We booked this resort Feb. 7 – Feb.14. Flew down with Sunwing and after reading all the negatives about this airline, we had no issues. Flight was on time thankfully (both ways).
Arrival at the Tocumen airport went smoothly. Luggage arrived quickly and we were outside and on our bus in no time. It was a long 2 hour bus ride to the resort and people need to be aware of that – shouldn’t be any surprises for anyone. Driving through the city was quite the experience as there doesn’t seem to be any driving rules, lol. The bus wasn’t the best bus, the seat was broken and the entire bus was quite dirty but it got us to the resort.
Rooms: Check in was very quick & we were in our room within 15 minutes. Our first room was on the 8th floor and the panoramic view of the complex and ocean was spectacular. It was a pleasure dealing with Maria Fernanda Cassinelli and after several e-mails, we had an amazing room with stellar ocean view. Her responses were quick and she always responded to every e-mail sent. Unfortunately it didn’t have a balcony and with a enquiry, we were moved immediately. The front desk people and in particular Leslie, were extremely accommodating and efficient. We need to mention that any issue we had (which were very minimal) were resolved within minutes. We have never had such quick service at any resort we’ve stayed in – everything done with a smile and "no problem" attitude. We hope management acknowledges their staff and recognizes that they are top notch. The room we had was terrific. It had all the lotions and shampoos and many other extras. Plenty of beautiful towels, from bath sheets to hand towels & facecloths. The room was kept extremely clean and the above items replenished daily. Very nice to have a coffee maker in the room with choices of coffee, tea – even decaf. Not a complaint whatsoever. Also left daily were two bottles of water. Unlike a previous poster, there were many, many English channels – for those who spend alot of time in the room. A few times we weren’t left coffee packs and one phone call, less than 5 minutes it was delivered ! How is that for service.
Restaurants and Bars: Food was your typical (but good) buffet with a few exceptional theme nights. Lunch at the snack bar offered so many choices that at times, it was difficult to choose. Buffet items were replenished quickly and kept quite hot. The selection was plentiful and although at times, I tired of buffet food, there were other types of foods and a very nice salad bar. Plenty of fruit. The little appetizers were wonderful ! A dozen or so different varities of breads, buns and dinner rolls. Must admit they cooked up one night the most delicious pork tenderloin and cooked it to perfection. Baron of beef – fantastic. The Japanese restaurant was typical – however on the salty side. The chef made the experience very amusing – he was hilarious. Pizzas by the upper level pool, were equally tasty & done to perfection. Mediterranean served up a very nice steak but we only got there once. Didn’t get to the steak house. The desserts didn’t appear to be store bought so I’m not sure why a previous poster suggested that. Wine, both red & white was from Chile and delicious. The rose wasn’t quite for our taste. Champagne wasn’t the best but it appeared that others enjoyed it.
Bars were all in close proximity no matter where you were in the resort. They served many various international brands of liquor and whatever you wanted, they had it. Beer was always cold and Panamanian beer is quite nice. We never waited long for a drink and again, served with a smile and perhaps a joke or two. Didn’t really try many blended drinks.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: The beach was huge ! We walked for miles on each side of the resort and it was fun collecting seashells. The undertow was there but we enjoyed bobbing the waves. Plenty of palapalas but you do need to get down early and put your towels on the chairs, otherwise you could end up in the sun. Shade was at a premium although there were plenty of loungers along the hill. When the palapalas were all taken, you could get sun umbrellas (limited) for those who wanted to be right along the ocean rather than a bit back. The other impressive thing offered was the water cooler right on the beach. It was filled continually with ice water and was a great reminder to rehydrate. After a long walk it was most welcome rather than go up to the bar for water. Fully serviced bar on the beach. They served plenty of different varities of alcohol and the beer was always cold ! Very nice to see posted lifeguards and they sure watched the swimmers with a careful eye – same as the pool areas. The pools were wonderful and clean. Waterslide was operational and in full use. Pool bar was of course, a blast. Loved the Americans that hung out there – so much fun. Met a group of veterinarians from the States and enjoyed their company. Great groups of vacationers that had little or no complaints of the resort. The group from the Brewery Collectibles Club of America were incredible people & came with awesome stories and fun. There were some Canadians but mostly Americans and some from other islands. A great mix. The weather. Oh my it was vacation perfect ! Yes, it was extremely hot – in the mid 30’s with humidity. Not a drop of rain as was in the forecast. Perfection.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: Of course our vacation wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to the Panama Canal. We had initially booked with a tour guide via e-mail and that didn’t work out. His price went up substantially and it wasn’t what we expected from him. If you wish to know who this person is, by all means message us & we’ll fill you in. We ended up renting a taxi from the hotel and travelled in a very nice, clean car with a good driver. Cost was $160 per car and it was money well spent. the canal was amazing ! It truly is a must see and we are so glad that we went. Went into Penonome and that trip we could have done without. Alot of shopping but mostly buck store junk. We befriended a very nice fellow from Panama and he showed us different things in the town & took us to a little bar for a nice cold beer. Great guy, gave him a few bucks and we parted ways. He also offers tours and even after we told him we were booked with another, he still chatted us up and spent time with us. If interested, he works for Penonome Walking and ask for Alexander. His English is excellent and his personality shows his pride in his country. There seemed to be little in the way of evening entertainment. A few nights with bands playing and ended around 10:00. If someone wanted a loud party, this isn’t the place for you. They had a Hawaiian beach party which again, was a live band and some dancing on the beach. There was always the piano bar and someone playing great piano music. I think the heat takes a toll on most guests and the resort is very quiet before m idnight. No clue if there is a disco or not.
Other Comments: We realize some of the reviews were less than great and we had some reservations about this resort but our experience was a good one. This resort is a 4 star all the way, according to our own standards. There could be room for improvement but all in all, they are minor but isn’t that the same for most resorts? Great weather, good food and a wonderful, warm country and Sheraton staff that works hard to make our vacation great. What more could a person ask for. Pat & Diane North Bay, Ont.