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““ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!!!!!!””

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Gamboa Rainforest Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Gamboa
London, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
117 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 106 helpful votes
““ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!!!!!!””
Reviewed March 23, 2013

I really find it difficult to believe that there are a (few) gripes about this place.

Have literally just returned (2 hours ago) from our 14 day tour holiday courtesy of Virgin Holidays. 3 nights Panama City, followed by 4 nights at the Gamboa, and then 7 nights at the Royal Decameron. I'll write my reviews on the other hotels later.

I feel quite privileged to have been able to travel extensively over the past 35 years and this resort will go down as one of my favourites.

I can honestly say that our time at the Gamboa was just brilliant. We had a very large room overlooking the Chagres River and the view from our room was just amazing.

We took the Monkey Island tour and the Aerial Tram and perhaps these trips may have been a little bit expensive but the £ -v- $ probably hasn't helped. I did, however, enjoy both trips but wished that the Monkey Island one was a bit longer as I didn't get to see any Howler monkeys!!

For anyone thinking about booking a holiday at the Gamboa - weigh up the reviews - you will find loads positive stuff written about the resort. As one who is not easily pleased - I can honestly say, hand on heart, that the resort far exceeded my expectations in every respect (apart from those Howler monkeys!)

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank panama_patti
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jetzel M, Public Relations Manager at Gamboa Rainforest Resort, responded to this review, March 28, 2013
Thanks for your time to write your remarks.
Appreciate your comments are very important for the operation of the hotel. We will continue with the customer service plan to ensure that all our staff will deliver a good service always. We look forward to welcoming you back soon.
Regards,
Report response as inappropriate
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San Francisco, California
Level 6 Contributor
105 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
Reviewed March 22, 2013

The building is striking---worth a visit. I don't love resorts (why I stayed at a local B&B) and this felt a little to big for me, but the service and facilities were excellent. There was a great show one night at dinner and the tour company was great! Very helpful and accommodating even with booking me a taxi back to Panama
I went on a 1.5 hour boat ride leaving from Gamboa Resort. Gamboa tours no longer calls it Monkey Island - to their credit they now call it Gatun Exploration or something like that.
Be aware that it is no longer monkey island---there is now a land bridge from the island which has been created by all of the dredging that needs to be done to keep the shipping lane open. The monkeys left through the land bridge.
I saw caiman, crocodiles, toucans, osprey, capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, turtles. My guide said I was pretty lucky. Overall the canal makes it an interestingly altered landscape, the scenery is enjoyable and with some luck - there are good wildlife spotting opportunities.

The tram was more expensive. It was neat, but not a ton to see and a worse value than the boat ride I thought.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank CatM211
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jetzel M, Public Relations Manager at Gamboa Rainforest Resort, responded to this review, March 28, 2013
Thank you for your wonderful remarks is joy to read your comments, gives us a pleasure to know that you loved the visit to our hotel. Thank you very much and hope to see you again in Panama. Cordially yours
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed March 22, 2013

I stayed at Gamboa Resort 2 nights in March 2013. Location of the resort is great. It is inside the national park. I had nice river view from my room. Also had hammock in my balcony. Very good free wildlife tour every evening. Swimming pool is also very good. But I think the hotel is overpriced. Wifi was $16 in the room (free in lobby). Since we're vegetarians, not many vegetarian choices we had in any of the restaurants. Food is also expensive if you're travelling independent and do not have all-inclusive packaged vacation. Breakfast was not included for me. There is also fee to access sauna & jacuzzi facility.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank BPAR11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jetzel M, Guest Relations Manager at Gamboa Rainforest Resort, responded to this review, March 28, 2013
Thanks for your comments, are very helpful to improve the service of our hotel; we will continue working hard to provide the best service and product to each of our guests.
Regards
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed March 21, 2013

Let me start by saying I would actually rate Gamboa closer to a 4.5

We recently Stayed at the Gamboa rainforest resort from March 14-19th, traveling with a 6 and 9 year old. Overall, this is a very pleasant place to stay if you are looking for something different than your typical Mexico or Dominican "beach" experience. Gamboa does deliver on the "rainforest" experience, and depending on what kind of traveler you are, Gamboa may or may not be the right choice for you, so here is how I would break it down:

