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“Relaxing place to stay”

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Villa Botero By Casa Mojito
Ranked #1 of 2 Santa Clara B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 17, 2014

We were lucky to find this B&B and be able to stay for 2 nights without reservations. There are only 2 rooms available, so if you want to be sure of getting a room - please reserve in plenty of time! Nadine and Ralph are wonderful people and you feel welcome as soon as you enter their property. We also enjoyed meeting their 4 dogs and GIGI, their very shy but beautiful cat.The rooms are very spacious and the bed comfortable, AC is quiet and we had great sleeps. The pool area is a real treat, we had the pool all to ourselves and used it early in the morning and late at night. You will need bug spray, which is always available as well as Sun screen. Nadine always made sure we took waters along whenever we went somewhere (free of charge) and she and Ralph gave us great tips on where to eat and what to do in the area. We enjoyed the beach, it was on a Sunday and there were many locals, but it was not too busy at all. The ocean was wonderful to swim in, clean and not rough, we were lucky that day. It can be dangerous as well, in that case there is still miles of walking to enjoy. Santa Clara is small, the Spanish Restaurant was a real treat and only a short walk from Villa Botero. We found out that Seniors (60+) get 25% off any entrée you order in Panama! But you might have to ask and prove your age, since the staff cannot tell sometimes and don't want to offend you.
El Valle is a beautiful place about an hours drive away (car rental is very helpful). We really enjoyed all the scenery driving up there and had the mud bath, which was fun and relaxing. It is just a small place and pretty simple, for $ 3 p.p. you cannot go wrong. There is a great market, we bought banana's and oranges for next to nothing and it was nice to see so many local crafts.
Thanks Ralph and Nadine for letting us stay at your beautiful place, we hope to be back some day!

Room Tip: There are only 2 rooms and they are equally quiet and nice.
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank heinekengirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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69 - 75 of 168 reviews

Reviewed January 6, 2014

My girlfriend and I stayed at this location for four nights the week of New Year’s 2014. We decided on this property for a few reasons: cost (a very reasonable $125 a night, taxes included), location (only 2hrs from the airport, close to the beach), and Trip Advisor reviews. As far as our experience at the Bed and Breakfast itself, we were extremely pleased. Ralph and Nadine (the owners) are excellent hosts – as virtually every post in this thread indicates. Nadine speaks multiple languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian, etc.). The property is in the safest neighborhood of one of the wealthiest towns in Panama (with enormous mansions nearby to prove it!), and our room was very spacious, modern and clean.

If I were basing this review solely on my experience within the gates of Villa Botero, I would give it a perfect score. However, there are a few inescapable factors that anyone thinking about staying here should know before booking this trip – and some of those factors take away from what is otherwise a perfectly relaxing and enjoyable stay.

PROS:
From the moment you step onto the property, you feel like you’re at home. There are only two rooms on location, so there can only be a maximum of 4 guests at a time besides Ralph and Nadine who live in the main house. The rooms are huge, and come with a full sized (maybe queen?) bed with an additional big sofa bed that could sleep a third person. The private bathroom is clean and modern. The AC really comes in handy. Towels are provided. There’s a flat screen cable TV with almost any channel you could want to see – in Spanish and English (HBO, ESPN, etc.). Ralph and Nadine serve an excellent breakfast that does NOT skimp on the portions. Each night they ask you what you want the following morning and you specify what time you want to eat – so you’re not locked into any arbitrary schedule with the other guests. They have 3 dogs, but all of them are friendly and will generally stay away from your room unless you invite them over. Yes, you may have to deal with mosquito's outside, but they have cans of bug spray in addition to the ones I recommend you bring yourself.

Another plus is this unassuming restaurant named Xoko about 8-10 minutes walking from the B&B. Aside from the two restaurants on the beach (which I will get to in the “Cons” section), it’s also your only dining option – but it will not disappoint. The food was EXCELLENT here…and relatively cheap ($7.50 - $15 for main entrees). The chef was trained in Barcelona and he takes his work very seriously. Over the course of our stay, we ate everything from octopus to lamb to steak, and it was all fresh and delicious.

The beach is both a pro and a con, but for now I’ll talk about the positive attributes. With the exception of major holidays (including New Year’s Day, which we found out very quickly), there is NO ONE on this beach. If you’re looking for seclusion, this is definitely the beach for you. The sand is soft. There aren't a bunch of cruise ships off in the distance or cities nearby. It feels like a private beach, even though it’s not. Getting there is a quick 10min walk.

CONS:
Once you step outside the gates of the B&B, there is almost nothing to do here besides the beach. If you’re looking for somewhere you can take advantage of a lot of activities on location, this isn't the place for you. The closest “attraction” is El Valle de Anton – a small town inside a volcano, which is nice to walk through or go hiking. But unless you rent a car, getting to and from this area on public transportation will take you at least two hours round trip. (45min there, 1hr15min back). Also, most of the restaurants on this mountain close at 3pm, open back up at 6pm or later, and require reservations – something we weren’t aware of that made it extremely frustrating walking around and around looking for someone to serve us. Granted, if you’re solely looking for seclusion and don’t plan to even visit this place, that may not be a problem for you. But after 4 days of not-so-much to do, we weren’t exactly yearning to stick around.

