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“out of the way.”
Review of Hacienda del Toro

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Hacienda del Toro
Level Contributor
119 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 71 helpful votes
“out of the way.”
Reviewed 22 July 2008

Hacienda del toro is a ways out of town. The owner (Neal) wasn't too keen on giving rides to town and it's a $30 boat ride to get to there. When we booked HDT I assumed we would be near other bars/restaurants/resorts. Not the case. You are a bit isolated which we liked a lot. We took a horse back ride and it was a bit treacherous for a pair of non-riders. The food was Ok, but it's more "ranch" food. Not the kind of carribean-fusion food we were looking for. Overall I would say our experience there was a positive one. My girlfriend loved feeding and petting the pet Monkey. Neal was pretty fun to be around and I did manage to catch a ride to town with him on two occasions. The rooms were VERY clean and were just fine for our needs. The pool was nice and quite big. The best part was that of our 4 nights there three of them we were the only guests. Neal let us help ourselves to cold beers on the honor system while we were being lazy at the pool. I'd love to go back and rent the whole place with some friends.

  • Liked — Surrounded by beautiful ju ngle and wildlife.
  • Disliked — A bit out of the way.
  • Stayed January 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank PaperTiger67
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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24 reviews from our community

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  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
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English first
Savage, MN
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 May 2008

I contacted the property a couple of months in advance in regard to our trip which was cancelled and they said they would return my deposit that I put down to reserve the room- I never received it. Don't book this place if you have any reason to believe you might have to cancel!

  • Stayed February 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
Helpful?
Thank jam1616
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Florida
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 March 2008

What a wonderful way to experience first hand the beauty that abounds in the archipelgo of Bocas del Toro.

This area has so much to offer in the way of sea-life that to be able to experience the Terra by way of connecting with the Indian culture (on premises) and Ranch atmosphere that abounds at the Hacienda.

The Swimming pool and Bar and excellent fresh daily menu selections are perfect for anyone wishing to relax on premises. For Dolphin lovers and aquatic exercise fans, Kayaks are available to explore dolphin bay personally. For the reclining traveler the view of the horse pasture from the pool is astounding and peaceful. Perfect and peaceful to enjoy your book.

The owner a resident of the Isla's for 8 years works very hard to accomodate even the most demanding needs of his guests. Willing to work long hours ordering foods directing housekeeping , stocking Bar, tending horses and pasteurs again directing ranch hands and at the same time
relaxed enough to be convivial to some of the most obtrusive travelers as he tends Bar and directs Dinner service.
Did I mention Hacienda del Toro is located on an island reached thru an inlet from the Dolphin Bay. Life on on an Island is as challenging as life at sea
- that means generated power to run elctricity and water and provide the traveler with an incredible experience they will never forget.

  • Liked — Coming in contacct with the reall Bocas del Toro
  • Disliked — can't think of anything
  • Stayed March 2008, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank BocasBeebs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Atlanta, GA
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 23 March 2008

There is a lot to like about Hacienda del Toro. The views are magnificent. The hibiscus and the palms remind me of Fantasy Island -- the flora was truly exotic. The resident parrot and monkey were cool entertainment (the parrot Mojito actually plays hide-and-seek!). And the setting is much more quiet and private than Bocas town. The food was consistently wonderful (far better than in town). The bird watching opportunities are world-class. Sea cayaking through the mangroves is probably the most compelling activity. And the central tiki hut is one of the top 10 places in the world to spend an afternoon sampling caribbean drinks (seriously good Panamanian rum; or ask for the Monkey La-La).

The husband and wife team that the owner employs are extremely hard-working, friendly and eager to please (she is a fine cook). That said, the facility is under-staffed, e.g. we never actually got to ride horses despite the website's emphasis on horse-back riding (my sense is that the quater-horses may not receive enough exercise to be safe for novice riders). And you may find that availability of "normal" sundries like toilet paper or soap are a little skimpy -- which probably reflects some cash flow strain. But I interpret that in the positive....e.g. Hacienda del Toro clearly needs our business, and the incredible setting warrants small sacrifices. In fact, I found the the off-the-grid lifestyle to be very educational, given the first-world's new-found focus on sustainable resources.

I read that another reviewer did not care for the proprietor. Certainly, any B&B requires personality chemistry between the owner and the guest. I thought the reviewer's observations were 100% accurate; I just did not agree with his conclusion. In fact, I liked the owner quite a bit. Undoubtedly, this owner has a strong personality. I enjoyed our conversations and learned a good bit. I will allow, though, that whether the owner likes his guest appeared to impact the quality of the interaction.

In conclusion, I think this is a B&B that is best-suited to romantic getaways -- we had our 3 and 8 year old children with us, and the what-can-we-do-now mantra drove us to distraction. But I plan to recommend Hacienda del Toro to my brother and his wife -- who are forty somethings (without kids) who love to play -- because they will really connect with the owner. That said, families with kids will be challenged (e.g. the pool is really the only activity available).

One last comment is aimed not at Hacienda del Toro specifically, but rather at the Bocas del Toro region generally. The transportation between islands is far less frequent than I expected -- because boat rides take a minimum of 20 minutes and the gas cost is a deterrent (albeit rain also was a factor). In our four-day stay, we were not able to visit a number of attractions we had hoped -- such as Coral Key or Bird Island. Do not depend on your B&B to transport you. Make arrangements with a tour company in Bocas town. If you can not ensure that you have reliable transportation to Bocas town for those activities, then stay in Bocas town.

