More about Intercontinental Playa Bonita Resort & Spa
Ugh - Bugs Galore
I stayed at the Playa Bonita in May during rainy season and it was horrid. Not completely the fault of the hotel, but it was rainy season and we barely had enough sun to go out to the pool. And even if you did, you probably didnt want to because as soon as you stepped out doors, you would be plagued by mosquitos. I had to be careful everynight going into my hotel room to make sure that no mosquitos went into the room with me. There were dead bugs all over the place. I think this has more to do with Panama itself however.
The food at the hotel is also nothing to write home about. Bland and not interesting.
Though i would say the playa bonita is not bad, it is far from the city, the rooms that open to the outdoors is pretty to look at but not good if you are prone to mosquito bites like me. I had 20, they botched up my legs and to this day (2 months later!) they are still itching.
After hearing terrible stories about this hotel, we were a bit hesitant about going ahead with our vacation. I wrote to the hotel and received a reply back instantly reasurring me that the hotel was not in the state of disrepair that I had read.
We are so glad that we decided not to listen to the negative comments about the Intercontinental Playa Bonita in Panama. We loved our stay. If you see a vacation to this hotel at a reasonable price, book it as we did because in a year or two this new hotel will be out of the price range of the average tourist. During our stay, the hotel manager contacted us to see if we were happy that we had gone ahead with our holiday and with the hotel. This speaks volumes as to how important the staff at this hotel view their responsibility to thier clients.
There were still some rooms in the hotel being completed during our stay but there is so much that is truly beautiful here that you didn't notice the noise. The main foyer of the hotel is grand as are the convention facilities.
Continually re-evaluating the needs (future and present) of the hotel guests, management decided to put in an additional swimming pool in conjunction with the rooms that were being added. This will not be a resort where you have to fight for a spot in the pool. We understand that a golf course is in the future plans adjacent to the hotel.
Our room was exquisite. All rooms in the hotel look out to the ocean. From your room or a beach chair, from quite a distance, you see ships entering and exiting the Panama Canal. We also visited the Panama Canal and it is really an amazing engineering accomplishment.
The buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner provided a wide variety of choices that catered to all tastes. The desserts were to die for. If you like Pina Colada, the bartenders at Playa Bonita make some of the best that I have tasted. I really enjoy a cold beer when I'm enjoy sand and surf but I couldn't resist the temptation of their Pina Colada's.
The staff were still experiencing growth in their English. However, during the two weeks of our stay, we marvelled at how quickly the staff picked up English as well as French. Additionally, many of the staff had never worked in a hotel of this calibre (or a hotel at all). Within the 2 week period, it was evident that they were pouring their heart and soul into being successful. It was quite a learning curve for many and I'm not sure that I would have been able to do it as quickly if the roles were reversed.
We notice that any problems that were brought to the attention of the staff were handled quickly. I got sick (throught no fault of the hotel) while I was there. The front desk staff contacted a doctor for me, who came to the hotel. My prescription was given to a courier who drove away and got it filled and brought it back to the hotel. All this was handled within 1 1/2 hours. I was better within 3 days and able to enjoy much of my holiday.
The pool at the hotel is very beautiful and refreshing. Having worked in the pool industry, I can tell you that it was also very clean. Our preference was to sit on the beach chairs down on the sandy beach and swim in the ocean or just watch the hermit crabs at play. The water is not clear here as you see in the Caribbean but it was great to swim in and I loved it. I'm not sure where comments come from about there being no beach. The beach stretches as far as the eye can see and there are shells galore.
We took advantage of the hotels free kayaks and kayaked around the point, which was really lovely. You can stop at a couple of different little inlets. The hotel also offers group kayak outings and beach walks.
While we were there, nightlife was quiet. There were no loud discos or night parties. However, that was okay as we were looking for something quiet where we could relax and rejuvenate. Unfortunately, the Spa was not open but in looking at the space that it was to occupy and the view one will behold while experiencing a massage...it will be wonderful.
