Spent a week here in villa 22 with family of 8 and was very pleased. The trip from the airport -as many others have stated- is long - 2 hours minimum and if there is traffic in Panama City it can easily be 3 so just be aware and set expectations is all. The grounds are immaculate and gorgeous. So quiet and peaceful. With five different pools you can find your own little space to kick back. The main pool cabanas get reserved quite early - usually by 7 am- which can be annoying especially when you do not see anyone using them all day. But the beach is enormous and usually deserted as well. We walked for miles and rarely saw anyone.
The villa was wonderful. There is a private plunge pool for every villa which, for some reason, they do not highlight on their website. Plenty of room to relax on the patio, two hammocks, five very comfortable chairs, two tables and a couch. The rooms were large and the bathrooms amazing. Beds are supremely comfortable. And housekeeping is prompt and very courteous.
Service is really the only issue they have. The restaurant service is painfully slow. And combined with the language barrier its kind of difficult to enjoy. If you have the right attitude and do not expect great and constant service the food was worth it. Not premium quality but enjoyable. Air conditioning didnt work our first two nights in the villa and getting it repaired was really a challenge. I know, stop complaining. But it really is needed when its usually 90+ every day. We were looking up spanish phrases and the maintenance folks would nod and try something but it didnt work. Finally they replaced the thermostat..but it was a constant effort and trips to the front desk.
Hardly anyone speaks english and we certainly tried speaking spanish but usually failed. We ordered some groceries for our villa and 1 Lb of oranges comically was translated, somehow, to 118 oranges. We had a good laugh over this but were shocked to see our cabana overflowing with produce. Five cantaloupes turned in to 25...we ended up giving alot of them to the house keeping folks!
The panama canal tour is impressive. Again, a long drive back to the city but get on a small boat and travel the canal right next to tankers and cargo ships. Pretty impressive and the locks are amazing to watch as the ships pass through.We toured into the jungle and saw howler moneys and iguanas and sea turtles. A long day..but fun and educational.
the daily breakfast was a treat for us ...pretty impressive selection of fruits, crepes, omelettes...no need for lunches!
aside from marginal service this is a wonderful resort that has so much potential to be great.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Set on the Pacific coast of Panama, Bristol Buenaventura is a luxury oceanfront destination resort and a member of Leading Hotels of the World. The resort sits on 1,000 acres of natural splendor, nestled between rivers, lakes, lush vegetation, and pristine beaches. Blending old world glamour and tropical elegance, the resort is reminiscent of a Spanish hacienda. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Bristol Buenaventura Hotel Farallon
- Bristol Bueneventura Santa Clara
- JW Marriott Panama Golf & Beach Resort Rio Hato