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“Nice Place but PRICING ALL WRONG”
Review of Al Natural Resort

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Al Natural Resort
Certificate of Excellence
Ireland
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Nice Place but PRICING ALL WRONG”
Reviewed February 7, 2008

This is located in a beautiful location but beware the time of year you book here. Late December is still the rainy season and it's not much fun in the lashing rain hold up in what is essentially an outdoor orientated lodge. This is marketed as an eco lodge / resort but there is a lot of tokenism going here. If one pays for a full bar all inclusive package then one should have the expectation that you don't have to go Oliver Twist style looking for a drink at the bar. It was X-mas and the hosts had friends around (who were very nice) but guests seemed expected to leave the party after the meals was communally served so management could get on with entertaining. The management are not running a budget hostel here, the opposite is in fact the case as they are charging big bucks but seem to want to do things on their terms while getting guest to pay an eco premium. Given the money they are charging here a little bit of a housekeeping service would be in order, for example a change of towels every so often, particularly if it raining solid for 3 days with little chance of drying. Potential guests should also know that the beach in front is not ideal for swimming as the bed is covered in seaweed / sea grass and potential dangers like sea urchins exist. To summaries if the sun were to shine it could be idyllic for location alone but they charging a huge price premium to enjoy it, one which all things considered is over the top given what else is available in nearby areas and up the coast in Costa Rica. Not good value for money.

  • Liked — Views
  • Disliked — Lack of activities in poor / average conditions
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank Tinman007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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338 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (44)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Lechlade, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
44 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed January 29, 2008

My wife and I were lucky enough to spend 3 nights at this beautiful and peaceful resort at the end of Jan. The superior cabin we had was fantastic. If you like bland 4 star hotels with all the mod-cons then this place isn't for you. If you enjoy being close to nature, waking up to the sound of the waves and tropical birds then Al Natural is perfect! Breakfast and lunch were good, but the culinary highlights were the 3 course evening meals. These were all prepared by locally employed staff from the nearby Indian village. They were trained by Vincent, who had returned to Europe for the duration of our stay. All 3 nights we stayed we had a seafood starter and main course followed by dessert. During the evening meal you recieve 3-4 small glasses of red or white wine which were both very good. If you want any more its $3 a glass. All other drinks you have during your stay are added to a bar tab.As a rough guide - A small bottle of water is $2 and a cocktail is $5.

During the days there are two boats and skippers at your disposal for a number of trips. We visited the nearby Zapatillas islands with other visitors on two seperate days. The islands are only a 15min transit from the resort and cost $60 in total for a morning or afternoon trip, plus $10 park entry per person. We thouroughly recommend a trip here if you want an unspoilt tropical island paradise, where you can lie in the sun, and swim in the sea just off the gently sloping sandy beach.

Our trip would not have been the same if it wasn't for our wonderful host Aaron. He was a very knowledgable and articulate young man who went out of his way to make all the guests feel at home. He dealt with all of our questions and requests with polite enthusiasm. In the evenings he manned the bar dishing out fantastic fresh juice and rum cocktails whilst anwering all the guests queries from their days adventures. He clearly loves the place, and his enthusiasm was infectious.

Top Tips: Be careful when you go. Sep is great! Jan can be very wet!

This is not a beach resort so if you want to lie on the beach all day and swim in the sea you will need to visit the nearby islands.

It is almost guaranteed that you will meet lots of like minded and interesting people from all over the world.

  • Liked — The beautiful and tranquil setting.
  • Disliked — Nothing.
  • Stayed January 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank MacFly101
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Olympia, Washington
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed January 4, 2008

We loved our time at the Al Natural. By the end of our 4 days there, we felt as though we'd been staying with friends who happened to have an amazing property (with a staff to clean the rooms, etc.) Yes, Vincent and Aaron could be described as "laid back" (per another review), but this was part of what made it feel like visiting friends for a vacation as opposed to staying in a hotel.

Our cabin was one of the "superior" cabins, and like the other cabins had 3 sides, with one side facing out to the sea. Spacious and comfortable, and private feeling despite being open on one side. Although we were there in the rainy season, and we definitely had rain, this didn't dampen our spirits. We enjoyed going out in the kayaks and/or walking along the beach or through the jungle every day and snorkeling once it cleared enough for good visibility. It's easy to arrange a boat ride to do excursions (the same type of excursions offered in Bocas town, but with local guys in smaller boats), and we did one to the nearby small village & guided jungle walk.

It was our 20th anniversary, so we arranged the special dinner. Although all the dinners (prepared by Vincent, an excellent Belgian chef) were great, the special romantic dinner involves a private setting (either in the game room above the main dining area if it's rainy or out on the dock), lots of candles, flowers, and many many courses of food, wine and champaign.

At the Al Natural, you walk around bare foot and wash the sand from your feet in little pools at the entry of the buildings. You dine in a big common room with other guests. It is not "luxury" if "luxury" to you means wi-fi access, jacuzzi tubs, pedicures on site, etc. You won't be pampered. But you might have the most relaxing and fun time of your life (particularly if they happen to have a salsa party when you're there!).

  • Liked — beautiful setting by edge of jungle on nice beach
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank FunDogSouth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed October 30, 2007

The accommodation is lovely... right on the water with great views. For what you pay however, the service is lacking. The staff is very laid back--what you would expect at a hostel rather than a $100 plus a night lodge. We felt as though we were interrupting the staff's "vacation" when we asked for a drink or needed information about an activity. Very disappointing.

  • Liked — The view
  • Disliked — The service
  • Stayed October 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank ny1913
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Zealand
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed March 30, 2007

The website does not do Al Natural Justice. The beach front huts are made in local style and are nestled in the trees looking over the water. At night the water is lit up with phospherescent algae and there are beautiful reefs and national park islands to visit close by. We stayed for 5 nights but wished we had booked for longer.
The meals were excellent, especially considering the challenging cooking conditions. We had taken a large supply of crisps & snacks with us as I was travelling with a very selective vegetarian, however we never needed them. Very imaginative fresh cuisine eg coconut and cucumber gazpacho, Tuna steaks in wasabi sauce..some of the best meals we had on our travels were at Al Natural.
Meals are all served at one communal table and so a large part of your experience will depend upon the other people who are staying at the same time, however there were a large number of people who seem to return year after year and a pervasive feeling that you are staying at a friend's amazingly nice house.

  • Stayed March 2007, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank JoNewZealand
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NYC
Level 2 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed December 3, 2006

My friend and I just returned from Panama and spent 6 nights at the Al Natural resort. We had a great time and are sad to be back home. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly including the three dogs (Pepper, Angel and Chi Chi), three ducks, and the three night monkeys who stopped by every night.

All of the meals are prepared by one of the owners, Vincent or one of the other staff members. The food was great, with mostly fresh seafood and other local ingredients. They are careful to cater to special dietary needs and keep refilling your wine glass throughout dinner. Meal are served family style and there was a nice feel of comraderie - we met many interesting people.

Travelers should know that the climate is very damp so pack accordingly. Also pack pleanty of bug spray and long pants for walks in the jungle which is right behind your bungalow.

The bungalows are comfortable and airy and overlook the beach. You fall asleep and wake up to the sounds of the ocean. Each bungalow is equipped with a comfortable hammock facing the water. Bungalows are swept daily and kept clean and neat. Although the power is limited to 12 volts, there is light and private warm water showers.

The owners, Vincent and Michel are from Belgium and speak at least Spanish, English and French. They make an effort to make sure that all of the guests feel welcome and are having a good time. When we were there Michel had dinner with us every night and kept the conversation flowing.

The first day we were there Michel offered several excursions that he thought might be interesting to us. We went to the mangroves (where we saw sloths and reptiles) and the indian village one day. The next day we went snorkeling and to Zapatilla (part of the national park). Michel and Vincent came with us. One day we went to dolphin cove with the captain who made special efforts to show us the dolphins playing in the waves and chasing our boat.

We had a great time and highly recommend Al Natural for anyone who wants a leisurely and peacful beach vacation. You should only come here if you are comfortable living close to nature.

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — ?
  • Tips/Secrets — Bug spray
  • Stayed November 2006, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank kkbrod
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed December 3, 2006

We had been searching for a place to relax away from it all with some creature comforts.... Al Natural was perfect! The hut was simple but comfortable with its own bathroom and incredible view over the sea. We had our own bit of beach with complete privacy which was wonderful. Each day we were offered tours but we preferred to stay on the island it was so relaxing. If you need a hairdryer and airconditioning this is not the place for you.... this is an eco lodge and the beauty of the place is the feeling of being at one with nature and relaxing away from noise and crowds. The food is also excellent.

  • Liked — The view
  • Disliked — Nothing
  • Tips/Secrets — Stay for at least 3 nights so that you completely relax and unwind
  • Stayed November 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank MrsPickyCustomer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Al Natural Resort

Property: Al Natural Resort
Address: Old Point, Isla Bastimentos, Panama
Location: Panama > Bocas del Toro Province > Isla Bastimentos
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Shuttle Bus service Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 19 B&Bs / Inns in Isla Bastimentos
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Al Natural Resort 2.5*
Number of rooms: 9
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Al Natural Hotel Isla Bastimentos
Al Natural Resort Panama/Isla Bastimentos, Bocas Del Toro

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