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“Unique and Special Experience” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Hacienda del Mar

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Hacienda del Mar
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in San Jose Island
Certificate of Excellence
Herndon, Virginia
Level Contributor
10 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Unique and Special Experience”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 January 2013

This is not the place for everyone, but it was absolutely wonderful for us.The location, the views and the fact that it is away from everything. Complete relaxation. We had the "Blue Lagoon" beach to ourselves 99% of the time, the resort was not full. We could watch our kids (9 and 12) from our balcony. The kids could roam freely. There is no TV in rooms, but TV in an air-conditioned lounge (that also had pool and games) and wi-fi by pool, in restaurant and lounge. We had no problem with bugs, just wore bug spray in evenings. You have to ask the manager to arrange excursions, which are not cheap, but they were fun. The manager when we were there was named Bernard and he laid low, but if you approached him he'd answer your questions etc. I prefer that to the annoying cruise director type. No wet t-shirt contests, hula dancing or steel drums here, just gorgeous views and beach. We went to bed early every night after dinner in the open-air restaurant. If you are just there for a few days you may not need more than beach, pool and a good book. The pool freaked some posters out because it looked greenish, but it is fed by the river and then the water flows out. We liked the cabanas, air-conditioned and roomy, we had 2 adults and 2 kids in cabin 12, was perfect. Our flight was delayed on the way out, which was very frustrating, but we were able to leave later on our last day which was made up for it a little bit. The lobster was delicious but very expensive, make sure you ask what "market price" price is before you order, I thought it might be 30 or 40 bucks but it was more. Just confirm price before lobsters or excursions, and even laundry. We brought some granola bars etc, there, because you are limited to the restaurant, but the food was fine. Wine and beer reasonably priced and food typical "hotel" prices. We loved the birds, and did some snorkeling right around the cliffs, saw some ok fish, a big sting ray etc. We travel a lot and love places that are "different", this fits that bill.

Room Tip: Bigger VIP cabins have great views. 12 and 13
See more room tips
Stayed November 2012, travelled with family
Helpful?
2 Thank Soosui
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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102 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (21)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Athens, Georgia
Level Contributor
10 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 December 2012 via mobile

You will have no clue to what is going on - no directions on where to go, times, and etc. Also, no Internet and Mosquitos that are immune to Off repellent. Very expensive and nothing is included. We (2 people) stayed and spent $400 in food and drinks for two days.

We left early too!

  • Stayed December 2012
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
8 Thank hphp77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Panama City, Panama
Level Contributor
11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 November 2012

One of the best experience in Panama!

The hotel is right on the beach. Rooms are comfortable huts (not Marriott comfy, but very good for an eco-lodge) with view on the beach or see.
The hotel is surrounded by parrots and tucan flight around; this is just unique!

Prices are quite high but totally worth it. A extended week-end is enough anyway as there is not much to do around and activities are overpriced.

Room Tip: Even the basic rooms are very good and with view.
See more room tips
  • Stayed September 2012, travelled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank mikofaucheux
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Estero, Florida
Level Contributor
105 reviews
101 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 131 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 August 2012

Hacienda del Mar is an experience not to be missed! The short flight from Panama City was easy even for sometime like me who is nervous on small planes. We were picked up from the airport by the owner of the airline, island and hotel - George Novey. George was charming and informative. We were greeted at the front desk by his daughter Priscilla, who we got to know more over the course of our stay and we absolutely adored. As Priscilla gave us a tour, Giuseppe and Achew were waiting for us with drinks and a massive food platter. It was incredible! My parents stayed in cabin 11 and we stayed in cabin 12. These are definitely the most desirable rooms. The views were stunning. They are "island rustic" but anything else wouldn't work in a place like this. We were only there for one night, but we enjoyed the pool, the beach, an ATV tour of the island and an unbelievably fresh seafood dinner. While enjoying the continental breakfast the next morning, a toucan flew up and ate out of hands! Hacienda del Mar is so unique and wonderful. And I can't say enough how much the Novey family and entire staff made the trip unforgettable. We will definitely be back!

  • Stayed August 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank happycj24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
North Wales, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
341 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 119 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 31 July 2012

We recently spent 3 nights at Hacienda Del Mar and although this place is not for everyone, I think for the right person HDM is the perfect choice.

The site of this property is spectacular and probably one of the nicest locations I have ever been to. I have been all over the world and the beaches and ocean viewe from the pool and our room was unbelievable.

