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“Honeymooning at Coral Lodge”
Review of Coral Lodge

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Coral Lodge
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Santa Isabel
New York City, New York
Level 3 Contributor
7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Honeymooning at Coral Lodge”
Reviewed December 25, 2013

this resort is amazing. it took awhile for me to do this review but it definitely had to be done. my wife and i went here this past july for our honeymoon and were blown away from the second we touched down in panama.

when i initially contacted the resort it was right before new management took over. the original management was not keen on picking us up directly from the airport because we got in around 11am. they wanted us to be picked up from a local hotel at 9am, requiring us to pretty much lose a day of travel. once gabrielle came aboard he promptly fixed this and allowed us to be picked up from the airport right after we landed. we were met by our driver (his name escapes me) and he was very pleasant and helpful. we had a 20+ passenger van all to ourselves to travel. along the way he stopped at a local grocery store for us as well as an abandoned fort that was part of a panamanian revolution.

the van then takes you to the dock after about a 3 hour driver at which point you meet Jay. Jay helps run the resort and is your captain from the second you get there. after a high speed boat ride of about 30 minutes you arrive at the epitome of paradise. our first 3 days we were the only guests and had the whole resort to ourselves. for breakfast they ask you what you want for breakfast and are open to cooking anything you want. everyday for lunch and dinner we had amazing meals.

as part of our package we got a romantic dinner on the beach which was amazing and beautiful. we were also supposed to have a couples massage but unfortunately their masseuse was sick and left the resort a few days before. in lieu they gave us an excursion to the san blas islands. we recommend EVERYONE take the trip to san blas. on the way we had the best meal at the customs/immigration stop along the way. if you can head to the back of the island and theres a great little restaurant. on the way to the islands we saw a pod of wild porpoises. once we reached the stretch of islands we didn't want to leave. even on a cloudy day the water was clear as can be. jay and his crew provide snorkel gear so you can check out the reef and submerged ship.

the room we had was amazing. the deck allows you to just step out and relax, not to mention jump right into the water if you want. we had bungalow 4 and it was pretty free of rocks. either way there is a ladder to help you get in and out. when we were there there was also 2 turtles in the area that you can see occasionally pass by.

a sidenote for some, this is still very much a remote resort. we had a few small lizards in our room occasionally. we also had a bat one night as well. the roof is thatch branches so they can squeeze through. it eventually left after we opened the door and turned on the outside light. also the walk from the room to the lodge can be very daunting. it was absolute pitch black minus the deck lights. make sure to bring a flashlight as well as some off and insect repellent.

check our website www.soletstrythismarriagething.com for more pictures of the resort

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank Jordan A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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151 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (23)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Atlanta, Georgia
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed October 26, 2013

The two days spent this past week (third week in October 2013) at Coral Lodge with my family could not have been nicer. For starters, Dina, the current general manager, was incredibly outgoing and friendly as soon as we arrived after concluding an easy half hour boat ride to travel to Coral Lodge. Her accommodating approach continued throughout our entire stay. She is sincere, a great conversationalist and loves to talk to all the guests. The entire staff was exceptional in terms of being warm, easy to communicate with and went out of their way to make sure everyone in my group of seven individuals, including three young children, were having an excellent time. All five meals were delicious and served in an extremely reasonable amount of time, something that rarely occurs in Panama City!

My wife called the roughly six hour excursion we took to the San Blas islands on day two of our stay one of the best travel days of her life, and she has travelled around the world. To hear that kind of praise from a seasoned traveller speaks volumes about the high caliber of Coral Lodge. During that perfect day we swam in and out of an old ship wreck, stopped over for lunch at a peaceful small island inhabited by eight Kuna Indians, snorkled in pristine water while finding sand dollars and star fish, and spotted three dolphins on the boat ride back to Coral Lodge.

The only hitch during our stay was the fact the power went out during our second night and into our third day at the property, however that can happen in remote spots where just having power, not to mention wi-fi seems miraculous! The staff more than made up for this glitch beyond being sincerely apologetic, and they didn't have to do that. The bottom line is there is no reason to stress here.

It's good to come with a relaxed mindset since this is the epitome of a vacation spot where you can truly escape. I would recommend bringing adequate bug spray as the no see um bugs can be brutal as well as sun tan lotion to protect you from intense sunlight, otherwise you don't need much in terms of supplies and clothing while staying there. You can certainly pack lightly, and that's a good thing in my opinion.

For someone looking for a peaceful and gorgeous getaway while travelling to the Atlantic side of Panama, this is a spot seriously worth checking out.

I hope to return some day to see the terrific people we got to know during a short but highly enjoyable visit at Coral Lodge. It will be interesting to see how this spot develops in the next couple of years. I anticipate it will only grow in popularity as soon as word of mouth continues to spread about this topnotch vacation destination.

Room Tip: You are staying in one of six equal huts over the water and you can't go wrong with any one of t...
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank TPSmith2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brandon, ms
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed September 25, 2013

Let me start out by saying that coral lodge is NOT booming with nightlife and is most definitely not sandals. It is better. Privacy, personal service, and a love of nature is what drew us newlyweds here and boy did they deliver. My husband is allergic to seafood and they worked very hard to give him the variety I had in cuisine and it was delicious! The staff is friendly and very attentive. Be warned, there is wildlife, humidity, and Mosquitos...a lot of them, but that was right up our alley. We swam the reef, kayaked, hiked, relaxed...we didn't need a tv, and wifi is avaliable for those who cannot live without. Ten days of adventure, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. 5 of 5 if you know what to expect!!!!'

