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“Gone down hill...”

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Gamboa Rainforest Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Gamboa
ATL
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Gone down hill...”
Reviewed 25 April 2008

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.

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — Service and Value
  • Stayed April 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank Vger6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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PA
1 review
Reviewed 20 April 2008

We have just returned from a two-night stay at this resort.
Overall, we had a good experience. The food is mediocre and the buffet definitely needs more of a selection and improvement. The pool area is so small for the number of guests.....you really need to get to the pool early and never leave your spot. The pool itself is beautiful and well-maintained.

There are several tours offered but the prices are a rip-off! The one tour we were advised to take (from a guide!) was the Monkey Island Tour. It's worth the $36 per person price and is a nice 1.5 hour boat ride through the Canal. We understand the Aerial Tram Tour for $50 per person is not worth the price........rarely do you see wildlife on this tour. Our suggestion is to take a bike ride around the area (bikes are free to guests) and tour the area.

When leaving the Hotel, be sure to reserve a taxi ahead of time.
We reserved a taxi hours before our departure time, and even then, the taxi had not arrived! The Concierage was no where to be found and so we had to work with the front desk folks to help us out.

Overall, we had a positive experience, however, a 2 or 3 night stay is the maximum for this hotel.

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — Pool Area
  • Stayed April 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank LoubugPA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ottawa, Canada
Level 4 Contributor
15 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 April 2008

The only way to describe our stay at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort from January 14 to 21, 2008 is with words like fantastic, spectacular, and amazing.



We booked our holiday through Sunwing in Canada, so we were able to benefit from the all-inclusive plan, which included our transit from the airport to the resort. When we arrived at the Gamboa we waited approximately 10 minutes for the person ahead of us to be checked in. The wait was worth it, however, as we were upgraded from our garden view room to a lake view room with a hammock on the balcony. This extra bonus was most likely due to the week we chose to visit the hotel. It was very quiet, and I don’t think there were more than 50 rooms occupied.



The obvious advantage to being here when it is not busy is the quality of service. We found very hospitable service from all the staff of the Monkey Bar (Aniba in particular). The hostess and wait staff in the buffet restaurant, Corotu, where you eat breakfast and lunch were also great. In the Chagres River View restaurant, the staff worked very hard to give you their best effort at five-star service. It was a little rough around the edges here-and-there, but they were all very well intentioned and did a great job overall. Our only complain with respect to the food service was at the satellite restaurant on the river, Los Logartos. On the “cowboy” buffet night we had a terrible waitress. We also ran into staff confusion at this restaurant with respect to what food our all-inclusive plan covered. I’m pretty sure we were short-changed from a nice lunch and falsely directed towards cheaper lunch menu items.



Our only other unpleasant experience was with the front desk staff. We found them to be a bit surly and not really all that helpful. I had to be kind of pushy to get my bill corrected to take off charges that did not belong because of being an all-inclusive customer. That said, we were happy with the overall quality of service at the resort, as well as the quality and selection of food in the restaurants.



The room we had was fantastic. We had a Deluxe River View room (number 137 I think). It was essentially a ground level room with a view of the lake and the grounds of the resort. We had two queen-size beds, a very nice bathroom, mini bar, good TV, alarm clock, and a balcony with the most comfortable hammock. It was wonderful to lie in the hammock and watch the stars at night.



The hotel itself is magnificent. It is modern, open, airy and quite luxurious. Fresh flowers everywhere, friendly staff, comfortable rooms. The view out of the windows in the lobby/Monkey Bar area are just stunning. I can’t say enough about how beautiful the resort is. The pool area is also very (!!!) nice. The swim up bar is great, and the huge pool never felt crowded.



We explored the grounds of the hotel on several hikes and a bike ride. The bikes were terrible, however, so we didn’t enjoy that very much. During the bike ride we came across a herd of capybara lounging on the banks of the river… it was pretty awesome.



The exhibits are definitely worth checking out. We did not do the aerial tram, however, based on previous Trip Advisor reviews that it isn’t anything spectacular. The Monkey Island excursion, on the other hand, was fantastic. The capuchins came right out of the trees and down into the boat. It was great. It was also cool to be in the Panama Canal itself.



Getting to and from the hotel is the only downside to staying in such a magnificent place in the middle of the rainforest. If you want to get out, you pretty much have to pay the very expensive hotel VIP cabs – about $40 for two to get downtown. If you are able to meet a Panama City cabbie, and get his telephone number, that fare drops down to about $20. We met a taxi driver in Panama City and used him for all our pick-ups and drop-offs around the whole country. On one of our last days, we hired him for an entire day to take us to the Gatun Locks, Portobello, and Isla Grande. All in all, we hired him for 13 hours for about $150. He escorted us everywhere, and provided translation service where we needed it. A lot of money for him - but well worth it to us when you consider how much it would cost to hire a taxi for a whole day. You might want to consider this as a way to organize your own relatively inexpensive tour of some of the more remote places in Panama.