Would we go again...yes. Would we recommend this hotel and Panama to anyone else...YES. Having been to Thailand, Bali, Mexico, Barbados, Cuba, Dominican Republic and most of the US, I have to say that Panama is right up there as one of my favorites. Thailand and Barbados are my most favorite but I enjoyed Panama ahead of the rest of the pack.
If you have questions or you are unsure, feel free to contact me by e-mail and I'll see if I can answer your questions email@example.com. Enjoy!!
Loved Resort and Staff
The resort and spa offer individuals with both excellent services ranging from wonderful meals prepared for guest at the Plantation Cafe, Pelican Grill and the Lighthouse Bistro. The staff the Cascade Lobby Bar were friendly service providers both in English and Spanish languages. All employee at the resort greeted you with ola or Hello. It did not take long to let the worries and pressures of life to leave and allow you to truly enjoy the Panama experience.
The Spa provided a wonderful range of services such as, massage therapy, body treatments, facials, baths, and a most wonderful chocolate escape signature treatment. Something that every women should experience at least once in their life. The Resort provides the die hard exercise enthusiast with a gym to work out in that overlooks the the entrance to the Panama Canal. At night it looks as if there is city lights in the horizon.
The total experience is what you make it yourself. Look at the tide both when it is in and when the tide is out. Nature has lots to offer. This experience can be further enhanced if one chooses to partake of the excursions. It is truly important to at least take the city tour and canal to get the feeling of the true contrasts of Panama City. The Embera Indegenous Community excursion provided a wonderful expererice of the people and the rainforest. You get to travel a trail through the jungle and swim at a beautiful waterfall that also provides one with a free therapeutic massage by the falls itself. The hospitality of the Embera people and hand crafts are truly beautiful. The Jungle Boat Tour allows you to view the passage of great ship passing through the canal and view the birds and wildlife of the rainforest. The traditional meal prepared by local people on the houseboat was very good. There was time to canoe and swim so bring you swim suit.
An important item to purchase for the Embera and Jungle Boat tours is a good pair of water shoes.
If you are more enclined to take on the challenge of the concrete jungle there are many wonderful malls. The can range from designer malls to the mutli-level affordable malls. A further note *The Hard Rock Cafe in Panama has great meals. The Locals can provide all sorts of valuable information. If you have not driven in Panama it is a good idea to utilize the services and knowlege if the cab services from the resort. The drivers wait for you and you are returned back to the resort. The taxis out of the resort have more mechanically reliable vehicles. If one chooses there are the buses (beautiful artwork but not so safe)but you need to be quite aware of your stop and they can be quite crowded. Talk to the staff at the resort and they will not steer you wrong.
If you interested in handwork items such as handwoven baskets, carvings, purses, paintings, clothing, jewellery, hats etc. try the YMCA. There are many vendors selling there wares. The prices are about 1 for every hour of work put into the item. It can give you a true appreciation of the talent of the people of Panama.
You can be in the most beutiful place in the world if you allow yourself to relax and experience it. The tourism is in its infancy and the airport is small (which is great) but things will not remain this way for long. The city is growing in leaps and bounds. Property values will be increasing. Take advantage of the affordability of travelling to Panama.
With the Canadian dollar being at a 14 year high the exchange to American dollars that is also used as currency in Panama is another benefit to travel to Panama now.
The rainy season is starting soon. Look into the best time to travel there. I believe it is from December to the end of April. I could be wrong so check into this with your travel agent. I would like to thank Simon from Nolitours for all his expertize with arranging the tours for both myself and my husband.
If you go to Playa Bonita Resort and Spa say hello to Chriss and Joel at the Cascade Lounge Bar. from William and Susan.
RELAX and Enjoy.
Great Upscale Quiet resort for Married Couples
Just a little profile of me, so you know if your in my "middle class" before you read my report!! I'm 34, married and have 2 kids under 6 yrs. I'm an autoworker on the line making Chrysler products in Windsor, Ontario and live in a home valued approx. $160,000.
My wife and I just went to the Intercontinental Playa Bonita from March 6 to the 13th from Toronto airport. If you use the paking garage at Pearson, it will cost you appr. $125 for the week plus a day.
