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“Diamond in the rough”

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Hotel Bocas del Mar
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Boca Chica
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed February 28, 2013

We stayed for five nights in mid-February. The resort is perched on the edge of the Gulf of Chiriqui National Marine Park. As with everything, there are good and bad points. I like to end on a good note so I will start with the negative components first and end on the positive.

The resort webpage (and their excursion booklet) lists scuba diving as an activity offered to the guests. This alone played a significant role in our decision to book at the resort. However, on arrival we quickly learned that there is only one boat captain in Boca Chica who offers scuba diving at exorbitant rates – and that these trips are available only when there are other clients interested. At best, a two tank dive was going to cost $200 and this one trip was only available on the last day of our stay. The other days I understood that I had the option of chartering the entire boat at a cost of $700 - $800. In other words, despite the ocean being at the doorstep of the resort, there really isn’t a reliable local scuba diving operation that isn’t entirely cost prohibitive. For the same reason, I’d suggest that the resort remove scuba diving from the list of activities offered to their guest until they have their own dive shop on site.

The excursions as a whole are somewhat vague and disorganized. When the diving option clearly wasn’t going to work, we took the next best option which was to go snorkelling. We were told that we could go out to some snorkelling locations and private beaches at a cost of $180. If we found other guest to go with us then the cost would be shared. So up until the evening the day before we left, we weren’t quite sure if we would be charged $180 or $90. Fortunately another couple joined us and we had a very nice day. The picnic lunches were a bit of a flop. For $24 we received two very basic squished sandwiches, two cans of pop, a very small container of Pringles chips and 4 oreo cookies. Later in the day, we did overhear another couple who had just returned from a similar trip complain to each other that it was a “$150 swim”. The beaches were beautiful, the snorkelling was okay and it it was just nice to be in the water.

We were also quite surprised to learn that we would have to reserve and then be charged to use the resort “kayaks”. The resort has two simple sit-on-top beach toys that are normally propelled with a kayak style paddle. Not exactly the type of craft to cover any worthwhile distance or provide any protection from the elements. When told there was a charge to use the boats, I expected to see a properly equipped sea-kayak not a beach toy – a beach toy that is normally plentifully available and free for use at many other resorts. We did reserve to use the kayaks one afternoon but knowing that we would be fully exposed to the sun, we opted against taking them out. I would recommend that the resort either purchase proper sea-kayaks for rent or at the very least purchase several more sit-on-top beach toys and provide them as an inclusion of the cost of staying at the resort. I didn’t like the feeling of being nickel and dimed.

The resort is located in a relatively isolated location. The nearby community of Boca Chica is quaint but very small. We were glad to have our own rental car at our disposal to see the other attractions in the area including the howler monkey sanctuary at Alouatta Lodge (highly recommended).

The resort is new and I believe they are still experiencing some growing pains. They were in the process of acquiring their own boat which will likely facilitate the ability to get their clients out to see the stunning islands and water of the Chiriqui National Park. If they built their own dive shop....now that would be heaven.

Please make no mistake that we DID enjoy our stay. Neal the manager went out of his way to make our last minute booking a reality. Neal greeted us on our arrival and regularly checks in with all of the guests. He has a very pleasant way about him. Our primary servers, Adolpho and Jorge were excellent. The exquisite food was prepared by some very talented cook(s). Our room was very clean, comfortable and had a beautiful view.

Bocas Del Mar is well situated to be a real gem. I would like to return in several years time.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Dave H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HotelBocasdelMar, Manager at Hotel Bocas del Mar, responded to this reviewResponded March 2, 2013

Dear David,

Thanks for the comments on the excursions; it’s always good to get clients' ideas & feedback as we further develop the activities program of the hotel.

As we portray on the website, Boca Chica is an area of unspoiled natural beauty (yet only 20 minutes drive from the Pan-American Highway). The whole charm of the location is that it’s not a heavily-developed tourist zone. Therefore every activity cannot be available continuously, all day every day, as in a large mass-market hotel. Having said that, we feel that of all the hotels in the area we have the widest range of trips & activities available, organized by ourselves or through some great local people.

