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Coral Lodge
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Reviews (151)
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Reviewed 18 February 2013

Absolutely loved it. Over the water bungalows, the Caribbean breeze going through the cabinas. The sounds of the ocean under us. We stayed for 4 nights (it is expensive) but everything has to be brought in by boat. It is very remote and getting there is an adventure but it was definitely worth it. Meals are simple but very elegantly prepared.

Some of the negative comments are way over the top. The over the water bungalows do get a little worn by the water. Some comments are useful, I was prepared for the possibility of a rough boat ride at least. Some renovations are probably needed, but I was very happy to be unplugged.

One of the highlight for us was going to the San Blas Islands, the Indian village was interesting, but the best time was swimming on this small beautiful island with a few trees, clear water and very soft sand. The staff served us a picnic lunch which was delicious. Another rough boat trip. The excursions need to be scheduled in advance to accommodate the schedules of other guests. Fortunately we had a full day to do this, the next few days the boat was busy.

I definitely recommend it, but it is out of the way and very isolated so maybe it's not for everyone.

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank carljn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 February 2013

Initial impression: wow!
We, too, arrived only three days after Coral Lodge changed hands. We had booked well in advance and had not read any of the end of 2012 negative reviews. So we were expecting beauty and service and we got it. They called at our hotel in Panama City and told us that because the seas were unusually rough from Miramar, that they were going to fly us out in a helicopter for no additional cost. This cut a 3.5 hour trip down to 30 mins. and explains one of the photos I’m attaching. We were met at the helicopter by Nadia and Argelis with cold coconuts with straws – very refreshing! We were immediately ushered into lunch which was fresh and delicious. They also responded with understanding and concern to my wife’s dairy intolerance. From then on, Maurice, the amazing chef, went out of his way to make sure that she had wonderful meals without dairy – even making her a special rice-pudding with coconut milk!

Second impression: shock
Unfortunately, we had requested the large bungalow number 7 because we thought our daughter would be joining us. We were shocked by the run-down state of the room. Beauty is important to my wife and there was nothing beautiful about this bungalow! The first night it stormed and the place leaked like a sieve. We were flabbergasted and frustrated to have spent all this money for our 40th anniversary at a special place only to have it turn into such a bust.

Third impression: The amazing recovery
When we complained, Nadia (the wonderful manager), went right to work to make things right. The next day she moved us into one of the regular bungalows that was clean, comfortable, and beautiful. We immediately felt ourselves relax. She was very apologetic and explained about the transition and how they working working hard and quickly to correct all the problems the previous owners had left them. The new owners, Fotis and Paul and others, were there 3 out of our 4 days over-seeing improvements and making plans. They gave us a refund for the night from hell, decided to close bungalow 7 until it could be rebuilt, and asked us for feedback about what we would like to see at a resort like this – and they listened, initiating some of our suggestions immediately! There is no question in my mind that their improvements will be substantial. However, even without their planned improvements, once we were in the regular bungalow, the rest of our trip was a dream.

The location of Coral Lodge is exquisite. It is like being away from everything on a desert island with beauty in all directions. I constantly found myself just sitting on our deck staring at the ocean as one might be mesmerized by a campfire. The location was so relaxing that we felt no need to go on any of the trips they offer – although the guests who did loved them. We did enjoy kayaking and walking along the long beach to the east of the resort. The weather here is windy, but we liked this because it kept away bugs and cooled things down a little on the hottest days.

I said it was like being on a desert island, but only if the island had good food, great staff and internet! We can’t say enough about the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff – Nadia, Argelis, Orosman, and Maurice, the cook. Local fishermen would bring in fresh fish, lobster and crab, and Maurice would turn them into masterpieces. I also recommend his Panamanian fried bread for breakfast – we requested it every morning!

Final impression: awe
Since we were the only people left on our last day because others were coming in the afternoon, the major owner who had been there working hard overseeing the improvement plans, asked us if we wanted to fly out with him. He was taking his cousin on the helicopter to visit the San Blas Islands and then back to Panama City. He invited us along – something that he did not have to do since we were planning on taking the boat back when the new guests arrived. This flight was a rare and awe-inspiring way to view the beautiful islands and the deep aqua waters. We felt blessed and grateful to have had this opportunity. I share this story, not because others should expect the same, but because I think it says something about the caring and generosity of the new management.