The plane had leather seats with 3 rows of 3 holding about 340 people and was full. There is 6 bathrooms and the breakfast was a Wendy's egg,ham,and cheese sandwich. On the way home, it was a Subway Sub, roastbeef or vegetarian. Both meals were okay and better then the traditional plane meals in my opinion. Snacks (miss vicky chips $2.00) and alcohol (beer, shot bottles $5), could be bought if desired.
The Tucomen Airport just outside of Panama City is under construction (expanding), but is just as nice as Pearson but much smaller as it only has 1 Terminal right now and 1 runway. There is lots of shops for Duty free alcohol and munchies, clothing, electronics,cigs and cigars. I got a 2- 750ml pack of the Panamanain Rum ABUELO for $10 U.S. and 2 Crown Royal 750 ml each for $13 US each...much better than on the Jet 1L for $25 Can.
To get to the resort, you get on an A/C bus that holds about 40 and have to travel through the heart of Panama City to get to the resort, same for the Decameron and playa blanca or any that you have to cross over the Panama Canal to get too. It does take about 45 minutes to get too the resort.
I'll just add to this report, what I feel other people should of said already in their reports on this site! The reception area is pretty fast and there was alsays atleast 1 person that spoke good english. We were in our room in about 15 minutes. Ours was 401 which is right next to the elevators. The larger the single numbers to teens, the farther away from the elevators. The rooms are quite nice...we had a double bed in our room but it is quite comfortable for 2 to sleep in. If you need a flat pillow, bring it; these pillows are thick. The safe is electronic and you just type in your own code to lock and unlock it. It could hold my wife's purse, our camera, sunglasses, passports and we still had lots of room in it and is free to use. The sink in the bathroom had hot water very quickly as it had a electronic heater right under the counter; very modern. Showers were large but water pressure on the 4th floor anyway, was weak, especially after 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at "peek" time. Shampoo (2in1), lotion, soap, shower cap, slippers, robe, wash clothes, 4 bath towels per day all supplied. Yes there was a powerful hairdryer too, and coffee maker. Snacks and anything in bar fringe are extra cost...a lot extra!!
Look for Mercedes Lopez in dining area, very helpful for any questions you may have for tours etc...Thanks, Mercedes!
Food! The selection, looks small, but really don't need anymore then what's there at any of the meals. We feel you should use all the a la carte meals. At the Pelican Grill, I had the Sea bass which had very little fish taste with fries...excellent! the appetizer I had was shrimp (very small), in avacado sauce..not bad but served cold. At the Plantaton Cafe, I ordered the filet mignon with steamed veggies and mashed potatoes....Excellent again. If you want your meat well done, make sure you suggest it, because it is so thick, it will still be pink inside!! At the Lighthouse Bistro, we had an assortment of fancy little dishes. I believe the meal changes every night and we felt out of our league here and did't really like the meal and still felt hungry after..can't even really tell you what we had; just tried it and hoped you could eat it.
Pool and Area was just gorgeous, clean and the wait staff here even served you at the pool when you were sun tanning. The Beach is in my opinion, unswimmable, but excellent for finding shells for the kids and exploring. Kayacking is a must and do go around the point (right side), as there is some private beaches around the point and look very clear and clean. You will see tropical schools of fish close to those shores and I wish I did have a snorkel and mask to get a better look at them. The tide comes in and out every 6 and a half hours so plan for this outing when the tide is mid to high, and the wind calm, or else you'll have a battle coming back to shore.
We did 3 outings, fist to Albrook mall in the city which is a must. It's just huge, and go into the discount stores for those great prices on bathing suits, soccer shirts. Titan and El costa are 2 you must explore in this mall. Sportsline is also good for Nike and sports clothes like that but is a little costlier. I bought a Nike golf shirt there for 18US but would of been about 50 here. KFC MC and Dairy Queen are there and how about having a large Blizzard for 1.89. Taxi from resort cost 18 US between for of us. Get reception to call for outside taxi....Thanks Moses!
