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“You will get disconnected” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Al Natural Resort

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Al Natural Resort
3.5 of 5 Inn   |   Old Point, Isla Bastimentos, Panama   |  
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12.5% LOW SEASON DISCOUNT
Certificate of Excellence 2014
New York
Top Contributor
145 reviews 145 reviews
73 hotel reviews
Reviews in 71 cities Reviews in 71 cities
185 helpful votes 185 helpful votes
“You will get disconnected”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 22, 2008

Stayed Al Natural for 2 nights the end of February. We stayed at standard bungalow and loved it. Wish we could stay longer. No TV,no phone, no internet. But once you step in this resort, you don't feel its necessity. Just be in natural. All you hear is birds singing and nice ocean waives. But you never get bored. You are totally disconnected from your daily routine at home. What made our stay here even better was their staff, Michele and Vincent, other local staff and guests. You eat three meals with them together. So if you don't get along with other guests, maybe your stay turns to be uncomfortable. We were lucky that all the guests were so wonderful and it was like one big family. As other members mention that food was wonderful, more healthy style.
Remember, there is no service that high end resort hotels offer.
Concept is totally different here as well as Bocas.
We loved here and love to come back.

  • Liked — nature
  • Stayed February 2008
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 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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225 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (29)
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English first
Boston
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 9, 2008

Having split our time in Bocas del Toro between two places, I am so glad I stayed at Al Natural first.
It is in the lovliest spot, very beautiful and relaxing. There is none of the chaos of Bocas town, it is a great escape. At Al Natural you are close to Crawl Cay for the best snorkeling, and equally close to the Zapatillas, for more hiking and snorkeling, or just a day of swimming.
The meals here were fantastic as well. Having eaten at several places in Bocas I can now say that none of the meals I was served compared to what Al Natural served us. We were lucky to also have a guest chef visit during our stay, so we were treated to the genius of two fine chefs. Lovely and creative dishes, mainly based on fish. We were always excited to see what they would create for us.
At night you can stand at the dock and watch the bioluminescence glowing at you (shine it with your flashlight).
There were virtually no bugs during our stay, except for a couple of nights of no see-ums that bit my legs all over. But I wasn't wearing bug stuff, so my bad. The fireflies out there are so cool, they are enormous.
There are sweet little night monkies that come down to visit some evenings, and come very close.
There are nice trails to two good beaches on the outside of Bastimentos, so you can wander on your own, plus there is the Salt Creek Indian village a short distance up the lagoon. We didn't go on the tour, but we took the kayaks down the beach and up the lagoon to the village one morning. Very interesting, many neat birds and critters.
My boyfriend and another guest brought travel fishing rods and had a great time going out with local guys to fish by the reef. They did catch our dinner one night (Jack Creval?)
The accomodations are very gilligan's Island luxery cabinas: thatched roof huts open to nature but with hot water showers and comfy beds (ours had a much appreciated ceiling fan). Most nights there is a breeze and it was only really hot one afternoon.
We really loved this place. Michel and Vincent have made a lovely retreat from the world's ills.
The only advice I have is not to come here being too needy. If you want someone to serve you hand and foot, this is not your place. Aside from mealtimes, you are on your own unless you have arranged a tour. Although I can say when I found myself in need of a pina colada when the hosts were not around, Calypso and Mariella did help me out. Everything else is there for you to get for yourself (cooler with drinks).

  • Liked — The luxurious integration with nature
  • Disliked — The shower was not always hot and often had no pressure
  • Stayed February 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 26, 2008

Of all the places I have stayed in Panama, this was by far the best. Great beauty, very natural, excellent staff and service, peace, and lots to do.

  • Liked — The service was amazing, beautiful natural location
  • Disliked — I can't think of anything I did not like
  • Stayed September 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Ireland
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 7, 2008

This is located in a beautiful location but beware the time of year you book here. Late December is still the rainy season and it's not much fun in the lashing rain hold up in what is essentially an outdoor orientated lodge. This is marketed as an eco lodge / resort but there is a lot of tokenism going here. If one pays for a full bar all inclusive package then one should have the expectation that you don't have to go Oliver Twist style looking for a drink at the bar. It was X-mas and the hosts had friends around (who were very nice) but guests seemed expected to leave the party after the meals was communally served so management could get on with entertaining. The management are not running a budget hostel here, the opposite is in fact the case as they are charging big bucks but seem to want to do things on their terms while getting guest to pay an eco premium. Given the money they are charging here a little bit of a housekeeping service would be in order, for example a change of towels every so often, particularly if it raining solid for 3 days with little chance of drying. Potential guests should also know that the beach in front is not ideal for swimming as the bed is covered in seaweed / sea grass and potential dangers like sea urchins exist. To summaries if the sun were to shine it could be idyllic for location alone but they charging a huge price premium to enjoy it, one which all things considered is over the top given what else is available in nearby areas and up the coast in Costa Rica. Not good value for money.