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Kathryn C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Gatos, California
Level 6 Contributor
144 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed August 2, 2013

The setting of Coral Lodge is idyllic! It's amazingly beautiful and literally one of the few ways to access the beautiful San Blas Islands. However, the staff here has some work to do on the service and the accommodations themselves. The rooms/huts are, at first glance, cutely furnished, but due to gaps between the windows and the stucco as well as the nature of the thatched roofs you may end up with bats, lizards, guano, etc. in your, room, bed, or shower. The sheets may have holes or stains on them as well. Additionally, there seems to be no interest in customer service. We lost power the first night briefly due to a thunderstorm. None of the staff thought to check to see if the hot water was restored to the units until 2 of us already took cold showers and asked about it at breakfast the next morning. As for the service, we were never asked if we wanted a drink or snacks. We always had to ask for food, water, and drinks. We were made to feel like we were asking too much. The meals were fine...some better than others. If you're interested in the advertised "day trips" - beware. We were told many of them simply were not possible....for a variety of reasons: river blocked by logging, no scuba equipment/air/etc, only one boat available, employees had to be boated to Miramar took priority over hotel guest, not enough kayaks for more than 2 people, etc. We were told by the staff that they are interested in expanding to 40-50 units. I'm not sure that they can handle that at this point. They need to tighten up the service and make some simple improvements to the units they have first.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
3 Thank karen t
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Golden, Colorado
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed May 18, 2013

We stayed early May, 2013 for 7 nights for our Honeymoon. We are people who genuinely enjoy the outdoors and really appreciated the secluded location. The meals were decadent, fresh seafood daily and by fresh we mean caught mere hours prior to being placed on the table. The Chef deserves special recognition, every meal was superb! The staff at the Coral Lodge are very well versed in what it means to provide good service, we have never stayed anywhere that had staff that could even begin to compare to the kind, generous, thoughtful staff at Coral Lodge. We were very appreciative of their close attention to detail and their endless willingness to make our stay even more magnificent than it already was.
The Coral Lodge was recently sold (Feb, 2013) and was under the new ownership upon our arrival and was actively seeking to do improvements to the resort (new AC units for the bungalows, redoing the deck/board walks, cleaning up the grounds - due to the open ocean location it takes a lot of work to keep up with keeping the beaches pristine) The staff went above and beyond to make sure we were happy, relaxed and comfortable despite the stresses of updating the resort. Due to the location, it should be noted that for those of you looking for TVs, endless WiFi, and incapable of entertaining yourself would probably be happier at one of those chain Sandals resorts. We on that note, would probably have the worst vacation of our lives at a Sandals-like resort (no offense to the chain resorts). We are just not those sort of people.
We did the San Blas tour, experienced the very dynamic culture of the Kuna (Guna) indians, we snorkeled some of the most beautiful coral reefs either of us had ever seen off our own private island, ate a 'picnic' lunch packed for us of fresh ceviche (also the best i have ever had) and pasta salad. We also did the kayak tour, with our expert guide Rambo who took us into the jungle on a small river out of Escribano Bay - spectacular, but not for the weak at heart:) Birds of every color, crabs of every color, small croc, lizards, monkeys, lush jungle.
Our experience was above and beyond our dreams of the perfect trip. We thank The staff at the Coral Lodge, Gabriel (the new manager), Agrellis, Rambo, El Capitan, Jay and every single other staff member that was a part of our wonderful stay. We will be back. We miss you all already.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Lisa H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed May 8, 2013

This has to have been the worst place i have stayed for many a year, the staff were good, and the food ok, but it was dirty run down and disorganised . we were going to stay for a week but checked out early . the bungalow, was shabby at best, the air con and safe were broken, the decking was broken so we couldnt use the steps , the beachwas filthy with broken bottles , and detritus. we couldnt go to san blas as the only boat working was being used for "lodge purposes"

it was a relief to leave.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank jezza555
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brooklyn, New York
Level 3 Contributor
23 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed April 5, 2013

We thought the Coral Lodge was one of the most special places we have ever visited. We were super worried after reading some really terrible reviews here on Trip Advisor but apparently a new owner came in just in time. We stayed in bungalow #4 from March 25-27 and some of what we read was true...it was run down but it was so beautiful and the staff was so wonderful that we plan to return! The drive and boat ride were tougher than we thought they would be so we took a helicopter back to Panama. The food was the best we had during the whole trip to Panama and the day we spent at San Blas was incredible!

The Coral Lodge is not for everyone - the rooms are basic and there aren't really options for meals. But if you are looking for a beautiful setting and outstanding staff I would highly recommend it.

If you go definitely don't miss the trip to the San Blas islands. While we were there all of the guests (my mom and I, 2 families, 1 couple, and 1 pair of friends) went to several different islands to swim and snorkel along with 3 great staff members who drove the boat, made us a delicious picnic lunch, and showed us where to find star fish and sand dollars. It was easily one of the most incredible days of all of our vacations.

Our only regret is only spending 2 nights there. We will return as soon as we can!

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
3 Thank AudreyK1986
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Coral Lodge

Property: Coral Lodge
Address: Escribano Bay, Santa Isabel, Panama
Location: Panama > Colon Province > Santa Isabel
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Santa Isabel
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — Coral Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 7
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 
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Also Known As:
Coral Hotel Santa Isabel
Coral Resort Santa Isabel
Coral Lodge Panama/Santa Isabel

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