  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Yossarian7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 February 2013

We went for a long weekend to Panama, and we were glad to have chosen Coral Lodge! Yes, one could tell that the former owner had left the up-keep down, but the warm welcome by Nadia, the manager, and her crew made up for all of it! Nadia was always available for all our needs and wishes. We had a wonderful experience. Our room was clean, the sheets fresh, and we felt well taken care off. We heard about the new management and all the improvements they are planning - probably all good and great! But the idea to install TVs in the rooms just made my heart ache! Why in the world would you want to have a TV in such an a pristine place like Coral Lodge? Also, I rather prefer Latin music as a background during our meals (as we heard it the first three days of our stay) rather than American pop music coming out of the speakers (as we experienced during our last day). We are in Panama after all...
Maurice, the cook, deserves a special mentioning here. Not only was every meal fresh and delicious, it was also beautifully arranged on our plates.
We can't thank Nadia and her crew enough for their efforts to make our stay a lovely experience! We hope that Coral Lodge can keep its charm and secluded paradise-like feel rather than getting transformed into some fancy and generic resort due to (incl some necessary structural) improvements.

  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank 12Weltenbummler345
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 February 2013

With good service, excellent location and a staff that will go out of their way to make your stay everything you've dreamed of this was the perfect destination for our honeymoon.

There's lot of activities from snorkeling, kayaking to fishing to combine with just relaxing in the sun by the bungalow or on the beach. You feel very close to nature and we got to see lots of colorful fish, turtles and dolphins.

Highly recommend the "romance package" - the lobster we were served with champagne on the beach is the biggest we've ever seen!

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Anna B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 February 2013

My wife and daughter (26 years old) just returned from Coral Lodge. Initially we were concerned about what we read from previous reviewers. However, we loved our experience and had a wonderful and first class adventure.

First - the problems reported by other reviewers have a source. It seems the sale of the resort just recently closed. The new owners told us that it took several months to go through and the previous owners drastically cut the upkeep and service levels to their guests. We happened to arrive the week after the sale closed.

The new owners (led by Paul, a senior executive of the new ownership group) used the months leading up to the sale to plan to restore the upkeep of the property and the service levels to the guest. We witnessed much of their commitment firsthand. New equipment had been already brought in to spruce up the grounds. And Paul shared with us a list of immediate projects underway to bring the resort to five star level.

As for the property - don't be out off by the earlier reports. We found everything to be clean and in good repair. My daughter's lodge had a problem with a leak in the bathroom but that was fixed within an hour. The rooms need to be upgraded (apparently in the plans) but they we clean - the sheets and towels were perfectly clean and not at all worn. The beach collects debris, but with the new equipment brought in by the new owners, it was cleaned every morning. We sat and snorkeled every day and it was as nice an experience as you will have at any resort. In fact, it was spectacular.

The pool was sparkling clean.

As reported by other reviewers, the service was amazing. The staff is attentive and well trained. They are also happy and get along well with Paul and other new management. Every request was anticipated. The massages and "spa table" situated over the water were perfect.

The food deserves special mention. The chef is great. All food was well prepared and plentiful. Fresh? The fish, octopus, lobster were all caught in the reefs or off the dock in the afternoon and served for dinner. Try that at a Four Seasons! Snapper, barracuda, shrimp, corvina ceviche all as fresh as it gets. Each meal was four courses - soup, a different type of salad, fresh main course and fresh made dessert. I have a pretty healthy appetite and I was well fed. I can only guess that the previous owners skimped on the food that led to other reviewers complaints.

Alcohol was plentiful and the bar was good fun. Fresh fruit was always available at meals and for blending into cocktails.

As far as activities, we went to the San Blas Islands (the chef prepared and the staff served us a meal on one of the beaches!). One afternoon I went fishing on the skiff with Paul. Other guest fished off one of the three docks. One day we hung out on the beach and snorkeled in the reefs off the shore.

A few things to know - the Atlantic is pretty rough and the trip to the island and San Blas is not for the faint of heart. But it was certainly a part of the adventure as others have reported. The new owners began offering a 30 minute helicopter trip from Panama City. They also plan to bring in another boat to make the trip comfortable. I might have considered taking the helicopter on one of the trips. We had no - zero - bugs. But the wind was fairly steady during our visit. Weather is a big part of the experience. The new owners plan to install TVs for the times it rains and the beach is not an option. Also, wifi is available in the dining/bar area and sometimes can be accessed on the beach and rooms.

In summary - we were skeptical. But very glad we went. I also plan on checking back next year on the progress of the renovations as this place could become a real gem with a modest investment and a little TLC.

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled with family
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1  Thank Mark L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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