We paid $1900 for two from Toronto. We booked with Sunwing for this vacation (this part has little to do with the hotel itself - but might be helpful for someone booking with Sunwing). When we landed at the airport, going through customs and getting our bags was pretty quick. There were only three agent kiosks open but luckily we were near the front of the plane so we were able to enter the line quickly, however, we had the entire plane lined up behind us and they weren't so lucky. Once we left the baggage area, there were many people with signs directing us to where we were supposed to go. We got to the area where the car rentals are and the Sunwing reps had us all line up. They then proceeded to call our names one by one to hand out the welcome cards... this was a disaster since the entire plane was lined up and only one person distributing the cards. When they realized that wasn't working, they split the cards up between them. That wasn't much better. They also distributed the resort bracelets to everyone and room keys. My husband and I didn't get keys and they told us that they were holding the keys for us at the resort. They loaded people on to mini buses and sent them to the resort as they were loaded. It was the MOST disorganized, unpleasant airport meeting we have ever experienced.
The ride to the resort was almost two hours. It wasn't a bad ride, just long, especially after arriving so late to the airport. When we arrived at the hotel, we were told that the buffet stayed open for us since our flight was late and we were to eat first and check in after - It was about 11:00pm at this point. We thought this was great since we were so hungry and no other resort we have been to has ever gone out of their way like that. After we ate our meal we went to the front desk to check in and they told us we had to check in at the other building since we got the suite. We were driven over to the other building (Town Centre) and tried to check it at the front desk. The front desk person told me that only my husband could check in because I was staying in a normal room on the resort. I pulled out my reservation papers to double check and it was an error made at booking that I didn't catch, so I didn't argue it. I told them I would go back over and get my key but would not trek my luggage back there. The clerk said that I could not go upstairs with my husband to his room because I wasn't welcome in that building! We walked back over to the resort and tried to sort it out with the front desk. The front desk told me that I couldn't simply give up my room to stay with my husband. He gave me "my" key and we dragged our luggage to my room. We opened the door and there were people in there! The front desk called the room (because they didn't believe us haha!) and put me in a new room. We dropped my suitcase off in that room and went back over to the Town Centre. As we were walking by the reception in that building, he stopped me and told me I could not go upstairs. I had him call the resort since I was cranky that it was after 1am and we had still not got our luggage up to the room. He hung up and apologized and told me to go up.
The suite is beautiful! We were told that it had a pool view and looking out the window at night, we were disappointed that we didn't have a pool view. Were we wrong!! In the morning we opened the curtains to find the biggest pool we have ever seen! The view was great, all we saw was blue when we looked out the floor-to-ceiling windows. Everything was great about the suite except it didn't have a balcony, but there were suites with balconies. We had a kitchenette, king sized bed, flat screen TV, couch, desk, dresser, bar stools, and coffee table. The bathroom didn't have a door, but it had glass doors that closed in the toilet and shower stalls. It had a nice big fridge to store all our cold drinks and food in - since it was a long walk to the resort in the middle of the night. The bed was very comfy! I definitely recommend getting this room upgrade! There is a bar on the main floor of Town Centre but its hours were limited. To get a drink when this bar was closed you would have to walk to the resort. This is where the fridge is handy. Housekeeping in this building was quite friendly and they did a good job keeping the room, and the hallways clean.
The downside to the suite was that it wasn't close to anything. To get to the beach, you have to walk to the resort, then through it to the beach section, or down a paved road to a dirt road then to the beach. The buffet was also a good walk, but if you are able-bodied than it is a nice stroll to help burn off some vacation calories.
On our third day we had a phone call to the suite that the Sunwing rep was trying to find me. I went and saw her later in the afternoon and she told me that they placed me in the wrong building as that one was closed for painting and she was upgrading me to a Town Centre suite for the inconvenience. I wasn't using the other room anyway, but the suite upgrade was much appreciated. We went and checked it out, it had a balcony! We really like to hang out and read or play card games on the balcony while on vacation so we spent a lot of time in the new suite. It was the same as the other room but the layout was opposite.
