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“a rip-off in the middle of nowhere.....”

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Gamboa Rainforest Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Gamboa
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
60 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
“a rip-off in the middle of nowhere.....”
Reviewed 12 July 2010

Location looked great on map, but $30 for cab to closest town or restaurant (one-way). Beautiful rooms, large pool with waterfalls, several 60-minute free outings offered. Tours are VERY EXPENSIVE and may not happen for lack of participants. Food was awful and over-priced (mold on bread, flies on fruit), staff rude and less than hospitable stating clearly that "there are different rules for different people" (no late check out for us but for our room neighbors it's okay)......and manager refused to talk to us directly after we requested to do so...... this place is a rip-off!!
BEWARE: historic villa apartment are abandoned US Army barracks.....

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled with friends
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2 Thank travellerOT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
22 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 July 2010

i went for rest and relaxation and wasnt disappointed. great pool, great spa facilities (i thought the services were a little pricey and only OK). i cannot complain about the room. it was comfortable with a balcony and hammock. awesome natural surroundings. polite guest service, many english speakers. not much night life. mostly couples and families but if a group of friends went together, with the pool fun times are to be had. it was very quiet as i went during the rainy season. the food was not the highlight of the resort but it was good enough. i would return to gamboa.

  • Stayed June 2010, travelled solo
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Thank sister_phobia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
53 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 June 2010

The Gamboa Rainforest resort is one of the most perfectly-located resorts I've ever stayed in.

The resort is set in the middle of a quiet, peaceful and beautiful rainforest, with nature at your very doorstep, yet with the convenience of being just around 45 minutes away from the city.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the resort - lazing on the hammock on our room's balcony listening to the birds whistling, soaking up the sun at the much larger than average pool, and on the Monkey Island tour offered by the resort.

I would have easily given this resort 5 stars if it hadn't been for the atrocious food. My "dining" experiences at the resort included being served uncooked chicken (chicken fingers which were literally raw pink on the inside) for lunch, grilled chicken kebabs made from inedible dry chicken disguised with a drizzling of - wait for it - ketchup for dinner, and oatmeal which was so sludgy, it would have been better eaten with a straw rather than a spoon for breakfast. I expected much, much better, especially from a resort which prides itself on being of a five-star standard.

Given the addition of more professionally-trained kitchen staff, this resort would offer one of the most memorable and enjoyable getaway experiences in Panama.

  • Stayed June 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank LuckyStar81
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Texas
Level Contributor
32 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 May 2010

There are several mixed reviews on this resort on TripAdvisor - many negative ones about the food and service.

Our experience was only positive!

Yes, the food is definitely sub-par for such a nice resort. Do NOT go there expecting a gourmet meal that is out of this world - or even close to that. But, based on previous reviews, I expected the food to be so bad that we'd have to practically live on bread and water while we were there. We almost didn't go there at all because of the reviews.
We stocked up on chips and cookies at a convenience store in the city to take with us, so we wouldn't starve. We expected the absolute worst!

Let me mention that the food is fine. In some cases, more than fine. You will not starve, and there are enough choices of good, hot meals so you won't have to live on bread and water, or even cold sandwiches during your entire visit. We did not leave with a negative feeling about the food.

Here are the dishes we tried:

Chicken Fajitas for lunch at the restaurant on the water. They were good - and we're from Texas, so if it can pass by us, you can trust them. The tortillas actually tasted home-made and not packaged, so that was good. Overall, I'd say try them.

Cheeseburger for dinner. It tasted like a normal cheeseburger. It didn't have a charbroiled or grilled flavor. Maybe it was cooked in a pan? But, the meat was good and cooked to order. Served with french fries. Safe bet, if you like burgers.

Club sandwich for dinner. Good. Triple-decker sandwich made with white sliced bread, cold cuts, crispy bacon, lettuce and tomatoes, served with french fries. There was a little more bread than sandwich filling, but the flavor was good and satisfying.

Creole Mahi-Mahi for dinner. OK. Worth a try if you like seafood. The creole sauce was minimal and kinda salty. The fish was pretty good. Not outstanding. Served with mashed potatoes (I think they were instant potatoes, but they were actually still good.) and steamed vegetables which tasted like steamed vegetables - good.

Lemongrass chicken breast for dinner. Actually, pretty good and much better than I expected. The chicken breast was juicy - not dry. Topped with a bechemel sauce made with lemongrass and lemon liquor. Bechemel sauce is creamy and I usually don't like creamy. This one was good and not too rich and creamy. It was served with mashed potatoes (again, I think they were instant, but still good) and steamed vegetables. My husband couldn't get enough of the sauce. We both enjoyed it. It wasn't a strong lemon flavor like lemon chicken in the states. It was made with lemongrass, so a more understated lemon flavor and not tart or strong like lemons can be.

The nachos are good. A little expensive for nachos at $10 per order, BUT, it comes with a side of guacamole, sour cream and pico. The size of guacamole that comes with it would cost about $5 at a mexican restaurant in Texas, so that helped to put it into perspective. It made the $10 not so bad.

