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“Beautiful and restful”

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Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge
Ranked #5 of 21 Hotels in Isla Colon
Certificate of Excellence
toronto
Level Contributor
91 reviews
43 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
“Beautiful and restful”
Reviewed May 2, 2012

My husband, daughter, son in law and I spent a wonderful 5 nights here. We loved the clear water, remoteness and sheer beauty of the surroundings. This is not a hotel for people looking for night life or excitement.The over the water bungalows are very spacious, with living area downstairs and bedrooms upstairs. Wrap around decks in the suites are wonderful and it is heaven to be able to swim right outside ones' bedroom door. The hotel provides masks and fins and one can also canoe.The bathrooms are very simple and the hot water is solar powered so there is not much of it but when the sun shines, it is so hot that all one wants is a cool shower. There is no air conditioning which might be a problem for some people and no electrical outlets, which means no hair dryers. Bring bug spray because on nights when there is no wind, there can be little bugs that bit.
We found breakfast to be excellent. The staff will cook you anything you want. Dinner was also very good and very large servings. The staff was always pleasant especially Ismael.
Boat trips/excursions can be quite expensive but the hotel's shuttle goes to town several times a day and you can take it for free.
My husband and i cannot wait to go back.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank exploraToronto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (22)
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Bogota
Level Contributor
10 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed April 23, 2012

The Acqua Lodge was exactly what we were looking for, a relaxing beautiful spot, quiet and in harmony with the environment. The Bungalows had everything one needs in such situation, the bedlining was confortable and we get all the clean fresh towels that we wanted as well as complimentary water every day. We suggest to change the hamacs made of whool for cotton ones since the first can be too hot for this weather. The food was good and every day the options offered had something for everyone. The personel did accomodate some of our requests (for instance finding a specific kind of wine for next day or more of one fruit etc). The personel is friendly and well trained. Only one complaint: in our last night there the owner and some guests stayed very late after dinner, listening to music and talking really loud, since the bungalows are close toguether, we had a hard time sleeping that night. Appart from that we recommend this place for couples that love to read and look at the sea. We did not make any of the tours offered but other guests came back from those telling nice stories about the beaches and snorkling places. Bocas (ten minutes by boat from the hotel, free ride at certain hours) has a variety of restaurants. We absolutely LOVED a place call El TALLER DEL SABOR where a cook from Oregon made the most DELICIOUS empanadas. We went to see him every day!!

Room Tip: The best bungalow is the last one (LUNA 3)
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank JimenaBogota
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cleveland, Ohio
1 review
Reviewed March 6, 2012

Nice stay the location is perfect. but too expensive. All in all a beautiful place, perfect for couples on holiday or honeymoon

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank vaneloo l
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
West Hollywood, California, USA
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed February 22, 2012

This is a difficult review to write. II have been very fortunate to have traveled the world, and I have done so in every class of service. Not every trip needs to include gilded hotels or resorts, and as a change of pace I occasionally try to find ones that are off the beaten path and offer unique experiences. It is under those auspices that on a recent trip to Panama we chose to spend four nights at Punta Caracol.

The beauty of the resort's location is without question. The resort is peaceful and secluded. Indeed, not another building or structure can be seen from its position off the coast of Isla Colon. The owners, a family that moved to Panama from Spain to build and operate the resort, are friendly and welcoming. Their staff, presumably locals from Isla Colon and other villages in the archipelago, are pleasant and, when asked, helpful. The restaurant offered a fresh menu each night of simple but tasteful dishes. And clearly the resort maintains as "green" a footprint as possible.

Unfortunately, my compliments stop there. Although the surroundings were peaceful, we slept poorly. The resort's limited power supply, generated exclusively from a few small solar panels, is insufficient to power proper ceiling fans. The bedrooms are on the second floor of the bungalows, essentially in the attic, and the thatch roof proves very effective in keeping the day's heat in the room. The last night we were there it was so hot we decided to pull down the bug netting over the bed to try and increase the airflow. This seemed like a good idea since there really weren't any bugs during our stay. Unfortunately, there a lot of bugs before our stay, all of which come to their final resting place on top of the netting. When we pulled it down (which was secured with velcro) they all relocated onto our bed and into our sheets.

The mattresses and linens are decidedly not heavenly. The bathrooms are small, dark and rather tired, even for bungalows that are essentially a wood shacks.

Perhaps the most disappointing (and, as it is not mentioned anywhere in the resort's marketing materials, deceiving) discoveries was that when upon check-in management tells you that you can't put paper in the toilets or they will backup on account of the resort's "dark water management system" that the definition of paper extends to toilet paper. Instead of disposing of your soiled paper in the toilet you have to put it in the basket next to the toilet, which the staff empties once a day. The wicker basket. To open the wicker basket there was a wicker handle. I recently read an article that reported that the surfaces with the most bacteria were pedestrian stop sign buttons and elevator buttons. I don't think the author of that article has visited this resort.

If not for the cost of the resort, all the above nuisances could be forgiven. We paid over $600 a night including taxes. That is the cost of The Four Seasons in Costa Rica, or the Mauna Lani in Hawaii, or many other top hotels and resorts around the world. If the cost of buidling or operating the resort demands those rates, I guess it would be ok. If the resort put the money back into the community, perhaps built and funded schools for children and trade workshops for adults like Grupo Plan (owner of a half dozen Luxury Collection Properties in Mexico) that would be even better. But neither of these things are the case, and therefore, the excessive cost of the resort is unjustifiable.