Although the rooms are "rustic chic", they were comfortable and had ample space for moving round and for all of our clothes and bathroom supplies. The A/C was good as was the ceiling fans that cooled the rooms off during the very warm and humid days All of the rooms overlook the beach and it was so nice sitting out on our porch with our coffee and just watching the ocean come in and go out.

The staff at the hotel went above and beyond. Guisseppe was outstanding with all of his extra efforts and was alway smiling and willing to accommodate all of our requests. He knew that we were celebrating a birthday while at HDM and arranged for a private beach dinner for the two of us-it was probably the nicest dinners I've ever had and he made it a very special evening.

There is no extra charge for the special dinners and you can arrange to have dinners on your veranda or on the beach-you just pay for what you consume.

In fact all of the meals were surprising good and very filling! The portions were large and tasty and the prices were reasonable.

The resort is kept immaculately clean as the staff is constantly providing upkeep to keep the place in order.

We loved the Macaus and Toucans that lived on the island and it was exciting to see them fly overheard.

We were concerned about some of the other negative reviews that were posted on this site, but we have nothing but good things to say about the hotel and it's staff.

This is a 3-star hotel on a 5 star location. Enjoy your time here, it is a very special experience.

Room Tip: Book a VIP Suite-We had room #12 and the views were fantastic!
See more room tips
  • Stayed July 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank dfc9258
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Seattle, Washington
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 July 2012

...of a beautiful spot and our precious days off and travel time.

I visited here with 3 friends and was thoroughly disappointed. I'm fine with rustic, and love sleeping to the sound of the ocean in a cabin-like setting, but there needs to be some maintenance of basic comforts such as beds that aren't saggy and cause your back to hurt in the morning and a working toilet. We complained about the mattress and it was switched out for one that was not any better. (and we couldn't get a massage for our aching backs because the spa was closed despite asking about it when we booked).The toilet didn't work the entire 4 days we were there. They kept claiming they fixed it, but I don't actually think they knew how. So we ended up having to walk to the main building every time we needed to go for the entire 4 days. They didn't seem to clean this bathroom often and several times we had to ask for toilet paper multiple times before it was replaced.

This was just part of the appalling treatment we received from the staff. There were no other guests the first few days and it felt like we were intruding on them and they seemed annoyed we were there. Not what you expect when you are spending $400 a night to stay in a little cabin. The first morning we were woken up by blaring music at the main building before 7am. The second morning this happened again, so 3 of us gave up trying to sleep and went for breakfast. We sat down in this beautiful setting that was completely ruined with this booming music. There was no one around to ask to turn it down, so we finally went around the counter and did it ourselves. One of the staff came out of the kitchen only when his music was no longer playing to see what happened and disappeared again without greeting us or asking if we might want any breakfast, etc. He came back 20 minutes later and slammed the coffee pot on the table and was basically hostile to us the rest of the trip. Well, except for our one friend that wasn't up that morning. He started being nice to her in a way that was actually incredibly rude to the rest of us. We'd all be together and he'd speak only to her and even bring things to her and nothing for the rest of us. It felt like grade school.

The second or third day other guests were coming. We knew because the staff put on a uniform. I don't care whether they wear one or not, but it seemed to clearly indicate that they had not considered us guest worth making an effort for, yet I'm sure we paid the same amount. They even asked the other guests in front of us if they wanted drinks without bothering to ask us. Pretty much, no one ever asked us if we needed or wanted anything the whole 4 days. They watched us drag heavy kayaks to the water and would walk right by. We are totally capable, but I've never been anywhere that cost that much and the staff just watched you do everything for yourself. We even had to help tally our own bill! The night before we left we were told we needed to meet at reception to check out at a certain time to get the flight back. The bill was not computerized, and the woman checking us out didn't bother to do it in advance, so there she was with a stack of paper receipts for 4 people and a calculator and we needed to get to the plane. So one of us ends up helping her (she also seemed like she had no idea what she was doing) while the other 3 stood in the heat, getting eaten by bugs waiting and worrying we’d miss our flight and at that point we were dying to get out of there (just how you hope to feel when you are leaving a beautiful vacation spot, right? )

Additional disappointments: There was a noisy tractor on the beach day 1. Many of the items on the menu were not available, and it was not an extensive menu nor cheap, so we were paying a lot to eat the same things again and again. We inquired about taking one of their boat trips to go snorkeling and did that one afternoon, however, they didn’t bother to tell us that the water conditions are such in the afternoon there that you can’t snorkel. So for $100/person we just drove around in a boat for 2 hours.