Our activity offer is improving all the time: since your stay we have taken delivery of the hotel’s own brand new excursion boat in order to be able to offer more options for our clients to see the islands. I am pleased to say that the prices of these new scheduled excursions are now ‘per person’, rather than ‘per boat’ as previously.

You chose the ‘Discovery’ Boat Tour to visit the furthest islands of the national park, which does of course have a higher price as it goes the furthest and uses the most fuel. Incidentally, it is by far our most popular excursion with guests. Other, nearer island destinations were also available for you to choose.

We’ve sorry you were disappointed about scuba diving, but we had no idea from you before or during your stay that it was such a key factor for you in choosing us. Our website does state clearly that some trip options may vary by season and may not always be available, and that if a specific trip or activity is important to you, please ask at time of reserving the hotel. Had you informed us we would have done all possible to meet your needs in time. As it was, there was a scuba trip arranged for the last day of your 4 days with us, which you chose not join.

The standard (optional) picnic lunch is 12 USD per person and is packed to keep fresh. It also includes fresh fruit and mineral water, to add to your list. We always tell guests exactly what is included before ordering and the kitchen would gladly have changed options or packed something different upon request.

A double kayak & single kayak are available to rent in the hotel at modest prices to reflect staff time in taking them to the dock for guests. I will happily look into your comments for the future.

Thank you again for choosing us for your vacation time and we do hope to see you both again.

Best wishes,

Everyone at Hotel Bocas del Mar

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Reviewed February 25, 2013

Just driving to the coast, and decided to have lunch here. Excellent fish dish, and a great vegetarian dish with polenta. The setting is beautiful, and the ambience very tranquil.
The 'welcome' was a little rough as we arrived before the restaurant was open, and could not order a beer or a glass of wine while we waited, because we were not 'guests'.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with family
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Thank SherylBensonP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HotelBocasdelMar, Manager at Hotel Bocas del Mar, responded to this reviewResponded February 27, 2013

Thank you for your review.

We’re glad you enjoyed the food and ambiance of the restaurant so much. Just to give a bit of background information for future lunch visitors:- the restaurant opens at 12pm for lunch. Before that time, the bar service is for hotel guests only. As the hotel can be full a lot of the time, a lunch or dinner reservation is recommended for outside visitors.

Kind regards,
Hotel Bocas del Mar

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Reviewed February 24, 2013

We have spent 2 nights on a West-Panama trip in Bocas del Mar. Good choice.
Lovely bungalows in a well-designed garden, overlooking the ocean.
Nice pool, good food and very caring staff.
We've made a boat trip, seen bizarre rock formations, were left for 2 hours at a lonely beach.
Robinson experience.
Thanks to everybody for these days. We'll come back.

Room Tip: It's roomy single room bungalows. All-glass front for a view, and nobody can look inside. All...
  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank jay p
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HotelBocasdelMar, Manager at Hotel Bocas del Mar, responded to this reviewResponded February 27, 2013

We appreciate the time taken to review our hotel and for your kind words.

It sounds like you also enjoyed the Gulf of Chiriqui islands: right opposite the hotel the marine national park begins and there are many excursion options. The hotel has its own comfortable boat with different trips to take.

We look forward to welcoming you back.

Hotel Bocas del Mar

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Reviewed February 24, 2013

This was my second stay at Bocas del Mar and I can only repeat my review of August 29th of last year “A tempting hotel, inviting to stay much longer than planned for!”
However at this occasion I would like to add that, although guests are looking for privacy and rest, that many guests were tempted to socialize after dinner, after a drink at the bar or at the pool. Is it "because something is in the air” , the stunning sunset, the sea, the refreshing breeze, the view over the bay, the food, the fresh fish, the hotel layout consisting of cabanas like a very small community, the staff, the service….? I don’t know but guests spontaneously shared their stories whether it is on their fishing tale of the day, on their excursion of the day, their travels. I don’t know but very likely the reason must be all of the above. However I believe it is most related to the fact that guests feel as part of the family of Bocas del Mar.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Filip V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HotelBocasdelMar, Manager at Hotel Bocas del Mar, responded to this reviewResponded February 27, 2013

Thank you for your new review and your comments on the atmosphere in the hotel.

