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“Tented Suite Utopia”

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The Resort at Isla Palenque
Ranked #4 of 4 Hotels in Boca Chica
Reviewed 20 April 2014

We stayed at the Isla Palenque resort mid-March at the end of a 16 day ’adventure’ tour of Panama.
We booked the four night discovery package on the Island in one of the tented suites and from the minute we arrived we knew that Isla Palenque was something truly special.

We chose a tented suite because we wanted to have a totally unique and unforgettable experience, and we were not disappointed
The climb to and from the suite was superb and not difficult (if reasonably fit) and it just added to the adventure of stepping into the jungle it made you feel like you were walking into your own secluded piece of tropical paradise, made especially exhilarating at night by torch light (supplied on the key ring).
The sleeping area was faultless, well-proportioned and furnished beautifully. We were lulled to sleep by the waves breaking on the shore and awoken by a dawn chorus from howler monkeys.
The open air shower room again was perfect, always clean and fresh (with towels changed regularly).
You don’t need air conditioning as the fans and the breeze make it feel really comfortable and NO BUGS at all, not even in the shower room.
The outside living area was amazing, a large decked area high above the beach in the canopy of the trees, the prefect spot to relax on the sofa (or in the hammock) with a gin and tonic at the end of the day whilst watching howler monkeys foraging in the trees 20 metres away and nesting black hawks above.
The whole suite felt deluxe and luxurious (even with cold showers and a composting toilet). The attention to detail was astounding from printed field guides and maps to providing binoculars, i-pads and buckets of ice, to meticulous housekeeping and a 24hr concierge (thanks Bibiana).

The Rocas was a perfect spot, especially for pre-dinner cocktails (a favourite was Olga’s Gold) and watching breath-taking sun sets, followed by short shuttle drives to the Eden for marvellous dinners.
The package included a choice from several excursions all of which were executed with perfection, you wanted for nothing, water, sun screen, bug spray all provided by approachable, friendly staff that truly love their jobs .

We had the most incredible stay, and we loved every single minute of it, for nature loving adventure travellers like us it was absolutely perfect.

Thank you Isla Palenque you made us feel like superstars.

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Tina and Peter L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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49 - 55 of 110 reviews

Reviewed 19 April 2014

My family stayed 5 nights at the main hotel/ B&B, and it was amazing. Totally unlike the island experience I've had before - internet, Ipad in the hotel room, all totally new. What was absolutely amazing though, is the fact that the animals were most definitely not afraid. Vultures soared overhead, along with a falcon that visited the beach with us every day, and almost dived at us when we went boogie boarding. Along with that, crabs would scuttle around as we ate, monkeys would howl above, and we fed birds bacon.

They had a timetable of activities, from island hopping to fishing. The food was amazing, and they could easily cook something up that wasn't on the menu (we discovered this when they said they could serve the kids with french fries, and for my mother, who is lactose intolerant, they made soya milk ice cream.)

The only minuscule flaw was that the maids were not the best; there was a nest of midget ant over my head, and a small spider lived behind a painting.

Totally amazing experiance, everyone we met was amazing. :)

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
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Thank Isabel r
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 April 2014

My husband and I stayed at the Resort at Isla Palenque at the beginning of March for one week.
It was truly a unique, yet luxurious travel experience.
We booked a Jungle room, and thought it was great. Our view was of the surrounding jungle, the ocean view suites, and a peak at the ocean on the horizon, The room was very comfortable, with an air-conditioner, and fan, comfortable bed, sitting area, and small balcony.

There are two sides to the minimally developed island. Playa Primera with the estate rooms, Eden restaurant, guest lounge and infinity pool. The other developed area is Punta Rocas with the tented suites, Las Rocas restaurant and bar, large beach for swimming, and the spa.
The walk between the two areas is about 15 minutes, or you can have a driver take you, or pick you up. Las Rocas seemed to be the place that we all gathered for a cocktail at sunset.

The Island is large, with multiple hiking and walking trails, and many private beaches. There are guides to take you on walks, explaining the flora and fauna of the Island. The guides will also take guests on day tours, kayaking, boat excursions, and fishing. We thought the guides were for the most part excellent. We loved their enthusiasm for the Island, and Panama, and their casual ,approachable nature.

