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“Lush tropical oasis” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Gamboa Rainforest Resort

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Gamboa Rainforest Resort
3.5 of 5 Resort   |   Goethals Blvd. | Soberania National Park, Gamboa 7338, Panama   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 1 hotels in Gamboa
San Clemente, California
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Lush tropical oasis”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 11, 2010 via mobile

My husband, son (11) and I loved our stay at this special resort. We had read reviews regarding the expensive and distasteful food and were pleasantly surprised. The grounds are well maintained and groomed. The hotel is stunning. I encourage anyone considering this resort to leap at the opportunity. We will certainly be returning.

  • Stayed November 2010
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (211)
Date | Rating
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English first
Whitby, Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 10, 2010

We travelled with sunwing with the "inclusive plan"

The flight was FULL and we did not get seats together, even after checking in more than 3 hours ahead of time. We had a stop-over in Costa Rica so it was about 8 hours from Toronto.

Once we landed, going through customs was a breeze and our shuttle was waiting for us after we got our luggage. There were only 2 of us from the full sunwing flight going to Gamboa resort. The driver did not speak one word to us the entire hour it took us to get to the resort.
Check-in was quick as it was just the 2 of us but there was no explaination as to what was included. we were just handed our room key and told where it was. We got to the resort around 3:30 and we were starving as the last meal we had was breakfast on the plane. The only food available at that time until 6:30 pm was the Monkey bar snack menu which we had to pay for a meal. The only drinks that were included were national brands and even then, staff did not know if they were included. This seemed to be a common theme throughout our stay. None of the staff spoke english and were not helpful in answering questions at all.They also seemed annoyed to be serving us and we never saw them smile. And we were very generous with tips but still no change.

As for the "inclusive" part of the trip, nobody knew what was included so it was extremely frustrating.
The 2nd day we were there was a holiday and no alcohol was served. We were not informed of this until we tried to order drinks. Other people we spoke to from other resorts did not encounter the same problem, they were still served. As it was a holiday, many locals stayed at the hotel. That is when our service went from bad to worse. It was like we didnt exist, especially not being able to speak Spanish. There was never food left at the buffet, no matter what time we went. The A la Carte restaurant was closed every day so the only dinner option was the buffet.
We decided to leave this resort after only a few days because even after speaking to the general manager, nothing changed.

The Gamboa hotel itself is absolutely beautiful as is the location. It is surrounded by rainforest and has breath taking views. The rooms were also nice and clean and beds were very comfortable.
The free trips around the resort were also very worth while. As was the monkey boat tour and the aerial tram. We were happy we got to see the wildlife we did in staying there but would not return because of the lack of service, no english speaking staff and zero personality. Nobody cared whether we were happy or not.

As for sunwing, we never had the chance to meet our representative at Gamboa as he was never there, only on call. I had to pay to call him and explain why we wanted to leave our resort. He was not very helpful and really didnt want to go through the extra work to see what other resorts were available. I told him we wanted to stay at the Breezes and he made every excuse to make me change my mind and tried to stick us in a 3 star place that is part of the same company as Gamboa. We had to pay our way to Breezes which was 2 hours from Gamboa and we had to pay a couple hundred dollars to switch to the different resort, even though it was way cheaper to stay at Breezes then Gamboa, Once we got to Breezes, the Sunwing representitive was not there and they had no record of our reservations, even after our credit card was charged. It didnt get sorted out until 2 hours later!!!! We were then told that "Daniel" from Sunwing wanted to meet us in the lobby at 7pm. We were told at 7pm that he was on his way. 45 minutes later, he still hadnt showed up and when we asked reception, we were told he was eating dinner. Meanwhile, we still had not eaten our dinner. He never did show up. The next day we had to hunt him down again to see what he wanted and to ensure that the rest of our trip was sorted out.

We travel alot and never complain about anything, but we were very disappointed in this resort, especially for the price that you pay and with Sunwing. Breezes was a wonderful way to end our trip and we wished we stayed there from the start.

  • Stayed November 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Top Contributor
74 reviews 74 reviews
32 hotel reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
108 helpful votes 108 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 11, 2010

I stayed at the Gamboa Rainforest for 2 nights from Oct 4-6th. This was part of a Sunwing All inclusive package that started 5 nights at Breezes Panama. The transfer was included but I choice to forgo the transfer and use the day to see Panama City and the canal. I used the wonderful services of panamaroadrunner. I highly recommend this. Ashley is a truely a great person.