The views live up to the hype, they are that good. Gamboa is suited more towards families and the older crowd. You dont see the drunk college kids running around, there is no music blasting till 2AM, and there are not people running around any halls or banging doors at 7am. it is VERY VERY peaceful and has a very "safe" feeling. It is not a mega-resort where you will get lost, and we had no problem letting our kids run around worrying they might get hurt or something bad might happen. We did not see many young couples either, perhaps the reason for that was because it was right before spring break, or maybe another reason is because there simply is not a lot of entertainment at night. Like I said, you dont get the loud music, the only thing going on at night is the nightly safari which runs at 7 and 8 pm.

In order to keep the kids busy, we chose to do a different tour each day. We thought the tours were very well organized, and although some might argue "overpriced", I think they were well worth the money. I would suggest to anyone to take the "Gatun lake expedition" tour formerly called monkey island. You will take a motor boat thru the canal, and then go looking for monkeys, which we got lucky both times .. its short but very good. Also, the Embera Indian village was a great tour ... which is also located right next to the resort. Then the highlight was the panama city tour, which the hotel books thru gamboatours.com. We had an amazing tour guide Guillermo aka William, so id ask for him. You go to Ancon hill which is the highest point in panama with amazing views. You go to the arts and crafts market. You go to the Miraflores locks. The causeway which amazingly had the best ice cream ever. Then you drive to casco viejo (the old city) and also you get to drive thru the modern part of panama city as well. Truly an amazing tour, and I HIGHLY suggest, we even got lucky that no one else booked it that day, so it turned out to be private. All the tours in Gamboa were really good.

You can also choose to do the aerial tram, take a nature hike, and at night I would also suggest the night safari with Alexi. We saw lots of animals 4 of the 5 nights and that lasts about 45 mins.

The staff are very friendly and the overall service is really good. I dont understand the complaints here. I think the complainers expect the staff to run and kiss their butt at the snap of a finger. Granted, much of the staff doesnt speak great English, but if you just go with it, and are not the type of person that gets annoyed easily, then you wont have any problems. Everyone is basically very helpful and they try to make things right.

The pool area is very clean and not over-crowded. The overall condition of the hotel is not perfect, but its very nice and well kept. Sure, you might see a loose tile here and there, or a crack in the wall or a wet spot. Overall though, it wasnt a problem for us, the rooms and bathrooms are spacious and the views are spectacular. Try to get a room on the highest floor, we got the 2nd floor, and the views were still great

The food selection is very limited at the buffets. You wont get the same amount of choices in other countries, but I will say this, for what they lack in quantity, they do make up in quality. The food is actually pretty good, and you should be able to find something. I consider myself a fairly picky eater, and if you see there is nothing you like at the buffet, then you should be able to find something from the menu. and if there is nothing on the menu you like, go upstairs to the monkey bar and grab a pizza or burger. POINT BEING, you should be able to find something you like, and the burgers taste like burgers, the pizza is fine, the pastas are fine, everything tastes good, I would stay away from the hotdogs, to me, they didnt taste like hotdogs. I was scared going in after reading a lot of food complaints, so I thought this was a nice surprise .

My mom always used to say "this is not a poor mans vacation", and I think gamboa falls into this category. I can see how people would call this overpriced and not great value. You should expect to pay your 3 bucks for a can of coke, and get ready to spend 100$ a night for dinner for a family of four. When you start adding the tours and the food in (breakfast was the only thing included for us) it does get pricey. Again, if you know this going in, and you accept this, then no problem at all.

So to sum it all up, Gamboa does deliver on the rainforest experience, and its really a place you should visit if you want something different than a beach. Its great for families and nature lovers, its very safe, and very peaceful and quiet. If you are willing to pay a little extra and do something different, Gamboa is excellent. The location is great and everything is close and accessible.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank bstyle1201
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jetzel M, Guest Relations Manager at Gamboa Rainforest Resort, responded to this review, March 22, 2013
Thanks for your time to write your remarks, is very nice to read your comments all of them show positive and negative aspects of our hotel.
We are continuously working to ensure our guests receive the service they deserve.
Thank you very much and hope to see you again in Panama.
Regards,
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pleasanton, CA
Level 6 Contributor
340 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 119 helpful votes
Reviewed March 20, 2013

Overall, our trip to Panama exceeded my expectations. We own timeshares and exchanged one of ours for this resort through RCI. It’s nice to find places outside of Mexico, and even nicer to find places that aren’t trying to sell you another week of timeshare! My guess is that they started using RCI to move rooms when the economy faltered. They also seem to get a lot of bookings through a couple of Canadian tour companies.