Now, let’s take it back to the beach. It seemed like everyone in the area owned an ATV, and everyone in the area drove it on the beach!! And every single one of those ATV’s leaves dreadful tire marks and tar behind that REALLY take away from the overall appearance of the beach. If it weren't for that, I guarantee the property value of that coastline would triple overnight…and it’s the only reason I can think of that there aren't more resorts crammed along the shore. If it weren't for those stupid ATV’s, Ralph and Nadine could charge $400 a night year round and they would be well within their right! It’s really that big of a deal. Also, if you’re coming on a major holiday (universal or local), be prepared to deal with mobs of cars and people overrunning the entire area. As I mentioned, we went during New Year’s. On New Year’s Eve, there was no one there. On New Year’s Day, there were hundreds of people and cars jammed together…and the beach was trashed by the end of the night. That said, it’s still an enjoyable beach overall. But the track marks (and mobs of people depending on the time of year) are no doubt an eye sore that we could’ve done without. Additionally, the two restaurants on the beach are extremely overpriced for the quality of food provided. Everything is fried, and average at best. The most desirable items on the menu were often out of stock. And since there are only two options, you’re stuck with whatever they have.

OVERALL:
This was a very relaxing and enjoyable vacation. If it were just about the B&B itself, I’d rate it a perfect score. But anyone thinking about staying here should know that there isn’t anything to do on site other than the beach and one good dining option. If you’re renting a car, chances are you’ll have a better stay than we did because you won’t be limited to public transportation and can explore as you desire. But if you’re not concerned about any of that and just need a quiet, secluded place in Panama to escape for a few days, you’d be hard pressed to find a better bed and breakfast anywhere close to the quality of Villa Botero.

  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Jonathan B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 2, 2013

This was our first trip to Panama so we had the normal angst about visiting a country that we had never been to. We were also renting a car so that added to the preliminary pre-trip jitters. We decided to use Villa Botero as our base as we explored the country. We made a great choice. Ralph and Nadine not only have a five star property, but both of them are 5 Star people. In fact, they are two of the nicest people we have met on our many journeys. They speak multiple languages, have in depth knowledge of Panama, and are wonderful hosts.

Their property is first class. A beautiful courtyard defined by beautiful gardens, sitting areas, music, and pool. The room was spacious and well appointed. We could have easily never left Villa Botero and had a wonderful time. The property is a short ten minute walk to the beach. The beach is beautiful…white sand (unique for the Pacific coast of Panama). There are two restaurants on the beach that serve some very tasty local cuisine. You can rent cabanas from either of the restaurants and relax with your favorite refreshment. There are also other restaurants in town which are excellent. Everything is in walking distance of Villa Botero. Santa Clara where Villa Botero is located is very safe so you have no worries about walking around day or night. Santa Clara in fact is the “Hamptons” of Panama City. The homes are multi-million dollar estates and spectacular.

If you care coming to Panama for the first time or returning, we would highly recommend you spend a few days or a week or more (like we did) at Villa Botero. You will love the property and area, but best of all you will meet two very nice people who will make your trip to Panama a delightful experience!!!

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank uscdad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 25, 2013

We stayed with Nadine And Ralph over Easter weekend. Located next to the beach. About a 10 min walk. Great Spanish restaurant nearby. Nadine and Ralph gave us some great recommendations that were spot on!

Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
Thank Jean J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 6, 2013

We really enjoyed the hotel and staying with Ralph, Nadine and their four dogs.

they were really nice to us, prepared a lovely breakfast, allowed to us enjoy the great pool and all the good stuff that everyone is saying here.

However the check out was really weird. We left the room at 12.40 PM rather than at 12PM. But in most hotels (specially in those for $125 per night) this is not such a big deal.

In this case Nadine yelled at us, saying that other customers were coming to our room at 1 PM (they had not mentioned that before and all the others rooms were empty) and that they said that did not have any help on weekends.

What was awkward is that we felt during the check out and befoe that we were bothering them staying in their hotel/house.

Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
5  Thank Marcelo B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RalphBea, Owner at Villa Botero By Casa Mojito, responded to this reviewResponded April 9, 2013

These guests were informed by phone, email and in person when they arrived that we will have to adhere to the 12 noon checkout as we had guests for both rooms arriving at 1pm. They stayed in their room until 1245 before leaving at which point we had to scramble to prepare the room for the arriving guests. At no point were they yelled at. If they felt awkward we felt disappointed. We have rented to hundreds of guests and we have gone out of our way to accomodate their needs. If guests request to stay a bit later and we can do so without inconveiniencing others we do it. In this case that was not possible but the guests did not seem to care. As an aside; three weeks after staying with us these guests called to make reservations for the Easter weekend and we informed them that we were fully booked. One week later they post their complaints.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 26, 2013

We really enjoyed our stay at the Villa Botero. Ralph and Nadine made us feel welcome and were always there when we needed them but were never there when we didn't.
They mention their dogs on the main page so if you're allergic this might not be the place for you.
My only complaint is Ralph's breakfast. It was so good I had to eat it all!

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank Bill H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 17, 2013

Really nice self contained room. Comfy bed, with nice room and AC and fridge. Great hosts! The breakfasts were wonderful!

The public beach access was limited. The beach was ok but not the best spot in Panama.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Linda K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Villa Botero By Casa Mojito

Address: Aviacion Road | Cocle, Santa Clara, Panama
Location: Panama > Panama Province > Santa Clara
Amenities:
Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 B&Bs / Inns in Santa Clara
Price Range: $108 - $245 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Villa Botero By Casa Mojito 3*
Number of rooms: 3
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We are a quiet Bed and Breakfast (3 rooms) located 900m from the nicest beach of the Pacific Coast of Panama. Rooms are around a pool with modern facilities like Air conditioning, Flat TV, Wi-fi... We only accept adults and children over 15 years old. Maximum capacity of the rooms is 3 persons. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Villa Botero Hotel Santa Clara
Villa Botero b&b
Villa Botero By Casa Mojito Panama/Santa Clara

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