Great host and rooms – review of hotel sol y mar, santa catalina, panama – tripadvisor gasset y ortega biografia

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We stayed here while snorkeling the reefs of Coiba. The hotel sits on top of a hill overlooking Santa Catalina and has great views from the porches of the rooms. The rooms were well appointed and modern and have hammocks on the porches. The only concern I had was not being able to open and close the shower door without a superman struggle. The owner was extremely gracious and brought out the catch of the day to show us our options for dinner. I had the red snapper and my friends sampled most of the other options. The cook provides your choice of topping and preparation and the food was extremely well prepared. Breakfast was excellent with choices of eggs, omelets and pancakes. The pool sits next to the restaurant overlooking the bay and provided a great place to sit and have a cocktail. I enjoyed both a margarita and pina colada. We also had the spaghetti bolognse on our second night and it was as good as I’ve ever had with lots of sauce and meat. The steep driveway leading up to our rooms was an adventure in itself when our guide ferried us back and forth from the ocean. However, as our host reminded us, this was the tropics and it has 1500 varieties of insects so he suggested we not leave our doors open. I would also suggest that you turn off the porch light outside your room since it can attract at least 1400 of those insects and you would have to dodge into your room quickly.

Beware the hill (that offers the best view in Santa Catalina) Our taxi dropped us off at the bottom of ‘the hill’ and before we could start lugging our gear up the hill a member of staff fired up the 4 x 4 truck and was helping put our luggage (which was plentiful) onto the flat bed and checked us in with a smile. Every member of staff we encountered during our (too short) visit were helpful and friendly. Luis, the owner, made efforts to greet and speak with every guest and was so kind as to give us a ride to our dive center early one morning when he was short staffed. This property is clearly a labor of love, being crafted with the beautiful surroundings in mind. We stayed in a King Room which was spotlessly clean and furbished with quality furniture. The bathroom possibly had the best hotel shower I’ve experienced and was stocked with eco-friendly toiletries, which I’m not ashamed to say I totally pocketed (thanks Luis)!! The view from the pool is spectacular (which makes you forget about the hill) and the breakfast provided was timely, made to order and delicious (mix of buffet and cooked to order). Had we not already booked to stay at another hotel for our second part of our Santa Catalina trip we would certainly have stayed here again!

I liked the hotel grounds from the first: green heaven on a hilly property. Manicured lawn, fruit and decorative trees all around, birds, buterflies… Our room in a bungalow was spacious, with nice decor, comfortable beds, couch, fridge, hot water in bathroom, not to mention spotlessly clean. End there is veranda with a hammock and great sunrse views. The views are even more spectacular from the restaruant on the top of the hill, from where we admired sunsets as well. Food was fabulous: big brakfasts and great dinners-lunch. I especialy liked shels and shrimps with spagetti! The chef knows how to prepare perfect pasta! There is also inviting pool near the restaurant and a new adrenaline atraction: zipline! For now it runs in two stages – first one with great views to the sea which are the best at the sun set. Luis, the owner, is talkative, fun host who really knows what tourists like.He can also organize for guests different activities, from surfing, snorkeling to scuba diving. We would love to stay in the hotel again!

We stayed for a couple of days. After exploring the whole area we came to the consciousness that this is one of the top places to check in. The view is superb (hotel is on a hilltop), it’s very clean, has it’s own restaurant attached if you want to spend a relaxed evening and last but not least the owner Luis is always there to help you out if you run into troubles. In our case my girlfriend got seriously sick. When I asked Luis about the next doctor he said the only reasonable place to go in this particular case is the hospital in Sona (~1,5h car ride one-way over a bumpy road). It didn’t take any further appeal and he was already in his truck ready to give us a ride to save time. The whole trip lasted until late night and Luis was always there to support us and get us back "home" again. I doubt you can find a lot of other places where altruistic help like this come as naturally as we experienced it here! If you are looking for a nice place to relax your body and mind this is the place to be in Santa Catalina.