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All reviews gatun lake gatun locks big pool every meal grounds are lovely loved this hotel sized bed free zone monkeys dock hospital karen flow americans forest
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Reviewed 10 July 2018

Yes, the staff speak Spanish. This is a Spanish country! Many of the staff speak English and all are willing to assist. This hotel was built in the 1930's and has an interesting history. It is located on the waterfront of Lake Gatun and the grounds are lovely. It was so interesting to watch the sloth in the tree! Kayaking and boat trips are available from the lovely Alice -Adventurous Tours - in the lobby. The pool is very clean and easy to enter at the ends off the deck. Many deck chairs available - and they are in good shape. The meals were delicious - there was variety every day. The soups were delicious along with all else! The omelettes delightful and I loved the coffee with warm milk. It is a nice touch that the chef speaks to everyone at every meal. My friend had a birthday and the staff made him a small cake and sang a quick and short Happy Birthday.
I changed money to small bills at the front desk several times and had absolutely no problems.
My room was very clean and well supplied with fluffy towels and toiletries. Beware of the bathtub - it is nearly six feet long so a short person has a hard time keeping head above water when laying back!! What a delight to be in such a long tub! The shower was powerful.
The furniture in the rooms and throughout the hotel is very interesting. And yes, to some may appear outdated. They are called antiques.
While there, new elevator systems being installed - electronic instructions and voices. No problem with waits or riding the other elevator while the team installed this new system.
No matter the room, you will be able to hear the Howler monkeys in the morning and evening if you open your window or go outside.
This was a great two day all inclusive stay.

Room Tip: Fridges, desks, TV, lamps, end tables, chairs.Good beds. My room was on the front of the hotel side second floor and was lovely.
  • Stayed: July 2018, travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Schipblack
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 July 2018

Rats in the hotel, no where to eat, unsafe colon, Very dirty and unsafe for any family specially with children colon 2000 is a joke. The food was horrible and expensive. People are not friendly regret

  • Stayed: June 2018, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Review collected in partnership with RCI
1  Thank Claudia P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 June 2018

We have asked about booking this hotel in the past and been told at various times that it wasn’t being recommended by the SMVC as it wasn’t a beach location and clients were disappointed. True, this isn’t by a beach but that need not be a negative, it’s in a beautiful, natural location by a huge lake and should be recognised for its positives.
I would suggest that the disappointment from Vacation Club visitors stems instead from this hotel not being up to the Melia standards we expect and find elsewhere.
We have been SMVC members since it’s early days, joining in 2008. As such we have stayed in Melia hotels (from Tryp to Paradisus) both within Europe and beyond. We therefore feel that we are in a good position to review the Melia Panama in a fair and constructive way and offer our comments below. When a coach load of Canadians stayed overnight it was a chef that manned the grill station in his white hat and I’m sure that if Melia management visited they would find special treatment, not the usual daily offer. Our review comes from the viewpoint of a ‘secret holidaymaker’...perhaps something that Corporate management might wish to do more of to ensure quality control across the brand, we’d be happy to be part of this!

