Coral Lodge was an extravagant choice (especially with the pricey private transfer), but one I felt would be well worth the premium, given the glorious location, idyllic beach setting and privacy: who can resist the lure of a little thatched bungalow set right in the sparkling clear blue sea?
Given the price, reviews and press, you might expect 5* luxury; but as noted elsewhere, this is a remote location, so there are some compromises. At the time I went the weather was against me, which meant churned up water, the beach strewn with debris, seaweed and chunks of driftwood and so on.
But taking that out of the equation, Coral Lodge still disappointed on the basics – the bare minimum standards you’d expect of any decent hotel.
- Normally, you’d expect crisp white bed linen, not torn, stained sheets
- I’d generally expect that the room would be inspected before a guests’ arrival, to check that the shower works, the safe functions, that curtain rails aren’t hanging off the walls, the radio works
- If asked to fill in a lengthy pre-arrival questionnaire on my preferences (music, food, treatments, excursions) one expects that this would be read, and at the very least that some of the items in said questionnaire would be on offer
- And, while nobody can account for the weather, excursions should be offered consistently. We had a boat trip that we wanted to do; unfortunately it couldn’t be done on the day that the weather was clear, because the boat was being used elsewhere. As a result, we went out the following, stormy day, to fit around this schedule, and were forced to turn back after 45 minutes of the worst, stormiest boat journey of my life.
The Transfer to and from Coral Lodge, offered by the hotel is also incredibly expensive. At the time I booked it, I felt that for a private transfer, collection from my hotel in Panama City and 45 minute boat ride, perhaps it was the ‘going rate’ but at several hundred dollars, I discovered that this is not the going rate in Panama and I paid $35 for the same type of transfer (actually better) elsewhere in Panama. Again, disappointing. What should have been a dream destination felt like a rip-off.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Coral Lodge. A quintessential eco-adventure lodge set in a pristine natural habitat. An isolated totally sustainable lodge that offers a variety of nature related adventures and a place to get away from it all. You will enjoy a diversity of natural environments, our charming over the water bungalows, a friendly low key service and our proximity to San Blas archipelago with its beautiful unspoiled islands and cultural heritage of the Kuna Indians.Diving, Reef Fishing, Snorkeling, Hobie Cat Sailing, Trekking, Kayaking, Horseback riding and relax are the activities. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Coral Hotel Santa Isabel
- Coral Resort Santa Isabel
- Coral Lodge Panama/Santa Isabel