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“Lovely beach hotel” 5 of 5 stars
Review of JW Marriott Panama Golf & Beach Resort

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JW Marriott Panama Golf & Beach Resort
5.0 of 5 Resort   |   340 Calle 3ra Buenaventura | Cocle, Rio Hato, Panama (Formerly Bristol Buenaventura)   |  
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Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Rio Hato
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Des Moines, Iowa
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
“Lovely beach hotel”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 20, 2013

We loved this hotel -- it is very new and is combination of condos and hotel. There are a lot of affluent Panamanians who spend there summer here and the local ownership makes it different to the usual chains. The rooms are beautiful - the staff is exceptionally well-trained, and the food was great. The main pool is spectacular, and the beach is sandy and huge.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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438 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (86)
Date | Rating
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English first
Cleveland, Ohio
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 14, 2013

beautiful beaches, lovely pool(s) set-up, great indiviudal lounge areas surrounding several pools.
Villas quite spacious, lacked a washer & dryer. Individual heated plunge pools on each patio overlooking lagoon.

Most outstanding of all ( we were a family of 13) was the concierge service. Alfredo and Daniel were always pleasant and accomodating-best assistance one could ever want!!

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 13, 2013

Just spent six days there, a few weeks after JW Marriott started to manage what used to be known as the Bristol Buenaventura and is now known as the JW Marriott Panama Golf & Beach Resort. The interim chef is keeping the restaurants doing very well and the rooms are still luxurious and comfortable. The new management seemed to be absent, however, particularly at the beachfront El Faro Club. One of the main attractions of this hotel is its beautiful, sandy beach, just a few feet from the pacific ocean. By 8 am, many guests were at the beach, trying to find a lounge chair on the sand or on the club's deck. However, what we found were wet, dirty chairs without any covers, wet and dirty towels from the previous day and few, if any hotel staff to assist. The few staff available, although always pleasant and gracious, did not seem to be trained to proactively help the guests. We were told that clean chair covers and towels would not be available until later in the morning. When they did, we had to ask staff members to bring them or we had to go to the club house to get them ourselves. There were also no cold water, drinks or snacks available for several hours every day because the kitchen did not open until 10:30 am. Considering it was 95 degrees and sunny every day, having cold drinks available earlier in the morning would seem like a no brainer. We ask to speak to a manager twice and never heard from him. Let's hope JW Marriott gets their show together soon because otherwise the hotel will soon lose many customers.

Room Tip: rooms on the second or third floor all have views of the beautiful pools and ocean. rooms in the fi...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed January 10, 2013

I do not often write reviews but I thought I had to share this experience. We booked a room at the "Bristol Buenaventura" for $525/night (it was high season, right after New Year).

We drove from Panama City, expecting to find a 5 star, luxury hotel on the beach. What we didn't find was the hotel. We drove, and drove, with no sign of the hotel. There are no road signs leading the way to this place AT ALL. When we finally arrived, the person at the gate tried to direct us on how to get to the hotel inside the residential community, still, we were driving around like idiots looking for the Bristol. Finally, we saw a JW Marriott and pulled in to ask for directions, and were told "This is it! We are now a Marriott!". WOW...really?? No communication from the hotel that they had changed from the Bristol to a Marriott. Not only were we surprised, but extremely disappointed, because no offense to Marriott, but I would never pay $525 for a Marriott. I felt like I had paid for a Chanel handbag and someone handed me a knockoff! Just weird...

The hotel seemed like it was once very nice (maybe as a Bristol), at least on the outside, but lacked upkeep and service in a major way.

Okay, moving on...we decided to have lunch. Not many options, but we went to the restaurant by the pool. I had to ask for the menu since service seems non-existant at this place. The options were very limited, and not very exciting (think burger, wings, crappy American food). OK, so I got the burger, thinking it looked good. Fast forward an hour for the food to come, and it was a nasty, frozen patty. GROSS. For $525/night you better serve me a grilled 1/2lb Kobe burger! Don't waste your time or money...go to Hawaii and stay at the Four Seasons for that price!

