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“Wonderful, from Colorado”

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Hotel Dona Mara Bed & Breakfast
Ranked #20 of 30 Bocas Town B&B and Inns
Sandpoint, Idaho
Level Contributor
14 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Wonderful, from Colorado”
Reviewed 29 December 2008

What a wonderful getaway! This was our second visit to the Bocas area and we are so glad that Doug recommended this to us! We stayed a full week! Many days we moved only from the yummy breakfast to the end of the dock to sway in the hamock and watch the boats.
The service is out of this world and the food is excellent! We watched the local fisherman bring in crab and had a grand dinner that evening!
We are booking a trip for Jan of 2009 and will be sure to stay at Dona Mara!

  • Liked — Great Managers do out of their way for you
  • Disliked — 0
  • Stayed April 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank LadybugColorado
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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27 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
venice, CA
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 December 2008

Dona Mara is a Rudimentary 1 story cell block. 6 Very small and basic rooms in a horseshoe shaped building. Loud dance hall Reggae music supplied by neighbors until 5 A.M. almost every morning free of charge, and if the wind is blowing right, a fantastic open air sewer smell right in your room. And the hours of running water are 3 times a day roughly an hour each. Wanna wash the salt off after an ocean dip?? Better time you toilet and shower use accordingly. They blame it on the supply from Colon, but there are many other places to stay on Carenaro with their own tank system. It's the type of place you never feel clean. Now if I we're 20 years old and the rooms were $25, I would totally share it with a surf buddy or two. NOW, there are some things at Dona Mara that are top notch... the staff are very nice , and the restaraunt is amazing for local cuisine such as Lobster, Conch and fish cooked Caribbean style or in Coconut milk. Some of the best food in all of Bocas. An hour at the restaurant is a perfect stay here.

  • Liked — the restaurant
  • Disliked — the rooms and price
  • Stayed December 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank jasonkimba
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brooklyn, NY
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 October 2008

The staff was really nice, and the views and tiny beach are very pleasant. BUT, our room wasn't great. It was small and felt like a musty city hotel. Too much concrete, only one small window which opened onto the common area, there was a little mold on the ceiling. It wasn't horrible, but once inside the room we didn't feel like we were in a tropical paradise, which is what Bocas is. I think the place is OK but really way too much money for what you get. We spent the next 2 nights nearby at Casa Acuario, which cost a little more but was WAY nicer.

  • Stayed September 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank throcke
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Panama City, Pma.
2 reviews
Reviewed 5 October 2008

We just returned from a 4 day get away at the lovely Dona Mara. The staff was very friendly and welcoming.. the managers..the sweetest couple who were ready with suggestions to enhance our stay. The rooms were clean, up to date with hot showers, cable TV and AC's. The beach is truely at your door step with brown pelican's dive bombing for their dinner out the length of the pier. What a better combination....a cozy, homelike atmosphere, warm tropical breezes, ice cold brews and a darn fine restaurant that specializes in seafood. Their homemade chocolate brownies are just this side of Heaven.
We'd go back there in a Heart Beat!!
A word to the wise: it Is the Tropics-- take bug spray.

  • Liked — Its low key comfort level and its beautiful location.
  • Disliked — The bugs that are a natural occurance in the given environment, not the hotels fault.
  • Stayed October 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank Riorose
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Francisco
1 review
Reviewed 15 September 2008

I just returned from a week long stay at Dona Mara and it was ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC! I couldn't have asked for more! The staff was extremely friendly, helpful and fun. They really helped to make my stay PERFECT! The location is ALSO absolutely stunning! It's one of the few hotels directly on the beach. And, being a one minute water taxi ride to town was the best location EVER! Isla Carneros is stunningly beautiful and tranquil. I went for peace and quiet and got it! But, you must note, the nightlife is sooooo close if that's what you're looking for. I hopped over to town and other islands on multiple occasions with no problems whatsoever. Now onto the food ... I ate most of my meals at Dona Mara. The food was exquisite! And, the menu, varied enough that I never felt I had to eat elsewhere! It's all fresh ingredients, fish & shrimp- freshly caught that day and herbs & veggies picked from their garden. Try the banana bread - it melts in your mouth. As for the rooms, mine was perfect. They are very well kept - super clean, secure and comfortable. While it is your basic room (a bed, an armoire and a nightstand), there is a tv in each room with Direct TV. I was in a tropical paradise and able to watch CNN. It was actually quite funny. Again, I couldn't have asked for more.
I must reiterate how friendly the staff is. Not only did they help make my trip fantastic while there, they even called up one of their taxi-driver friends in Panama City who was there to pick me up at Albrook airport upon my return from Bocas and drive me to Tocumen Int'l the next morning.
I LOVE this place and would go back in a heartbeat!!!!!!!!