The food at this resort is amazing. Seems to have an emphasis on local ingredients , when available. There were always a few choices for all meals, and we were never disappointed. The highlight was my 7 course tasting menu for my birthday. Set up on a private veranda over the ocean, surrounded by candles, and staff made flower arrangements. It was one of the highlights of our trip, It wasn't about the food, so much as the sincere desire for the staff to make sure the evening was a celebration for me.

The staff at this resort are exceptional. Gracious, welcoming, and genuine. Some of the most lovely waiters, bartenders, and guides Ive experienced anywhere.
This resort is for those who want a quiet,unique vacation experience without giving up luxury.To get a better feel for this resort you can view my blog entry at thewholewideworld.ca

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Collectmemories
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 April 2014

Our four person family (kids 12 and 14 years) had a once in a lifetime experience on the island! This was the last stop on a 2 week Panama vacation and we saved the best for last. From the employees (my younger son still emails with one staff member) to the location, this will not disappoint. We had the 'luxury' of staying in the first tented suite so we were all by ourselves on this beach (main hotel was a 15 minute walk away). Monkeys above our head, viewing sunsets and sunrises from our tent, "our private beach"...Heavenly. We spent 4 nights in the tents and wouldn't have traded it for a luxury room. In fact, we didn't even miss hot water.
We kayaked, fished (caught dozens of fish that they cooked for us that night), spent a day snorkeling on a nearby island and simply relaxed in true nature. Ben has done an outstanding job of building the hotel while maintaining the island's natural aesthetic. This is the antithesis of a mega resort--it's a natural beauty.
By the way, in Dec/January weather was not too hot and there was a mix of families and couples. In fact one night, Ben did a spontaneous coconut tasting for the handful of kids on the island while the adults had their own rum-filled tasting=)

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled with family
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2  Thank tsimon05
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 April 2014

Wow, what a great experience. We did the four night package (definitely recommend doing a package and staying at least 3-4 nights). We stayed at the Oceanside estate and that view could not be beat. The rooms were air conditioned, large, comfortable, and maid service came twice a day to replace towels and turn down the bed. Beyond the views were the incredible staff. Eduardo, Oscar, Benny, and john were not just waiters, but they were there to make your trip the best it could be. Stick with Benny at the bar, he makes the best mixed drinks. The tours were good, though they are trying to add a better variety which I think is needed, but again, we were not disappointed. Oh and the ceviche was the best I've ever had! Will recommend and definitely try to go back. Again, worth staying in the estates or do a few nights at each site!

Pros: small and quaint, easy to get to with flawless ran sport provided by Isla. The food was tasted and not repetitive. The staff was kind and generous with their time and their service. The views are breathtaking. The rooms were large, modern, and made you feel like you were in a home away for. Home. Two beaches to relax at, with transportation provided to either at any hour.

Cons: the island is growing, so I'd get there before it expands too much, we loved staying with so few people. They could vary up snacks a bit more, but honestly, if there is something you want, including a second breakfast, don't hesitate to ask and they will try to make it happen.

Room Tip: Estate rooms offer great location and it's worth the splurge to stay in the ocean view. If you l...
See more room tips
  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank Annie B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 April 2014

Tents did not look like photos on the web site.
•Getting to Tents: Climb approx. 49 wooden steps and another 45+ log stone steps. Then hike a dirt path with tree roots.Hiking to your tent several times daily in 92 degrees is exhausting. Tent: It was also much smaller than expected.The 4 tents are pretty close to one another. •Ventilation:There was no big fan above. Only a standing fan at the foot of your bed.
•Bathroom: The bathroom is totally outside/open air. Solar Water heaters were not added as stated. Showers are always cold. Composting toilets so big you needed a step to use it. Bath towels were changed on the 3rd day. Your 2 towels never really dry. •Outside Living Area: Very nice. Nice min-bar. A bottle of water was $4.00. Your bathroom tap water was safe to drink. There just something about getting tap water next to your composting toilet. •The rates between the tent and staying at the lodge are insignificant compare to what you get. The Island, lodge, food and staff are all 5 star. The tents just are not 5 star.

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled with family
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2  Thank ccvr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ben L, Owner at The Resort at Isla Palenque, responded to this reviewResponded 8 April 2014

I am sincerely sorry that you did not enjoy your time in the Tented Suites; other guests who have stayed in them have said that they considered it an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience, akin to a safari, and appreciated how close they got to nature in them. That said, we know that the Tented Suites are not for everyone: they are most suitable for adventurous nature-lovers and the reasonably physically fit, and are located on a 40-foot high bluff overlooking our largest beach. We try to make this clear on our website, but if there was a misunderstanding when you booked with us, I do apologize.

