I am a traveler that depends greatly on reviews posted by others, whether it be for a local restaurant, a massage or a place to stay. It is very rare that I am not able to read through the fake posts from the company & their friends...in the case of Punta Caracol I clearly made a mistake and did not do my homework well enough as my girlfriend and I both arrived and immediately felt "duped" as the hotel is misrepresented online. I ask only that if you disregard this review, that you please please please post your own review upon your return as I guarantee you it will not be a positive one.
To preface my reviews: I travel extensively and have stayed in everything from a sleeping bag in a tent on safari to the most beautiful of Auberge resorts. When staying in a tent I know what to expect and plan accordingly (and pay accordingly!) and when staying at an Auberge property I also have a certain level of expectation, and recognize I will be paying more for the experience. Punta Caracol claims to have a high quality "resort", charges hundreds of dollars a night, and does not come anywhere close to living up to what they advertise.
The issues, from big to small:
* The rooms are damp and smell slightly like mildew
* There is only 12v electrical in the cabins and it is hard to see/read at night
* The hotel is on a sensitive septic system. Used toilet paper must be put into a garbage can that is emptied once a day. Mixed with the heat...not so nice at times.
* The cabins are old, the paint is chipping and mold spots are in the showers
* The food at dinner is poorly prepared. One must choose that morning between 2 or 3 options (most of which include frozen, chewy shrimp) and as someone who enjoys good food, I was shocked at the lack of flavor and poor preparation.
* There are hundreds of little black bugs (gnats?) that are hard to see and bite ankles and exposed body parts. Wear bug repellant.
* At dinner the staff has one mix on their iPod that includes Celine Dion (Titanic song) and it is the same music each night
* The hotel & wait staff (one in the same) are free to use their cell phones (even in the middle of meal-time) and many of them have the latest hip hop beats on their phone that competes with Celine Dion, not helping to make a romantic dinner (bad food, lots of biting gnats(?) and repetitive music)
* The water in the showers smells terrible (sulfur?) and the heat is inconsistent
* The coral surrounding the hotel is dead and there are only some fish when the hotel staff throws bread into the water)
* There are a handful of starfish in the immediate vicinity of the hotel...and many dead ones (black in color). If you venture out, beyond a stones throw, from the rooms there are no starfish and no mollusks (what they eat) anywhere to be found. This is not their native environment and I would not be surprised if the hotel collects them and throws them there every couple months.
* The housekeeping was washing a raft with soap and a hose and dumping huge amounts of soap into the water (which is clearly part of the reason why the coral is dead)
* The tea available is so old it literally doesn't steep even with two tea bags.
* To charter a 4-hour private boat tour we were quoted $60 at Hotel La Coralina (highly recommended) whereas at Punta Caracol we were offered 2-hours for $80.
* There was no reception person most of the day and when we tried to book massages we were told that they didn't have anyone and that we could rent a boat to go into town and try to find a place there.
I truly could continue to discuss the numerous small and large issues that I experienced with Punta Caracol. If, after reading this review and others, you decide to stay at Punta Caracol I can only urge you to please complete review upon your return (with photos, if possible) so that other travelers who also depend on review-sites are able to make an informed decision about where they stay.
Unique Quality: * The arial and exterior views (from a distance) of the individual cabins is great. Makes for a beautiful postcard.
* The isolation from the rest of the world, town, etc. is quite nice (although cabin fever can easily set in)
* The staff is nice
WE DIDN'T STAY HERE BUT WILL NEXT TIME. IT IS PERFECT FOR A COUPLE WHO WANT TO GET AWAY FROM IT ALL.
Unique Quality: THIS PLACE HAS NO AC, NO TV, NO INTERNET, NO RADIO....IT DOES HAVE BREAKFAST AND DINNER INCLUDED.
Directions: TAKE A WATER TAXI ABOUT 20 MINUTES FROM BOCAS DEL TORO
Private island off Bocas del Toro
Calle Primera, Bocas Town, Panama
2 Calle, Bocas del Toro
Punta Caracol, Panama
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Address: Punta Caracol, Panama