The diversity of opinions about Las Olas is impressive. Obviously, not everyone had/has the same expectations and standards.
My wife and I moved from 9,200' in the Colorado Rockies to Boquete (c. 3,400'), Panama c. a year ago, and we love Boquete in particular and Panama in general. But, every few weeks, a short ride down to the Pacific coast for two days and a night (nice walks on the beach, sound of the surf, warmer weather, lounging by or in the pools, etc.) is a nice treat. Even paradise-quality weather can get repetitive after a while.
The proprietor of Las Olas reportedly owns 18 miles of Pacific beach (Imagine the taxes!), and is selling lots, condos, etc., near the resort (Once the upgrading of David's airport is finished, he should do really well). You can easily walk for miles (sand seems firmest early in the morning) without getting lost. : )
We have been to Las Olas three times now, once in a condo with friends, twice at the hotel, and have found that we can stay at Las Olas most economically by making reservations at Las Olas's site (www.lasolasresort.com). Off-season (Weather here changes little throughout the year, but gringos like most to visit during their northern winters) a single room for two people currently costs $60 plus $6 tax. A great bargain! We expect to return frequently for short visits throughout the year.
We have eaten and enjoyed breakfast, lunch, & dinner, including hamburgers, fries, steaks, mahi-mahi, coconut rice and beans, and Caesar salads w. chicken breast. Meal prices are reasonable, but not as cheap as at a Panamanian "tipico," but I haven't found any tipicos serving these dishes. Wines are also good and reasonable. Beef here is leaner and a little chewier than at US steak joints, but probably also range-fed and considerably better for you).
Service we experienced (Edder at the front desk, Nancy and Berlio serving meals) was always consistently professional, courteous, and cheerful. We try to speak Spanish to the extent we can (their English is better than my Spanish), and that effort, however feeble, MAY have appealed a little You don't have to speak Spanish, but trying a little Spanish might go a long way.
Driving from David to Las Olas is on paved country roads, through farms and villages, not on an Interstate. If you can, I'd suggest downloading and printing maps, getting some directions, and driving in daylight (enjoy the scenery). Signs identifying roads and streets are not as common in Panama as in the US. We have and use a Garmin, but a lot of Panamanian roads aren't on it.
Also, local drivers know the roads, know who has the right of way, know where the potholes are, and may go pretty fast. You are not a local. Drive defensively, even if some locals don't.
If you think you may be lost, local folks can be asked for help. If you're generally on the right road, maybe at an unmarked fork in the road, and can ask "Las Olas" in a questioning way and with a pleasant smile, most know where Las Olas is, are used to lost gringos who don't understand Spanish, and should be able to point you in the right direction.
Speed limits we practice are 80 kph on country highways (unless marked higher); 60 kph in towns; 40 kph near schools (usually blue and cream colored cinder-block buildings, usually surrounded by fences; and 30 kph around construction crews (yellow shirts and helmets and yellow-orange reflector vests). School kids in uniforms and construction crews will be considerably easier to spot than the traffic policeman or woman in olive fatigues standing nearby under a tree, who'll ticket you if you appear to be endangering these groups. Even if you don't see a car or motorcycle, stop if they flag you down. Their radios' signals go faster than your car, and they can pretty well guess where your headed. Plus, many carry assault weapons. : )
Rooms are nice and clean, even though maintenance, painting, etc., may not always be as neat as US 4-star levels, but realize that Panama is only currently working its way out of "third-world" status, and many of its people are experiencing lots of paradigm shifts.
Staff will try not to impose on you or invade your privacy, but will always give you a smile in return for your greeting of "Buenos dias," even if they reply with "Buenas tardes" or "Buenas noches."
You will be offered, in addition to your room key, a lock and key to use with your room safe. Use them. We've never met a staff member we thought would take anything, but people here are not nearly as wealthy as you may appear, and in Latin America in general, it's not smart to leave your valuables lying around.
In our home in Boquete, and at most restaurants nearby, the water is safe for gringos to drink. At Los Olas, bottles of water are available in your room for $1 each. I'm not sure that there's anything wrong with the water, but "better safe than sorry?"
Bottom line: Las Olas is a great place to enjoy a peaceful visit to Panama's Pacific coast. It's not the big city, and offers no nightclubs or casinos, but we love it, and shudder to think what may happen to it when thousands of gringos start flying into David. : )
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located just 30 minutes from David, Panama’s second largest city and the Enrique Malek International Airport, Las Olas Resort is at the heart of the 14 mile stretch of beach called Playa La Barqueta and the surrounding 2,000 acre plantation. Some of the best surfers in all of Panama may be found catching waves on this spectacular expanse of beach and its waves giving Las Olas its name, meaning “The Waves”. Las Olas Resort offer 48 rooms all facing uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean. We have standard rooms with two queen beds or one king bed, six junior suites with a separate living area, and two king suites featuring two bedrooms and one living area. Each and every room is steps away from the gorgeous sand and beautiful blue waters of Playa La Barqueta. Each room has a terrace, with lower rooms having beachside access while the upper floors have their own enclosed private terrace.offers excellent shopping, dining, and nightlife. Las Olas Resort features lush gardens, wandering walkways surrounded by the umbrella shaped coverage of almond trees, tall and lovely grape leaves, multicolored crotos, pink bougabilia, hedges of hicacos and a wide variety of palm trees,. All forty-eight rooms are directly facing the Pacific Ocean and the spectacular views of the majestic sunsets over Playa La Barqueta. In La Abigail Restaurant guests can enjoy local, organic plantains, pineapples, mangos (in season), papaya and watermelon. We raise our own grass fed beef and lamb, duck, pork, and chicken. Taste fresh coconut water to refresh your body and enjoy tennis, kayaking, surfing, strolling the beach or taking a swim. Good for mind and body, Las Olas Resort provides a quick way to hit your internal reset button.The Bella Donna Convention Center at Las Olas Resort offers meeting and event spaces of a variety of sizes with various services, food and beverage options available. Added to the adjacent covered outdoor space, one could hold a party of 500 or more. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Las Olas Beach David