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“run down hotel over-rated and overpriced” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Coral Lodge

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Coral Lodge
3.0 of 5 Resort   |   Escribano Bay, Santa Isabel, Panama   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Santa Isabel
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Rio de Janeiro, RJ
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“run down hotel over-rated and overpriced”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed June 28, 2012

Advertised as 4 star hotel but is not even close.
Does not have any type of comfort.
Lack of maintenance, unable to use the pool due to dirty water.
Rooms are dirty and full of bugs.
Far from San Blas Islands.
Employees are ready to help but do not have the supplies to do their jobs.

Not recommended!

Room Tip: Do not stay at this run down hotel.
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 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.
, Owner at Coral Lodge, responded to this review, July 4, 2012
Dear Guest,
Thanks you for your comments, however very damming they may be, we still appreciate a feed back.
As we pay close attention to our guest comments, and having replied to you via email, I would like to take this opportunity to enlighten future and repeat guests that see your comments:
1. We do not advertise our lodge as an Luxury nor 4 star property, the very first sentence on our Home Page is "A quintessential eco-adventure lodge set in a pristine natural habitat", it may seem an expensive get away, and this due to the fact we are only 7 units and far from any support base, Most guests that love the remote and unique location that we are appreciate and value the personalized low crowd setting. Again on our website your find the following text:
"Within the constraints of our very remote location, we strive to provide a quality service and infrastructure fitting with an eco-lodge concept and not to be confused with conventional luxury. Our seemingly high rates should not create expectations of a “luxury service.”
2. The Bees and what you refer as Mosquitos (they are Sand flies), we are fortunate that we are able to control mosquito as this we monitor and control this, the sand flies a non disease carrying flying insects that we control with regular eco-sensitive fumigation yes it is true that we are unable to control such nuisense 100% as they are proliferating in humid sandy areas and we would have to contaminate the beach and there the biologically rich aquatic environment inflicting irreparable moral damage to the environment we occupy, the bees you are referring in such tropical environment they nest and position themselves very rapidly, and in your case we have immediately offered alternative accommodation and dealt with the bees. (you mention a bee allergy in your complaint email and it exactly for such occurrence that we send a preference sheet to ensure that we are prepared).
3. You mention lack of supply and I suppose that comment has come a disgruntled employee, Believe me when I say: we supply the Lodge at efficient levels, significant higher than any other resort I have operated in my 30 years of hotel operations, keep in mind the average guest count is 8 guests and onsite staff are 10-12.
Sincere and Tropical Regards
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150 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (21)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Arlington, Virginia
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 24, 2012

First things first, this is a beautiful place. The over-the-water cabanas offer fantastic views, the staff is friendly and helpful, and our time there was relaxing. That said, of all the places I’ve traveled, Coral Lodge is the one having the most trouble living up to its potential. Here was our experience over three days. Their driver picked us up outside of Panama City (we were staying at Canopy Tower, which is a really AWESOME place) and drove us to Miramar (about 2.5 hours). There we were to get picked up by the lodge’s boat. We were told that the boat would arrive in ten minutes, but it turns out one of its engines had failed and so we ended up waiting for ninety. This would have been ok, but the boat launch in Miramar is hidden behind a gas station/grocery store, which is a truly horrific place. There is no shade and no toilets, and we got to pass the time breathing gas fumes. There were also chickens wandering everywhere (as an upside we got to watch an old lady slaughter, pluck, and gut one). They finally got us to the lodge, and I really assumed we’d be met with a bottle of wine for our trouble (no such luck). We spent the next day hanging out, which was lovely. We had arranged for a trip out to San Blas for the third day (the whole reason we chose Coral Lodge), but they still didn’t have the boat fixed, so that was nixed. The manager did offer us either 1) a kayak tour, or 2) a massage to make up for the disappointment. The problem with (1) is that we had already talked to the guy who does the kayak tour. He was a very nice Spaniard, but said he had been in Panama for just three months, so I was pretty certain I knew more about the coastal forest than he did. Option (2) was out of the question as both of us had been decimated by sand flies: no one was touching my back! We finally asked them to cover our bar tab, which they did (but why did I have to ask?). The manager explained that the owner would contact us about some special offer, but it’s been three weeks so I’m not holding my breath. So, the long and short of it: if you want a beautiful place to hangout, acceptable (but not great) food, and a friendly staff, this is a fine place. If you’re like us and want access to the San Blas, folks who actually have some serious experience as naturalists, and a place that delivers on its advertised promises, you can do much better.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 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.
, Owner at Coral Lodge, responded to this review, June 27, 2012
Dear Valued Guest,
Many Thanks for your candid review,
In addition to the bar credit due to the slower boat transfer we apologize profoundly.
With regards to the qualification of our tour guide, your expectation where of the Canopy Tower standards and of course we have disappointed you as the tours at Coral Lodge are Eco-Leisure Activities focused on adventure in nature, we do not have the client base as the Smithsonian backed Canopy Tower.
We listen carefully to our guests, and therefore we will immediately add a section in the preference sheet that focuses on Eco Trekking of a much higher level of scientific content, the location does lend itself for such activity, and Panama has excellent trained Nature Guides that can be contracted for such requirements).
This will unfortunately be at an additional cost, but it will ensure that clients with interest such as yours, have the opportunity to enjoy the untouched nature of the Costa Arriba your way.
With regards to the departure point of the boat unfortunately you are right and humorous in your comments, at times the adventure and remote locations do not have much options, (that is the best dock available to reach our Lodge.....) however we are introducing a more cost effective helicopter transfer that could eliminate this transfer challenge.
Again Thanks you for your comments and we hope to have the pleasure to serve you again in the near future.
The food quality of 3-5 courses has different appeals to different guests, should the guest wish simpler foods, we at the lodge take pride in adapting the your needs, our staff is happy to cater to your needs given the opportunity.
Andre Niederhauser
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Pensacola, Florida
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 23, 2012

