Just returned from a week at this resort and the overall consensus from 8 of us was that we had a great time. It is not grand, palatial. It has fewer rooms than most all inclusives, but that lends to its charm. Here are the positive aspects of the resort, in no particular order.
The grounds are beautiful. The staff maintains the gardens and pools very well. There was some maintenance going on while we were there (drilling the the patio) and it was noisy but it did not disrupt our stay.
The buffet food is actually quite good -- for an all-inclusive resort. There is sufficient choice, fresh fruit, and varying options to suit many diets. We are fairly picky and choose healthy foods over 'fast food' choices. One of our group is actually doing her masters in nutritional sciences and she was pleased with the options of the buffet.
The staff is amazing. From Santiago to Aura to Hugo to all of the many others -- they work hard at serving you and making your holiday memorable.
The beach is beautiful -- not crowded and currently not lined with unending resorts. There is a remoteness to the area that we liked. The jellyfish circle the area and a few of us were stung, but one cannot really blame the Sheraton for this.
The weather is sublime. This Pacific location enjoys hot dry weather from Dec. to June. We were there for Christmas and the sun greeted us every day.
The alcohol is good quality and, as one would expect, plentiful. We loved the small bar in the main lobby, but we would have loved it more if it was open at 0800 for cappuccinos, instead of 0900.
As far as areas that we felt need improvement: We all thought the restaurants could be improved. The food that we ordered was often not served hot in all restaurants except the Japanese. The steakhouse (not open all of the time) had inconsistent quality -- steak was tough, ribs were few (two), water for tea and coffee tepid, dessert options were lacking flavour. The Mediterranean restaurant had a fabulous salad bar selection but items were literally drenched in oil (presumably olive).
The entertainment could stand a revamp. Starting with the monotonous thumping poolside music, we feel that the music selection could be much broader and yet still appeal to many tastes. The only entertainment that we were really impressed with was the guitar and bongo duo -- they had talent -- and the piano player, very talented, but (getting critical here) his chord flourishes tended to make songs unrecognizable and sometimes we just wanted to hear the melody come through.
The rooms, already acknowledged by management in tripadvisor responses, are looking tired. They have everything you need, but a facelift would certainly improve them. We were not sure why there was a mini fridge when they were not stocked. Stocking it with a few beers and pops, along with the 2 daily bottles of water would be a plus.
Activities offered/included at the resort were minimal. We spent our we playing beach volleyball, tennis and cards. The slower pace meant that most of us read a few books. Our group consisted of 6 in their twenties and two in their fifties.
Some people have stated that lack of English among staff is a problem. The only time we experienced it was when we had a private beach dinner with two servers who had trouble understanding us and vice versa. But normally, as well seasoned travellers, we embrace the language barrier and use it as an opportunity to learn.
Our overall impression is that Panama is a country we'd like to return to. The Bijao offers a reasonably priced holiday, food to satisfy many tastes and great weather to ensure you relax.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- On a sprawling Panama beach along the serene Pacific Ocean, our all-inclusive resort has everything you could want for total relaxation. Nestled alongside the stunning Pacific Ocean, Sheraton Bijao is complimented by celebrated sites like the Panama Canal's Miraflores Locks and historic Panama City, the exhilarating capital of the Republic of Panama. Come together and share experiences in our warm Club Lounge as well as the resorts 4 restaurants and private beach. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sheraton Bijao Beach Hotel Santa Clara
- Sheraton Bijao Beach Resort Panama/Santa Clara