Location – The resort is approximately an hour from Tocumen International and is located on the Chagres River where the river enters Lake Gatun and the Panama Canal. You can be at the Miraflores locks in 15-20 minutes and the “old town” portion of Panama City in 30-35 minutes.

Rental Car - We didn’t rent a car. The rental companies push you to get the insurance that makes the weekly rental cost around $400. You can avoid part of the insurance cost if you get a signed letter from your auto insurance carrier or your credit card company that explicitly states that you have coverage when driving in Panama. It was less expensive, and less of a hassle, to have the concierge at the resort arrange for shuttles from and to the airport and to arrange a taxi to the locks and a driver for a city tour. If we had rented a car, we probably would have taken longer to get to the resort and we would have never seen some of the parts of Panama City or known what we were looking at if we didn’t have a guide for the city tour. Ask for Guillermo if you take the old town tour.

Our Room – We had a fourth floor room on the same level and very close to the lobby. It was a two story loft room, so we had two bathrooms and an extra closet plus twin beds upstairs to lay clothing on. The closets had 6 hangers each, and there were a total of two small dresser drawers, so the extra space was valuable. The room was nice, but it could have benefited from ceiling fans to keep air moving. It would have been uncomfortable to have slept in the upstairs room with no air flow and very little impact from the AC.
The only thing bad about our location was the fact that we were on the path to the lobby and some of the Canadian tour groups seemed to feel that it was necessary to talk loudly as they rolled their suitcases to the lobby to get on their early morning busses. That's not the resort's fault - it's entirely the brain dead and inconsiderate tourists' fault.

Things to Do – We kept busy throughout the week but also had time to vegetate in the pool area. There is an aerial tramway on the premises that is worth the expense for the experience, especially if you pay the extra few dollars to see the exhibits afterward (reptile/fish house, butterfly farm, and orchid farm).

There are three Embera tribes very nearby and two can be visited. I’m not sure that’s worth the expense unless you’re really into that sort of thing, but it’s interesting to learn how they ended up in the Gamboa area, although you can learn that without actually visiting them. They say that a lunch is included, but it’s more of a small snack. Take your own water if you go – they have no potable water for you to drink.

The resort offers a night safari where they drive you around the grounds and point out nocturnal animals including sloths, capybaras, and aguti. They also offer walking tours through the rainforest where you can learn about various flora and fauna.
There is an on-site tour company that can arrange any of these things for you as well as kayaking on the river.

We also left the resort for an all day and overnight tour with Jungleland Panama that we arranged from the US. They offer a day only tour as well, and they’ll pick you up at the resort’s marina.


Restaurants –
There are effectively 6 restaurants on site that are open at various times of the day. I say “effectively” because there are two that offer buffet and a la carte selections. We found the buffets to be very limited in terms of selection and also repetitive in what they offered. For example, on Latin American night, Corotu was serving pasta like they did on Italian Night and nothing that appeared to be of a Latin American theme. If you’re a big eater, the buffet might be appropriate, but if you eat light your best bet is the Monkey Bar for lunch where the servings are generous and the prices are reasonable. Oddly, the restaurant at the marina is not open for dinner but offers a lunch buffet for $24 which seems high for lunch. Other than the buffet being overpriced (in my opinion), food and beverage was priced reasonably and we didn't feel that we were taken advantage of by the resort because they were the only place in town. It would have been nice though if they offered salad only options for the lunch buffets and a continental breakfast option for the breakfast buffet (fruit, yogurt, and bread only).

