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“Lovely Hillside Retreat” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Free Spirit Inn

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Free Spirit Inn
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Old Bank, Isla Bastimentos 00190, Panama   |  
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Hotel amenities
Special Offer
Free Breakfast Included
San Francisco, California
1 review
“Lovely Hillside Retreat”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 31, 2013

We came to Free Spirit Inn yesterday after a long trip from Costa Rica. Arriving at Calvin's place was like walking into a calm and serene garden. He greeted us promptly and gave us coconut water while we relaxed on the porch overlooking the sea. Calvin is a very gracious host and his passion for his work and home is evident! We stayed in the purple room; it was well appointed and very comfortable. As I sit here on the porch with a cup of coffee, I am sorry that I don't have more time to spend here on the island and at Calvin's Free Spirit Inn. For those of you who are looking for a personal and more intimate experience, this is the place for you. I recommend Calvin highly, as his kind of hospitality is what I enjoy so much about traveling and getting to know others.

Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
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43 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (7)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Brussels, Belgium
1 review
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 12, 2013

We were in Free Spirit for four nights last week (march 2013). It wasn't a good experience. To reach Free Spirit you have to pass across a small and dirty up-hill path. Calvin is a person with the attitude to control everything, to give you many rules from the beginning of your permanence... He is often on the balcony of his house watching you in his property (he uses to remark that you are in his property and you have to respect his rules). As you do something he considers wrong (as forget to switch off a light in your room or closing the door of the balcony in the common area) he tells you immediately!
You have few things for breakfast (cereals, milk and coffee) and if you want more (as simply bread, butter, etc…) you have to pay. In the evening he brings the coffee at his home because he is worried that somebody can steal it in the sharing kitchen. As consequence, when you wake up and the coffee is not there you should scream is name (there is no bell on this door) hoping he hears you, for giving it.
There is not cleaning service for the rooms, so if you need to change at least the towel you should do the same: screaming hoping he is there…
Last night the electricity missed all the time, he told me there was an emergency lamp in the room. I switched it on but it stopped to work after few minutes. I informed Calvin, he told me he was aware about the defect of the lamp, he hasn’t got other candles (we had just two in the room almost finished) and that he doesn’t consider so important having light… I should think that local people there have lived without electricity for many years!!!… He was really unfair and impolite… we had to wake up before the sunrise trying to prepare the baggage because we had to leave really early in the morning.
Indeed, he has a sweety dog almost always chained, because he pretends to make him a guardian dog, even it is not the attitude of the poor animal, it is really simple to understand. For this treatment as the dog (Lucy) is free, she is completely thrilled and, if you call her, she doesn’t stop to jump on you trying to receive attentions and affection…
So, if the weather is sunny and you spend at Calvin place less time is possible, it could be ok, because the cabana is really really nice, otherwise (it is the Caribbean…) I advice you another place to stay!!

Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Blackprince02, Owner at Free Spirit Inn, responded to this review, March 14, 2013
My job as a host is to be welcoming to all my guest , be let me be blunt Free Spirit Inn is a no smoking guest house , and for any one who book without understanding the rules which are in a package which is giving on arrival at the same time as I get your passport details and offer you a welcome drink . Freespiritinn is located in a jungle area where water and electricity is at time in short supply , so we have to understand this is not a hotel wear sheets and towels are change daily , but when ask no problem I have enough for many changes , but I do not go into guest rooms without permission . Each room also has a backup emergency battery lighting , with low and high useage , using it on night can be a problem for inscects coming into your room and you should have feel for the local communtiy population who does not have any light and are in the dark telling stories and laughing with each other instead of making your more uncomfortable by
looking at what you don't have when there is so much that you have . I service brackfast between
8am & 10 am all items are taking out of the kitchen area and lock away and see things like coffee
Toaster , and other food items can be a problem with insects and some of the locals who don't have these item available to them . This is not a hotel people who want to come into a rustic jungle
environment should really think twice specially when this is one of your first travels outside of your country , this is the Caribbean and how you feel about animal which is not the same in poor community here most people have dogs for watching the property not as pets so guest should really understand the condition the local people are living under and not be judgmental, even it really not of your concern for the short period of time that you are visiting . The island in which I live with the local community is not as clean as I would like it and not as clean as some of the local would like it also , but sharing with you some of the educational needs of a lot of island communtity and their surrounding this is one of the reality you are face with . Free spirit inn is a very well clean safe and well kept property with a fence in surrounding for the guest comfort .We live in the community but not alway with the life style of the community but it's a good education for the locals and guest to come help teach and share some of the things that well as first world people take for granted as keeping the island clean picking up the trash along the walk way , but sometime the guest have to understand some of the locals issue with trash pickup starts with the local government they do a poor job of keeping the island clean and working with the locals to understand how it a health issue , that a big problem on some of the poor populated islands where you don't have the rich money tourist or populated with a lot of foreign residents , but after living here I see the change for the better after having a big strike in Bocas town for one month because the government want to raise the fee for poor service , yes I have to be very controlling on what goes on with outsider visiting my property because " Everything " is beautiful and is made from wood I have to make sure it does not go up in smoke , with maybe a I'm sorry I did realize fire can catch the wood so easy, this is not a place for guest who are not use to Eco living where it maybe a little uncomfortable at time as I started off saying this is not a upscale resort or a do what ever you want why should anyone care .

I live here in Bastimento a Caribbean island to share the spirit of the people and to exchange some of my knowhow for so of their ways of life but not to judge or think that things should be as I wish then to be, this is not a resort ,and there is no villas , and to be clear I can not control the weather just because some people come most of all to go back home with a sun tan, sorry talk with the higher power before coming so you are not disappointed and making other feel your discomfort ..
not alway the case in third world countries
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Corrales, New Mexico
Top Contributor
64 reviews 64 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 10, 2013

Free Spirit Inn has a lovely setting up the hill on Bastimentos.
Calvin has built 2 units with a veranda, and a common dining area below, along with lovely well kept grounds – a meditation hut, meeting table, & reading room. The décor is woods with thatched roof which fits in beautifully with the verdant surroundings. Nice touches are added with artwork, pillows, masks, etc from Calvins travels. Ensuite bathroom has a shower with mosaic pebble floor, and stone?sink. Every inch of the property has been thought out by Calvin. Shells placed here and there, art pieces etc. The free welcome drink of coconut juice is very refreshing.
Suites have a very comfortable bed with a nice wood frame for a quiet and peaceful nights sleep. No air-conditioning but, the fans were fine to keep us cool.
Breakfast is fresh juice, a healthy granola, yogurt, bananas, teas, and regular coffee – but if you want a special Panamanian organic one its $2 extra. Also you can order an omelette or pancakes if you want for $6-8.

Calvin is a very welcoming and generous host with explaining the area, local customs/culture, restaurant and activity recommendations (hike up the hill through the jungle to the cafe and then on to Wizard Beach). The communal kitchen area below the suites (with refrigerator, heating element, sink) is perfect for fixing a drink, light meal etc and relaxing and exchanging experiences, ideas and stories. If you want to eat in and fix light fare in the basic kitchen- get groceries in Bocas Town at Super Gourmet.

Perfectly priced for Bastimentos – and not a hostel, but not a high priced all-inclusive resort, so a great alternative.

Cavin gets the Best Host award on our entire trip!

Room Tip: We liked the Sun Suite with a queen bed on the main floor and a twin up in the loft like area.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Cleveland, Tennessee
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 6, 2013

My wife and I were just there about 3 days ago and spent 3 wonderful days in the peaceful vibe of Calvin and his Free Spirit Inn. One would be hard pressed to find as attentive and genuine a host as Calvin. He has created a great space overlooking the town with two cozy, tastefully decorated rooms that have a sweeping view through the jungle down to the carribbean. He serves you a nice breakfast with fresh juice, fruit, granola, and coffee, but if you want to upgrade to a three egg omelet the cost is minimal and the quality is very good.