We booked a tour to Monkey Island (60US each)but found it should have only taken 3 hours, not 6. Monkey Island actually only has a family of 5 monkeys, but the will come to the boat for bananas. Travelling in the Panama Canal to get there was my highlight of that tour. You also get to view the grounds of the Gamboa Resort which is nice to see.
We also booked the Elle Valle 60US + 30US each for Canopy tour(5 zip lines through the jungle...must be under 200 lbs). The Canopy tour made the rip worthwhile for the 115 minute small van ride each way! The scenery in the valley was very nice and it is a way to see the country; but for the cost I'm not sure. We went on sunday and the market is there that day and the lunch at the local restaurant was included. Thanks George, for the guided tour and ride to and from resort!
One great thing about this country is that it is not 3rd world and trying to be as modern as possible, the water out of the taps at the resorts are drinkable and we did and had very little problems, I blame the bad Tequila for my cramps but nothing the Immodium couldn't help.
Any other questions, just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and title it Panama questions or I'll think you are Spam and will delete.
I would first like to say HELLO to all the wonderful people that we met during our stay in PANAMA. Lets start with room 104 Joe and Lori, we are glad that we met you guys! then there was Oscar and Dennis (the boys), Donna (Bonnie) and Al, Coo Coo and Julie, Fran and John, Chris and Mike, Mike and Michelle, Joe and (virgin) Mary lol and Omar and his many girls.
We really had a great time with you all!
Please take into account that we have travelled alot and have been to OK resorts and GREAT 5 STAR resorts......Well here is my review..as stated in other reviews, the hotel rooms, pool and the grounds were GREAT, clean, big and the view was fantastic, looking at the steady stream of ships day and night was cool!
I didnt find the desk staff to be helpful, in fact mostly they just confused me, with differing information, like when check in time is....
Not sure they understand the concept of all inclusive hopefully they will learn from our comments.
The food was acceptable...except for the weird night at the lighthouse :) The drinks were fine, just had a hard time getting them most of the time, and yes believe it or not, strawberry and banana daquiris taste good, if you can get one. Which brings me to the point that you can get some drinks at one bar but not at the other..hmmmmm
The beach is bad! polluted, dirty and smelly....
There are mosquitos! you can't see them but they are there so bring repellant for the night or a friend that the bugs like more than you :)
There is no entertainment provided, we had a few hours of a band one night then it was repeated a few nights later (the same exact show)?? The hotel sure didnt go out of there way to entertain, they seemed to really like conventioners..... you would think they would have provided more for us considering that our hotel was secluded and it wasnt advised to venture of the resort.
We shopped, went to the old city, and the Canal, Panama is a beatiful place!
Overall the place was accetpable...but i would not return to this resort!
We were at this hotel from March 6th to the 13th. We loved the hotel, and the staff.
We met people who were there the week before us as well, and they said that the beach and the water were much better the week that we were there. (something to do with the moon).
Most people spoke good enough English to converse with us. We had a guide on the second day to take us through the city. We had him to ourselves because we were the only ones to sign up for the tour that day, and it was great. He spoke excellent English, and we learned a lot about Panama and it's people. We also went to Monkey Island (nice, but not worth the money) It took way too much of our day, and we sat around way too much. If they offer you to go to Gamboa Resort for less money - DON'T GO! The so called villas are worse than our low end cottages up north. We also went on the partial canal tour, and we really enjoyed that as well.
The food was good, and someone that visits Panama on a regular basis because they have family there, said that you won't find anything better in Panama - both for hotel rooms, resort facilities, and food. They had night entertainment a couple of nights, but we didn't go, so I don't know how it was.
The pool bar staff was great, and it works good if you try to use the same one all the time. They joke with you, and know exactly what you like.
We wanted to enjoy the resort as well as do some touring, and Panama is a great place for that. Lots of things to do and see, and the resort is only a half hour from the airport, unlike the other resorts in Panama.
Good times, great people
We were at the resort the week of March 6 - 13th. The resort is beautiful, and close to Panama City. The rooms were nice, clean, and everyone had an ocean view. The grounds and pool were immaculate, as was the rest of the resort.