Other reviews have commented on the service, and I tend to agree that for the first day or two there are issues, but once you figure out how things work and the wait staff figures out things about you (in our case that we would like separate forks and napkins when we’re sharing two appetizers), things go more smoothly. Some of the staff members seem a bit indifferent, but others really want to go out of their way to make certain you enjoy your overall experience at the resort. For example, on our anniversary one of the concierges worked with the food and beverage manager to make certain we had a private table and champagne for the live show on Panama Night. Some people speak some English or at least Spanglish, but keep in mind that you’re in a Spanish speaking country and that some people will only be able to speak Spanish. You’re the visitor.

There is also a “disco” that is only open on Friday and Saturday evenings. Its presence is not advertised, so it was empty when we went in at 10pm on Friday night.


Concierge – Utilize them! Monique and Jetzel will definitely take care of you! They both speak excellent English and are very familiar with things to do in the area as well as with the resort. They did a great job of setting us up with taxi drivers and private tours at reasonable prices.

The Elevator – Another reviewer said the elevator was confusing because they used letters instead of floor numbers. It was actually quite easy to figure things out. Here’s the secret decoder ring:
L – Lobby (top floor)
R – Restaurants (the buffet and fine dining restaurants are located here)
SR – Salon de Reunions (the Spa is on this floor, and I believe there were meeting rooms)
AS – Area Social (the disco is here, as well as access to the patio and pool areas)

Room Tip: Get one of the 4th floor rooms in the building next to the lobby if they are available to you.
See more room tips
  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Jamaica_Jeff
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jetzel M, Guest Relations Manager at Gamboa Rainforest Resort, responded to this review, March 22, 2013
Thanks for your time to write your remarks.
I appreciate your comments and we are glad to have met your expectations when visiting our hotel, from the entire hotel staff we appreciate your comment is a great motivation for each of us.
Thank you very much and hope to see you again in Panama.
Cordially yours
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lexington, Massachusetts
Level 6 Contributor
183 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
Reviewed March 20, 2013

This is a lovely resort in a rainforest national park. Rather upscale common areas with a large, lovely pool that includes a waterfall. The grounds border the Chagres River and there butterfly and orchid gardens and the occasional wild monkey. The food was average, the restaurant crowded, and the rooms had a musty smell. So the place is showing age but still above average for a rainforest resort.

Room Tip: Insist on having a dehumidifier in your room.
See more room tips
  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Michael M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jetzel M, Guest Relations Manager at Gamboa Rainforest Resort, responded to this review, March 28, 2013
I really appreciate your comments and suggestions this will make our hotel a better place to visit. I have noted each of your recommendations because all are great help for us.
Thanks again
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Level 5 Contributor
47 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed March 19, 2013

The drive up from Clayton was great, probably the most scenic drive yet on our trip. We did the 1.5 hour tram ride and it was very relaxing and we saw quite a bit of wildlife. The tower has a great view of the canal and surrounding jungle. We ate at the restaurant and the food was great. We celebrated a birthday and the staff went the extra mile to make it that much more special.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank ChadCluff
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jetzel M, Guest Relations Manager at Gamboa Rainforest Resort, responded to this review, March 28, 2013
From the entire hotel staff we appreciate your comment is a great motivation for each of us. We hope to see you again in Gamboa Rainforest Resort.
Regards
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Gamboa Rainforest Resort

Property: Gamboa Rainforest Resort
Address: Goethals Blvd. | Soberania National Park, Gamboa 7338, Panama
Location: Panama > Colon Province > Gamboa
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Gamboa
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Gamboa Rainforest Resort 3.5*
Number of rooms: 166
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Deep in the heart of the Panamanian rainforest lies the completely unique Gamboa Rainforest Resort. This magnificent destination rests where the scenic Chagres River meets the Panama Canal and is the only resort property in the area. Few places on earth offer such an amazing natural experience while providing an unsurpassed level of luxury. Escape the noise and hectic pace of everyday life and surround yourself with the tranquility of the mystical Soberania National Forest. Here, just a short 30-minute ride from Panama City, on 340 acres overlooking the stunning Panama Canal, you can commune with nature in a pristine environment where explorers and pirates once tread. Our Panama Tours offer an exhilarating variety of jungle adventures such as an aerial tram, guided boat tours, fishing expeditions, and much more. Our tours are designed to show you wildlife in its natural setting amidst the colorful splendor of the jungle flora. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Gamboa Rainforest Hotel Gamboa
Gamboa Rain Forest Resort

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