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“Gamboa Resort Fantastic for Birders”

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Gamboa Rainforest Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Gamboa
Reviewed 10 September 2011

I stayed at the Gamboa for a bird-watching trip in March. While there I saw the Panama Canal and all the sights. The resort was absolutely beautiful. It has extensive grounds for birding and mammal viewing & their guides were excellent.. My room was spacious, well appointed and quiet. The food was absolutely fantastic. I have already scheduled a trip back to the Gamboa Resort this fall. I can't wait to go back!

  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled solo
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1  Thank ShirleyTaylorPrakelt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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1,109 - 1,115 of 1,779 reviews

Reviewed 8 September 2011

I looked at the Hotel Gamboa as a place to stay for one night and continue on with my family to another resort in Cocle on the Pacific beach side of Panama. After spending one night in the city at the Hotel Bristol (pretentious and cramped) we decided to give it a go and so we went to Gamboa. The place is so unique and the grounds and building architecture are like seen no where else. The property consists of about 300 hectares well maniucured but at the same time allowing for nature to come into the place. Located in the Soberania National Park it is surrounded by rainforest, the Chagres River (which means river of many crocodiles in the Ambaran language) and the Panama Canal it is a magnet for all kinds of fauna and flora
including Tucans, Eagles, Buzzards, Pecari, Aguti, Snakes poisonous and non, Frogs, Fruit Bats, Vampire Bats (including one thta's about 12 inches standing up) , Sloths, Parakeets and millions of insects.

Before our trip there I warned my wife and daughter not to complain about services including the food because we were going to a place basically in the jungle! . . . . boy was I wrong! they had 4-5 restaurants including a very opulent on one that you must make special reservations for which we did for our daughter's birthday and they opened it just for us and another couple that came in later. In short they have chefs there and the bouffet breakfast ofers extremely treats.

Activities many; check them out on the web. Thestaff could not have been nicer cheerful and accommodating. But if one of the several daily rainstorms or thunderstorms nocks out the electricity and the magnetic card keys happen not to work on a given day or the WiFi goen on and off . . . . . hey don't complain . . . . afterall you are in the jungle!!!

  • Stayed: August 2011, travelled with family
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3  Thank Lorenzo G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 September 2011

We really enjoyed the hotel. The grounds are immense and beautiful (and include foxes, capybaras, parrots, armadillos and even howler monkeys). The pool was also nice. The breakfast is included and wonderful. But the other meals were only so so and overpriced. Staff was very nice and some of the nature guides were oustanding (some free tours are included).

  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled with family
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2  Thank Docterloeb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 August 2011

The resort is on the Charges River and the rooms are lovely. We had a very nice room with a balcony with a hammock and chairs overlooking the open fields down to the river. Our breakfast was delicious and the staff was always friendly and helpful. When we checked in we found out about all of the services they had to offer. Everything the resort had to offer was listed on a huge display and the conceigre was more than helpful. The only thing they did not notify us about was the country dancing on Monday night. They have great evening rides down into the river area and the trips up to the observation tower are awesome! Their spa is lovely and very catering to their clientele. You can roam their grounds and observe all types of wildlife...especially capyberas...but beware of crocs and caymen....we only wore sandals so it would not be a fair fight. We all had a wonderful time. The pool was fine, but we are not pool people so we could not judge it .
The staff was lovely and the pool was clean. We have been to bigger pools, but who cares. A terrific trip to the Panama Rainforest!!

  • Stayed: February 2011, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Pam M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 August 2011

stayed here 2 nights on an OAT trip. lovely! it's a huge resort with an incredible lobby and many terraces and paths and exhibits and the longest 4ft pool ever plus smaller pools. every room had a large balcony and a huge hammock (bugs did not bother) much wildlife to see and a great breakfast. loved it!

  • Stayed: August 2011, travelled with friends
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3  Thank CatinRzeszow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 August 2011

Before the events of our last night at Gamboa Rainforest Resort, I was prepared to write a critical review. However, I was very pleased with the management's response to the bat flying around our room, which rescued one night of restful sleep for a family of five.

The resort: At the junction of the Chagres River and Gatun Lake as it narrows into the Culebra/Gaillard Cut of the Panama Canal. If you have read David McCullough's "Path Between the Seas," there is something special about being at that place. The fact that there is a tourist resort there at all is remarkable. In terms of design and layout, they did a great job incorporating Canal construction era housing with the new buildings in the Victorian/Georgian colonial style while infusing nature and wildlife into every aspect of the resort. Our room was the junior suite with a downstairs Queen size bed and full bath, and a loft up a circular staircase to two twin beds and a bath. An incredible large balcony overlooked the Chagres with a hammock and a table with chairs. We sat every morning and evening watching the many varieties of birds and the herd of capybara that roamed the grounds. The pool was large and clean, although it was hard to figure out when the bar would be staffed or not. Nice, though. We saw iguanas and basilisk lizards basking in the trees around the pool.

