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“Hidden gem off the beaten track - excellent for wildlife and nature viewing!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Heliconia

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Hotel Heliconia
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Carretera Principal 8 Km South of Mariato | Palmilla, Mariato, Santiago de Veraguas, Panama   |  
Hotel amenities
Chicago, Illinois
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Hidden gem off the beaten track - excellent for wildlife and nature viewing!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 3, 2013

We spent close to a week at the Heliconia at the end of December 2012, including a few days at Isla Coiba that the folks at Heliconia organized.

The hotel is located close to the small fishing village of Malena in the Mariato district and is about an hour or so away from Santiago. It is run by a Dutch couple - Loes and Kees - both of whom are biologists and have lived in worked in Africa before moving to Panama.

The main hotel has about 4/5 rooms that were clean and very well maintained. The owners live on premises and run the place themselves. The property sits on a large tract of land that the owners have worked hard to re-forest. Kees gave us a tour of the property and we had the opportunity to see several species of butterflies, birds, and some very interesting flowers (including the Heliconia) on the property.

The service is highly personalized. We ate several meals at the hotel with the owners, Loes and Kees. They went out of their way to take good care of me and my group, which included a couple vegetarians. More than the good food, we ate our meals with the hosts who made us feel absolutely at home!

The fishing village of Malena thats about a kilometer away from the hotel is a charming, idyllic sea-side town. Get there early morning to see the birds and the vultures that roost there. In addition, the village is part of a turtle conservation initiative that the folks at Heliconia are also involved with. In fact, when we stayed there in December, we helped release several baby turtles that had just hatched into the sea.

We also did a trip to Isla Coiba from Heliconia - would highly recommend that you book your trip with Loes and Kees. One of them personally joins you on the trip. They know the island well and all the good scuba/snorkelling spots. They organized everything we needed for us during our trip there and we had a wonderful time experiencing one of the few untouched tropical islands in Central America.

I would highly recommend this place. If you want a quiet, simple place that is good value for money, highly personalized service from hosts that are extremely knowledgeable about the place( wildlife, conservation, etc. ) - this is your place!

If you only do a trip to Coiba - I would definitely recommend doing it with Loes and Kees.

  • Stayed December 2012, 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.
Kees G, Owner at Hotel Heliconia, responded to this review, February 19, 2013
Satya K, Thanks you very much for your review. We are glad you enjooyed your stay and your trip to Coiba. We hope to see you again.
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52 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (6)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Spijkenisse, The Netherlands
Top Contributor
56 reviews 56 reviews
37 hotel reviews
Reviews in 42 cities Reviews in 42 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 18, 2013

In january we stayed 3 nights at this beautifull, place and we enjoyed it. We chose it based upon all earlier reviews. Everything was correct , about the service , the nice dutch owners , the nature, hiking possibilities and thebeaches. One comment was wrong though , you do not need a 4*4, there are potholes sure, so you will have to drive carefully, it will give you time to enjoy the scenery too.
Kees and Loes are now building a small pool and extension to their terrass which will only improve the stay. We did dot have time to do the Coiba trip and there were no turtle eggs, which means that we have to come back. !!!!

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 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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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kees G, Owner at Hotel Heliconia, responded to this review, January 22, 2013
Dear JosenJannie,

Thank you for your review- We are glad that you enjyed your stay at Hotel Heliconia and hope to see you again. The best time to see turtle hatchlings is from October to November, also the rainy season. The work on the terracce and pool is progressing nicely and we hope to have both functional by May 2013. We will be sure to advise our clients via Tripadvisor when pool and terrace are inaugurated!

Warm Regards
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San Francisco, California, United States
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 5, 2013

We stayed at the Hotel Heliconia over the holiday break at the end of 2012, and it was an amazing, intimate and very welcoming experience.

Firstly, we were supposed to stay for 3 days, but due to rain in Bocas, when we called the owners Loes and Kees, they were happy to accommodate us starting a couple days early. They were very helpful in providing detailed directions on how to get there, and Loes was kind enough to cook us a brilliant hot dinner late on Christmas eve.

Loes and Kees, the owners have an incredible ability to connect with their guests, put them at ease, and treat them almost as part of the family - we spent many hours on their verandah chatting with them over glasses of wine. And the food .....we are vegetarian, and Loes made gourmet meals for us everyday.

The property is really nice ...an oasis of reforestation, and Kees was happy to walk us through it and chat in detail about his plans and vision for restoring biodiversity in the Azuero peninsula. The place is also about 20 min walk from the beachside village of Malena - we did a day excursion there to visit a local waterfall, spent some time on the beach and had lunch there. The highlight of the trip was watching baby turtles hatch and make their way into the sea - Loes and Kees work with the local turtle conservation group which does a phenomenal job every night.

Kees was also an amazing guide - he took us birdwatching in Cerro Hoya national park, and we had a nice bonus with a trip to a private pond at a local rancher's. The highlight of the trip was also the 2 day trip that Kees organized to Isla Coiba - plenty of snorkeling, amazing rainforest hikes, beach time, and of course many happy hours watching the brilliant bay.

Overall, I can't recommend this place highly enough - its like a home away from home, with the added benefit of time with friendly and conversational owners, and a level of customization and personalization that is just extraordinary. They will treat you like intelligent, curious adults and you'll have a fantastic time. Do not go here expecting fake service, 24-hour pools and TV with a 100 channels - this is a very different place, and you'll realize what you miss everywhere else!

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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.
Kees G, Owner at Hotel Heliconia, responded to this review, January 22, 2013
Dear Vijay K,

Thank you for your review. We are happy that you enjoyed your stay at Hotel Heliconia and the trip to Coiba.

