This was our second visit to Gamboa; the first was in 2000 shortly after they had opened.
Unfortunately, the place has gone down hill and the service is completely lacking and the staff seems under-trained. I see some reviews where English speakers felt it was the staff's inability to speak English - I can attest that speaking Spanish to them will leave you equally unsatisfied. (When traveling to a foreign country, it is good to know enough of the language to get around, however).
Our rooms was OK; we had to run the AC for several hours to knock the damp smell out of it. That's just par for the course in a rain forest - humidity is probably 100% most of the year.
Some reviewers have commented, the services there seem like a rip-off now. On our original visit in 2000, we had a great, personalized boat tour that took us to see many interesting areas on the canal. This time, they were not interested in setting that up for us and shuttled us onto the generic "Monkey Island" tour which is pretty bad - they dash out to the Island, bait the monkeys in with bananas, then dash back to the resort - use a fast shutter speed for snapping scenic views of the canal and otherwise keep your lens covered as the high-speed bouncing boat ride is no longer about being scenic or pleasurable.
In fact, the entire resort has been genericized into herding tour groups with name tags from bar to buffet to excursion with more of a "get 'em through and on to the next batch" attitude than any sort of care for a good experience.
And don't bother with eating at the Restaurant at the Lake - an even worse buffet - too bad, back in 2000 this place was packed at lunch a couple of times we ate there, and on this trip it was nearly empty and no surprise why.
Location: The hotel is pricey for what it is, but is a very convenient location for visiting the Canopy Tower and Pipeline Road Discovery Center, both of which are highly recommended - you are on your on for these as the hotel is not interested in assisting you with excursions they don't charge for. Even when we asked directions in Spanish to the Pipeline Road - about 15 minutes away - we may as well have been speaking Klingon.
The Gamboa resort is on beautiful grounds and has the potential to be an excellent place to stay near Panama City for immersion into the eco-tourism Panama has to offer. If they could get new management, a better trained staff, and a return to more personalized guest relations, it might actually have a chance at 4 star, but as it stands, we won't be returning again.
- 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