Desserts:

The key lime pie is tart - not very sweet at all. We prefer creamy and sweet. This was practically all lime-flavor. The tartness was not for me. But some people like tart flavors. If you do, you'll love it!

The banana flan was good. Didn't have a strong banana flavor. Tasted like regular flan. The consistency was on the slightly dense side for flan. Some flans are light and creamy. This one was not. It was still good, though. I'd order it again and enjoy it.

We heard that the pizza is actually good and one of the best meals. We didn't try it.

Someone said they tried the chicken sandwich made with hoissin sauce and they didn't care for it. It sounded interesting and I would have tried it, if we'd stayed longer.

Overall, go with low expectations of the food and you'll probably be pleasantly surprised. Don't NOT go to the resort because you're afraid of the food (like we almost did). It's a beautiful resort where you can watch nature happen right before your eyes. Way too special to pass up! The meals were much better than we expected. Nothing to rave about, but good enough that it didn't dampen our trip one bit!!

Lastly, about the service -

Previous postings had us expecting very poor service. We were thinking the workers would be lazy and rude. It was just the opposite. Everyone was very nice and accommodating. I asked for more towels and they came in a few minutes. The waiters were very nice - especially at the dinner restaurant.

The only "poor" service we received was getting a drink at the bar by the pool. There was one woman making drinks AND delivering them to tables by the pool. She was very nice and trying to do her job, but the poor service was only from under-staffing - not from lazy or rude employees.

Hope this helps in making your decision to stay at Gamboa Resort.

It also helped that we waited till the last minute to make our reservation. We booked online and the price had dropped from previous quotes we had received.

Enjoy! And, please respect the beautiful nature - It's gorgeous!

  • Stayed May 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank bkpr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
California
Level Contributor
32 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 May 2010

This is a 5 star resort in the middle of a Panamian rainforest less than 1 hour from Panama City. Our room had a balcony with a hammock facing the Charges River. There are free tours everyday in addition to those that cost. We paid for the Monkey Island tour and the Pipeline Road tour. Our free tours included a night tour, a kayak tour, and a wildlife tour. The Monkey Island tour took us into the lakes where the big container ships are. We saw Howler and Capuchin monkeys. The Pipeline Road tour takes us into the national park. We saw birds, butterflies, and animals. Very nice. All the guides are quite knowledgeable. The staff was very nice. I would come back to this place.

  • Stayed April 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Jeffrey F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Los Angeles, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 14 May 2010

The Panama Canal was an extraordinary experience. When I was coming to visit Panama I wanted to just stay in places where natural beauty was a step away. My journey was a two stop two week vacation in Panama City and then Bocas del Toro. When in Panama City I went to Gamboa Rainforest Resort, located just off the side of the Panama Canal. The resort was amazing with large glass windows and excellent views of the Panama Canal. It was like being in the comfortable glass box with a real Rainforest right outside. The meals were very good and the live salsa music and great audience made the stay even better. I went kayaking through the Canal, where I witnessed the Cayuco International Panama Canal Race that I latter learned is a old Canal Zone tradition. It was spectacular to see these people paddling in wooden "canoes" which they called cayucos. The race was intense and the Gamboa Rainforest Resort even took guests to the end of the race in the Causeway to check it out. What a real treat, something awesome to witness. I also went deep into the jungle of Gamboa and explored old Spanish colonial roads and lost towns in the middle of the jungle. The tour of the Panama Canal is outstanding and truly an engineering masterpiece. I have to admit, I feel like I owe my entire excellent time in Panama City to Gamboa Rainforest Resort. Without them I would have never seen the things I got to. Thanks a lot! Highly recommended!!!

  • Stayed March 2010, travelled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank travelgirlkahn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Riverview, FL
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 May 2010

We stayed at the resort the first week of May 2010. My ONLY complaint is the directions on how to get there from the airport on the website. It is very cryptic at best. But it allowed us an unscheduled tour of Panama City before finding our way. I am glad we arrived in the day time. I recommend getting a rental car. There is plenty to see and do in the area. And you can stop by Rey Supermarket (next to Albrook Airport) and get some food and beverage to help save a little money.

We liked the Monkey Island Tour at the resort. We also did the Pipeline Road/Discovery Center/Observation Tower on our own. We went to Colon inadvertently while trying to get to Portobella and Isla Grande (Carribean side). We had to turn back because there are no gas stations there.

The rooms were spacious and clean. The grounds maintained very beautifully. The staff were all very friendly and helpful. I thought the food was at best OK. My wife thought the food was great. Los Lagartos was the best of the options. I liked the food better at the Albrook Mall food court. That should give you an idea of my sense of taste. At times it seemed like we were the only people in the resort and other times 4-5 buses of people showed up for dinner and/or tours. The pool was very clean.

My favorite thing about the whole stay was the incredible view from the balcony. And we were only on the second floor. The view was a bit different every morning because of the rain clouds and mist. I looked forward to it every morning with the coffee provided in the room. I think it was called Duran and I will be looking for it.

Panama and the Gamboa Resort is very very beautiful.

  • Stayed May 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank PChandler
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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