Actvities: We did the Monkey Island tour, which was great, Capuchin monkeys on the boat and everything. We also saw baby caymans, Howler monkeys, and a sloth. Boating around gigantic oceanic cargo ships on a lake was surreal. We also did the canopy tour, which included the gondola up the highest hill in the resort to a canopy tower with incredible views, particulary in appreciating the topography of the canal design. The guide did a great job of showing us, both in English and Spanish, birds, insects and lizards. She also identified animals based on the distant sounds they were making. We also went to the exhibits (Butterfly, Orchid, Snake houses, and Aquarium). By this time our 7 year old was a bit tired and these were not spectacular if you have seen similar exhibits elsewhere. It amazed us how something as impressive as a large Blue Morpho butterfly can be so stunning the first time you see it (looks like it came from the movie Avatar) then become commonplace after a few days. We did the free night bus tour twice and saw different things each time. Great!

Food: Here we go. We were not expecting much based on the previous reviews. Our bottom line was yes, European and American foods are bland, overpriced, and sub-Chef Boyardee level. However, at every meal, there were local Panamanian options that were as close to great (in my case Colombian) home cooking as I've had in a restaurant anywhere. So go for the local stuff: fish, plantains, rice, pork, sausage. Sancocho! A chicken soup that could be eaten for every meal. Yes expensive, yes few choices. We were not on the all inclusive buffet plan so sometimes we had dinner up at the Monkey Bar to mix it up a little. They did have a different bar menu and good service. It would have been nice if they had a coffee/sandwich shop if you did not want to have a full sit down meal.

Service: Same as elsewhere in the reviews. To put it kindly, unintrusive.

Access: Our biggest beef was how difficult it was to get in and out of this place. We had a car for the second part of our stay, but decided not to get it until after Gamboa since I figured we could get a cab if we needed to. A cab into the city is about 30 dollars each way. What I was not counting on was that a cab ANYWHERE is 30 dollars each way, including the Summit Zoo, which was about two miles down the road from the entrance of the resort. We had a relatively open afternoon and were not in the mood for the pool. It was close enough to the closing time of the zoo that walking there would have eliminated the time we would have to look around. There was a taxi parked by the lobby waiting for fares. He was flagged down by the doorman, we piled into the car and he drove off. By the time he told us it was 30 dollars one way, we were fortunately not out of the parking lot. We got out and walked back to the lobby. He parked the taxi right back in the spot where we found him and went back to reading his newspaper. They really need a local shuttle for guests. Alternatively, I would just rent the car just to have the option for freedom.

The Bat: Later that night...We were basically done with the buffet, with the pool, had seen all the animals three times and ready to move on with our trip (stay 2 nights, MAXIMUM 3). We had a 3.5 hour drive to Pedasi the next day (which ended up being 7 due to construction) and were ready for rest. At about 11 p.m. my wife and daughter woke me up to tell me about a bat flying around. We turned on all the lights and the bat disappeared up into the loft. Two of three kids huddled in our bed while the third was still out upstairs. I looked around, found a large moth I was able to catch in a cap and took it outside, assuming this was the alleged bat. Problem solved. At 1 a.m. more bat noises, I was then able to see it more clearly (yes, it was a bat) and that it was coming in and out of a space in the wood paneling of the loft. No, we were not surprised that there might be a bat at the Rainforest Resort, but also did not want it flapping around our room all night. I called the reception area, there was no answer. We decided it was probably harmless but it continued to make noise and bang around until 3:00 a.m. At this point, we were finally able to reach someone at the front desk. At first, she told us not to worry, it is a fruit bat and won't hurt you. I told her I was not worried about getting hurt, I just wanted some sleep. At this point, the clouds parted and the Gamboa sprung into action. Two guys came to our room, one to look for the bat, and one to show us to an adjacent room, where we were able to sleep through the rest of the night in peace without having to transfer all our belongings. ("How come this room has a coffee maker and our's did not?" I wondered as I carried our 9 year old in.) We slept in, had a delicious local breakfast, and hit the road for the rest of our Panama adventure. Gamboa redeemed.

Room Tip: Lobby level rooms are a the upper floor with the best views.
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  • Stayed: June 2011, travelled with family
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1  Thank coltexdoc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 August 2011

We spent a night at the Gamboa Resort. We won a free night at a charity event. With that said, I’m going to rate this as if I had paid the $150 a night rack rate.

