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“Tented Suites”

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The Resort at Isla Palenque
Ranked #3 of 5 Hotels in Boca Chica
Albany, New York
Level Contributor
20 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Tented Suites”
Reviewed April 3, 2014

Tents did not look like photos on the web site.
•Getting to Tents: Climb approx. 49 wooden steps and another 45+ log stone steps. Then hike a dirt path with tree roots.Hiking to your tent several times daily in 92 degrees is exhausting. Tent: It was also much smaller than expected.The 4 tents are pretty close to one another. •Ventilation:There was no big fan above. Only a standing fan at the foot of your bed.
•Bathroom: The bathroom is totally outside/open air. Solar Water heaters were not added as stated. Showers are always cold. Composting toilets so big you needed a step to use it. Bath towels were changed on the 3rd day. Your 2 towels never really dry. •Outside Living Area: Very nice. Nice min-bar. A bottle of water was $4.00. Your bathroom tap water was safe to drink. There just something about getting tap water next to your composting toilet. •The rates between the tent and staying at the lodge are insignificant compare to what you get. The Island, lodge, food and staff are all 5 star. The tents just are not 5 star.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank ccvr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ben L, Owner at The Resort at Isla Palenque, responded to this review, April 8, 2014
I am sincerely sorry that you did not enjoy your time in the Tented Suites; other guests who have stayed in them have said that they considered it an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience, akin to a safari, and appreciated how close they got to nature in them. That said, we know that the Tented Suites are not for everyone: they are most suitable for adventurous nature-lovers and the reasonably physically fit, and are located on a 40-foot high bluff overlooking our largest beach. We try to make this clear on our website, but if there was a misunderstanding when you booked with us, I do apologize.

Our staff does everything they can to help ensure our guests have an amazing experience. In fact, we strive to not only do what is requested, but to go above and beyond. In your case, for example, even through you never mentioned these issues about the Tented Suites to us while you were on the island and never requested it from us, we could tell you did not enjoy the stairs to reach them and so we (a) drove you on the service paths to our restaurant at Eden to avoid the need for you to take the stairs there, and (b) provided a complimentary upgrade to an Estate Room (an Ocean Suite) as soon as one became available.

Again, I am sorry you did not enjoy your time in the Tented Suites. The pictures on our website are indeed of the actual Tented Suites, so I hope they are not misleading as you suggested. But it is true that there are a lot of steps to reach them (42 full height steps and 39 “half-size” stone/log steps), and it is also true that they have a composting toilet and no air-conditioning. These facts are also mentioned on the website, but I appreciate this additional opportunity to let potential guests know what they can expect from the Tented Suites: they are certainly meant for a select type of guest, and even though we do provide them with a high service level (twice-daily housekeeping service and a dedicated concierge, for example), those who prefer less stairs, air-conditioning, and similar “creature comforts”, would be happier in our Estate Rooms.
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110 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (42)
Date | Rating
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English first
Raleigh, NC
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed March 29, 2014

Before our first trip to Panama, we checked Trip Advisor to see what other travelers thought of Isla Palenque, the jungle resort we had booked for 4 days. With 45 out of 46 posters giving it 5 stars and the other one 4 stars, our expectations were over the top -- and when we arrived there we were not disappointed. If you hadn't read the rave reviews on trip advisor or hadn't checked the hotel's website and you were expecting some luxurious hotel in the jungle with valet service, etc., you might be a bit disappointed. It didn't take very long to understand what a unique place Isla Palenque is -- a beautiful jungle setting with incredible service which began when we first arrived in Panama City. We had signed up for the "transportation package" and, without a hitch, the Palenque-sponsored drivers got us in and out of Panama City, then to our jet flight to David, and finally by van/boat to Isla Palenque -- ready for our welcoming drink.

As well described on the hotel website, the resort itself was beautifully nestled in the jungle, overlooking a beautiful beach. Our air conditioned jungle room was equipped with an Ipad with wifi which facilitated communications with the family which we, of course, minimized while on vacation. Much of the beautiful furniture at the resort was made from indigenous trees on the island.

Aris, I believe the staff manager, greeted us on arrival and helped us plan our four days. Being just 7 decades old, we opted for the "easy" tours which started with a "bird walk" with Ameth where we saw some very unique birds and wildlife (including Amelia the pig) and an amazing tree with large spikes all over the trunk. The next day we took an "island hopping" tour with Peter including a wonderful shore lunch cooked over a flaming pit. I also tried a kayak for the first time ever -- great fun and good exercise -- thanks to Rodolfo for keeping everyone upright.