1. Arrival at hotel is daunting, with dilapidated and deserted buildings, open gates but no security. We drove straight in at 8pm.
2. Entrance to hotel building itself is inviting, gardens lovely but dead fronds need to be picked up more regularly. Similarly, weeds in gravel area outside apartment block and leaves on patio/courtyard area outside bar gives a look of neglect.
3. Reception has a lot of history but this isn’t recorded, should be some information on past use as a military training centre and as a hospital - photographs, symbolism of floor star etc
4. Reception and concierge staff friendly and helpful, told us about towels, meal times. No map of hotel layout or local vicinity. Trip adviser comments are overly negative as there is info on cycle hire, including a bicycle, and trips, albeit limited!
5. Shop opportunities not utilised. One shop selling hats, sun cream, chocolate but not food, bread, coffee or milk. We had a unit with a kitchen which is no use without food or needing to take a trip to the minimarket which is 5dollars each way and trip to mall costing 10 dollars each way. Other Melia hotels have jewellery, local crafts etc on display and there is scope for this here.
6. Trip adviser comment says food is boring by day 2! A little unfair as buffet changed daily, sufficient choice and decent quality but no comparison with other 4* melia hotels eg Salinas, Lanzarote with wider choice for grill, cheeses. Even ice cream freezer is empty, so easy to resolve!
7. Station for eggs,pasta,meats needs to be staffed properly at all times during service. Feedback on trip adviser said they couldn’t get eggs. We could, but often had to wait to find staff. Staff have little English so some signage for eggs, kind of meat and fish on offer would be useful, especially if waiting behind Canadian tour bus with non Spanish speakers!
8. All inclusive offer includes snacks mid afternoon but nowhere does it say that you must order these from the pool bar, nor what is available. We ordered club sandwich and chips, quick to arrive and good sized portions!
9. Bar often unmanned, so makes all inclusive a joke! No water provided, this would cost little to offer 2 bottles daily in rooms.
10. The sports bar is tucked away behind the reception bar. It is open only on two evenings per week, why? There is a free pool table and stack of board games on the bar for those two days but why are they not available throughout the week? We tried to go in to play pool on a different day but could not access a light switch! There is no sign on the reception bar to say that service here is replaced by the games bar, it simply looks closed. If this area were opened up by the central store then both sections could stay open at the same time using same staff member.
11. Clear cocktail menu available when bar is open and the friendly barman is very obliging in mixing these.
12. Pool bar had no ice, no diet cola, no apology. Should have been stocked daily from main bar. Despite 3 (yes three) staff members sitting at the pool bar we had to ask one of them to go and get the sugar free Coca Cola (husband is diabetic). Other than one of these members of staff being abrupt and aloof every other staff member was polite and friendly, opening main doors to let us in/out, dining room staff extremely efficient in clearing plates away etc and always with a greeting and a smile.
13. Pool very clean and is well maintained but steps down are wobbly and unsafe. Some concrete steps for children and elderly to access pool safely and perhaps a cover over little pool to protect from sun would be beneficial. For one weekend (end of school vacation) there was a bouncy castle and floats available in kiddies pool. Lifeguard on duty and alert across both pools.
14. Some obsessive micro management going on...why need we sign for every meal and drink if all inclusive? Why is it that only manager can give change for 100 dollar bills? Who are the managers anyway, why is there no gallery of staff?
15. Management needs to be looking at bigger picture, what market is hotel aimed at. If nature lovers then provide sheet with local birds and plants. If families, it needs more than a set of swings and a climbing frame, not just pool toys for a couple of days.If it’s for people that simply want to get away from it all, advertise boat trips more widely, cushions for sun beds, parasols etc
16. Large umbrella in apartment would be appreciated to get to main hotel for meals during heavy rainstorm.
17. Bed is comfortable and we slept well. Toilets work properly and everything is clean. No soap dish so surface gets sticky. Toiletries provided but nothing more (eg toothbrush, comb, shower cap, razor).
18. With the lake and Aqua Clara/Gatun Locks so close hotel could manage trips here instead of relying on external companies. Agencies in reception area offer little information. We were told 9am and eventually left hotel at 10, not really professional. Again signage about fishing boats, kayaks,shuttle should flag up these services for everyone. We were given an A3 sheet explaining the history of the hotel when we asked about the building’s past. This needs to be widely available in both Spanish and English, with decent translation.
19. Apartment very clean and towels of good quality changed daily but little touches missing...do I really want a bottle of hair conditioner half used by previous occupant?
20. There was retiling and other maintenance work taking place in the apartment block and others complained of the noise as they had not been made aware of this, nor given the option to move rooms (and place was far from full!). We had loud hammer drilling all of Saturday afternoon.
21. Vacation Club and RCI members need better facilities. Karen is very helpful and hosted a welcome drink session where we met Canadian and French RCI members but the Melia Club isn’t promoted in any way. The one little room is only open when the one staff member is there. We need to feel ‘special’ , compare this with Melia Tropical/Caribe in Punta Cana where drinks and snacks are available for members in a room aside from everyone else.
22. There needs to be a more corporate approach to the Vacation Club branding, Rewards scheme etc across the board, not simply this particular hotel. Half price breakfast, % off meals etc. Melia Bali didn’t recognise MAS/Reward points when we stayed there, regardless of being a different region, it still falls under the Melia brand name.
23. WiFi is poor, even in reception and public areas. With a conference centre this cannot be acceptable. If better WiFi is available then again, members at least should have a password for secure access.
24. There is a wedding gazebo, room for weddings etc but this seems under utilised too. Conference rooms that I saw are drab and poorly lit. On our 5th day we discovered that there was a kids club!Casino is listed, but where?

