This is the best hotel experience we've ever had in Panama. It is truly a world-class property. The hotel itself is well-appointed, the rooms are luxurious and well-kept. The staff is very friendly and helpful. A front-desk staff person welcomed us at the front door of the hotel, walked us to our room and took care of all the check-in details in-room, and offered us a tour immediately and outlined all the resort activities and amenities. It is quite a nice place and I'd recommend to anyone wanting to get away and relax.
As an aside, be sure that no weddings are happening while you plan to be there, because friends who had stayed there before reported a less-than-stellar experience because the hotel was crowded with wedding guests. I can imagine that it could be overwhelmed by large groups -- we heard that a group of 250 guests were there the previous weekend, and 500 the weekend prior to that. So, probably best to avoid it if there's a wedding happening, but we were one of the few guests during our weekend stay, so it felt like a real get away, with the pools and most of the hotel all to ourselves!
They keep flowers blooming all around the hotel, and the staff was constantly busy cleaning everywhere. It is very well-kept.
The spa is fantastic and one the best deals in Panama. Real luxury and service too. Highly recommended. It's extremely nice, so don't miss it!
The gym is pretty standard fare. Nothing to write home about, but adequate machines and weights.
There's a small church that it looks like the re-created to look like a small village chapel. I can imagine would be great for a wedding, because you can walk across the parking lot to the hotel and have your reception.
There's only one restaurant on the property, and they serve all meals. It is a little pricey, but not terrible. They really try hard, and the service is fantastic. They go all-out, but we found the food to be just o.k. The flavors were not perfect. Nonetheless, I can't really complain about it. It was well-presented and well-prepared.
Parking is either valet or self. Not a lot of parking, so I could envision that to be a problem on a busy day, but it was almost empty when we visited, so no problem.
Overall, the property is just luxurious and the pools at the beach are gorgeous. The pools at the hotel are for guests only, and they have golf-cart service to the beach. They also have a boat service that is like a venetian ride around the man-made lake/river that goes past the back of the hotel. Didn't use either, as the beach is certainly walkable, probably a 5-10 minute walk. All resort owners are all allowed to use the beach pools and beach, so I could imagine it could become a little crowded on a busy weekend, but again there was almost no one there the weekend that we happened to visit.
There's a couple tennis courts as well, and they were empty, but inviting. They are going to develop a golf course, but it's not done yet. I can imagine it will be first-class, like the rest of the property.
The sand at the beach is trucked in from somewhere, so it's very nice and white. Much different from the natural sand you can see right at the shoreline. The beach is great for relaxing and playing, but not likely very nice for swimming (at least we didn't go in too far).
I have one complaint that is a double-edged sword. They limit guests within the property to only those with reservations. At the gate where you drive in at the edge of the resort property the guards stop all traffic. We tried to visit the hotel to see it the weekend prior, but were not allowed in. I'd have liked to see it before we paid for a stay, but nonetheless, I suppose that it is also a security feature -- and does make the place extremely private. Thus, I guess there's a reason for it, but being from outside Panama it irked me that we couldn't visit first.
All in all, I'd go back in a minute. Strongly recommend it for anyone wanting to get away for the weekend or for a week, or a honeymoon. My wife says we'd be getting married there if we had to do it again. :)
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
March 17, 2010
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Thank you for your kinds words and for choosing Bristol Buenaventura!
We are thrilled to hear that you had an excellent stay with us and appreciate your feedback! We pride ourselves on service excellence and luxury standards for all our guests.
We do want to inform you that we have acquired a new Executive Chef, Sergio Howland, as he plans on changing all menus throughout the property and excited to feature his cuisine soon! He has worked in only 5-star hotels and Michellin Star restaurants in Spain.
Additionally, our guests' privacy and safety is extremely important to us and so we do feel that our security measures are just. However, if future guests would like to see the property beforehand, we suggest you request to speak with front desk and they can cross reference your reservation.
We look forward to welcoming you back to Bristol Buenaventura and possibly share your future anniversary or renewal of vows with us!
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.