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“An unforgettable experience. Couldn´t have spent our 15th Anniversary better than this!” 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, Rio Hato, Panama (Formerly Bristol Buenaventura)   |  
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Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Rio Hato
Ecuador
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“An unforgettable experience. Couldn´t have spent our 15th Anniversary better than this!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 3, 2010

It definitely exceeded our expectations. The service was great, and the room was just beautiful. When they found out about our anniversary they not only gave us an upgrade in our room, but also sent a bottle of sparkling wine to welcome us. The service in the pool and beach areas was perfect. We are certainly looking forward to coming back with the family, and regretted not having a couple more days to enjoy such a wonderful place!!!

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bristol_Hotels, Manager at JW Marriott Panama Golf & Beach Resort, responded to this review, September 6, 2010
BellotaQuito,

Thank you for your recent visit to Bristol Buenaventura!

We sincerely appreciate the time you took to provide us with your valuable feedback and excited to hear that you had an excellent stay with us!

Please feel free to contact us with any questions and let us know how we may assist you further!

Thank you and we look forward to welcoming you back soon!

Warmest regards,

Bristol Buenaventura
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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383 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 (70)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
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English first
Boston, Massachusetts
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 19, 2010

My wife and I spent a week at Bristol Buenaventura Hotel.

1. Arrival - The hotel is a bit out of the way. It is a good two hour drive from the airport. Prepare yourself in advance. We highly recommend the hotel transport service (Lincoln Towncar). I think it would be a pretty brutal drive by taxi.

2. Service - The hotel features a level of service that simply no longer exists in the US. Bristol Buenaventura is obviously extremely well managed. We got the sense the employees truly enjoy working at Bristol and they are (rightfully so) extremely proud of their hotel. There are always a number of very helpful attendants around. We did find at times, their response time could be a little better in the pool areas with towels, however all in all the service was phenomenal.

3. Rooms – The rooms are a dream. The beds are extremely soft and adorned with high thread count sheets. The hotel has an ultra-sheek old world Ernest Hemmingway’s Cuba sort of motif that is executed to the minutest detail. The rooms feature meticulously clean hard wood and tile floors. The bathrooms are roomy and luxurious and the showerheads are simply divine. In addition, each room has its own balcony overlooking the sprawling resort and the Pacific Ocean.

4. Pools – The hotel has a number of pools and cabana type areas. The quiet atmosphere is perfect for relaxing the day away. This place is absolutely perfect for a couple’s retreat.

5. Ocean – Our one major disappointment was the ocean. The beach has a massive downhill slope and the water is not very clear. The beach was also littered with debris from fallen trees etc. All this can be explained by the fact we visited in the height of the rainy season, however, if you (like me) are thinking of relaxing the day away on an Aruba style sandy beach overlooking glassy bath water; think again. The pools are so phenomenal, however, I found myself not really missing the ocean. I made this comment not so much as a criticism, but for mere expectation management.

6. Food – After reading many reviews about this hotel going back to 2009, it appears the restaurant is very much improved. The breakfast buffet, included with the price of the room, is absolutely spot-on. We highly recommend the tamales. There is also an assortment of seasonal fruit and daily freshly squeezed orange juice. I noticed some criticisms about the buffet in earlier postings. Let me assure you, if you have ever enjoyed breakfast in Europe (eg fresh bread, cheese, coffee) you will feel right at home here. Lunch and dinner were pretty good. We were not amazingly impressed with the food at the Faro club, however. I highly recommend eating all meals at the hotel’s restaurant. We realize one normally would eat seafood on the ocean, and we did, but we really liked the Bristol burger (with sautéed onions and guacamole) and the chicken BLT. If you are looking for something a little more substantive, the Indian spiced lamb is very good. Make sure you stop at the grocery store (not open tue-wed) and get their pastilletes de pollo. They are out of this world and only a dollar a piece!

7. Spa – Make sure save some money to stop in at the Spa. You will not be disappointed. We highly recommend forgoing the option to get treatments Oceanside. Instead, have all treatments at the spa. Like the rest of the hotel, the décor or perfect. Make sure you arrive early to take advantage of the amenities. My wife and I were so relaxed after our three hour visit that we ended up sleeping the rest of the day. Exactly how a vacation should be!

8. Overall – This hotel is amazing. My wife and I, collectively, have been to nearly 40 different countries and we can honestly say this is one of the best hotels we have ever had the privilege of staying out. Thank you Bristol staff for an outstanding experience. We will be back!

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bristol_Hotels, Manager at JW Marriott Panama Golf & Beach Resort, responded to this review, September 6, 2010
Mocktrial,

Thank you for your recent visit to Bristol Buenaventura!

We sincerely appreciate the time you took to provide us with your valuable feedback and excited to hear that you had an excellent stay with us!

Please feel free to contact us with any questions and let us know how we may assist you further!

Thank you and we look forward to welcoming you back soon!

Warmest regards,

Bristol Buenaventura
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Panama City, Panama
1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 19, 2010

I recently stayed at the beautiful Buenaventura Hotel. The place is gorgous and the rooms are very neat, beautiful and luxurious. Hoever, I don't think a five star hotel should treat their guests to sit on the floor while attending the pool area! My partner and I went to the beach clubhouse and, because it is primarily used for people who own villas there, it was completely full! We literally had to sit on the floor with all our things. The hotel has another pool exclusive for people who are staying at the hotel, but we couldn't find setas there, either. The hotel should build another clubhouse, as well as build infrastructure towards the beach. I would only recommend it because it is so beautiful.

