This has been one of a kind trip. I've kept my logs i wrote every night with everything about this hotel. Warning in advance: this is going to be one detailed and long review. I have visited this place from March 24 to March 31, so by looking at it my reviews will be the most up to date.
This did not started out good. I've bought last minute deal so.upon arrival at Playa Blanca i was left out without any room.
They arranged for me room 509 in building 4. It was a handicapped room, with assistance bars around the toilet.
First thing i did in the room: killed the cacroch. Oh well, this is tropics. That did not upset me. Second dissapointment, and it seems to.be the same for the other room i've get the next day: no spare electrical outlets in the room. There are few, hidden behidn the TV, that one usually occupied by TV, mini.fridge and light post. There are none others. The only one i found unused is in the bathroom. Thats where i had my telephone and camera charging all the time. Other downer was that it was on the ground level. So i didnt get a balcony. I didnt worry much, i was told next day i get the room i've booked.
If you have a chance, try to get other floors except for ground. The reason is the balcony which can also serve to dry off your towel or clothes. Ground floor gets two chairs outside. And don't be confused. The hotel does not consider ground floor as the first floor, its just ground floor. First floor would be second in Canada and second floor in Playa Blanca is the third floor in Canada.
So the next day, i get a new room only at 3 pm. Had to wait till checkout time and time to clean the room. It was room 227 in building 2. Immidiately encountered few problems: air con did not worked. Safe wasnt opening. Shower did not worked. Wow, lucky me:-) i called 150 on the phone to reception. Waited for five minutes, no one picked up the phone so i went to reception directly. I was upset. I told them, in particular, Carlos, the guy in charge everything. And watched as the ball started to roll...
Security came to my room and unlocked the safe. Maintenance ran somewhere, brought new showerhead. At the same time brought new filters for air conditioner. Carlos called the restaraunt and complimentary bottle of wine arrived within few minutes. As well as the cleaning stuff with my beach towels (didnt get them also).
Jumping ahead, upon meeting other tourists i've learned that cacrotches is not the only insects found in the rooms. People changed rooms because of antz and spiders. One room the ceiling collapsed.
Pools. There are two big ones. First one, surrounded by the buildings called quiet pool, or as i've heard - resting pool. Second one is between the buffet and main bar. Ut has a swim up bar, few volleyball nets, i would say its your main entertainment pool.
There are third one. But it doesnt belong to the resort. It's a property of Playa Blanca condominiums located rwo-three minutes away. It's free to use by resort visitors only on Sundays. Apparently its the second largest in the world salt water swimming pool. Been there. Fancy. Huge pool, has a bar beside it, beach chairs with cushions.
Main buffet, opens up at 7-10:00 for breakfast, 12:30 to 15:30 for lunch and 19:00-22:00 for dinner. Few snack bars open throughout a day and overlaping each other with time. Sports bar also serves Mexican food and acts as a karaoke bar at night. If you hungry after 10 pm your only choice is a snack area by main bar. It serves pizza, french fries, hot dog...well, all the "healthy" food that you should probably not touch before your bed. No fruits, no salads, not even pieces of cucumber or tomatoes. Sad.
Buffet food left mixed emotions. Not the greatest, but manageable. Dont get me wrong, there are a lot of choices but some of it you might recognize from lunch. So after selection you'll be satisfied with few choices. One more piece of advise: on Sunday locals having parties at the convention centre on hotel property and get a day pass to use the facilities. Wanna eat? Get up early. I've witnessed a line up standing outside of the buffet into the entertainment area just to get inside the buffet and sit down.
Drinks. Well, for Sunwing customers you get complimentary bottle of wine waiting for you in the room. Due to the mishap i had with rooms i didnt get it. I only get it after specificaly mentioned this to the manager.
I've ordered Pina Colada at the main bar - pure dissapointment. Beer was good. During the presentation on the next day we were informed that not all drinks included in our all inclusive. Some, as she said "premium" brands you have to pay for. When asked for the examples of "premium" drinks some names of liquor came up including Bailey's.