The meals were excellent with unique menus, good choices and very well presented -- thanks to Morris our chef. I took one day away from Palenque to go tuna fishing and was fortunate to catch a 150 lb yellowfin, part of which Morris put on the menu for everyone at the resort -- incredible sashimi and delicious tuna stakes pan fried with sesame (he gave me a translated version of the sashimi dipping sauce recipe which was the best I ever had -- can't wait to try it). Our very friendly waiter Jan, catered to our every request.

The tropical island itself was beautiful as described by so many travelers. The water was warm and inviting, the sunsets were beautiful, and the howler monkeys were a daily attraction and made for some good pictures and videos.

I ended up with 561 pictues/videos from our 7 days in Panama and hope to end up with a good photo album and DVD of our vacation.

From our initial booking of the trip and each and every day, Celianis went out of her way to make our stay most enjoyable. Ben, you have created a wonderful resort and we wish you the best success with future development.

Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank tokjoe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed March 17, 2014

I spent 4 nights at Isla Palenque earlier this month and was really pleased with the whole experience. Firstly, the island itself is magnificent with fantastic views of the open Pacific and islands. The hotels accommodation was excellent-we lucked into a suite for the first two nights and it had great sea views + aside from howler monkeys and the surf, complete tranquility.

For the last two nights the suite was booked so Ben, the owner, gave us a choice of moving into the room we had originally booked or settling into a beach side tented camp... we chose the latter and as a result found ourselves even closer to the surf (20 feet at high tide) with an even bigger view of the Pacific. Not to mislead, the camping was pretty plush-we had a living room and attached bathroom with sink and shower and electricity. The waiter from the beach club brought us a bottle of Chardonnay at sundown each night and there was a turn down service when we departed for dinner.

Talking about eating-we ate very well, lots of fish and local produce-there are gardens on the island and the wines were surprisingly reasonable given the remoteness.

We did a couple of excursions, both on water and loved them and found the staff very helpful.

On departure we opted to pay a little more and took a motor launch right from the Isla to David which is a journey to die for. We saw dolphins and a myriad of birds at 730am including storks and hawks as we made our way from the open ocean into the rivers that wind through the mangroves into town. It was about an hour.

In and out of

Room Tip: Try the new tented accommodations or the two suites and pay the extra and take the boat transfer rig...
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank travelstudy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Black Diamond, Canada
Level Contributor
53 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed March 12, 2014

All the reviews are true! Isla Palenque is paradise. The staff, the food, the accommodations are all sublime. If you decide to go, stay for at least five nights so you can explore and fall in love with the island. An incredible experience.

Room Tip: The oceanfront suites are fantastic!
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank CalgaryGoose
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
25 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed March 4, 2014

6 deluxe rooms on a 400 acre jungle Island with a fantastic staff and that is only the beginning. We spent 5 days (it is a couples resort) full of activity, long hikes, great beaches, wonderful meals and a very attentive staff.

I really didn't know what to expect. When greeted at the dock in Boca Chica and climbing into the lodge boat it really did feel like a step into another dimension. (Boca Chica is an hour ride from the David, Panama airport) When we landed 20 minutes later at the dock and got into our small, small van we really did leave this world behind.

I booked late and as a result we had to move to 4 different rooms. The favorite (and most expensive is the ocean front suite -- absolutely comfortable, big and jungle elegant with the huge balcony. 2 different jungle rooms with a minimum view of the ocean but nice bathrooms, not small, a relaxing balcony. Our least favorite was the garden room. It is small without a balcony but it did have a neat outdoor shower. Prices were commensurable with the size and location of the room so it really does matter about budget.

We had 3 great meals everyday. Breakfast started with fresh fruit and a choice of eggs, toast, cereal etc. Lunch was interesting and offered two choices for a main course. Dinners were elegant. We had 2 dinners at Las Rocas -- the beach bar where the sunset is unbelievable and 3 dinners at the main lodge (3 minute ride, 15 minute hike on the road or an 45 minutes through the jungle. Each dinner was 3 courses with 3 choices of starter and 3 choices of main course and, if you wanted, it was possible to sample more than 1. Most important was the service. The staff was great (tip of the hat to Ben (a great bar tender) and Oscar as well as the rest of the crew.