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 3 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
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bristol_Hotels, Manager at JW Marriott Panama Golf & Beach Resort, responded to this review, September 6, 2010
Patrickia,

Thank you for choosing Bristol Buenaventura!

We sincerely appreciate the time you took to provide us with your valuable feedback which will in turn assist us in our commitment to continuously improve our products and services.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions and let us know how we may assist you further.

Thank you and we look forward to welcoming you back in the near future!

Warmest regards,

Bristol Buenaventura
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New york
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
46 helpful votes 46 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 17, 2010

We spent 3 days and 2 nights at this resort during the week of my birthday. Management sent a small cake up to my room (delicioso). Thank you!! This is a great resort outside of Panama City. Service and food is exceptional. Beach and pools are gorgeous. Rooms are luxurious. It is quiet and relaxing. The grounds are well kept (beautiful orchids). The staff is attentive. Requested a late check out – not a problem. The only note I would make is that during my stay, I did not get to ride on the lake. The boat did not seem operational on those days (Wed-Fri). Nevertheless, we enjoyed the 5 minutes (or less) walk to and from the beach. This resort truly is a notch above the other beach resorts in Panama City. What everyone has been saying is true. I have don’t know what else I can add. It does NOT disappoint. A place to visit again and again. A secret gem!

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bristol_Hotels, Manager at JW Marriott Panama Golf & Beach Resort, responded to this review, September 6, 2010
Sergnes,

On behalf of the Bristol Buenaventura family we would like to thank you for your recent visit!

We sincerely appreciate the time you took to provide us with your valuable feedback and for the kind words. Our boat is fully functional and hope to offer you a ride on our lagoon on your next visit.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions and let us know how we may assist you further.

Thank you and we look forward to welcoming you back in the near future!

Bristol Buenaventura
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Colorado Springs
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 9, 2010

Stayed here for 2 nights in early August. Have to agree with the comical customer service. On arrival, we were asked if we would like a tour of the hotel. We said yes. However, we only walked about 20 feet while the staff pointed. When the "tour" was completed we were walked to one side of the hotel only for the staff member to realize she had walked us to the wrong side of the hotel.

We booked under the "family plan" in order to get adjoining rooms . However, our rooms were not adjoining....a problem when you have small children. The service was luke warm at best. For the most part they seemed uninterested in guests. Service at the restaurant was extraordinarily slow...even when we were the only ones dining. Staff were unattentive. We had never traveled to Central America before so we felt this may be the culture and let it pass. However, we simply could not get service at the pool. Staff were plentiful, just not interested in providing actual service. The lunch food was good, but we found the dinner to be poor in quality. We were surprised that only one restaurant was open. There were several on the website but they were closed.

The rooms/baths are beautiful. The location is great. The pool area was adequate. It was nice to have easy access to the beach. However, for $600+ dollars a night we expected something a little bit different. The hotel seems to just miss the mark in multiple areas. The pool/grounds are already showing some wear...missing tiles, loose/broken tiles, etc. Surprising since the resort has only recently been completed. The hotel charges for internet access. FYI access is NOT wireless. We laughed when we read an article in the room provided by the hotel which states that internet access in Panama is far superior to the U.S.

We would not return to the hotel. If we were to return to this area, we would book a villa or condo through a private owner at VRBO.

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 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.
Miami Beach, Florida
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 3, 2010

Arrived at 1am after a long journey from the airport in PC. Asked to put a "Do Not Disturb" on the phone so we could rest. Phone started ringing at 7am.
Waited 45 minutes for food to be delivered at resturant even thought there were only 3 other tables occupied.
Entire tray of drinks poured down my back during a wedding on Saturday. Manager could not clean the suit even though we werent departing until Monday.
Asked to leave early on Sunday to escape the ongoing disaster. Manager was nice and ordered transportation. Quoted me $35 to depart at 1:30pm. Waited in lobby until almost 3pm. Got to the city and cab driver said the charge was $100. Hotel would not honor rate quoted.
Wrote to General Manager and his reply was non apologetic and did not credit us for anything.

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 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.
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2010 via mobile

We have just come back from a weekend stay at the hotel.
The building, location, concept and execution are utterly fantastic. From that point of view it is definitely the best hotel in Panama. However the level of service was comically bad.
We took our teenage kids so had booked adjoining rooms. The only way that was possible, we were told when making the booking, was by having rooms on the ground floor. Needless to say our rooms weren't adjoining, although they were on the ground floor.
We tried to order some food from the room service menu, however thus food wasn't available. The only choices were a sandwich or a burger. Hardly 5 star food.
From there things went all Fawlty Towers! After waiting 30 minutes for a cart to take us to the beach, we decided to get our car and drive. They bought us someone else's car, then after another 5 minutes eventually admitted they had no idea which was ours, so we had to search through all the keys in the valet room.
It took 40 minutes to get a drink while we were having to wait 1 hour for dinner because the restaurant was full.
It took us to ask 3 times before we had napkins at dinner.
Breakfast the next day was the same kind of problems. No tables, no bowls, no napkins, only enough water for half a glass, and so on.

That said, the staff were clearly trying to be helpful, and were always courteous and polite, but they were clearly not operating in a well run management structure.

The chaos is something you might expect of Decameron, but that is a fraction of the price.

Until the management of the hotel is sorted out, I would recommend staying other places like Playa Bonita or Coronado. Very disappointing overall and such a shame given the fantastic hotel and facilities.

  • Stayed July 2010
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
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, Rio Hato, Panama (Formerly Bristol Buenaventura)
Location: Panama > Cocle Province > Rio Hato
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
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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