We stayed here a few years ago when the resort was Bristol Buenaventura. Our prior experience with the hotel was excellent (see earlier review). The Bristol was a topnotch resort then with five star service. The staff literally went out of their way to accommodate their guests. They did their best to accommodate all requests. I think “NO” was a forbidden word. That made the place absolutely special. This year we decided to give the JW a try to see if it was still as we remembered. We invited another couple to join us for a couple of days at the beach and to experience an upscale beach resort. We found that some things remained the same, some improved and some was not as good. Nevertheless, I still think it is the best option in the Playa Blanca/Santa Clara area. See some of the changes below.
1. Check in different – Bristol’s check in took place directly in room (much more comfortable and personalized). Directions to main entrance was given at front gate – not so this time and with the changes, we had to stop and ask for directions in and out of the property. JW check in is the usual and customary front desk check in. I found Bristol more amenable to giving a room upgrade than JW (even though I belong to the Marriott club). Our view from room was overlooking the parking lot (not so good). I did not find the hotel to be very busy, so was surprised we could not change rooms. Go figure. Bristol offered all inclusive. JW did not.
2. Rooms – no changes in the decor.
3. Grounds: New pools added – which made it much more enjoyable and pool area less crowded. Golf course completed -- which my husband liked, but felt was on the expensive side for Panama. Free wifi in the lobby and a ridiculous charge for it in the room. Fortunately, did not need to use it for the two nights we were there.
4. Restaurants: New steak restaurant at golf course – in a word: awesome!! The older main restaurant (forgot the name) was the same. The food was very good, however, they did not have most of our selections. Finally we asked what they did have and we chose one of the dishes and it was excellent. Breakfast buffet -- excellent still, however, hot dishes could be warmer. The service and staff at all of the restaurants were excelente!
Pool/Beach service: Again -- Excellent.
All in all, we loved it and had a wonderful time. Far more plusses than negatives with the new management. We would definitely return. Especially to the steak restaurant!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Set on the Pacific coast of Panama, Bristol Buenaventura is a luxury oceanfront destination resort and a member of Leading Hotels of the World. The resort sits on 1,000 acres of natural splendor, nestled between rivers, lakes, lush vegetation, and pristine beaches. Blending old world glamour and tropical elegance, the resort is reminiscent of a Spanish hacienda. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Bristol Buenaventura Hotel Farallon
- Bristol Bueneventura Santa Clara