Well, this is a first for me! I am now writing from the Gamboa resort after paying $47 for three days of internet. For those who know me, I am a scuba diver, who was talked into going to this resort, instead of diving. One of our adult children is in a wedding party, and my wife, miss unadventurous, decided we needed to get away from the shoreline for a change! We are now in our room, her on the balcony using binoculars to see the wild animals walking the vast and beautiful landscape. I, Mr. Bored, am writing to say that I am out of my element here. Since it IS a rain forest, it has been raining EVERY DAY starting around 2p... so the pool is empty and I am in the room with my bride! I am laughing as I write because I am usually gone until about 1-2p, and here, I am sleeping in, reading a book, doing spa treatments, and enjoying the chill out/do nothing scene.
This resort is really nice. I asked my bride her grade and she said a 4. The rooms are VERY NICE, and the views from them are awesome! We were in section 300-320, and it has been quiet until night when the forest screams with life and noises; much like night diving and fish action. For nightlife, we were entertained by the 20's and 30's who were also attending the wedding, so there was action most nights. Otherwise, this is a quiet place for families and couples wanting something VERY different. You will find people who love to jog, hike or bike. There a great excursions to sign up for, and are reasonably priced for the value. We did Monkey's Island trip $35US, boating from the resort's marina, onto the panama canal, for miles of fun views and adventure. We are taking the aerial tram tomorrow, with my bride who is deathly afraid of heights! Oh boy! We brought Ben's insect repellent (97% deet) and it worked fine.. but others were bitten without it. We lost our spare spray bottle to my son, so I suggest you bring extra!
This is an international resort, we met families from all over, amsterdam, bolivia, us, italy, mexico, and many other countries. The Panamanian people are very friendly if you are friendly with them. We found people not being nice to the staff, and the staff responded kindly but with less enthusiasm. Joel, a key bartender ALWAYS smiled and called me by my name, as I treated him with respect as well! Other staff treated me well too. The head of the front desk is WONDERFUL as are her staff. They smiled at me and I smiled back. They were always remembered me when I stopped by for help. I did not find anyone friendly. I wonder why?
The Spa, which I did today since it was raining, was a VERY NICE and well appointed spa. My $70 - 55 minute - Swedish Massage, and $35 - 26 facial were reasonably priced from past travels. The Spa Staff were very friendly and helpful. People are correct, that a $3.50US Heineken was way too expensive than other places in the city, but to take the ride from Panama City to the resort is a long and slow ride, thus costs are different. My son, who ran 3 miles this morning, told us we could buy local panama beer at the convenience store down the road for $0.30 a beer; but heck I am at a resort!
We had similar problems with room availability coming in as some others had, but we just waited calmly, and took our complimentary drink coupons to the nearby bar, built a relationship with Joel and others and had a beer or two until the room was ready. Lunch at the bar was economical, $8.50US for a hamburger or excellent fish sticks. You need to ask for chicken wings as you will not see it on the menu. The breakfast buffet was simple, and the fruits were very FRESH! We did not eat the lunch buffet as we were light lunch eaters, and the dinner buffet was $24 for good buffet food. Ordering from the menu, fillet Mignon went for $19US and well worth buying over the buffet. Fish was ALWAYS fresh and impressive.
A couple of secrets we learned from the local family whose wedding we were attending; We arrived the day earlier and stayed at the Marriott Courtyard in Panama City. The next day, we leisurely left the hotel, and took a cab to the resort. However, we asked the driver to give us a quick tour of the city, and stop at a wine store for a case. Well, as it turned out, we lucked out with a GREAT driver, who agreed to pick us up on Noon when we leave from the resort. It is $42 from the city to the resort for 2 people. The wine shop was downtown, and it was WELL STOCKED, so we bought $200 worth of great wine, beer, whiskey, baileys, soda and snacks that were well priced and high quality. Wines ranged from $4-$250 depending on location and name. We bought Beringer SB for $7.50/btl. Finer wines were $15-25.. but with the adult kids we were supplying, we were able to cover their needs and quality for decent money.
The driver took us the "tourist" route and showed us the President's palace, as well as the other key and notable locations on the way to the resort. We passed the locks, and DO SUGGEST you take the time to have dinner at the first lock.. can't remember the name, but the food was okay, the view of the ships going up or down was AWESOME. While some of the women who joined us were "okay" about watching the ships pass through the locks, the GUYS were all AMAZED and ENTERTAINED by the goings on. Must be a guy thing.
Anyway, time for dinner. I hope this helps you with your decision to go or not. We would come back again. There is value in staying here, and the location is truly unique! However, if you are not the hiking, biking, exercising, or adventurous type, the spa and excursions are just as much fun! Just bring your own beverages from the city if you want to save money!
- 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