We would advise against renting a car. There are a lot of very bad roads in Panama, some sketchy areas, a lot of unusual (and somewhat aggressive) driving tactics – especially in Panama City - and very few lights on the roads at night (and a lot of feral dogs, wildlife, massive pot holes, etc.). I would not completely rule it out, but if you choose to drive, you need to exercise a lot of caution (both with driving the car, and with situational awareness to make sure you don’t get yourself into some kind of trouble.)



Other highlights of our Panama experience include our trip to the middle set of locks (Miraflores), walking around the old part of Panama City, shopping in a downtown discount department store, and swimming on Isla Grande in the Caribbean Sea.

  • Liked — Being in the rainforest
  • Disliked — Some service issues
  • Stayed January 2008, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank Stevesquared
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Quad Cities
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 17 April 2008

Lets start with we had a great time at this resort in Panama!! The rain forest is one thing to see in a lifetime. The staff and food were excellent for central america standards. The tours we took were all very good and educating. The indian village tour stands out among the others and is a must see to learn how they lived and still do live without many of modern day stuff. The sights and sounds you here and see from the rain forest to us was something that we had never exerienced. The weather was great and it only rained 2 times, once in the morning and one afternoon for 2 hours. Mid to upper 80s in the day and 70s at night.

  • Liked — The location and natural way with nature
  • Disliked — going home
  • Stayed April 2008
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank just4fun192
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
California
1 review
Reviewed 15 April 2008

Myself and my husband just got back to California. We went along with a large group from work.
This was by far the worst experience we had! We have many travels under out belt (Far east, middle eat, Italy, France etc...)as we love exploring new places and cultures.

The rooms were in very bad condition in fact the entire hotel is poorly maintained. You can see the leaks in the plumbing system as it is completely exposed. The hotel spares no efforts in trying to control the amount of bugs and "creepy crawlers".

Our room was not cleaned one day at all - they forgot!
Another day it was cleaned however no towels or soap or toiletries was available in the room.

And don't get me started about the service! Our group of 120 people all came to one conclusion: they simply DO NOT CARE - and it isn't the staff's fault - management doesn't care either!

I would not recommend this hotel to anyone!

The only things we enjoyed was the tours and scenery - there is no doubt the forest/jungle was breathtaking!

  • Liked — tours in the forest/jungle
  • Disliked — the staff/service
  • Stayed April 2008, travelled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank polanim
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers are raving about these Gamboa hotels

Chicago, Illinois
1 review
Reviewed 14 April 2008

I just got back from the Gamboa Resort, and I too would say save your money. The service was terrible, the food was repetitive and boring. The staff did not care about you and took their time if they bothered to come back to you at all. I was on an all inclusive trip. It was terrible, the beer was not cold, the drinks were from a mix; i.e., margaritas, and they did not wait on you. You actually had to practically beg them to get a drink. I am from the USA and speak very little Spanish. On the flip they barely spoke English. I would think they would be more fluent in the English language seeing as when I was there, it was 90% Americans. There were two of us in the room and received two bath towels and on face cloth. Panama is very hot and humid. You will definitely need more than one shower a day. The tours were good. The rainforest, monkey island, and the canal. I would not recommend this to anyone. I was hoping for a better experience in Panama.

  • Liked — The tour offering
  • Disliked — The hotel staff
  • Stayed April 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank justme1010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
california
2 reviews
Reviewed 13 April 2008

They boast being a "5STAR" hotel! More than anything your staff makes you a 5 star hotel and their staff is TERRIBLE. It seems as though NO is their favorite word. I was told I could get change for the phone at the front desk, but when I Inquired they told me they had none without looking and sent me to the tour desk. The tour desk looked but had none and I was sent to the gift shop where I am sure they would have sent me somewhere else if not for a manager standing there. The food is so so and takes forever after you order. If you do find something you like chances are the next time you order it, it will be competely different. They are always out of something you had the day before or that morning, They will not look or ask anyone if there is any more just "NO" again. The main bar MONKEY BAR is filthy dirty. I mean the bar itself, old drink straws, peanuts, food crums where there the whole time we where there. The room was clean the day we arrived but daily the room was not cleaned well. The pool was nice. But not enough chairs and the pool bar was always running out of something and that was it for the day they would not restock. NO again. The tours are o.k. but over priced except the fishing, and the marina staff was much better. All in all Stay away and spend your money somewhere else they do not earn or deserve it

  • Liked — The view
  • Disliked — The staff
  • Stayed April 2008
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank daytripper1000
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

Property: 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 (Based on Average Rates): ££
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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