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“Great time at Gamboa”

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Gamboa Rainforest Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Gamboa
Raleigh, North Carolina
Level Contributor
105 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
“Great time at Gamboa”
Reviewed 30 May 2008

I read the reviews here on the Gamboa Rainforest Resort and I was shocked to see so many negative things written about this beautiful resort. You should not come here expecting to find the "Atlantis Bahamas" - it's not that kind of resort.
The Gamboa Resort is quiet, serene, and welcoming, and the staff are overwhelmingly friendly. Our family made so many new friends at this hotel, I can't even count them on both hands. We began our trip in Panama City, where we planned to stay for the entire 8 days in Panama, doing day trips out from there. After the first few days we weren't very excited with the city, but when we took a Gamboa boat cruise to see the monkeys we spotted the resort and moved there the next day. We were so glad we did. It saved our vacation. We have traveled extensively (with 4 year old) around the world, including many other Latin American cities. In our opinion, PC is very much like most other Latin American cities: while much safer, NOT cleaner, and NOT less hectic. Gamboa is a nice retreat from that mayhem.
A few notes: The food in the bar is just that - bar food - nothing special, but the food in both restaurants is quite nice, and the evening buffets were surprisingly good! Breakfast is often included with your room (ask so you'll know!) and the buffet for that is huge and diverse. The pool was wonderful. The spa was small and functional, but I had the best massage of my life there. The hotel tours aren't huge, but they're nicely done, and fun for the family, especially children. The hotel can also arrange for larger boat tours (Canal transits) that are long, but worth it - do the partial transit only with children (~5hours long). We didn't find anything to be overpriced. Food, gift shop, and tours were all very reasonable. We stayed in the villas (one bedroom apartment) where the space was nice to have for a family. But these are 100 yr old buildings, so not resort-perfect, but very nice indeed.
Gamboa is making an honest effort to educate its visitors, not only about the canal, but also about the surrounding rainforest and its inhabitants...something that our family enjoyed immensely. Enjoy Gamboa for what it is - it's a wonderful place!

  • Liked — Views, sounds, people
  • Disliked — Not much else nearby
  • Stayed May 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
5 Thank sbsmithfl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Sartell, Minnesota
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 May 2008

Gamboa is simply too expensive for Panama and what you get. I would not stay there again.

Our room, patio and bathroom were large and very nice, live Orchids included but not really worth $215/night. The lobby was huge and beautiful. The pool and grounds are very nice. We enjoyed the exhibits.

The tour desk was unaccommodating and lacking any organization. No one showed up to take us on the Monkey Island tour and when I inquired they acted like it was somehow my fault. Additonally, we could not take the Embera Indian trip because they did not have anyone else signed up. Very unfortunate since that is why I paid the high rent!!!!!!!

A Pina at the Monkey bar will run $6.00 with a $3.50 tip automatically added! The food was horrible, and again, super expensive! You don't have any choice as there is nothing near by. The closest restaurants are near the Rey Supermarket in the City.

It is not that far out of town so youcould rent a car and drive in from the city for the day and save yourself some money.

  • Disliked — Over priced hotel and unaccomodating tour desk.
  • Stayed May 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank brenmae
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
texas
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 29 April 2008

From the moment we walked in to Gamboa Resort the staff was courteous and helpfull -they continued to be so for the remainder of our stay. The activities were exciting adventurous and educational. The views are spectacticular and the pool was exceptional. I highly reccomend this for a roamanitc gettaway or a family experience.

  • Stayed April 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank tippy222
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Port McNicoll, Canada
Level Contributor
13 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 April 2008

We had read many disturbing things on the internet about this hotel before we left. We found the hotel staff, accommodations and the meals to be very good. We had read on the internet about being charged extra on your credit card. They swiped my card on arrival and asked me to sign it. I refused, saying I was going to pay cash for everything. Imagine my surprise to come home to a call from Mastercard. Three charges were made on my card on April 21st, the day we arrived, totalling over $900. What a terrible ending to a beautiful vacation. I hope this problem can be resolved because this hotel is so wonderful we would have loved to recommend it. Unfortunately, this is impossible now.

The staff in the Monkey Bar and Corutu Restaurant went out of their way to make our trip memorable.

  • Liked — Views were amazing and the tours were great
  • Disliked — credit card fraud
  • Stayed April 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank NaBobCollingwood
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
ATL
Level Contributor
32 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
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
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 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
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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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