We spent 5 nights at Coral Lodge in some of the worst weather we've ever encountered in the tropics. Any hotel would be hard pressed to please its clients in this type of weather, but Coral Lodge succeeded. We enjoyed the cuisine, the massage, the extremely friendly and accomodating staff, the beauty (even in 35-45 mph wind with 12.5-15 seas) of the resort and the privacy and peace. The over water bungalows were great (except for the waves crashing beneath them in the storm) and the nature trail was very much fun (monkeys and all). We hope to be able to return when the meteorology is much better.

Room Tip: We had the last bungalow which was very private (I think it was number 6). There was no fitness cen...
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 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.
Chicago, Illinois
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 17, 2012

Just returned from four nights at Coral Lodge (travelling with two 15-year-old girls). We loved every minute. It is an incredible setting, quite remote, spectacularly situated with nothing but the blue, blue waters and the mangroves around. It's small enough that you feel that you're really in a special place - and you are.

We took the helicopter option which was magnificient (and only took 35 minutes). One of the highlights of the trip for the girls was coming over a ridge and seeing the resort spread out below us, literally in the middle of nowhere.

Accomodations are nice, it's not the Four Seasons but then again, the Four Seasons would never be in this incredible spot. The rooms are clean and well-appointed, water pressure is decent, hot water was a little inconsistent but honestly, one step out onto the private decks and none of that seems to matter, even for these three pampered girls!

Every need we had was met, every problem solved by the attentive staff, starting with the delightful woman who answered every pre-trip question quickly and thoroughly by email (do we need yellow fever shots? are there blow dryers in the room? no and no, by the way.). On-site staff was terrific, proactive, responsive and never intrusive.

Food was good (lobster was incredible) and plentiful. The trip to the San Blas Islands was fantastic, they are breathtaking and you can literally snorkel off of your own deserted island. The color and clarity of the water is not-to-be believed. We also loved the massages in the (simple) outdoor "spa." Kamille was a favorite of the girls especially!

I spent most of my time on the hammock on my deck or sitting at the (lovely) pool which is right on the water. The girls spent their time snorkeling off of our deck and throughout the property and taking hundreds of photos. No tv, wireless only at the pool but we were NEVER bored, not for a moment.

Having travelled all around the world, we felt like we had discovered something really unique at Coral Lodge. We would highly recommend it. (And the photos on the website don't do it justice, by the way...it's a beauty.)

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 7, 2012

We spent 5 night at Coral Lodge, from late March to early April 2012. We LOVED every minute of it. The grounds are gorgous, the lodging is simple but nice, the staff attentive, and the food tasty and hearty. We spent most of our time swimming in the warm Caribbean waters, snorkeling and marveling at our luck at having found this magical place. We'd go back in a heartbeat.

Getting there is not all that easy. We flew into Panama City and spent the night there (recommended) and then the hotel had arranged transport to the lodge. Coral Lodge is only accessible by water (no roads service it), and getting to the port where you pick up the boat is 2+ hours in itself. The boat ride is upwards of an hour, and depending on the seas, can be pleasant or somewhat dicey. The captain is VERY good, and we felt safe. My advice would be to bring along Dramamine and "Seabands" (wrist accupressure for seasickness, at Target) just in case. I am not telling you this to dissuade you---just full disclosure.

Once you get there, it's totally worth it. What a beach paradise, which excellent caring staff, great food, and lovely warm waters. We lucked out and got placed in Casita #7, their newest addition, which is quite different from the other casitas which are nice, but plainer. Ours was 2-story, had two beds, 2 bathrooms, and TONS of windows. It also had a spacious deck and two lounge chairs looking at at nothing but blue waters and mangroves. The other casitas, about 5 years old, are spacious room but not quite as nice as the newer version.

The service was excellent. Henry, the Czech Republic manager, is fluent in multiple languages, gregarious, high-energy and outgoing. He has genuine passion about his job and Coral Lodge, and does a great job paying attention to the guest experience.