Our staff does everything they can to help ensure our guests have an amazing experience. In fact, we strive to not only do what is requested, but to go above and beyond. In your case, for example, even through you never mentioned these issues about the Tented Suites to us while you were on the island and never requested it from us, we could tell you did not enjoy the stairs to reach them and so we (a) drove you on the service paths to our restaurant at Eden to avoid the need for you to take the stairs there, and (b) provided a complimentary upgrade to an Estate Room (an Ocean Suite) as soon as one became available.

Again, I am sorry you did not enjoy your time in the Tented Suites. The pictures on our website are indeed of the actual Tented Suites, so I hope they are not misleading as you suggested. But it is true that there are a lot of steps to reach them (42 full height steps and 39 “half-size” stone/log steps), and it is also true that they have a composting toilet and no air-conditioning. These facts are also mentioned on the website, but I appreciate this additional opportunity to let potential guests know what they can expect from the Tented Suites: they are certainly meant for a select type of guest, and even though we do provide them with a high service level (twice-daily housekeeping service and a dedicated concierge, for example), those who prefer less stairs, air-conditioning, and similar “creature comforts”, would be happier in our Estate Rooms.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 March 2014

Before our first trip to Panama, we checked Trip Advisor to see what other travelers thought of Isla Palenque, the jungle resort we had booked for 4 days. With 45 out of 46 posters giving it 5 stars and the other one 4 stars, our expectations were over the top -- and when we arrived there we were not disappointed. If you hadn't read the rave reviews on trip advisor or hadn't checked the hotel's website and you were expecting some luxurious hotel in the jungle with valet service, etc., you might be a bit disappointed. It didn't take very long to understand what a unique place Isla Palenque is -- a beautiful jungle setting with incredible service which began when we first arrived in Panama City. We had signed up for the "transportation package" and, without a hitch, the Palenque-sponsored drivers got us in and out of Panama City, then to our jet flight to David, and finally by van/boat to Isla Palenque -- ready for our welcoming drink.

As well described on the hotel website, the resort itself was beautifully nestled in the jungle, overlooking a beautiful beach. Our air conditioned jungle room was equipped with an Ipad with wifi which facilitated communications with the family which we, of course, minimized while on vacation. Much of the beautiful furniture at the resort was made from indigenous trees on the island.

Aris, I believe the staff manager, greeted us on arrival and helped us plan our four days. Being just 7 decades old, we opted for the "easy" tours which started with a "bird walk" with Ameth where we saw some very unique birds and wildlife (including Amelia the pig) and an amazing tree with large spikes all over the trunk. The next day we took an "island hopping" tour with Peter including a wonderful shore lunch cooked over a flaming pit. I also tried a kayak for the first time ever -- great fun and good exercise -- thanks to Rodolfo for keeping everyone upright.

The meals were excellent with unique menus, good choices and very well presented -- thanks to Morris our chef. I took one day away from Palenque to go tuna fishing and was fortunate to catch a 150 lb yellowfin, part of which Morris put on the menu for everyone at the resort -- incredible sashimi and delicious tuna stakes pan fried with sesame (he gave me a translated version of the sashimi dipping sauce recipe which was the best I ever had -- can't wait to try it). Our very friendly waiter Jan, catered to our every request.

The tropical island itself was beautiful as described by so many travelers. The water was warm and inviting, the sunsets were beautiful, and the howler monkeys were a daily attraction and made for some good pictures and videos.

I ended up with 561 pictues/videos from our 7 days in Panama and hope to end up with a good photo album and DVD of our vacation.

From our initial booking of the trip and each and every day, Celianis went out of her way to make our stay most enjoyable. Ben, you have created a wonderful resort and we wish you the best success with future development.

Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
1  Thank tokjoe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Resort at Isla Palenque

Address: Isla Palenque, Boca Chica 507, Panama
Region: Panama > Chiriqui Province > Boca Chica
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 4 Hotels in Boca Chica
Price Range: £974 - £1,354 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — The Resort at Isla Palenque 3.5*
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A new sustainable private island resort on a pristine 400-acre jungle island in the Gulf of Chiriqui, Panama, featuring 15 luxury rooms nestled among forest trees with glimpses of the Pacific, two restaurants, a spa and over 20 custom tours and adventures on the island, in the Gulf and on the mainland. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Resort At Isla Palenque Panama/Boca Chica

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