This trip is moderate adventure travel due to the challenges of the tropics -- heat, humidity, bugs, etc. On the other hand, we never felt unsafe. Go with the right frame of mind, and you will have a pleasant and memorable experience seeing a very different part of the World. Buen viaje!

  • Liked — Views, flora, birds
  • Disliked — tough logistics
  • Stayed March 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank Marco_and_Polo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
16 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 March 2008

Hacienda del Toro is a breathtaking tropical ranch on Isla San Cristobal in Bocas del Toro. My wife and I came here for a romantic getaway for four nights on our honeymoon, and we were not disappointed!

If you want an idyllic romantic or secluded getaway vacation, in a place that is beautiful beyond belief, with outstanding service and great recreational opportunities, then you need to stay at Hacienda del Toro. The owner/proprietor Neal, from Arizona, was a most gracious and interesting host. On our visit, my wife and I were the only guests. Neal took great care of us and was great company! Neal also is the bartender and he pours a tasty (and stiff) drink!

The restaurant selection was limited, but handpicked by Neal and every item was wonderful. On our trip, we had New York strip, corvina (fish), tuna, and the best pork chops we've ever had. The meals were cooked and prepared in a typical American style. The restaurant/bar is a big open air palapa, next to the pool, with a great view, and is a very comfortable place to hang out.

Our room was nice, not too plush, and had a southwestern US-style decor. The back deck is shared with the next door neighbors, has an incredible view of the bay (see picture) and is a great place to relax with chairs and a hammock.

The Hacienda is a ~30 min boat ride across Bahia de Almirante. You can usually hitch a ride into Bocas Town in the morning from the owner/proprietor Neal or one of his staff. They usually come back early afternoon though, so if you want to come back later you would have to get a water taxi, which went for $30 in fall 2007. That is the only complaint I have about Hacienda del Toro.

For many activities, such as scuba diving or boat tours, you will have to go into Bocas Town or one of the hotels on the other islands. But Hacienda del Toro has its own bit of recreation; you can borrow sea kayaks - the bay is pretty calm at this location - or ride horses on a guided ride into the jungle. And you can always lounge around at the pool. Look for the toucan that stops in every so often to say hello!

Bocas del Toro is an incredible place to visit - the options for what to do are limitless. The Hacienda del Toro is an absolutely perfect location for your honeymoon, romantic getaway, or family reunion vacation - you will love the solitude and the scenery.

  • Liked — The grounds were beautiful, the scenery gorgeous, the meals delicious, and Neal's hospitality gracious
  • Disliked — $30 each way for water taxi to/from Bocas Town
  • Stayed November 2007, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank jjnboise
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
1 review
Reviewed 25 January 2008

We stayed at Hacienda del Toro for 2 nights and it was by far the best place we stayed in Panama.
The accommodation and the views were amazing
The owner, Neil, was great fun who regailed us with stories at the bar, whilst supplying us with the best frozen margeritas ever!
Having breakfast delivered to our door each morning was a real nice touch - and sitting on the terrace watching the wildlife was amazing.
Recommend you stay here and when you do, go out in the Kayaks and watch the dolphins as they come and play near the boat - wonderful experience. If you're lucky you might even see a manatee too!
Everything about this place was excellent - the food was delicious as well - best steak I've ever had.
Can't recommend this place enough, go and see it for yourself.
Martin and Kate (UK)

  • Liked — The view, the rooms, the owner, the food, the margeritas!
  • Stayed January 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Ghoulden
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Jose
1 review
Reviewed 13 September 2007

My wife and I spent five days/four nights at the Hacienda in September where we enjoyed great swimming and snorkeling, good good and drink and wonderful conversations with owner Neal Thomas, a former horse rancher in Prescott, Arizona. The Hacienda features a stable of beautiful horses for riding or excursions into the rain forest, access to wonderful snorkeling (you do have to rend a boat and driver), other day trip possibilties, such as a visit to the cacao farm across Dolphin Bay.

The Hacienda is located on Isla Cristobal in the Bocas del Toro islands of Panama. September offered great weather, not much rain, and, to our pleasant surprise, very few mosquitoes. Neither of us returned home with a bite!

The snorkeling in the nearby reefs is fantastic - the corrals are healthy and featured brilliant colors, and we saw a great variety of tropical fish.

The Hacienda´s rooms are spacious and comfortable, and they all offer fine vistas of Dolphin Bay. Neal has kayaks that you can use to go out into the Bay for a swim. The Hacienda is kid friendly, and has a swimming pool. There is also Sam, a semi domesticated Toucan who shows up mornings and evenings for a meal.

We paid $120/night, with a continental breakfast included. The dinner meals are extra, but reasonably priced and certainly better than what you´ll find in the town of Bocas, which is about a twenty minute boat ride away.

The Hacienda del Toro is certainly worth considering for a relaxing and fun vacation. You can see the place at www.haciendadeltoro.com

Stayed September 2007
Helpful?
Thank AndyRSanJose
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hacienda del Toro

Property: Hacienda del Toro
Address: Isla san Cristobal, 31327, Panama
Region: Panama > Bocas del Toro Province
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #50 of 96 Speciality Lodging in Bocas del Toro Province
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Caribbean/Hotel Deluxe cottage rental, 8 miles from Bocas by boat. Swimming pool, horse stable, kayaks, daily maid service, rest/bar on premises. Peaceful, private. Kayak with the dolphins. ... more   less 

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