We reached out to the owner who was not on site during our visit, and never heard back from her except about one a problem with one of our credit cards (due to check out being a disaster). I’m appalled at how little she seems to care that people come all this distance and use precious days off to stay at her resort only to have a horrible time. With the lack of basic comforts (decent beds and working toilets) and a staff that treats you like you are intruding and unwilling to go out of their way to offer basic customer service (essentially their jobs), our visit to her so-called paradise didn’t feel like much of a vacation.

  • Stayed April 2012, travelled with friends
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
8 Thank Rlb7076
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
12 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 May 2012

We had a horrible experience at this hotel. The location is quite beautiful, so it's a true disappointment that the experience was not better. I went with three close female friends. Initially we were the only guests, until other guests arrived. And the owners were not present the entire time. I'm not sure if this was part of the problem, but overall it felt like we were intruding on the staff's vacation.

I sent an email, which I include at the bottom, to the owner on our second day hoping that she would be able to help remedy the situation from abroad. She never responded, until after we departed. In her email she made no reference to my email, never asked how our stay was, but asked for a friend's credit card number. It was a total fiasco to check out- took over an hour for them to put our bills together. I was truly appalled at the horrible service and see now that the tone is set from the top down. I sent a second email to the owner detailing the issues with our stay and that has also gone unanswered. Here is the text of both emails:

Hi Marissa, in response to your email asking for my friend's credit card, I would like to let you know that we did not enjoy our time at Hacienda del Mar. I emailed you after our first day and you never responded. Here were our issues:

1. We never had a working toilet the entire time during our visit. Every day they came and said it was fixed and as soon as we tried it, it would not flush. We were forced to use the communal bathrooms near the pool, which were only cleaned once, prior to the other guests arriving, which was at the end of our stay. There were no paper towels in the ladies bathroom, and every day we had to request toilet paper, usually 2-3 times before receiving any.

2. Upon arrival we were told that your spa was not functioning and would not function at all during our visit. Your website lists spa services and only two days before we came to Panama we contacted you about spa services and were sent a list of offerings. We were looking forward to massages and other services. Had we known there would be none offered, we would have stayed somewhere else.

3. Your staff, with the exception of Achew and Elay, at best was indifferent, at worst outright rude and hostile. Guiseppe and Margot were the worst offenders. As I mentioned in my prior email, Guiseppe was blasting loud music every morning before 7am, until other guests arrived. We couldn’t sleep through it. One morning, we went for breakfast around 7:15 because we couldn’t sleep with the music. We sat there for over 20 minutes. I got up and turned the music down because it was ridiculously loud and no one was around to speak to about the noise. Guiseppe then came out from the kitchen to check on the music, saw us but did not greet us, and then stormed away. We sat there for another 20 minutes. At that point he came back and slammed a pot of coffee on our table, but still did not speak to us.
None of your staff ever asked us if we needed anything, how our stay was going, or if we wanted to plan any activities. We had to ask for a list of activities multiple times. The one and only time they spoke to us was to ask us to play volleyball because the staff needed more women on the women’s team. There was no one to help us with the kayaks, lounge chairs, umbrellas, etc. Another day my friend was waiting for the internet for over 45 minutes while one of your staff members was busy on facebook even though my friend made it clear that she was waiting. When other guests arrived after a few days we noticed that your staff put on uniforms. Apparently we, as guests, did not qualify for their uniforms. In fact, Guiseppe said that he put it on because other guests were coming. Later that day at that pool, Guiseppe asked your other guests if they would like drinks. He ignored us, even though we were several feet away. Not sure what he considered us, but I know at check out we were charged just like all other guests.

4. Your beds and linens need to be updated. The beds slope down in the middle and we all had backaches from sleeping in them. They did change the mattress on one bed because it was so horrible, but the other mattress was just as poor. Your pillows are odd sizes and shapes and not the
kind of quality that we would expect.