For us this was an active place. We took long and short hikes and did manage to walk or see all 11 beaches and all of the island -- although each step is a new discovery and a new direction. We took advantage of the guided walks and chose not to get lost -- literally. (Mind the tides and the afternoon heat -- take water!) Ricardo, Emmett, Rodolfo were great. They shared their knowledge of the jungle and the natural world and made each step special. Spectacular birds, lots of monkeys and on our first night we saw an ant eater and an ocelot. (First confirmed spotting by 3 of us). We also took a snorkel trip -- not great by our usual snorkel standards -- we had to avoid 1 area because of jelly fish.

The best part of each day (and there were lots of great parts) was the spectacular sunset each day at Las Rocas. Arm in arm, drink in hand on a beautiful stretch of black sand beach -- the ultimate thrill. I left revitalized knowing how special each day is in life and realized that one should NEVER TAKE A SUNSET FOR GRANTED.

Enjoy!

Room Tip: If cost is not an issue then grab one of the ocean front suites. View and amenities are fantastic...
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank IllinoisWETRAVL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed March 4, 2014 via mobile

I have to tell you....I was very skeptical after reading some of the reviews. I thought there is no way this place can be so amazing. Well....it is....amazing. The design and layout of the suites is great. You're made to feel like a celebrity. The staff is very friendly and helpful. We drove from PC and parked our car in Boca Chica for $2 a day. The drinks are incredible. My favorite was the spicy Isla Margarita. The lobster ceviche is highly recommended. Only one suggestion. It would be nice to have menus at breakfast. Thank you for a very needed and appreciated vacation. It has been our best ever.

  • Stayed February 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Megan P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ben L, Owner at The Resort at Isla Palenque, responded to this review, March 5, 2014
Megan, thanks for the kind words. I'm glad the island and our staff met your "skeptical expectations" ; ) bBased on your comment and a few other recent comments from guests, we will be adding a printed menu at breakfast within the nest few weeks. (If nothing else, we want to make sure that guests know they can order hojaldras as their side dish, and just how delicious this traditional Panamanian bread can be.) Thank you for your suggestion; it was a pleasure to host you and we all hope to see you again soon.
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Framingham, MA
Level Contributor
101 reviews
44 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 92 helpful votes
Reviewed March 2, 2014

It's all true! This is a 400 acre island paradise with only a few acres that are developed. From the moment you're met by the staff at the dock in Boca Chica, take the 10 minute boat ride to Isla Palenque and disembark you know there's something special going on! In fact, one of the guides told me that he is sure that God is on Isla Palenque. I agree and here are some reasons why:
The Hotel - It did not disappoint. Everything we expected and more. You can do nothing or be very busy.
The Room - spring for the Ocean Suite Estate Room. It's worth the extra money. Exquisitely designed and decorated, a deck that runs the length of the suite overlooking the ocean; bathroom with a sliding door that looks out on the jungle as you take a bath and a rainforest shower that has no enclosure. The suite is drop dead gorgeous!
The Staff - I almost cried when we left them. Celianis in the front office, the guides- Rodolfo, Ricardo, Amet, Peter; the waiters, bartenders-Benny, Oscar, Eduardo, Jan Carlos; all unbelievable!
The Food - 4 stars! The chef is incredible. We couldn't wait for his new creations every day.
The Island - 400 jungle acres mostly untouched with pristine beaches
The Howler Monkeys - wake up to them and see them playing in the trees during the day; I couldn't get enough of them!
The Birds - too many to count
The Beaches - pristine except for the sand crabs; take the island hop and go snorkeling and then spend the rest of the day on a white sand beach with lunch cooked over an open fire
The Sunset - view on the beach at Las Rocas, a beach bar and restaurant where dinner is served one evening
The Quiet - only the sound of the waves lapping the beach, birds and howler monkeys
There is lots to do or nothing to do, whatever suits you. Hiking, bird watching, fishing, snorkeling, tree climbing. You can keep busy if that's what you like or do absolutely nothing!
So, to sum it all up - it's now on our top 10 list! Do yourself a favor and go soon!!

Room Tip: Opt for the Ocean Suite Estate Room if possible
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank 2atthebar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Resort at Isla Palenque

Property: The Resort at Isla Palenque
Address: Isla Palenque, Boca Chica, Panama
Location: Panama > Chiriqui Province > Boca Chica
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Casino and Gambling Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 5 Hotels in Boca Chica
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — The Resort at Isla Palenque 4*
Number of rooms: 16
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A new sustainable private island resort on a pristine 400-acre jungle island in the Gulf of Chiriqui, Panama, featuring 16 luxury rooms nestled among forest trees with glimpses of the Pacific, two restaurants, a spa and over 20 custom tours and adventures on the island, in the Gulf and on the mainland. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
The Resort At Isla Palenque Panama/Boca Chica

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