First, the service by the staff was outstanding. They were very professional and friendly. They were very concerned about taking care of you which is very unusual for Panama. Customer service is not something the locals understand, but they do at the Resort.

We arrived at 2 pm and check in was fast, friendly and efficient. We were in room 309 with a wonderful view of the river and hills. The staff was very helpful and took our bags to our room with us. Most everyone spoke some English and some spoke it very well.

The room is very large and the décor was fine. We had a very comfortable king sized bed and the pillows were very comfortable as well. The room has a mini bar and you need to get the key from the desk. We didn’t get the key because the price of the items was way too high. The bathroom is very large and the shower is nice sized and the water pressure was very good.

There was plenty of storage but if you are there for several days there would not be enough hangers (in our room at least). They have a safe in the room for valuables. The AC worked great. The balcony is nice. All seem to have hammocks and there are two chairs and a table. It was nice just hanging around and watching the world go by.

For the price and being in Panama, the price too me is high for a room. The other reason I rate it low is that you are really out in the middle of no where. If you don’t have a car and if you aren’t willing to drive 20 to 30 minutes to the city to restaurants you are hostage to their restaurant and bars and they nail you there.

We received a complimentary cocktail at the monkey bar. You can only get a Panama beer, a rum and punch or a rum and soda. They were fine, then we ordered a glass of white wine. The wine they served cost $3.36 a bottle at the grocery store in Panama, they charged $6 for a 5 oz pour. Yikes!!!!! It should have only been $3 to $4.

We then went to the high end Changres River View for dinner. This requires reservations and no shorts. It is a flat $35 per person (yikes for Panama). It includes an appetizer (choice of one of six), a main course (only 4 to choose from) and a dessert. The wine menu is okay but they mark it up 4 times retail. The Robert Mondovi Private Select costs $12 in the store, they charged $45. This was consistent with all selections. Crazy. The other issue is that the menu items said that things came with asparagus and mushrooms. They were out and did not tell us and we got what ever they had (green beans). My wife had a grilled vegetable plate. It wasn’t grilled nor what one would expect. She thought it was pretty good but not what she imagined or wanted. I had the scallops. There were 6 small scallops on cabbage. They were a little chewy but not bad.

For the main course, my wife got the chicken. It was over done and did not come with the side she wanted or ordered. Big let down. I had the beef. Actually, I rarely get the beef in Panama. It tends to be tough and gamey tasting plus the cooks in Panama are clueless in how to cook it. I will give them credit, the beef I had was tender cooked perfect (medium rare) and had good flavor. On the down side, it was suppose to come with asparagus and a mushroom sauce. Nope didn’t come with that.

For desert, my wife had a passion fruit mouse which was tasty but very small. I had the brownie with strawberry ice cream. First issue was the brownie was hard and stale and second the strawberry ice cream tasted a lot like vanilla.

For $130 in Panama, that is stupidly expensive for the portion size and the quality of the food. The pricing at the Restaurant Corotu was very high as well and it uses the same kitchen as Changres River View.

The pool area is very nice and large. There is a swim up bar that I’m sure is 300% over priced. The resort was not very busy since it is the off season and it rains a lot.

The service is great but again understand it is a tourist trap and you will pay 2x to 3x more than you should.

  • Stayed: August 2011, travelled with family
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4  Thank Stargazerm31
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Gamboa Rainforest Resort

Address: Goethals Blvd. | Soberania National Park, Gamboa 7338, Panama
Region: Panama > Colon Province > Gamboa
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Gamboa
Price Range: £69 - £155 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Gamboa Rainforest Resort 3.5*
Number of rooms: 166
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Deep in the heart of the Panamanian rainforest lies the completely unique Gamboa Rainforest Resort. This magnificent destination rests where the scenic Chagres River meets the Panama Canal and is the only resort property in the area. Few places on earth offer such an amazing natural experience while providing an unsurpassed level of luxury. Escape the noise and hectic pace of everyday life and surround yourself with the tranquility of the mystical Soberania National Forest. Here, just a short 30-minute ride from Panama City, on 340 acres overlooking the stunning Panama Canal, you can commune with nature in a pristine environment where explorers and pirates once tread. Our Panama Tours offer an exhilarating variety of jungle adventures such as an aerial tram, guided boat tours, fishing expeditions, and much more. Our tours are designed to show you wildlife in its natural setting amidst the colorful splendor of the jungle flora. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Gamboa Rainforest Hotel Gamboa
Gamboa Rain Forest Resort

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