  • Liked — location
  • Disliked — town water restrictions
  • Stayed August 2008, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank jmarie500
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
bocasonelove, manager at Hotel Dona Mara Bed & Breakfast, responded to this review, 21 September 2008
Thank you very much,
Customers like you make our efforts worthwhile.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
USA
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 7 September 2008

I wasn't sure what I was expecting at Hotel Dona Mara, but it was not this beautiful little spot right on the water! We got dropped off by water taxi at Dona Mara's dock and rolled our suitcases to the hotel. A guy was there to help us with luggage--we declined his offer, but we were happy to have received it. Penny Tom was at the front desk to greet us. She and I had exchanged emails before my arrival, and I didn't get deposit information from her in time to make a bank transfer before leaving the states. Someone I spoke with at the hotel told me she trusted me and would reserve the room for me despite my not having put any money down. When I got to the hotel, Penny seemed to know nothing of this arrangement, but she was happy to put us up in a room for the same price we'd agreed on in our emails.

The room was adjacent to the front desk area, but we didn't hear disturbing noise that kept us awake at night or woke us too early in the morning. Our room had air conditioning, an ample shower, and fancy cable (which somehow seemed out of place on the small island of Carenero).

The food at the restaurant is pretty yummy and moderately priced--you get get cheaper food in Bocas town, but the quality at many places is mediocre. It was nice to have a reliable restaurant feet away from our door. I went out on a limb and sampled the octopus ceviche, which I loved. Happy hour lasts a deliciously long time, from 4:30-7 PM. Try the daiquiris, which are made with local fresh fruit--and they'll only set you back $2.50 during happy hour! There's the aforementioned dock (complete with a pair of hammocks), a teensy beach, boats for rent, yummy drinks, good food, and GREAT service all at your fingertips here.

Luis and Penny made our stay really easygoing and really enjoyable. We always felt comfortable asking questions, and they indulged our desire to practice Spanish. Luis set us up with a "tour" (read: pre-arranged boat rides to different islands and beaches, with little to no information given by guides) and even put us in touch with his friend in Panama City, a cab driver who helped us for a couple of days before our flight back to the States. (The "tour" was really nice, by the way--just don't go expecting to learn a lot other than what your eyes can take in. And bring extra cash for an overpriced lunch, your only option for food if you don't bring your own.)

I miss the hotel already. It really seemed like a family environment, what with a couple of workers' kids hanging out in the water now and again and everyone treating each other (and us) with a genuine smile.

Oh! One more thing! Be sure to put on some shoes with good tread and wander along the beach to your left (if you're facing the water). We saw so many gorgeous, amazing sites on the island!

  • Liked — helpful, friendly staff & beautiful location
  • Disliked — beds were a bit squeaky and not as comfortable as I'd hoped for
  • Stayed September 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Janevie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
17 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 September 2008

We stayed in Bocas Town for three days at Lula's before moving out to the Dona Mara. It's a perfectly decent hotel, but don't go expecting an island resort. Biting bugs abound EVERYWHERE on Isla Carnero... it's basically impossible to be outside after dusk (which happens around 5:30pm) or in the morning.

On the other hand, we loved taking the water taxi from the end of the dock at Dona Mara back to Isla Colon. It's only a 5 minute ride (and $1 or $2/pp), but it's fun to walk out to the end of the dock and wave a boat down everytime you want to go back to the big island. There are a lot of great restaurants and bars on Isla Colon (fewer on Carnero), so it's worth the quick trip for the evening. And fewer bugs.

Otherwise, it's a decent hotel. Our room smelled a bit musty upon arrival, but the A/C eventually took care of that. Beds were comfortable, TV was watchable.... Oh! I almost forgot. They turned the water off for the majority of the days we were there. Some excuse about how the rain made it limited... but it ALWAYS rains in the Caribbean. I think it was just a disguise for a cost saving measure. Ask before you book.

Stayed August 2008
Helpful?
Thank PolyAnalyst
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Dona Mara Bed & Breakfast

Property: Hotel Dona Mara Bed & Breakfast
Address: Isla Carenero, Bocas Town, Isla Colon, Panama
Region: Panama > Bocas del Toro Province > Isla Colon > Bocas Town
Hotel Style:
Ranked #20 of 30 B&Bs / Inns in Bocas Town
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located on breathtaking, tranquil Carenero Island, our hotel is one of very few with rooms right on the beach. Our location is perfect, less than two minutes from Bocas Town, with its shops, restaurants, and nightlife. However, we're just far enough away to enjoy peace and quiet. Our bed & breakfast & restaurant provide comfort, tranquility, and a swimming beach without sacrificing easy access to/from Isla Colon. Taste the local flavor at our beachside restaurant. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Hotel Dona Mara Bocas Town
Hotel Dona Mara Bed And Breakfast
Hotel Dona Mara Bed & Breakfast Bocas Del Toro, Panama - Bocas Town

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