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“Beautiful, Relaxing and Unique”
Review of Al Natural Resort

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Al Natural Resort
Certificate of Excellence
los angeles
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Beautiful, Relaxing and Unique”
Reviewed October 22, 2006

I think that it is fair to say up front that this place is not for everyone. There is a chance of being devoured by bugs, you will be sharing your bed with lizards etc. and you must have an appreciation for raw nature. That being said, I really loved this place. Sleeping while overlooking the water, finding deserted beach after deserted beach, jungle sounds, sloths, monkeys, caimans and falling coconuts. This place is what you make of it, it is not a luxury resort, it is an eco resort. The island is very beautiful, with enough jungle to explore and good snorkeling close by. Vincent's dinners were very good, the Red Snapper was exceptional. Great wine, great rum, but mostly this place is very global. Every night we had four languages going but still were able to communicate as a group.

  • Stayed September 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank thevig
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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330 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
La Habra Heights, CA
Level Contributor
34 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed August 30, 2006

Staying at Al Natural is certainly a unique experience. As with most unique experiences, there is some good and some bad. First the good:

The location is stunning. You look out from your room right onto the ocean which is only a few feet away. The open air rooms let you hear the sounds of the ocean and the jungle, which is very cool. We walked around "the point" to a deserted beach where we sunned and swam for hours without seeing a soul.

The food is very good. We're vegetarians, so we didn't partake in any of the fresh seafood, but it got rave reviews from the other folks at the table. The staff were very good about accomodating our dietary preferences and came up with excellent meals for us.

Now the bad.

The service is just not very good. We had to go on a quest for clean bath towels after ours hadn't been changed in a few days. In a place with humidity like Panama's, you really like a dry towel. We also hunted down a broom and swept out our own room since, despite our best efforts, we did track in sand. It's hard not to.

Since you're on an island it's hard to go anywhere without getting in a boat. And every time we got in a boat the boat made a few other stops -- for gas, for water, for food, for beer, for ice. If I were paying $25/night to stay in a hostel I wouldn't mind the co-op kind of feel. But Al Natural charges big bucks.

There's a sort of slacker/stoner vibe about the place. This may or may not bother you, but be prepared for it. Don't be surprised if you smell pot smoke at night...and don't be surprised if it's the staff doing the smoking. What bothered me most was feeling like an uninvited guest at a party when some friends of the staff showed up and more or less took over the place.

The bottom line is a little odd -- we enjoyed our stay, but I don't know that I would reccomend Al Natural to anyone I know. You have to be just the right sort of person who can ignore the inconveniences and focus on the beautiful place you're in.

  • Liked — Location!
  • Disliked — Service
  • Stayed August 2006, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank JAllison
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Evergreen, CO
Level Contributor
8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 71 helpful votes
Reviewed March 19, 2006

This place is amazing if you're travelling with a spouse/partner or a whole bunch of friends, but I wouldn't bring kids here. It is lovely and remote. Waking up to a uninterupted view of the ocean from your open air hut is surreal (we actually bought an alarm clock that awakens you to the sound of a lapping ocean when we got home to remember it!). We spent a day kayaking to the nearby Indian village and getting a tour from a local and his kids, and we spent another on the island where 6 different seasons of Survivor were filmed (international versions). We did yoga in the morning and played in the water and hung out. The hosts here are awesome, we had such a good time with them. The food was totally out of this world! We travel a lot and we love really good food and I can honestly say that this was hands down the absolute best food we have ever had. Fresh and interesting. I didn't eat any fish or seafood prior to this trip, and for a solid weak I had no say in the matter and I came home a fan! I loved the Baricuda in wasabi cream sauce. MMMMM. We did the honeymoon package (it wasn't our honeymoon though) and it was great. Our last night there we had a 6 course meal served at the end of the dock, with different wine and champagne pairings to match each course. This non-fish/seafood eater ate raw octopus and loved it! Our hosts biked around Bocas all day finding stuff to create just the right atmosphere, and they succeeded. Our path to our table was lit with candles and strewn with flower petals, and they created amazing flower arrangements to decorate the bohio where our table was. Magical.

  • Stayed March 2004
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank aframeglamour
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
arlington virginia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed February 4, 2006

Most folks comments, positive and negative, are accurate. It's a beautiful place with charming hosts. I'd just mention a couple of negatives which may or may not be critical to your visit, but can make a difference. There is not a lot to do. Second, the water in front of the resort is NOT beach. It is covered with seagrass. You can swim in it but not snorkel. Finally, the charming European hosts keep European hours. We couldn't get a cup of coffee until 8AM and dinner started (if you were lucky) at 8PM.