Ultimately, we enjoyed ourselves despite these surprises and disappointments. If nothing else, they have provided great material for dinner party conversation, and when we tell the wicker basket story and the bed netting story tears come to our eyes from laughter. And I guess at the end of the day that's what traveling is all about.

Room Tip: The bungalow farthest from the welcome pavilion and restaurant enjoys the most privacy and seclusion...
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  • Stayed April 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
19 Thank travelingjps
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Level Contributor
13 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed January 13, 2012

The lodge is perfect very relaxing. It was a paradise for us. The Bungalows are gorgeous.
They offer us extra tours to differents islands and beaches

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank yar_12281
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oslo, Norway
Level Contributor
47 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed January 5, 2012

Stayed here with 2 backpacker friends in may 2011. Even though we arrived sweaty, dirty and with our big backpacks on our backs - we were welcomed and taken care of as any other "fancy" visitor.

It is a chill place, 15-20 minute by boat from the city of Bocas. The location is perfect, it is quiet and beautiful. The resort in it self is idyllic-looking, a paradise on earth!

Someone from the resort picked us up with a boat and drove us to the resort, where we were welcomed with a delicious drink on the house while we hung out in the hammocks waiting for our bungalow to get ready. All the time they carry your luggage and go out of their way to make your stay as pleasant as possible - the service is inpeckable.

The bungalows are really nice and cozy, because this is cozy-luxury (eco!) - not Hilton-luxury. We stayed in the "Master Suite", so I do not know what the other bungalows look like - but I guess they are spacious as well. They wash the bungalows every day, changing your sheets, towels and placing fresh waterbottles around inside the bungalow. A really spacious deck with sunbeds and hammocks, perfect for diving almost straight from bed into the delicious ocean.

Kayaks and snorkling equipment is included, it is free to use anytime you want. The reef outside the bungalows is not the best, a lot of it is dead - but you can see some beautiful fishes etc.They also offer boatservice taking the visitors into the city 2 or 3 times a day for free, it can be helpful for buying stuff you need etc.

The restaurant is beautiful, and at night there is a lot of candles at the tables and everything just looks like paradise. Dinner is good, not excuisite - but good. You get to choose from three pre courses, three main courses and three desserts each day - different courses. Breakfast is whatever you want, almost.. Omelette, cereals, yoghurt, scrambled eggs, fresh juice, coffee, tea etc. The only thing we paid for was all the wine we had to dinner each night, but hey :)

The staff, especially the guys working at the bar and as boatdrivers, became very friendly and served us free drinks at times. Friendly staff!

They also offer trips to different surrounding locations, such as beautiful Red Frog Beach ++. They might charge a little bit too much, but I thought it was ok. The trip we went on was really nice!

All in all a beautiful place, perfect for couples on holiday or honeymoon! You get to spend time with each other, and NO one else.. Remember that if a rainy day arrives, the only thing to do to keep time running is to play monopoly in espanol (believe me, we got to try it) :)

Room Tip: All bungalows are perfectly located :)
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  • Stayed May 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
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    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank maggimaggi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
12 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
Reviewed January 3, 2012

Stunning place. it's was paradise. a must is to go kayaking around and on the river... it's heaven on earth.
The hotel itself was nice, the bungalows are spacious, very nicely decorated but not 5 stars forh the following reasons:

The bungalows:
Our security box did not work, they had to change it.
The shower drain didn't work properly, it was clogged.
Wev waited to get help to bring our luggage back when we checked out, it never came so we did it ourselves.

The food
wow very average for the place. I am vegetarian and they gave me plain pasta. we asked for bread... they brought slices of cheap white bread (!!!). we asked for salt and pepper, they were served as little enveloppes, like in a take out kit ...really for a 5 stars???
They shoud have spent a little more in small things like that instead of branding everything with their logo up to every plate, cups, milk pot, etc.
In the morning, I asked milk with my coffee and they brought an entire tea pot of warm milk... a bit of a waste there ... just small attentions that coudl easily be fixed.
we had lunch there... a $10 hamburger served on 3 slices of white bread (!!!) and no fries...it's a bit pricey and it lacked class... the salads were good. for $40/2, we ate fine.

The staff
It is a laid back place,everybody is on vacations but still at $450 a night...you expect the staff to serve you at night to remove their baseball caps...no? we asked for patacones(we're fluent in spanish) and they coudl not tell us the price... we had to ask the owner... the staff is a little too laid back... you can see they lack experience.

However
the place is a paradise when it's sunny (boring as hell if it rains... great for honeymooners I guess ;-). We brought wine and champagne to celebrate and they let us drink it at the table and on the patio.

TONs of fish, starfish... they love to eat bananas... you will have fun feeding them.

The hotel was built and is owned by a Spanish family who lives very close. The lady is very nice, I just think her staff is not representative of what it could be.

we were sad to leave the place, we put a checkmark onthis item on our bucket list. we will stay somewhere else in Bocas next time.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
8 Thank IsaNorthYork
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge

Property: Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge
Address: Punta Caracol, Isla Colon, Panama
Phone Number:
Location: Panama > Bocas del Toro Province > Isla Colon
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Isla Colon
#2 Top resorts Hotel in Isla Colon
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:3 star — Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 9
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Also Known As:
Punta Caracol Acqua Hotel Isla Colon
Punta Caracol Acqua Resort
Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge Panama/Bocas Del Toro - Isla Colon

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