The lady who helps him, her name slips my mind, is gracious and sweet and fluent in both English and Spanish. You can book snorkling tours right there for a good price, or a trip to the bat cave. You even get a meditation hut, a grill if you want to prepare your own perfect Red Snapper, and a lounge area to hang out. If you happen to be in need of some soul healing, no problem, Calvin will slide his stereo over to his window and waft you a little Nina Simone to cure what ills.

It\s a great place to be in a beautiful location, but what will stay with you the longest is the genuine hospitality and general good vibe that Calvin goes the extra mile to give. You will not be disappointed! Oh! I almost forgot the beds! The beds are superb.

Donnie and Katia Harris

  • Stayed March 2013, 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

Review collected in partnership with this hotel

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Sooke, Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 22, 2013

My husband i spent several nights with Calvin at his uniquely designed inn. We met Calvin on a bus ride to Almirante and were thrilled to have found such a peaceful, lovely place to stay with such interesting and attentive host. Free Spirit Inn has two upper floors rooms, painted in gentle colours, with lofts and roomy, beautifully decorated bed and bath and immaculately clean. Calvin has spared nothing to makes these places super comfortable and uniquely his own. Calvin spent time with us answering all our questions about the island, tours and places to explore - and we set up a terrific snorkeling tour with Uwe - a passionate protector of the local marine areas. He was so knowledgeable and educated us as well as ensuring we experienced several snorkeling locations with different sea life. Continental Breakfast was great - you could custom order hot items for a small fee. We walked across the island to Wizard Beach - a wild, wave expanse of golden sand - well worth the walk but make sure you have good shoes to avoid the ants!
I highly recommend this amazing place to enjoy a unique and special island, away from the tourist hub of Boca town. We truly enjoyed spending time with Calvin - an intriguing and fascinating soul.

Room Tip: both rooms have great view
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  • Stayed February 2013, 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.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 21, 2013

My friend and I just left the island and we were very sad to go. Calvin was a wonderful host, offering us a fresh coconut when we arrived, making sure we knew where and how everything worked, and gave us so many helpful suggestions on things to do and see around the islands. The space itself was lovely. It was an oasis on Bastimentos. The rooms were very clean and perfectly decorated. We were treated to fresh squeezed juice in the morning and a nice little breakfast, including gourmet coffee. I felt very safe and secure at all times. Calvin even brought a guide to the house to offer private snorkeling and bat cave tours, which were definitely the highlights of our trip. Ask for Oovie (or Uvie) - he is a trip! 5 stars and I can't wait for Calvin to visit us!

Room Tip: The yellow room has a full downstairs and a single upstairs.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 31, 2013

I recently stayed here for a week with my friend. We had such an amazing time we didn't want to leave. The place itself is stunning. Calvin has built a great get away that is out of the way without being in the middle of nowhere. The view from the deck was also a real bonus, you can see all the way down to the sea. This makes for a real peaceful setting. The garden is really spacious, lots of places to lie in the sun or read a book in the shade. The bedroom/bathroom were clean, comfortable and beautifully decorated. There is also a meditation hut where you can chill out in or meditate. This was my favourite place in Basementos. Calvin is a great guy too and a super host. He is a real generous and warm guy. He also has great local knowledge of places to visit and eat out. Of all the place i stayed in Bocas this was my favourite.

  • Stayed January 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 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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Additional Information about Free Spirit Inn

Address: Old Bank, Isla Bastimentos 00190, Panama
Phone Number:
Location: Panama > Bocas del Toro Province > Isla Bastimentos
Amenities:
Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 14 B&Bs / Inns in Isla Bastimentos
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 3
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Our New Eco Friendly Inn offers a relaxed and lazy getaway with a splash of tropical adventure with local Caribbean music in the background with a beautiful island bay view, plus local restaurant ,bars with music and food stores two minutes away. Free Spirit Inn has comfortable private suites, with dreamy beds, private bathrooms with hot showers and stone massage floors. Each suite has a balcony view of the Caribbean and other islands in the bay, and a decorated sleeping loft for 1 to 2 extra guests.There is a outdoor seating area and hammock to enjoy quiet reflection, a garden area , outdoor open air shower ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Free Spirit Inn Panama/Isla Bastimentos, Bocas Del Toro

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