 guestrooms, including 29 suites, the hotel also has 4,000 square feet of function space ideal for corporate meetings and events as well as intimate social affairs. In addition, Le Méridien Panama features a signature restaurant, Latitudes, by Panamanian Chef Anibal Chiari, a contemporary fusion concept of international cuisine that can seat 75 guests, including a communal table and private dining room. Latitudes also offers Le Méridien signature breakfast, which includes reinvented favourites with components developed by three-star Michelin chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Coffee Culture, a global program developed in partnership with illy caffè. The hotel also offers spa treatments in the Sensory Spa by Clarins with six treatment rooms and a fully-equipped fitness center and outdoor pool and terrace, overlooking the Bay of Panama.

“Le Méridien Panama marks a milestone in Le Méridien’s global re-launch and transformation into a lifestyle brand as we open in Central America for the first time and celebrate our 15th new Le Méridien hotel since Starwood acquired the Le Méridien brand in November 2005,” said Eva Ziegler, Global Brand Leader, Le Méridien and W Hotels Worldwide. “Le Méridien‘s vision is to transform the functional and transactional driven hotel experience into an emotional connection with our guests, delivering a new perspective through art and cuisine, the brand’s passion points, in a relevant way in order to attract a new, aspirational audience – the creative mind.”

Le Méridien Panama showcases the newly introduced global Le Méridien arrival experience, curated by international arts provocateur Jérôme Sans, the hotel brand’s cultural curator since 2006, and developed together with members of the LM100, Le Méridien’s family of cultural innovators. Le Méridien arrival experience, designed to make the first ten minutes of the guest’s stay memorable, consists of four signature elements, including the transitional portal, which is a visual and audio “wall” of art and sound at the entrance of the hotel that engulfs each guest to reset their minds, leaving the outside world behind for the world of Le Méridien; the sensory experience, illustrated through Le Méridien signature scent, sound and use of light, creating a unique and distinctive atmosphere; UNLOCK ART™ program, which features an artist designed key card collection that not only offers access to the guestroom but also to Le Méridien affiliated contemporary cultural centers; and lastly, the elevated experience, which transforms the event of riding an elevator into an “elevating experience” through sound.

At Le Méridien Panama the hotel’s transitional portal has been developed by artist and LM100 Member Younès Rahmoun. His role within LM100 originated when he was engaged by Le Méridien brand to create the art pieces, entitled “Zahara 77 Flowers,” “Nisf Sahâba” (Half Cloud) and “Sahâba / Massar” (Cloud / Rangelands) for various Le Méridien transitional portals around the world. The exclusive keycards at Le Méridien Panama, part of the UNLOCK ART program, have been created by American artist Sam Samore and provides guests with access to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC), one of Panama’s largest cultural and design institutions. The scent at Le Méridien Panama has been developed by LM100 members Eddie Roschi and Fabrice Penot from Le Labo, an innovative perfume company from New York, and the 24-hour music piece of the transitional portal and elevated experience has been created by LM100 member, musician and composer Henri Scars Struck. In addition, Le Méridien Panama has engaged local Panamanian artist Igor Kourany to curate artwork throughout the hotel, including a large piece at the entrance titled “Sky Dancers” that reflects the fiery colors and vibrant urban landscape of Panama City.

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