Market area, there are a store on premises with overpriced items. I've bought map of Panama as i wanted to rent the car. Cost me 8$. Bottle of water, 500 ml - 1$, at tthe bar-$3. There are hairdresser available near boutique store. Prices are reasonable.
Gym. Located right by the reception. One room, few traidmill machines, couple of bicycles for spinning, one huge machine in the middle for multiple excersises, few dumbels and weights. Overall, not bad. Open from 6 am to 10 pm. But because its by reception and someone there 24/7 they can open up gym for you at anytime.
First day the gym was fine, second - the spinning exercise bike, one of the pedals fell off as i was on it. Third day i've noticed all the towels in the gym was missing. Fourth towels still wasn't there. Wall clock was not working, but it seemed they had a problem with clocks all over the place: computers, reception, gym and etc.
Beach. Grey, dark volcanic sand. Very hot by midday. Strong currents near the shore at few places. Hey, this is Pacific!
Chances of being stung by stingray or zapped by jellyfish are high. Check out the flags at the beach, dont go too far if you see red. Sandy bottom, you dont need watershoes. Lifeguard on duty as well as by both of the pools. Due to nature of the sand, beach is awesome for running. Both: barefoot and in the running shoes. There is one problem with the sand: it gets incredible hot, you basiclly need the slippers until u reach the water. I used to walk almost towards the water in the slippers and leave them on the beach. I dont know why but the lifeguard used to keep removing them and placing them by the lifeguard booth. So i had to ran on the hot sand and get my slippers back.
One more thing about the beach is the fish heads that used to wash up on the shore everywhere. Probably local fishermen while cleaning the fish on boats used to drop the heads back into the ocean. Well, its aint a pretty picture when a fish heads, once there was a head of hummerhead shark, with all the guts lay on the beach. Not even mentioning the fact that it caused awfull smell and attracted vaulchers and dogs to the beach.
Then there were horses. Used to show up in packs of seven or eight. I dont know who they belong to but they sprinted around the beach, around the volleyball net area, the path between the beach and the pools, where children crossed often. Needless to say the area was covered in the horse droppings which no one seemed to bother to clean up.
Telephone and internet
If you wanna use the phone in your room, you have to leave deposit by reception to.unlock your line. Rates to Canada ranges are $1.50 per minute.If you have unlocked phone, buy SIM card from Sunwing representative for $22 which gives you $40 credit and use it as prepaid system. Rates in this case drop to 7 cents per minute for Canada calling and 2 cents local. Sketchy i would say.
Or, go to the city, and electronic store will sell you telephone for maximum of $20. Comes with one hour of talk time, sim card, charger and leather holder. It also comes with local number which expires from one year since your last call. Great if you want to return within a year.
Wi-fi in the resort not free and honestly not a good way of selling the passes. Prices are: 1 hr goes for 5$, full day for 8$ and 3 days for 15$. Keep in mind your hour will expire in one hour from ur last usage. Very inconvenient. You dont get to keep the time balance if you been on the internet less than an hour. Same with full day and three days deal. The other trick is that if you bought a day pass on Monday and wanna keep it till Tuesday to use it: it will not work. Seems like passes have expiry date at tge 24 hrs time from purchasing it even if you didn't use it. The sad part is that they will not tell you about this. Only when you come running to them and asking why is ur service not working.
But don't be panicking yet, there are two computers near reception and seems like they always connected to the internet for free. If they not when you get there, it's because someone from hotel read this and closed the "shop". My appologies.
US dollars only. Occasionaly u might get coins with Balboa signs and the picture of a knight in the Don Kihot era helmet, its worth the same as US coin.
Surprise for The Exchange system users, HSBC bank machine located just outside of the reception area. You won't have to pay a cent for withdrawing the money. I have to say though, that i havent used the machine. I've seen it, but whether its working or not, no clue.
The resort is a two hours ride from Airport in Panama city. There are two ways. One will take you by the shore of the city towards the bridge of Americas, second through Centennial bridge. We took second one. You won't miss much if you close ur eyes and sleep.