Before we left on this trip, I read the Trip Advisor reviews and some were somewhat negative. Our experience was superb, and I will say that there a positive changes underway there that sound exciting. One relatively recent change is the chef---excellent. You are served breakfast, lunch and dinner there----a fixed menu----and we found the meals to be flavorful, diverse and hearty. Lots of fish, beans, veggies and rice---simple but very good. The service was attentive and careful.

The grounds are beautiful and showcase the beauty of the sea and coral reefs. The beach on the grounds is kep quite clean---no small task given the amount of trash coming in from the rest of the world (heartbreaking). The hotel does a great job, but outside the bounds of the property is referred to as "plastic beach." The hotel cannot be blamed for this---it would be a full-time and never-ending task. Very sad, though.

The staff is great. Special thanks to Henry, Jullian and Camille for making us feel so attended to. It is a small, young and professional staff, and their English is excellent.

I would recommend this hotel with no hesitation. It was a gorgeous, secluded, place where you feel connected to the sea. It was a privilege to be there. After speaking to the owner and the manager, it sounds like they have exciting plans for the future, such as helicopter transport instead of boat. I can't imagine it getting any better than it was. I'd give our time there an A+.

Room Tip: We lucked out and got put into Casita #7, which is their newest. It is quite different from the oth...
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miami, Florida
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 3, 2012

My husband and I went to Coral Lodge in search of a close place to enjoy the overwater breezes of an overwater bungalow in the Caribbean. Coral Lodge was much more than we expected.
We soon realized that the remoteness of this place made it all the more special. The fact that everything in this resort has to be gathered, fished, grown, improvised, or brought in by boat or helicopter made everything that much more amazing. I was astonished at how great the food, service, amenities, furniture and even waste management system is in the resort.
Unfortunately Mother Nature did not cooperate and we were not able to swim or kayak much, but the resort made up for it by helicoptering us in and apologizing profusely for the inconvenience that is not even within their control.
The beaches outside of the resort were filled with garbage (as read in other reviews). We learned after visiting the Kuna Village the garbage is because the ocean is the dump site of the Kuna people. That is very sad, yet seeing all that garbage made me appreciate how clean the resort maintained the beach and actually got rid of the garbage on the resort property by responsibly boating it back to the mainland.
The Kuna Yala village tour was very educational and I recommend it. The hospitality of the staff and their continuous attentiveness and desire to please our every desire was remarkable. I loved that they have pigs to eat food waste, and chickens for our morning eggs, and a garden for vegetables that they used for our food. For the 1st couple of days, I saw someone diligently fishing and netting shrimp. I later realized that it was the chef who was catching our food. Everything was fresh, sustainably maintained, and amazingly challenging to accomplish. Yet everything was DELICIOUS and as explained by the chef, everything is just whipped up with whatever is on hand! All my expectations were easily surpassed.
If you travel to Coral Lodge and think of these things and enjoy the simple life, I am sure you too will really appreciate, enjoy and find this place to be a very special.
Thank you to everyone that made our stay so great. We really appreciate what you are doing to bring this remote and amazingly beautiful setting to others.

Lisset & Michael M.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Cuna_de_Vida, Owner at Coral Lodge, responded to this review, April 8, 2012
Many Thanks for your detailed comments, the best reward one can have on our business of Hospitality are the ones like yours and the others of course including the ones that have constructive criticism. The Management and Staff appreciates your comments and will strive to keep improving the services and the environment of Coral Lodge.
We hope to see you back and possibly visit our new Property in Las Perlas Archipelago
Again Thank you.
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Panama City, Panama
Top Contributor
51 reviews 51 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 2, 2012

Just two hours from Panama, you take a 40 minutes trip by boat to Coral Lodge. We felt like in "Fantasy Island" The service is so good and the place is a Paradise. I like to sleep in tha "Palafitos" over the caribean sea and also have a nice beach to relax.
The Coral is not the best to see water fauna. But Ist a very nice place to go in Panamá!

Room Tip: All rooms are very good!
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
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Additional Information about Coral Lodge

Address: Escribano Bay, Santa Isabel, Panama
Location: Panama > Colon Province > Santa Isabel
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Santa Isabel
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — Coral Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Coral Lodge. A quintessential eco-adventure lodge set in a pristine natural habitat. An isolated totally sustainable lodge that offers a variety of nature related adventures and a place to get away from it all. You will enjoy a diversity of natural environments, our charming over the water bungalows, a friendly low key service and our proximity to San Blas archipelago with its beautiful unspoiled islands and cultural heritage of the Kuna Indians.Diving, Reef Fishing, Snorkeling, Hobie Cat Sailing, Trekking, Kayaking, Horseback riding and relax are the activities. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Coral Hotel Santa Isabel
Coral Resort Santa Isabel
Coral Lodge Panama/Santa Isabel

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