Stayed October 2005
Helpful?
14 Thank joesasfy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Canada
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed January 23, 2006

My husband stayed at the Al Natural Jan 8th to the 11th, 2006. It was great! The owners Michel and Michele(wife) were welcoming and made you feel at home. The cabanas were rustic, charming and open. There is no threat of leaving your personals, or valuables in your room. The showers don't have much preasure, but the bed overlooking the sea makes up for that. Breafast were good, lots of variety, lunch was light, seeing you wouldn't want to get weighted down for the afternoon, dinners were amazing! It was the best food we had while on our trip. Wine was included with dinner. The cooks Vincent and Natalie (comes twice a week), who is owner of a fine little restuarnt on Bocas, Cabash (sp?) is a great cook and freindly person. The great part of the experience was that all the guests are required to have lunch and dinner together in the common building. Dinners are lit with candles, which makes the mood spectacular! You get to meet exciting people, which we did! The activities are twice per day, but you don't have to go(extra cost with the regular package) or you can just enjoy the walks, around the island. We meet guests who came from the Limbo on the sea coming to Al Natural to have drinks. Not good things about the Limbo. Rooms were like boxes.
Highly recommend, this get away, remember there is nothing to do if you don't want to! In our opinion, the cost including the food and wine, is pretty reasonable. Not many chitras there at all, I got eaten alive in Bocas and Carenero.

  • Stayed January 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
12 Thank Bocasized
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Salt Lake City
Level Contributor
16 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed December 10, 2005

Great location, right on a beatiful beach, isolated, with jungle all around. Accomodation is very basic but comfortable. Service is a little lacking especially for the price being charged, everthing is really laid back, you never have anything explained to you about the resort, the activites, etc. and are pretty much just left on your own unless you ask. All activites are an extra charge wich again for the price I thought should have been included. Dinners were great but lunch and breakfast were just so so.

It could you a little minor updating and maintenance as well.

It would be great for about half the price.

  • Stayed November 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank SMJMEX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles
Level Contributor
23 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed November 29, 2005

Stayed at Al Natural and found it to be just what we expected. Not since the early days of Club Med have I stayed in such a remote, eco-sensitive environment. If you are looking for tranquility in a area unspoiled by development, then take the 40 minute boat ride to the south end of Isla Bastimentos and park it here.

First of all, one of the co-owners - Vicent - is a great host. He knows when to engage and when to leave you alone. Resembling Leonardo DiCaprio at 40, he is energetic and resourceful. He even takes on kitchen duty at night and creates some wonderful dishes. Most nights we had fresh caught Snapper in a myriad of sauces. Hailing from Belgium, he tends to add many spices/flavors to his food (I told him to tone them down a bit), but the results are excellent. I'd say lunch is the weakest meal of the day. They recently built a large thatched dining area with two floors and an observation deck. It's very comfortable and provides a good social atmosphere. Drinks and wine are poured all night (though it's not all included).

As for the accomodations, they are nicely built but open to the environment. That is to say, there are no doors or windows. This is truly "all natural". All offer great views of the ocean from the cabana's deck or 2nd story. Needless to say, you'll fall asleep to the sound of water lapping against the sand and the ever present sounds of the jungle right next door. The bed was very comfortable - better than most you'll find in Panama. Don't expect hot water; not that you'll need it. The weather is perfect every day and the nights are warm, sometimes with a slight breeze. Overall, it is a unique experience in many ways. And the people make the stay that much more worthwhile.

The only potential drawback is the beach that lines the resort is not the best on the island nor in the vicinity. El Limbo's beach is wider and more suitable for lounging. The good news is that it's just a short walk or kayak journey away. Take advantage of the proximity to Los Cayos Zapatillas and go see them (which Vicente can arrange for a fee). They are uninhabited yet perfect for whiling away a few hours in pristine sand and waters.

No, I have no financial or emotional commitment to this place. I regret not staying longer, simply because it's that one of a kind experience where you feel on your own in a remote location. It was the best experience during the 2 weeks I traveled through Panama. Do yourself a favor and just go.

  • Stayed November 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
21 Thank solly316
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 18 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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