The resort property is neat, however lacking some immidiate cleaning. Someone throwed up on one of the pathways, i noticed at 7:30 am on my way to breakfast. It was still there by 11.
There are two cages beside the market area, one with three big parrots, second one with lonely toucan. Dont put your fingers through the cage if you still need them.
Huge parking lot in front of the resort if u came by car or rented onne for few days. Rental agency: Hertz located in Decameron resort, but they will bring the vehicle over. Second one in.little town Santa Clara, ten minutes away. Guys from Thrifty's will bring the vehicle over.
Rates are differ, mine was 65$ per day for economy class ( Toyota Yaris) with automatic transmission and air con. Keep in mind if u wanna rent a car for.last days in the resort, drive yourself to Panama and leave the car at the airport, it can be done. But the flat fee for living a car at the airport is $100.
What can possibly go wrong with the car reservation? Well, here it is.
At 08:00 hrs as it was mentioned before i was waiting for the Thrifty rental car. In the lobby at the Playa Blanca resort i've met the other couple whom rented the car at the same place.
At 08:15 hrs, Roberto, arrived at the lobby and meet the other couple. They spoke Spanish. As soon as the reception clerk advised him i am waiting for him also, his face became serious. At that moment i knew something was going to happen.
Roberto has informed me that he has only one car and the couple i've met is getting it. He also mentioned that he never get my reservation. I was stunned, outraged, mad...call it how u wanted. Showed him the paper where Angelica, whom called on my behalf, wrote down all the details.
I tried to explain him that i had reserved the car on Sunday, it was useless. Instead came lame excuses about him personaly never get any reservation, he doesn't know anything. He said he didn't have a car and left.
I was lost. It was another mishap to add to the list of things went wrong at this resort at this trip.
Since i had a reservation already made in Veneto at Panama city i needed the car to get there. I was let down once by this company i wasn't going to wait for "probably will have a car.." Reception was useless in proving any assistance.
I asked the reception to call to Angelica. When she called back i've explained to her what has happened and told her to call Hertz at Decameron. I needed to get to the city. She called back and said that the car is on the way, she managed to find one at the Hertz, however, the price went up to 95$. I had no ther choice and i took it.
Tours from the resort.
Partial canal locks - boat ride through Mieloflores locks: 110$
Canal and the city - bus ride to the colonial town in Panama city, time to look at the canal and back - 85$.
Both tours leave at 7:45 and arrive back at 5 pm.
Anton Valley - mini zoo near town of Anton, hot springs and local market - 45$ (half day)
Friend of mine went to second one, she said it was very quick, not enough time for anything and you spend majority of time on the bus.
Absolute helpless people around with very very minimal English. Not coordinated at all. You ask one person something, ask the second one and will receive totaly different answers. Instead of helping you they rather sell you stuff that u dont need. I
And that goes not only for the resort. Airport, immigration, duty free clerks in airport. With all do.respect for their independance and nationality i think tourist information and airports should be staffed with English speaking personnel. I have never experienced such a disregard towards the tourists and English language in general.
I've also noticed that if English speaking person asks something first, the local will assist Spanish speaking people around first. Felt like outsider.
On the departure date, they loaded people on the bus and the luggage in the cube van. Obviously bus arrived at the airport first prompting people to wait for their luggage. Sunwing representative told people to check in without the bags and check the bags later. Well after the bags arrived in 30 minutes, those whom already check in and had boarding passes created another line and missunderstanding at the check in registers.
Out of eight people working behind the checkin booth only one was actualy checking people in. The rest stood with their backs towards the crowd, laughing and discussing something on Spanish.
Departure tax also went up to $42.50. It is collected at the check in booth. No change is available, so.make sure u have exact change.
To resume everything. I am a quiet person, dont like to complain and usually will close my eyes on things as long as they dont repeat. I've also travelled a lot, and i think after staying in 2 star Cuban resort its pretty hard to tick me off.
This place did it. And not only the place, but the city too. I will write about my Panama city trip under Panama city.
Sad to say but i ain't coming back and advising everyone to choose another place.
Tip to help you get a good room? Well, once u get your room i suggest check for the insects right aw...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC