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“Good value, nice accommodations, travel staff could use training” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Playa Tortuga Hotel & Beach Resort

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Playa Tortuga Hotel & Beach Resort
4.0 of 5 Resort   |   Isla Colon, Panama   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #11 of 24 Hotels in Isla Colon
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Good value, nice accommodations, travel staff could use training”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 14, 2013

We were very pleased by the size of our Junior Suite, the balcony and beautiful view overlooking the beach. The room was clean, the king sized bed very comfortable. The American style breakfast was a bit disappointing (we would have preferred regional offerings and some fresh local produce, but a lot of people might prefer the American offerings) but we found a great restaurant in town that had great dinner fare.
We booked a private snorkeling expedition for two for $95.00. 4 hours on a large-ish touring boat. The Jamacan captain didn't speak much English and therefore couldn't articulate a lot of what we were seeing (I still wonder about a wreaked ship we drove around) but took us to some great snorkeling spots and was willing to do whatever we wanted. We would have loved it if our excursion advisor from the hotel had told us there were rustic thatched restaurants on the water where we were going where we could have stopped and had lunch or a drink, had we taken cash for such a thing (no credit cards accepted... very rural).
On day 2, we arranged a surf lesson outing. It was rainy, but warm, and we were only there for 3 days. We waited for 45 minutes past pick up time before going back into the hotel to ask where our ride was. The boat arrived 15 minutes later, the driver explaining that he figured we wanted to cancel since it was drizzling. Kind of a non-issue, if you are planning on getting wet anyway! The lesson was at a beautiful little cluster of huts on risers, and the 3 hour lesson more than adequate.
The over-the-water bar at the hotel provided plenty of ambience; a little light on culinary creativity and a bit pricey compared to what else the island had to offer, but was good enough, factoring in the convenience and view.
I didn't see any of the $300.00+ resorts in the area, but we felt this lovely place was a very good value. We would go back!

Room Tip: Ask for an ocean view, on the top floor. We were happy we hadn't booked a room overlooking the n...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
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370 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Location
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (45)
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Hugo, Minnesota
Top Contributor
108 reviews 108 reviews
32 hotel reviews
Reviews in 58 cities Reviews in 58 cities
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 5, 2013

This is a very nice place to stay if visiting Boca town. It is a 5 minute cab ride from town and one gets to enjoy a beautiful pool and quietness. I would love to come here and train the staff on waiting tables. I thought everyone was very pleasant, however, I was not impressed with all of the empty drink glasses left out by the pool area. There was a waiter serving drinks, but he would never take any of the empty glasses. I also notice the wait staff of 4 or more congregated together rather than serving and selling. The room was comfortable and clean and we had a great view.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
New York City, New York
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 1, 2013

I stayed in Bocas Del Toro for five days. When I first arrived at the hotel I thought it was okay. The lobby, pool and beach areas were clean and inviting. The room was roomy with a comfortable bed.

Even though the salt air has always been good for my breathing; I'm asthmatic, staying in the hotel wasn't. There was mold on the curtains and if the ac stayed on for too long my asthma would act up. If the curtains and ac was ever cleaned, it's been a very long time since.

But on a better note. The staff was great.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled solo
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Eugene, Oregon, United States
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed February 28, 2013

We showed up at Playa Tortuga last week without reservations and were told by reception that they were full. The only room available was the Presidential Suite for $600. We asked if they could find another hotel for us nearby but were told that the entire island was booked. So we took the suite. After checking in we discovered the hotel was nearly empty, and that we'd been scammed. Bad place. Do not patronize!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, Maine
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 23, 2013

We picked this hotel be because it had fairly good reviews but I was disgusted. I am a very minimal person but these room were so filthy. The baseboards and door were covered in brown gunk, the lamps were stained as well as the curtains. The base of the lamps were even rusty. Won't even get into the hair in the bathroom. Not pleased, won't go back. The only good thing that I noticed was there were no bed bugs. P.S. the websites photos are very deceiving.

Room Tip: Get a room far from the lobby, very noisy otherwise.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lexington, MA
Top Contributor
73 reviews 73 reviews
27 hotel reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
67 helpful votes 67 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2013

The Playa Tortuga Resort is a good example of why a large, motel-like resort should never have been built on Isla Colon. While guests may want to stay at the only so-called "full service resort" on Isla Colon, beware of what you wish for. Let's face it--you are better off choosing between the hotels in Bocas Town (if you are here to party and don't mind the noise and wild night atmosphere) or in one of several quieter, bed and breakfast and villa properties up the road from the Tortuga in the Bluff Beach area.

From the time we were banded with our plastic wristband at the Tortuga, we had a sinking feeling we had made a very bad mistake. Our room on the bottom floor (the floor nearest to the sewage treatment facility) smelled pretty rank and when one of the local gardeners revved up his weedwacker and blew grass and dirt all over the terrace while we sat admiring the limited beach view, we just smiled because you can't make this stuff up. The limited beach view is a function of the rather limited beach (about 50 feet of not very appealing dirty beachfront) and this is a real pity because just up the road there is 8 kms. of some of the nicest beach you will every experience (separated by a pot-holed road that insulates it from the squalor of the Tortuga area).

We had planned a boat trip from the Tortuga the next day, so we still felt committed and we went to find the activities desk to see about when we should be ready the next morning. Well, finding the activities desk was easy enough, but finding the activities dude Maurizio was another matter. Maurizio is a friendly kind of guy who really enjoys his lunch breaks, coffee breaks, and just about everything about his job. The problem is that he (and the hotel management) are just not very good at it. Yes, they had lost our reservation for the boat trip, and yes, they recommended that we call our tour operator to see what had gone amiss. Well, our tour operator did manage to straighten things out with a few phone calls, but not so much as a "sorry for the inconvenience" from Maurizio or the hotel management.

Before you dismiss this review, let me say that we are not extremely picky or unreasonable, but we do like people to care about their guests and to try to do their jobs in a friendly and reasonably effective way. This only the second negative review I have posted on TripAdvisor in over 8 years.

So, we headed out to lunch at the pier on the property for a forgettable meal and wondered what to do next. We fired up TripAdvisor and found a number of great options on the island, including the Bluff Beach Retreat where we secured a room for (amazingly) about the same price.

When I went back to the desk to check out hours after we had checked in, the young man at the desk somehow didn't seem to be very surprised, although he did say that he had a message that he had neglected to give me earlier and he seemed pretty busy with a few other urgent concerns. No one from the hotel management inquired as to why we were leaving. It was Carnaval week, so occupancy was good, so why bother?

From then on, we were about 20 minutes away from Paradise up the beach at the Beach Bluff Retreat and we didn't look back. (I am posting a photo of the beach just up the road from the Playa Tortuga to give you a sense of what you are missing.)

Room Tip: Try to find a room not too close to the sewage treatment area.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 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.
Panama City, Panama
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 12, 2013

When I look for a hotel, I look for four carachteristics in order of importance.

1. HYGIENE. The first thing in order of importance is the hygiene, the hotel rooms as well as the social areas are very clean.

2. QUALITY OF SLEEP. The second thing in order of importance is the quality of my sleep. I slept very well at Playa Tortuga's rooms! The bed, pillows and sheets are excellent and so is the temperature of the air conditioner unit. The blackout curtains don't let any light come into the room. Also, the room is very quiet, in fact the only sound you hear is the soothing waves against the white sand beach in front of the room, almost therapeutic.

3. BATHROOM. The third thing is the bathroom, the bathrooms at the Tortuga Hotel are just what you need regarding to their size and amenities, but most important is the pressure and temperature of the water, both are perfect.

4. LOCATION. The location of Playa Tortuga Hotel is great if you want to be close to Bocas Town but not "in" Bocas Town... You can go eat at the restaurants in town and come back by taxi. The hotel offers a shuttle but just four times per day, so it's better if you take a taxi. We contacted a couple of taxi drivers but we liked Mr. David, he speaks English and was there anytime we requested, his Panama cell phone number is +507-6376-3551

Since we are an outdoors family other carachteristics that aren't so important for us are the restaurants, gym and swimming pool. Hotel Playa Tortuga has the best swimming pool area of Bocas Del Toro. It also has a gym that we never used as we were exercising in outdoors activities. We usually eat outside of hotels, however the restaurants at the Tortuga Hotel are what you can expect from a four star hotel, the food is not great but its buffet will keep hunger away. If you want good restaurants you'd have to go into town, however, breakfast at the Tortuga Hotel is complete and will keep you going for a full day of activities.

Don't expect luxury or to be pampered at the Playa Tortuga Hotel, for that you better go to a Spa!
We really like the Playa Tortuga Hotel because when you come from a full day of outdoors activities such as scuba diving, hiking on trails, bicycle touring, fishing, playing at a white sand beach or walking in picturesque Bocas Town you want a good bath and a good rest, this is what Playa Tortuga Hotel offers at a decent price. No hotel compares to it in Bocas Del Toro.

Room Tip: Ask for rooms on the beach side.
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  • Stayed February 2013, 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
    • 3 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 Playa Tortuga Hotel & Beach Resort

Address: Isla Colon, Panama
Location: Panama > Bocas del Toro Province > Isla Colon
Amenities:
Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Top resorts Hotel in Isla Colon
#4 On the Beach Hotel in Isla Colon
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Playa Tortuga Hotel & Beach Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 117
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Tropical Caribbean Beach Resort on the crystal clear waters of Bocas del Toro, Panama.Playa Tortuga offers 117 stylish room accommodations, each with a balcony and spectacular ocean view. Guests may choose from standard rooms, junior suites and large grand suites, all offering a contemporary décor, modern amenities and a soothing tropical atmosphere.Relax in the hotel’s sea view pool, or sunbathe in our water mirrors while enjoying your favorite beverage from the nearby bar area. Little ones will enjoy the children’s pool. Other modern and convenient amenities include free WIFI and a state of the art Fitness Center featuring a private massage area. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Playa Tortuga Hotel And Beach Resort
Playa Tortuga Hotel & Beach Isla Colon
Playa Tortuga Resort Beach
Playa Tortuga Hotel & Beach Resort Panama/Bocas Del Toro - Isla Colon

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