P.S. We left, went back to Panama City and flew home early to save a couple grand. Now we are fighting with Marriott to get our money back from the night they charged us (didn't stay), and no one at the hotel will call back....surprise surprise!

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed January 10, 2013

"Sorry". That's the most common word we heard from the hopelessly overmatched staff at this beautiful hotel. "We reserved 3 premier rooms.right?" "Yes, that's what you have. "But one's really small and it says here its only Deluxe, not Premier". "Yes, Sorry". "And the rooms are together, right" "yes" "So why are they at opposite ends of this large property" "Sorry". "Breakfast is included, right?" "Yes" "so why is it charged on my bill?""Sorry, I'll take the charge off". Next day: "You took the charge off?""Yes" "So why is it back on?" :Sorry" . This was repeated every day of our stay. Water sports:" we'd like to do scuba" "sorry, no scuba". "Okay, we'd like to do ATV." "Sorry, ATV is broken". "We'd like to do deep sea fishing" "Sorry, not operating" "Jet-ski tour..." "Sorry..."
The owners must have realized that the money they have sunk into this beautiful hotel and grounds is being squandered by clueless management, so they hired Marriott to take over as of Dec 10. Hopefully, new management will eventually instill professional hospitality standards. give them some time to shake things up before you consider booking here.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 10, 2013

Great place, friendly staff, awesome swimming pools.
Limited, overpriced menu but great quality.
Their chef is just excellent, pays real attention to details in every plate.
They have a rich beverage menu and I truly recommend their mojito.

  • Stayed January 2013
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montreal, Canada
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 8, 2013

Getting to the hotel was almost impossible. There were no signs on CA1. The only one we found gave a distance to Buonaventura but that not only included distance on CA1 but also the side road getting to the hotel. I since found out that it used to be the Bristol Hotel but was taken over in December. After stopping to ask for directions by mentioning Marriott hotel, I was given directions to "hotel". Thank goodness I found it. This was my only complaint and I mentioned it to the front desk. I assumed that this problem was due to the recent takeover from Bristol.

The hotel is simply beautiful. We passed the security gate where we were given directions to reception. When we arrived, a gentleman met us with wet face towels for those who had trouble enduring the heat. At check-in, we were taken care of by Ricaurte who knew my name because security called him. He was very friendly, helpful and we felt at home with his smile.

We were given a Premier guest room which was extremely spacious and well appointed. It overlooked the water in front of the hotel and the Pacific in the far distance. The grounds were abundant with swimming pools. We also noticed a volleyball court and tennis court.

At the Tamarindo restaurant on our first night, we were treated to a romantic evening of soft music with two men playing instruments. In the distance, the pools were lit up as well as the river.

Lunch was at the Faro restaurant closer to the pool. Service was a little slow the first day but much better on the second one.

The view of the grounds from our balcony at dusk was breathtaking.

After reading other reviews, we were lucky that there were no loud weddings nor other noise as the hotel was exceptionally quiet with only the birds breaking the silence.

The individuals at the front desk were warm, friendly and obliging, especially Ricauarte, Eybeth and Alexander. We would definitely return on our next trip to Panama.

Room Tip: We never went to the spa nor used the golf course. We suggest a room facing the ocean, pools and riv...
See more room tips
  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
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Additional Information about JW Marriott Panama Golf & Beach Resort

Address: 340 Calle 3ra Buenaventura | Cocle, Rio Hato, Panama (Formerly Bristol Buenaventura)
Location: Panama > Cocle Province > Rio Hato
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Kitchenette
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Rio Hato
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:5 star — JW Marriott Panama Golf & Beach Resort 5*
Number of rooms: 132
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set on the Pacific coast of Panama, Bristol Buenaventura is a luxury oceanfront destination resort and a member of Leading Hotels of the World. The resort sits on 1,000 acres of natural splendor, nestled between rivers, lakes, lush vegetation, and pristine beaches. Blending old world glamour and tropical elegance, the resort is reminiscent of a Spanish hacienda. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Bristol Buenaventura Hotel Farallon
Bristol Bueneventura Santa Clara
JW Marriott Panama Golf & Beach Resort Rio Hato

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