The beach was not really suitable for swimming, but great for walking along. Kayaks are a great way to get out on the ocean and get a different view of things. The could use a few more types of watersports, ie paddle boats etc.
Food was great. Our only complaint would be the few extra pounds we put on while we were away! Service was very good. Special thanks and hello to Chriss and Maureen in the lobby bar. Thanks for the conversation, great service, and the remote - even though we never did find a hockey game on.
We did a couple of tours, Monkey Island - best part was going up the canal. Monkeys were cute, but there were only 5 of them. Tour guide was excellent, great sense of humour. Only complaint was they dragged out the time, we spent half our time waiting around. El Valle and the canopy tour on Sunday was the other. Good trip; great guide - hello George. Did taxi tour through the city $45 for 3 hours, anything you wanted to see. Taxis seem to vary in price, so negotiate. Shopping in Albrook mall - unbelievably low prices!
The resort is quiet at night, could use some more entertainment in the evenings.
Overall, we would definitely recommend it and would not hesitate to go back again.
"Panama, I Love You.."
Panama City is located between the Pacific ocean and some of the world's most spectacular tropical rain forests. The sizable Parque Natural Metropolitano (Metropolitan Nature Park), stretching from Panama city along the Panama canal, has several unique bird species and other animals such as tapir, puma, alligators, etc. Parque Natural Metropolitano can be reached by car from downtown Panama in less than 15 minutes. At the Pacific entrance of the canal is the Centro de Exhibiciones Marinas (Marine Exhibitions Center), a research center for those interested in tropical marine life and ecology. Centro de Exhibiciones Marinas is managed by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Tropical forests around Panama city are vital for the functioning of the Panama Canal. These forests provide the canal with the watershed required for its operation (a rare example of a vast engineering project in the middle of the forest which actually helped preserve that very nature). Due to the importance of the Canal to the Panamanian economy, tropical forests around the canal have been kept in an almost pristine state. Along the western side of the Canal is the Parque Nacional Soberania (Sovereignty National Park). On the way there one can also visit the lovely and spacious Summit botanical gardens and zoo. In this national park, the best known trail is the Pipeline Road, very popular among birdwatchers.
Panama City's international airport Tocumen International Airport located on the eastern outskirts of the city, is easily accessible through the Corredor Sur (Southern Corridor), a modern toll road along the coastline. Under normal traffic conditions, travelers should allow 45 minutes from the financial district to Tocumen airport. Cab fare to and from Tocumen airport is about US$30, though many hotels provide shuttle service. Major car rental companies have their offices at Tocumen airport, and first-time visitors are advised to either take a cab or rent a car at the airport.
Unfortunately, the waters in the coast of the city are polluted, and bathing in them is not allowed. However, there are beaches available nearby. The closest is the Playa Bonita Complex, right next to the city, crossing the Bridge of the Americas. There are also many more beaches, in the Pacific and Caribbean side (one of the advantages of Panama is the possibility of bathing in two oceans easily, as they are just hours apart). In recent years there has been huge development of beach hotels. Farther afield, visitors can travel to beaches in the interior, Bocas del Toro and the Archipiélago de las Perlas in the Gulf of Panama
transfers between Gamboa resort and Breezes or Playa Bonita
Can anyone tell me of a company that would provide a one way transfer between the Gamboa resort and either Breezes resort or Playa Bonita resort? I don't even now how far apart Gambo is from these two. If you have any info I would really appreciate it......Thanks
Re: transfers between Gamboa resort and Breezes or Playa Bonita
The distance from Gamboa Resort to the city is around 20miles,
and the city to breezes is about 100miles
our way to mesure it is, 2.5- 3hrs of a total drive
note: breezes and Gamboa are both outside the city or any large town
Re: transfers between Gamboa resort and Breezes or Playa Bonita
At the gamboa resort and playa bonita they have tourism cabs (white cars) that are runed or controled by a union, V.I.P.
they have really good service and fixed rates, a little pricy but safe