We work hard to create the right ambiance, but of course it is the guests themselves who contribute mostly to that, sharing their experiences with newly-found friends.

We hope to see you for drinks at sundown again.

Warm regards,

Everyone at Hotel Bocas del Mar

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Reviewed February 24, 2013

At our arrival in this wonderful new resort, we were welcomed by the staff with a refreshing cocktail. The view of the bay was breathtaking. All rooms are located in bungalows on the beautiful tropical yard. They are very spacious and bright, with bay windows and a view on the islands. Some have a private Jacuzzi on the terrace.
The food was exquisite. All of the staff went out of their way. The service is perfect.
Thank you Neil, Rafael, Adolfo, Jorge...the stay was memorable.
If one is looking for paradise, this is it!

Room Tip: All rooms are great!
  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank magdak13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HotelBocasdelMar, Manager at Hotel Bocas del Mar, responded to this reviewResponded February 27, 2013

All the team are very pleased to receive your positive review.

We really hope to see you again in the future. We’re glad you found so much to your taste.

Warm regards,

The Hotel Bocas del Mar team

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Reviewed February 23, 2013

We have just finished our stary at the Bocas del Mar resort --which has been open for about 8 months and it was fantastic. We met great people and were made to feel very much at home. Accomodations were first rate and service was friendly,attentive and very approachable. If you don't speak Spanish you won't have any trouble here.

MJ and I highly reccomend.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Panamabill_68
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HotelBocasdelMar, Manager at Hotel Bocas del Mar, responded to this reviewResponded February 27, 2013

Many thanks for reviewing our hotel.

We value customers' feedback a lot as it helps us to see how we are doing. Servers and front desk staff speak good English, and of course for Spanish speakers you’ll have no trouble either! The team enjoys having people to stay from all over the world.
Best wishes
Hotel Bocas del Mar

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Reviewed February 23, 2013

Bocas del Mar is a lovely new hotel with wonderful rooms, fabulously friendly staff, Jorge, Adolpho. John Carlos, Neil, Jost and the great chef Carlos. I highly recommend this hotel. There are no bad rooms.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Barbara P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HotelBocasdelMar, Manager at Hotel Bocas del Mar, responded to this reviewResponded February 27, 2013

We glad you were able to review our hotel. Thank you for your comments.

It was a pleasure to meet you during your visit and we look forward to you hopefully staying with us again soon.

Best regards,

The Hotel Bocas del Mar team

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Additional Information about Hotel Bocas del Mar

Address: | Gulf of Chiriqui, Boca Chica, Panama
Location: Panama > Chiriqui Province > Boca Chica
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Boca Chica
Price Range: $149 - $261 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Bocas del Mar 4*
Number of rooms: 20
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Hotel Bocas Del Mar, in Boca Chica, is a boutique hotel with modern, luxury features. In a privileged oceanside location on the mainland, it is perfectly positioned for a completely relaxing vacation. We were TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Award Winners in 2016 for the Top Hotel for Service in Panama. Our focus is on quality customer service and attention to detail. We have 20 large contemporary-style guest bungalows that are set in tropical gardens right alongside the glistening blue water of the Gulf of Chiriqui. Open your drapes each morning and the Pacific Ocean is there to greet you! Choose from several room types; from our spacious king or queen bed bungalows through to the exceptional Premier Suite. There's a gourmet restaurant & bar on site and we have not one but TWO stunning infinity-style pools to bathe in. There is also a small beach, except at high tide, and we have our own dock to head to more local beaches via water taxi or excursion boat - we are opposite the beautiful islands of the Gulf of Chiriqui and have a full ocean and land trip program. Plus a massage studio (advance reservation required). Just 5 minutes by car or watertaxi from Boca Chica village. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hotel Bocas Del Mar Panama/Boca Chica

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