Room - Historical Villa #2511

This second floor room was the closest villa to the hotel. Perhaps a 3 minute walk at most. I loved the room. Yes it's old but has so much character with it's high ceilings and many windows. I saw many birds and loved the neques.

Hotel - simply beautiful.

I have had this hotel on my radar for a couple of years now and am so glad I finally got the chance to visit. The views are simple breath taking. The lobby is spectacular.

Tours

The hotel offers 4 free tours, birdwatching, kayaking, bike riding and the night safari. We only had time for the night safari which we did on the first night. You are taken around the resort on a safari type truck looking for animals. We did see birds and owls and some type of monkey. The guide was very informative and was trying very hard to find animals. Of coure you're in the wild. You can't guarantee alot of animals.

We paid for the monkey & aerial tram tour. Both were great with the monkeys being my favorite.
I found the tour desk very helpful & pleasant. There is a board there to sign up for the free tours. The paying tours you pay for prior to going in case of weather.

The morning of our departure we did walk into the town of Gamboa/ We saw an armidillo on the way. It's a lovely walk.

Food - great!

As mentioned, we were an all inclusive but pool & bar snacks were not included. We did buy lunch at the pool bar which cost $40 for a club sandwich & chicken wings which included fries and we had 5 heinkens during the afternoon (national beer would of been included). Coming from Toronto I don't find this expensive for a lunch, especially at a resort.

Dinner buffet was included but you do sign for it - $60 for 2 buffets & a drink each. Again, not expensive in my eyes for a resort. The buffet was great for dinner & breakfast.

Overall - all staff were freindly and attentive. A beautiful place with a great pool. I will return to Gamboa. I would of loved to spend at least another day here.

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 21, 2010

We decided to stay here last minute because our other plans fell through. We managed to get the special internet rate – $95 + 7% tax, which sounded too good to be true. It included a day/night tour, kayaking on the Chagres River, free use of the jacuzzi and gym. Like I said, too good to be true. We were told our rooms were down the street in the historical "Village" and we could go down after they checked our rooms, which I assumed meant it was clean enough to inhabit.

The "Village" consists of old subdivisions built for former Canal workers. Historical I can go for – I am in a rainforest afterall (this can also be disputed), but 5 star hotel quality is so far from the reality I almost turned around and left. My husband convinced me to stay since we only had 2 nights left in Panama and our sole purpose was to get to the rainforest. It was low season so we were a part of maybe half a dozen unlucky patrons to be put in the "Village" area. Walking down the street at night was incredibly eerie. It was like walking through a fake stage of houses at Universal Studios backlot. I felt unsafe at night and refused to go out unless I was with my husband.

Our accommodations included a living/dining room, bedroom, small kitchen and a bathroom. The furniture looked relatively new, but the rooms itself looked like it had not be renovated and/or cleaned since the Canal workers last lived there. The floors were sooooo dirty (we know this because not only did it feel disgusting, we watched the maid sweep the floor up the next day and it was seriously GROSS). The toilet barely worked, we had to flush 3-4 times to even get toilet paper down. Talk about being a "green" establishment. Also, granted we're in the rainforest and bugs get in, but that doesn't explain the dead carcasses littering the bathroom, and the moldy, stained shower curtain – I thought they checked the rooms??? I seriously gag thinking about it.

The TV had plenty of (English) channels, but it was a super small model probably manufactured in the late 90's that came with a universal remote that stopped working and my husband had to re-program. The hot shower also stopped working after day one, but it was because someone didn't tell the maintenance guy we were in the room and he shut off the circuits. The AC also had like three settings. AC/Fan/OFF. Two which worked. AC and OFF. We didn't bother with the Fan setting since it seemed to spew equally cold air as the AC. Also, no internet out in the "Village." You have to hike to the main lodge to hang around the lobby to get spotty internet.

So, the room was severely lacking, but we thought we might as well take advantage of the free tours that were included. DO NOT bother going on the night tour. It was the most pathetic tour I have ever been on. We saw one rodent (they are so common around the area you can see them yourself if you have eyes) a bird, which may have been a duck, but the tour guide dismissed us because he didn't know what it was and continued to point out the sand that was imported in, the aerial tram, the animal/reptile/orchid exhibit, the marina, the former mini-golf course, and what used to be the former beach for the Canal workers. They should rename it the "facility tour" because we saw and got more explanation of the hotel grounds than we saw wildlife. We didn't bother with the day tour. We also scheduled for the kayaking on the Chagres, but it was rained out.