Warm Regards
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 27, 2012

We spent two delightful nights at the Hotel Heliconia at the end of July. The Dutch biologist owners Loes and Kees are wonderfully friendly and knowledgeable hosts who willingly share stories of their adventures living in Panama and Africa along with helpful suggestions for beautiful places to explore along the Western Azuero Peninsula. Their impressive reforestation of their own beautiful acreage should be an inspiration for anyone interested in conservation and restoration of overgrazed lands.
Located in an isolated part of the Azuero Peninsula, about 1 1/2 hours from Santiago, this was a perfect spot to explore the beautiful coastal area of the Western Azuero. The inn is right on the road with four spotlessly clean and comfortable air-conditioned rooms, modern private baths that unfortunately, do not have hot water, very comfortable furnishings, a back portal with hammocks for lazing and reading, beautiful gardens and hummingbirds galore! The breakfasts on the lovely large front portal is a European smorgasbord of fresh fruits, cereals, yogurts, fresh jams and breads and great coffee.
We would highly recommend the delicious optional-for-a-small-fee dinners prepared by Loes and Kees. They are fantastic cooks, utilizing fresh local seafoods, vegetables and fruits to create their own Dutch Indonesion-Panamanian fusion cuisine. From the first course soup to dessert, both dinners were exciting blends of flavors and fragrant scents, beautifully plated and enhanced by the excellent company of Loes and Kees. They truly made us feel as if we were special friends invited a dinner party on their beautiful portal surrounded by a chorus of singing frogs in the tropical night.
The only small issues we had were that it is located very close to the road and there are noisy trucks grinding by and bouncing around on a metal bridge close by and even though it is in a very hot part of Panama,the lack of hot water in the baths were surprising for such a new and well-constructed inn.
We would gladly stay there again.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Farmington Hills, Michigan, United States
Top Contributor
60 reviews 60 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 25, 2012

They are a very nice couple. The B&B is about an hour drive from Santiago. If you go, the roads are pretty messed up. Paved but large pot holes all the way there so best to cab or have a 4x4. Cab will be expensive tho. We stayed 2 nights. A short drive will get you to a nice pacific ocean view. Our first night there was some ritualistic chanting going on across the street but only lasted about an hour. No hot water during our stay, no A/C. It's hot in that province. ceiling fans tho. Nothing really close by for attractions. Its a fairly decent Panamanian restaurant close by. For 2 dinners we paid only $6.80. It was a bit noisy due to traffic and being on the main road. It felt safe there. No TV tho. It's a continental breakfast. Not really much to do nearby. The birds were nice. Its a nice place to go if you don't mind no A/C and no hot water and no room entertainment. I think the price is a bit steep for the offerings. I'm a bargain hunter. It's a good place to be if you enjoy reading and maybe for a student to study. If you enjoy action this one isn't for you. They may be able to set you up with some horseback riding but other than that not much there. Good looking clean room. A great place for rest. Be sure to take some snack if you're a nighttime snacker. Maybe take some fruit and if you like bottled water take your own. The small store nearby doesn't sell bottled water. Great conversation with the owners. Really nice people.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 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.
Kees G, Owner at Hotel Heliconia, responded to this review, January 22, 2013
Dear Sharon 557,

Thank you for your review. We are always looking to improve our hotel and your suggestions are valuable. We have taken action on some of the points you mention and are looking into others. We are happy to say that;
1) we have put in place a reliable hot water system, so guests now have hot water;
2) we have installed AC in one room and are planning to install AC in a second room before june 2013;
3) we also have improved our relations with the neighbours and they have agreed to chant at a lower volume, which is barely audible at our place.

Warm regards
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Spring Hill
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 23, 2012

My husband and I stayed at the Hotel Heliconia during a visit to Veraguas, Panama in March, and we couldn't have been more pleased with the experience. The hotel is easy to find, just outside of town, and surrounded by the lush greenery that makes Panama such a special place. It's just a short drive from some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet, too! The owners are biologists, and so our meals were not only delicious (utilizing many of the local fruits, seafood, etc.), but also very interesting since they would share their knowledge about the local flora and fauna.

The breakfast is included and featured locally grown fruits - many grew right there on the property - meats and cheeses, cereal, yoghurt, etc. We would recommend having dinner there, too. There is an extra charge for that, but it is well worth it for the quality of the meal and the experience of watching nightime creep into the surrounding rainforest while enjoying the great food, wine, and companionship!

The hotel itself is spotlessly clean, and each room has an outdoor hammock and sitting area overlooking the forest in the back. In the morning, we were gently awakened by the song of a wren, and then had a leisurely cup of coffee while being treated to the antics of several species of hummingbirds! They made us feel welcome at the Hotel Heliconia, and we look forward to our next visit!

Room Tip: Any of the rooms here would be lovely. Some are air conditioned, but we found that it was not reall...
See more room tips
  • Stayed March 2012, 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 6, 2012 via mobile

Kees and Loes have been there and back with many years in Africa behind them and they know how to look after travellers. I spent a lovely three days in one if their ranchos which feel absorbed in nature. I woke to the sound of hummingbirds in the morning and when I walked 'home' in the evening the path is lit up by the greenish glinting of hundreds of spiders' eyes. They cook real gourmet food and are great company while you eat it. The Azuero peninsula is a gorgeous off the beaten path destination and Casa des Holandesas is the place to be.

  • Stayed February 2012
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Heliconia

Address: Carretera Principal 8 Km South of Mariato | Palmilla, Mariato, Santiago de Veraguas, Panama
Location: Panama > Veraguas Province > Santiago de Veraguas
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 B&Bs / Inns in Santiago de Veraguas
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 4
Also Known As:
Hotel Heliconia Panama/Veraguas

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