First for the good: The weather was great. We stayed in early April and had sun for 8 days. It was quiet and not crowded during the week (it was very crowded during the weekend). The Japanese restaurant was very good and fun- we went twice. The swimming pool was nice and our room had a great view although not a real balcony like we had requested. There was a doctor on call at all times which was needed by two of our group members.
Now for the bad and neutral:
1. The property is somewhat dated and dangerous. I slipped getting out of the tub in our room and went sliding across the floor- all the way to under the sink area. The tub was very high and the floor combined with wet feet was like a skating rink. Most of my foot was on a bath mat- but the floor was so slippery that having just a bit of my foot on it started the slippery slide. I’m in fairly good shape, but what might happen to a person who isn’t? I saw a worker trip down some steps going to the dining room; they are so steep and slippery. There are lots of unsafe steps and steep hills to navigate. Yes, there are a couple of elevators, but I would caution people who have any disability issues to think twice before booking a trip at this resort.
2. The food was so-so. Some of us got diarrhea seemingly from the food, and two in our party became very sick with what appeared to be food poisoning. After this my partner and I avoided any fresh vegetables and fruit which was a shame because we wanted to eat somewhat healthy. The milk was warm. The juices were kept on ice, but not the milk. The steak restaurant was pretty terrible- the meat was very tough and tasteless. As I mentioned above, the Japanese restaurant was good, and I also liked the Mediterranean restaurant. At the buffet, we would have enjoyed fewer food choices at a higher quality. Sweet pastries might not be something that is normal in Panama, but it would have been nice to have some offered for breakfast for those of us on vacation. The coffee was so-so. The coffee in the lobby bar was made cup by cup, and it was better, but it seemed the bartenders got a little tired of me requesting it- so I stopped.
3. The drinks were hit and miss. Many times I was handed an unfrozen supposed to be frozen margarita. It would be a liquid gooey mess. On the last day I handed it back and said I'm not drinking this. I then asked for a pina colada; it was laced with huge chunks of ice. Yuck! There was just one beer available- the Panamanian beer called Balboa. It is on tap- no bottles or cans. Balboa is ok- but it is a cheap standard local beer. There was no way to get any other brand of beer. They did have some top shelf alcohol available. Wine choices were very limited, although the wine they served was okay.
3. The resort uses throw away light plastic cups at the beach bar. The cups were scattered all over the place. I saw a worker picking up chairs down by the beach one night, overlooking all the garbage down there, including the plastic cups; I guess he was expecting that the tide would wash them out to sea, and that is what happened (I picked up some of the garbage because I couldn't stand the thought of it being dragged into the ocean). [Side note: There is a lot of garbage on the roadside from Panama City to the resort. We went on a tour of Panama City and I asked the guide about it. He said that people in Panama just throw things out of their car windows. I'm sure there is more to it than that, but the piles of garbage are jarring to see. Of course here in the states we litter, too- but the amount of garbage lying beside the roads in Panama was beyond what I’ve ever experienced]
4. We sent out a bunch of postcards through the front desk. We paid 50 cents a card for postage, but none of the postcards, as of 6.5 weeks later, have made it to the recipients.
5. The resort is isolated. There is a small gift shop there, but for anyone who likes to shop this is not the place to go. I went walking at the front of the resort away from the ocean. (Some garbage along the side of this road, too) I tried to walk to the left at one point to see the condos, etc. that were next to the resort and was stopped by a guard with a gun strapped to his thigh. He pointed to his wrist and used non-verbal communication because of our language difference that people with wrist bands from the resort are not allowed to walk that way. I have no idea why. There really is nowhere to walk to except down the beach.
6. There is a lack of tours from the resort. We wanted to tour both El Valle and Panama City. The resort had only two tours going the week we were there, and both were on the same day which seems kind of silly when there are guests willing to go on both tours. We could have rented a car, but at the time we didn’t know how safe it would be and decided against driving ourselves.
7. The stage for the nightly entertainment was right below the hotel and it was very loud each night we were there. This is something to keep in mind for those who wish to go to bed early.
8. Most of the staff was friendly, but note that many do not speak much English. This was not a problem for us- but it may be for others. Our party did have some problems with housekeeping. The last two days we were there my partner and I did not get our bottles of water. Another couple we were with had much bigger problems. They had an expensive blouse stolen as well as a bottle of pain meds. The painkillers were from the resort doctor and they were left out of the safe by mistake. After housekeeping went through the room the pain meds were gone.
I’m not trying to be petty or give this place a bad name. We wanted to love it there, but the way things were we just couldn’t!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- On a sprawling Panama beach along the serene Pacific Ocean, our all-inclusive resort has everything you could want for total relaxation. Nestled alongside the stunning Pacific Ocean, Sheraton Bijao is complimented by celebrated sites like the Panama Canal's Miraflores Locks and historic Panama City, the exhilarating capital of the Republic of Panama. Come together and share experiences in our warm Club Lounge as well as the resorts 4 restaurants and private beach. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sheraton Bijao Beach Hotel Santa Clara
- Sheraton Bijao Beach Resort Panama/Santa Clara