Overall, with active management, this hotel could be far better than it is. It doesn’t seem worthy of a 4* when compared to other Melia hotels in the same region and this is borne out by comments of RCI members. If they think the standard of the Panama 4* is an indicator of all Melia 4* hotels, they won’t use their points here again. Many of our comments are easy to resolve, we aren’t proposing a major overhaul.

A more expensive alteration would be to renovate the empty building at the entrance. Paint the facade, adding toucans and monkeys to create a ‘Melia Mercado’. Inside there could be a variety of units, some out to franchise, creating a rental income. What about ...
...a sun store, selling swimwear, toucan towels, hats and sunblock
...childrens toys, soft fluffy monkeys, binoculars, colouring books
...food store with milk, butter, croissants from the kitchen as well as toothpaste and other essential items
...local crafts and souvenirs, jewellery etc
...fishing and tennis equipment for sale and hire, balls for volleyball etc

This would free up the under-utilised shop space by the reception bar so that the Vacation Club and RCI members area could expand to create an open rest area with a secure office space at the rear.

It’s a ten minute ride to the Canal, make more of what is there. There is an element of complacency regarding all areas of service and this must come from senior management. Where walls have been painted there are specks of paint on the skirting, this should have been inspected and rectified. Curtain hooks had become unattached so wouldn’t close properly, housekeeper should be checking these little things. We couldn’t reach to hook them back ourselves but used a clothes peg !Staff will only live up to high expectations if this is modelled and insisted upon by senior management. Better use of staff could improve customer service without cost implications. Why is bar not open for pre meal drinks when restaurant has an abundance of staff at this time as there are few diners at 6.30?

Room Tip: separate block of apartments offer more spacious accomodation
  • Stayed: March 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank susan h
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 May 2018

We were here in Panama’s Winter. Therefore, it was not busy. However, the staff treated us like we were the only ones that counted. Great service. Spacious accommodations. A large property with lots of natural beauty and wildlife visiting the property. Make sure that you seek out Karen Wood as she is committed to making your stay exceptional. We are Americans that do not speak much Spanish. Karen’s English it food. We requested a good English speaking driver to show us Panama and take us on tours. She connected us with Jacinto Yard who was fantastic. His English is good. He is very friendly and knowledgeable. We like to see how the locals live as well as see the main attractions. Jacinto took care of everything. Suggestion: Email the resort and ask for transportation from the airport. But, most important, try to get Jacinto as you will learn a lot on the the 1.5 hour drive. We had a non English speaking cab driver from the airport that tried to answer our curious questions. But, we were not able to effectively communicate. Suggestion: take advantage of their meal plan. It is approximately $58.50 a person a day which includes three awesome buffets, snacks and alcohol. They have good food with lots of variety at all three meals. We stayed in unit 3109 and it was not in the main building. But, it was on the ground floor and a short walk to the main building. The Howler Monkeys in the rain forest were fantastic and dawn and dust with along to bring their troops together. You can hear them from several miles away. So much to see. So much to do. We had a little rain here and there. It, it doesn’t last. Very much enjoyed our two weeks. We traded through RCI. Everything went smooth. Because I get to do two reviews for the two weeks we were here. I will focus on things to do next in my other review. Go with the flow and Have fun.

  • Stayed: May 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Review collected in partnership with RCI
1  Thank Ron d
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 May 2018 via mobile

We spent a little while at this hotel, had some lunch, visited the gift shop, and used the restroom. The public areas are very attractive, especially the lobby ceiling, and we thought the staff were nice and helpful. The hotel is set in extensive gardens, and has a large swimming pool. It’s perhaps a little tired, and in need of some tlc, but that’s also true of many hotels!

Stayed: April 2018, travelled as a couple
Thank lastword2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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