My husband and I, both lawyers, stayed at the Playa Bonita for a professional conference in late January.
The service at this property from the front desk to the pool bartenders is at best mediocre. We normally stay at Marriott properties and we like to stay on concierge levels to enjoy a lot of extras. For this conference, our professional group held the conference at this ICH. So we chose to spend an extra $200 to enjoy "Ambassador" level service. We received one gold Ambassador luggage tag, a certificate for one free weekend night and a gold membership card. Ambassador level service was not worth it. Save your money.
At this property, Ambassador service entitles you to an "upgrade" to a Suite. First, when I requested my upgrade on arrival, I was advised by the front desk staff member, that she needed to see the card that had been sent to me via mail... which was back in Maryland sitting on my desk at work. I explained that I had not brought the card. She directed me to walk across the lobby and get this information from the Concierge Desk that doubled as Ambassador service. I was confused why the Front Desk could not just look it up in the computer. So, after a day of travel.. I had to go to Concierge.. wait in line for the second staff member to look up my Ambassador enrollment and give me my membership number so that I could then walk back to the Guest registration desk and wait in line again, to give them my Ambassador number. The whole registration with "Ambassador" service was hokey and ridiculous. It continued in the same manner when they could not upgrade us. They told us to check back the following day. They upgraded us to a suite which was beautiful... but stunk like the insecticide they use to bomb the rooms to kill mosquitoes. It is impossible to air the room out because the doors are crazy heavy and there is no way to prop them open.
The physical property of the Playa Bonita is gorgeous. All the rooms have ocean views. The actual beach is that dark volcanic beach and kind of shallow. Not really inviting to go and hang out on the beach.
The pool/bar area is beautiful with the infinity edge pool. The service in the pool area was terrible. Our second day at the property, we managed to escape our conference around 5:30 to enjoy the last hour of sunshine out by the pool. We went straight to the pool bar and asked the bartenders for a couple of drinks... the Panamania Caiparinhas. The bartender said he couldn't serve us those, since the pool bar would be closing at 6 pm. We were pretty shocked that 30 minutes before closing time they couldn't serve us drinks. He said he could offer us beers only. So we accepted the beers. They were clearly wrapping up their day early. My husband likes a lime in his beer and there was an uncut lime on the bar behind him. My husband asked, "do you have any lime". The bartender said 'no'. The whole service situation was laughable.
Ambassador service entitled us to a special club room for breakfast. Our room rate included breakfast in the main hotel restaurant. We had breakfast in both during our stay. Again, the Ambassador service made no sense because the breakfast available in the "club" was not as good or varied as the breakfast in the main dining room. You can use the club room room with your room key during the day to get wifi. It is the only in the entire sprawling property to get decent wifi service. I stopped in one day to get a cup of coffee, because they have an automatic espresso machine in there. There was a staff member manning the service desk in there. When I tried to make myself a cup of espresso she asked me if she could help me (with a tone of voice). She picked up the phone and asked someone to come make me a cup of coffee. The machine literally only needed to be turned on and the button pressed. The whole encounter bordered on ridiculous.
Ambassador service entitled us to water, fruit and a newspaper daily. We received this service on the second day of our stay because I asked for it, even though it was supposed to happen daily. I stopped asking because the "fresh fruit" provided was an apple, an orange and a small bunch of grapes on a puny plate. Honestly, when I travel to Panama, I NEVER eat apples, oranges or grapes. When I travel to Panama or any tropical destination I am eating all the delicious tropical fruits: mangoes, papaya.
Finally, the single day we used the pool area, we requested towels from the towel attendant. Consistent with the mediocre service, the attendant said I could have towels as long promised to bring them back in the next hour before the pool area closed. She said she would not complete the check out log - they give you a paper receipt for the towels... more hokey service with hokey and non-customer service statements made by staff.
This is a gorgeous property. What this property is lacking is a customer service training program. There are too few staff members to handle the volume of guests. There is a clear lack of customer service training.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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We appreciate that you are taking the time for bring this matter to our attention, and let us know your comments about your stay in our hotel. we do apologize for all the inconvenience that you experienced, we are taking corrective actions.
Once again, thank you for your comments and feedback.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.