We had a horrible experience at this hotel. The location is quite beautiful, so it's a true disappointment that the experience was not better. I went with three close female friends. Initially we were the only guests, until other guests arrived. And the owners were not present the entire time. I'm not sure if this was part of the problem, but overall it felt like we were intruding on the staff's vacation.
I sent an email, which I include at the bottom, to the owner on our second day hoping that she would be able to help remedy the situation from abroad. She never responded, until after we departed. In her email she made no reference to my email, never asked how our stay was, but asked for a friend's credit card number. It was a total fiasco to check out- took over an hour for them to put our bills together. I was truly appalled at the horrible service and see now that the tone is set from the top down. I sent a second email to the owner detailing the issues with our stay and that has also gone unanswered. Here is the text of both emails:
Hi Marissa, in response to your email asking for my friend's credit card, I would like to let you know that we did not enjoy our time at Hacienda del Mar. I emailed you after our first day and you never responded. Here were our issues:
1. We never had a working toilet the entire time during our visit. Every day they came and said it was fixed and as soon as we tried it, it would not flush. We were forced to use the communal bathrooms near the pool, which were only cleaned once, prior to the other guests arriving, which was at the end of our stay. There were no paper towels in the ladies bathroom, and every day we had to request toilet paper, usually 2-3 times before receiving any.
2. Upon arrival we were told that your spa was not functioning and would not function at all during our visit. Your website lists spa services and only two days before we came to Panama we contacted you about spa services and were sent a list of offerings. We were looking forward to massages and other services. Had we known there would be none offered, we would have stayed somewhere else.
3. Your staff, with the exception of Achew and Elay, at best was indifferent, at worst outright rude and hostile. Guiseppe and Margot were the worst offenders. As I mentioned in my prior email, Guiseppe was blasting loud music every morning before 7am, until other guests arrived. We couldn’t sleep through it. One morning, we went for breakfast around 7:15 because we couldn’t sleep with the music. We sat there for over 20 minutes. I got up and turned the music down because it was ridiculously loud and no one was around to speak to about the noise. Guiseppe then came out from the kitchen to check on the music, saw us but did not greet us, and then stormed away. We sat there for another 20 minutes. At that point he came back and slammed a pot of coffee on our table, but still did not speak to us.
None of your staff ever asked us if we needed anything, how our stay was going, or if we wanted to plan any activities. We had to ask for a list of activities multiple times. The one and only time they spoke to us was to ask us to play volleyball because the staff needed more women on the women’s team. There was no one to help us with the kayaks, lounge chairs, umbrellas, etc. Another day my friend was waiting for the internet for over 45 minutes while one of your staff members was busy on facebook even though my friend made it clear that she was waiting. When other guests arrived after a few days we noticed that your staff put on uniforms. Apparently we, as guests, did not qualify for their uniforms. In fact, Guiseppe said that he put it on because other guests were coming. Later that day at that pool, Guiseppe asked your other guests if they would like drinks. He ignored us, even though we were several feet away. Not sure what he considered us, but I know at check out we were charged just like all other guests.
4. Your beds and linens need to be updated. The beds slope down in the middle and we all had backaches from sleeping in them. They did change the mattress on one bed because it was so horrible, but the other mattress was just as poor. Your pillows are odd sizes and shapes and not the
kind of quality that we would expect.
5. The beach near our room smelled of sewage.
6. When we planned a boat trip to go snorkeling, we were never told that there is no snorkeling in the afternoon. We told Guiseppe that we wanted to go snorkeling and in the description of the boat activity, it clearly lists snorkeling and that the activity is for 3 hours. Guiseppe arranged for the boat at 2pm. We took a quick speed ride around the island for 1 ½ hours. We never stopped, except once when we were offered a beverage. I asked the driver multiple times about snorkeling and he was unresponsive. When we returned there was no dingy to bring us back to the beach because your other staff members had taken it out. As a result we had to swim to shore. Your activity list clearly states that the boat trip is 3 hours long and includes snorkeling and stops at beaches. I think it’s outrageous that we were charged the same price and our boat trip did not include any of those things and lasted half the time. On top of it to charge a $100 per person and have your guests swim to shore with our things, including cameras, because your staff is out riding around on the dingy is just disgraceful.
7. The lounge furniture at the beach is moldy, beat up, and extremely dated. It is uncomfortable to sit in.
8. Our first day on the beach we were greeted with a loud tractor working on the beach. The tractor was there for half the morning retrieving things from a boat and carrying the items up the beach. Not very relaxing.
9. It took over 1 hour to check out of the hotel. Margot could have added up our bills the evening before, or that morning, but she waited until we were there at the time SHE designated for us to leave for the airport to look at our bills and first start putting it together. She said it would take 5 minutes. Instead it took over one hour and my friend had to go into the back office to help Margot with everything. Margot was incapable of adding up our individual bills. My friend had to work with Margot to walk her through each bill and how to add them up. Has Margot never checked anyone out before?
10. While most of the food that was served was good, at least half of your menu was unavailable. We told Guiseppe on day 1 that we would like ice cream. Every day we were told that the hotel would get ice cream. It never arrived until the last night of our five day stay.
11. While this is out of your control, we want to mention that we were covered head to toe in bites and rashes. Two of us have had to see medical doctors because of the severity. One of our doctors said that it was a bacterial infection, potentially caused by dirty water in a pool.
We were really looking forward to our stay at Hacienda del Mar. But we had an extremely disappointing experience. For almost $400 a night these issues are utterly unacceptable. Perhaps some of the staff issues would not have been as severe had an owner been present during our visit. However, your lack of a response, until now to ask for a credit card number (after we spent over an hour dealing with checkout), shows me that there is a lack of pride in ownership. It seems to me like you are only interested in your guest’s fees, but don’t have a true interest in making sure they have a good stay. Given your lovely location, that is a real shame.
First unansered email:
Hi Marisa, we just wanted to check in with you about our stay. We are having a lovely time and the beaches are beautiful, but we are disappointed about a few things. Overall, the quality of comfort is a bit below what we were expecting. The beds in the room are extremely old and small. They slope in the middle and we all woke up with backaches. They did change one of the mattresses but it didn't make a difference. The toilet in the room also does not work. There isn't real hot water.
We were told that the spa is not functioning and will not be functioning during our visit. We've been using the bathrooms in the central lodge and we had to ask 3 times for toilet paper.
Everyone working here is quite nice but it doesn't feel like anyone is in charge. It's hard to find anyone to help us with things. It just doesn't feel like a full service type of place.
The music in the central lodge is also quite loud all day, even very early in the morning before 7am. It almost feels like we are intruding on the staff.
We are enjoying ourselves, though, and truly find this to be a beautiful spot. But we thought we should make you aware of what our experience is like so far.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.