5. The beach near our room smelled of sewage.

6. When we planned a boat trip to go snorkeling, we were never told that there is no snorkeling in the afternoon. We told Guiseppe that we wanted to go snorkeling and in the description of the boat activity, it clearly lists snorkeling and that the activity is for 3 hours. Guiseppe arranged for the boat at 2pm. We took a quick speed ride around the island for 1 ½ hours. We never stopped, except once when we were offered a beverage. I asked the driver multiple times about snorkeling and he was unresponsive. When we returned there was no dingy to bring us back to the beach because your other staff members had taken it out. As a result we had to swim to shore. Your activity list clearly states that the boat trip is 3 hours long and includes snorkeling and stops at beaches. I think it’s outrageous that we were charged the same price and our boat trip did not include any of those things and lasted half the time. On top of it to charge a $100 per person and have your guests swim to shore with our things, including cameras, because your staff is out riding around on the dingy is just disgraceful.

7. The lounge furniture at the beach is moldy, beat up, and extremely dated. It is uncomfortable to sit in.

8. Our first day on the beach we were greeted with a loud tractor working on the beach. The tractor was there for half the morning retrieving things from a boat and carrying the items up the beach. Not very relaxing.

9. It took over 1 hour to check out of the hotel. Margot could have added up our bills the evening before, or that morning, but she waited until we were there at the time SHE designated for us to leave for the airport to look at our bills and first start putting it together. She said it would take 5 minutes. Instead it took over one hour and my friend had to go into the back office to help Margot with everything. Margot was incapable of adding up our individual bills. My friend had to work with Margot to walk her through each bill and how to add them up. Has Margot never checked anyone out before?

10. While most of the food that was served was good, at least half of your menu was unavailable. We told Guiseppe on day 1 that we would like ice cream. Every day we were told that the hotel would get ice cream. It never arrived until the last night of our five day stay.

11. While this is out of your control, we want to mention that we were covered head to toe in bites and rashes. Two of us have had to see medical doctors because of the severity. One of our doctors said that it was a bacterial infection, potentially caused by dirty water in a pool.

We were really looking forward to our stay at Hacienda del Mar. But we had an extremely disappointing experience. For almost $400 a night these issues are utterly unacceptable. Perhaps some of the staff issues would not have been as severe had an owner been present during our visit. However, your lack of a response, until now to ask for a credit card number (after we spent over an hour dealing with checkout), shows me that there is a lack of pride in ownership. It seems to me like you are only interested in your guest’s fees, but don’t have a true interest in making sure they have a good stay. Given your lovely location, that is a real shame.

First unansered email:
Hi Marisa, we just wanted to check in with you about our stay. We are having a lovely time and the beaches are beautiful, but we are disappointed about a few things. Overall, the quality of comfort is a bit below what we were expecting. The beds in the room are extremely old and small. They slope in the middle and we all woke up with backaches. They did change one of the mattresses but it didn't make a difference. The toilet in the room also does not work. There isn't real hot water.
We were told that the spa is not functioning and will not be functioning during our visit. We've been using the bathrooms in the central lodge and we had to ask 3 times for toilet paper.
Everyone working here is quite nice but it doesn't feel like anyone is in charge. It's hard to find anyone to help us with things. It just doesn't feel like a full service type of place.
The music in the central lodge is also quite loud all day, even very early in the morning before 7am. It almost feels like we are intruding on the staff.
We are enjoying ourselves, though, and truly find this to be a beautiful spot. But we thought we should make you aware of what our experience is like so far.
Best

  • Stayed April 2012, travelled with friends
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
14 Thank aandb7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hacienda del Mar

Property: Hacienda del Mar
Address: A Private Island Resort on San Jose Island | Pearl Islands, Panama, Panama Province, Panama
Phone Number:
Region: Panama > Panama Province > Pearl Islands > San Jose Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Business Centre with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in San Jose Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:3 star — Hacienda del Mar 3*
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Hacienda del Mar offers the most stylish adventure in the Pearl Islands of Panama. Our hotel's unique and spacious air conditioned accommodations blend island charm and modern comfort, all just steps from our majestic white sand beaches. The vacation resort consists of 17 cabanas, each with its own balcony, offering breathtaking panoramic views to the beach, the sea, and the triple canopy forest of the island. Activities include kayaking, snorkeling, ATV tours, Night Safari's, Incredible Inshore and Offshore Fishing......Or relax at the beach or poolside with your favorite drink while watching the Toucan's and Maccaws fly by freely...A Private Island Paradise. Call us!! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Hacienda Del Mar Hotel San Jose Island
Hacienda Del Mar Panama/San Jose Island

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