  • Liked — Views
  • Disliked — Lack of activities in poor / average conditions
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lechlade, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
42 helpful votes 42 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 29, 2008

My wife and I were lucky enough to spend 3 nights at this beautiful and peaceful resort at the end of Jan. The superior cabin we had was fantastic. If you like bland 4 star hotels with all the mod-cons then this place isn't for you. If you enjoy being close to nature, waking up to the sound of the waves and tropical birds then Al Natural is perfect! Breakfast and lunch were good, but the culinary highlights were the 3 course evening meals. These were all prepared by locally employed staff from the nearby Indian village. They were trained by Vincent, who had returned to Europe for the duration of our stay. All 3 nights we stayed we had a seafood starter and main course followed by dessert. During the evening meal you recieve 3-4 small glasses of red or white wine which were both very good. If you want any more its $3 a glass. All other drinks you have during your stay are added to a bar tab.As a rough guide - A small bottle of water is $2 and a cocktail is $5.

During the days there are two boats and skippers at your disposal for a number of trips. We visited the nearby Zapatillas islands with other visitors on two seperate days. The islands are only a 15min transit from the resort and cost $60 in total for a morning or afternoon trip, plus $10 park entry per person. We thouroughly recommend a trip here if you want an unspoilt tropical island paradise, where you can lie in the sun, and swim in the sea just off the gently sloping sandy beach.

Our trip would not have been the same if it wasn't for our wonderful host Aaron. He was a very knowledgable and articulate young man who went out of his way to make all the guests feel at home. He dealt with all of our questions and requests with polite enthusiasm. In the evenings he manned the bar dishing out fantastic fresh juice and rum cocktails whilst anwering all the guests queries from their days adventures. He clearly loves the place, and his enthusiasm was infectious.

Top Tips: Be careful when you go. Sep is great! Jan can be very wet!

This is not a beach resort so if you want to lie on the beach all day and swim in the sea you will need to visit the nearby islands.

It is almost guaranteed that you will meet lots of like minded and interesting people from all over the world.

  • Liked — The beautiful and tranquil setting.
  • Disliked — Nothing.
  • Stayed January 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Olympia, Washington
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 4, 2008

We loved our time at the Al Natural. By the end of our 4 days there, we felt as though we'd been staying with friends who happened to have an amazing property (with a staff to clean the rooms, etc.) Yes, Vincent and Aaron could be described as "laid back" (per another review), but this was part of what made it feel like visiting friends for a vacation as opposed to staying in a hotel.

Our cabin was one of the "superior" cabins, and like the other cabins had 3 sides, with one side facing out to the sea. Spacious and comfortable, and private feeling despite being open on one side. Although we were there in the rainy season, and we definitely had rain, this didn't dampen our spirits. We enjoyed going out in the kayaks and/or walking along the beach or through the jungle every day and snorkeling once it cleared enough for good visibility. It's easy to arrange a boat ride to do excursions (the same type of excursions offered in Bocas town, but with local guys in smaller boats), and we did one to the nearby small village & guided jungle walk.

It was our 20th anniversary, so we arranged the special dinner. Although all the dinners (prepared by Vincent, an excellent Belgian chef) were great, the special romantic dinner involves a private setting (either in the game room above the main dining area if it's rainy or out on the dock), lots of candles, flowers, and many many courses of food, wine and champaign.

At the Al Natural, you walk around bare foot and wash the sand from your feet in little pools at the entry of the buildings. You dine in a big common room with other guests. It is not "luxury" if "luxury" to you means wi-fi access, jacuzzi tubs, pedicures on site, etc. You won't be pampered. But you might have the most relaxing and fun time of your life (particularly if they happen to have a salsa party when you're there!).

  • Liked — beautiful setting by edge of jungle on nice beach
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 30, 2007

The accommodation is lovely... right on the water with great views. For what you pay however, the service is lacking. The staff is very laid back--what you would expect at a hostel rather than a $100 plus a night lodge. We felt as though we were interrupting the staff's "vacation" when we asked for a drink or needed information about an activity. Very disappointing.

  • Liked — The view
  • Disliked — The service
  • Stayed October 2007, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 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.
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Additional Information about Al Natural Resort

Address: Old Point, Isla Bastimentos, Panama
Location: Panama > Bocas del Toro Province > Isla Bastimentos
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Shuttle Bus service Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 15 B&Bs / Inns in Isla Bastimentos
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Al Natural Resort 3.5*
Number of rooms: 9
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Al Natural Hotel Isla Bastimentos
Al Natural Resort Panama/Isla Bastimentos, Bocas Del Toro

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