What we really wanted to do was get to Pipeline Road, which leads to the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center. We went up to the friendly people at the tour guide desk and they asked if I wanted to hire a driver to take me there. I insisted I wanted to walk and I just needed directions. They had no idea how to walk there, but provided with me a map that wasn't much help. My husband and I ended up walking about approximately 16km roundtrip. Totally worth it.

We ate at the one restaurant (not the fancy one, don't think they were even open while we were there) which was overpriced. Everything tasted fine (had the cheeseburger, sancocho soup and the salad), just not worth the price. Pool area is amazing. Jacuzzi was just meh. The views are pretty spectacular, this I will agree as being a 5 star view.

They don't have a business center where you can log-in to print out your boarding passes. They said I could use their printer, which was no help since I had to actually check in first on a COMPUTER. They finally got it, but said I could use the customer service desk computer if I paid $2.50 + 7% tax for 15 minutes. FAIL.

In summary, don't come here if you're going to book a "Village" room. I've stayed at nicer Motel 6's/hostels in my time. Don't come here if you want to experience rainforest, unless you're willing to hike/hire someone to take you there.

Might be worth it if you're not in the "Village" and you're looking for a place to drop some cash to tell your friends you spent your vacation in the rainforest without actually really being in one.

  • Stayed September 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, MA
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 20, 2010

This is a class-A hotel...Just don't expect to be in the rainforest, have anything 'eco-friendly' about your stay or (my favorite) goo trips to the rainforest while it rains!!!
The hotel could be anywhere. It is not worth the cost to not be in the rainforest. The same 'deals' they provide at the tourist desk can be found for similar prices just basing yourself out of Panama City and doing day trips. Save the money! Do more trips/excursions.
Don't stay here.

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled with friends
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Top Contributor
92 reviews 92 reviews
64 hotel reviews
Reviews in 62 cities Reviews in 62 cities
115 helpful votes 115 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 6, 2010

It is a nice enough hotel - the balcony had a great view - the birds we saw were amazing. The room smelled moldy though from the air-conditioning. There is no screen on the balcony door - so you cannot leave the door open to get some fresh area (didn't want the frogs or birds in the room with me!).

The room was large and the bathroom was large also - too bad with all of that room in the bathroon that they didn't have two sinks in there.

The food was not bad - it was just more expensive than I paid anywhere else in Panama - but you are pretty much captive at the resort. We had some snacks in the bar in the evening. The last day we ate at Lagartos which is on the river - saw beautiful birds, turtles and a crocodile. We stayed there two nights and that was enough.

As a frequent biker, I took a bike out one day to tour the area and the town - the bikes are awkward to ride and are single speed (makes it very difficult to go up the hills).

Free wi-fi was nice to have and was reliable.

  • Stayed September 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tybee Island, Georgia
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 26, 2010

The food and drinks were way too expensive. The rooms were basic. Our 8 year old was too young to do any of the free tours, except the night open bus tour which was pretty lame. He was not allowed to even go hiking. For the price of the room, I expected better customer service and assistance with arranging day hikes into the Gamboa Rainforest. Instead we walked 45 minutes to Pipeline Road when it started pouring down rain. Fortunately an intern with Smithsonian Institute gave us a ride back to the hotel.

The view of the rainforest from the hotel is breathtaking. However, you don't have to stay at the hotel to stop by and take a look at the view. This was the only disappointing place on our entire two week trip in Pananama.

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Gamboa Rainforest Resort

Address: Goethals Blvd. | Soberania National Park, Gamboa 7338, Panama
Location: Panama > Colon Province > Gamboa
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 hotels in Gamboa
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Gamboa Rainforest Resort 3.5*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Deep in the heart of the Panamanian rainforest lies the completely unique Gamboa Rainforest Resort. This magnificent five-star destination rests where the scenic Chagres River meets the Panama Canal and is the only resort property in the area. Few places on earth offer such an amazing natural experience while providing an unsurpassed level of luxury. Escape the noise and hectic pace of everyday life and surround yourself with the tranquility of the mystical Soberania National Forest. Here, just a short 30-minute ride from Panama City, on 340 acres overlooking the stunning Panama Canal, you can commune with nature in a pristine environment where explorers and pirates once tread. Our Panama Tours offer an exhilarating variety of jungle adventures such as an aerial tram, guided boat tours, fishing expeditions, and much more. Our tours are designed to show you wildlife in its natural setting amidst the colorful splendor of the jungle flora. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Gamboa Rainforest Hotel Gamboa
Gamboa Rain Forest Resort

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