As for the standard resort room. It was somewhat dated, but it was clean. The hallways were freshly painted and the floors were well taken care of in the room. The art on the wall was a blown up photo screwed into the wall, not very aesthetically pleasing. The spacious balcony overlooked the pool and had two chairs. The bed wasn't as comfy as the Town Centre bed.
I didn't find the staff very warm or friendly at most times and I very seldom saw a smile. Sometimes there was a language barrier but I am obviously not going to hold this against them since it is a Spanish-speaking country and I don't speak Spanish.
This resort is in the middle of nowhere. Be sure to take all the cigarettes, sunscreen, batteries, and other toiletries that you need as it seems they know you have no other choice if you need something and they gouge you in the gift shop. Souvenirs can be found cheaper off the resort, including the shops by the Decameron.
The buffet was good. We liked that it didn't have too many choices that went stale or cold, and that it had enough choices to keep the food fresh and hot. We really liked the sushi restaurant. It was very fresh and among the best sushi we have had. The soup wasn't anything to call home about. The seafood restaurant was alright... the nicest part was being able to listen to the ocean while eating. We ate at the pool grill a couple times but they were often out of different food, so it was hit or miss.
The sand on the beach is very dark and it gets HOT! I read a lot on the forums about sting rays in the water so I didn't push it. I normally only swim in water where I can see the bottom to know that it is free of creepy-crawlies, so I didn't go in too far. When the tide is out, you can cross at the river and walk to the little village near the Decameron where there are some small shops and souvenir huts. There are also bars and restaurants on the way, it's a nice walk for a change of scenery.
We took a taxi to the car rental place beside the Decameron and rented a car. The cost was about $90... I cant remember whether this was for one day or two, but I think two. We had no problems driving anywhere, it isn't any worse than Toronto... we even drove at night and were just fine. We got lost in Panama City on the way to the mall thanks to construction throwing us off course and what they say is true - there are no signs to help you! If we return to Playa Blanca, we will definitely be renting a car from the airport... not only to avoid the disaster of a transfer setup from Sunwing, but also because it is much, much cheaper than renting from Decameron and very handy to have for the week. We drove to directly to the places that offered tours (such as Panama Canal and Gatun Lake) and even with the price of the car rental, fuel, and what we paid for the tours, it still ended up being cheaper than if we had paid for the tours by a tour company that would pick us up from the resort AND we didn't have to share our tours with anyone else - we got the guides all to ourselves!! We were also able to try other restaurants, shop at grocery stores, buy cheap clothes and booze, and explore the country because we had a car... the freedom of being able to choose our activities for a couple days was a lot of fun.
The pools in the resort were nice and clean. The giant pool outside of the resort is available for use by guests on Sundays only, or if you stayed at the Town Centre, you could use it anytime. We went on our first full day, Sunday, and had a good time swimming and lounging. We went back a couple days later and a woman in a uniform stopped us and told us we weren't allowed in there because we weren't staying in the suites. We told her that we were and pointed to our rooms. She basically made us feel like crooks and liars... We went to the reception at the Town Centre and asked what was going on. He said that we had the wrong bracelets on (the ones that the Sunwing Reps had made us put on at the airport) and gave us silver Town Centre Suites bracelets. We went back down to the pool and the same lady, still just as ignorant, took our room numbers and signatures. It made the rest of the time at the pool really uncomfortable. There is also a bar at this pool, with just as unfriendly bartenders most of the time.
We have talked about whether or not we would go back to Playa Blanca Resort. We loved the suites, loved Panama, and liked the resort food. We didn't like how we didn't feel a part of the resort-life by staying in the suites, the distance from the suites to the beach, and how rude some of the staff were to other guests. We now know what to expect, which would make the resort alright to visit again, but I think that next time we may try the Royal Decameron since we have heard good things from family members.
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- Also Known As:
- Playa Blanca Hotel Farallon
- Playa Blanca Hotel And Resort
- Hotel Playa Blanca Panama
- Playa Blanca Resort Panama
- Playa Blanca Panama City
- Blanca Panama Playa
- Hotel Playa Blanca Beach Resort Panama/Farallon