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“Not a bad stay, but not the best”

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Sheraton Bijao Beach Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Santa Clara
Toronto, Canada
Level 4 Contributor
34 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Not a bad stay, but not the best”
Reviewed 13 February 2012

My husband and I with another couple of friends just got back from this resort (we stayed there the first week of February). Overall me and my husband enjoyed our stay there. The rooms are pretty clean and very modern, however the sleep quality was pretty poor and it was hard to find a room without noise. Our friends first stayed in the 2nd tower facing the parking lot and they had construction noise every morning. We stayed in first tower on the 5th floor ( which is really a 2nd floor) facing the parking lot and we had a constant humming from the air conditioner on the outside of the building ( the higher floor you go, the humming gets only stronger!) by the way the non-ocean view rooms are facing a perking lot, however it's not an ugly parking lot, it's actually a front entrance to the hotel with nicely decorated palm trees (in building 1) all the other buildings - the rooms with non-ocean view are actually partially ocean view! The food was pretty good and tasty in the buffet as well as 2 out of 3 el a carte restaurants. The choice was a bit limiting though, but that was probably bc the resort is rather small. The swimming pools there are beautiful and have one water slide. The beach area was nice too and cleaned daily. There wasn't too many shade umbrellas however on the beach, so come early to get a spot in a shade! Very few activities were offered by the hotel: aerobics and yoga by the pool, and then you could take kayaks, windsurfing, sailing on the beach. Atvs and sea-doos were available for extra charge. The drinks in the bar were ok. Not too much variety, and they don't know how to make a lot of drinks. In some bars the service was very slow... There was a disco at the resort, but it was pretty much empty. Every time we went there we were the only ones there. On the bright side, the djs would play any song that we would request, and even try to search for similar songs that we like themselves. Regarding the entertainment, there wasnt much. Just live music every day and once the had panamian dances night and once kareoke night. The crowd in the hotel is mainly older people, so if you are young and looking for lots of activities, fun and entertainment its probably not for you, but if you are a couple looking for a relaxed vacation, then its a pretty good place. Me and my husband really liked the country itself. We got a chance to go to Anton Valley to do zip lining through the rain forest as well as go on a jungle tour to see the panama canal. Both trips were pretty amazing. Lots of beautiful trees, saw different animals, and the country itself is not as poor as say Cuba or Dominican Respublic, so when you go to a market, they aren't trying desperately to sell you things. Overall not a bad experience if you are not looking for the "best" hotel you've ever been to, but a decent hotel that has things for your basic needs. The stuff was pretty friendly, but knowing some Spanish could help you, as not everyone could completely understand or speak English. By the way, on the weekend, there was an increased amount of south American tourists.

  • Stayed February 2012, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
6 Thank Timeless_Explorer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (229)
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English first
Hamilton, Canada
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 February 2012

First off I want to say this was a very nice resort for the price. The grounds were clean, the staff friendly and the weather was great.

We really had no complaints except for the fact that you only got a small bag of frito lay chips a coke and sprite each day....and only if you used them and the maid saw the remains in the garbage. If you took the chips or pop out of the room, you did not get replenished. I think two beers a day for two people is not much to ask.

But all in all, we had a very nice time.

Just to mention that Joel the bartender by the Italian restaurant was awesome....cheers to you bud.

Great trip!!!!!!!!!

Room Tip: Rooms to the front are very quiet at night, we heard no noise what so ever, we were on the 7th floor...
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  • Stayed February 2012, travelled as a couple
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    • Location
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Helpful?
2 Thank Jason H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Enniskillen, Ontario, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 February 2012

My husband and I just got back from a week at the Sheraton Bijao (Jan. 30 - Feb. 6) and we had a wonderful time. The previous reviews really explained a lot so I won't get into details - but we enjoyed everything and didn't let the little negatives bother us at all. From the stories we heard about the De Cameron (how huge and busy it was) we were really glad we chose this resort. It was very quiet, except for the weekend, and we appreciated that there was not much noise and activity around the pool. It definitely appealed to an older crowd. We thought the food selections were great - only the Japanese restaurant required a reservation the day of - and we always found a table on the outside edge of the main restaurant where we could enjoy the view of the pools and ocean and feel the beautiful breeze - what a life!
We enjoyed a trip into the Anton Valley with an organized tour but chose to go into the old Panama City and saw the canal with a private driver (thanks Mike and Cathy for organizing that and inviting us along!) This was booked with "Panama Roadrunner" and though it is a transportation company (expats from Calgary) Denise was a great tour guide and it was so much easier getting around with just the five of us, rather than a busload of people. It did not cost any more either.
As far as the language goes, from reading other reviews we expected the staff to not speak English at all, but at the front desk they certainly did and we had no problems at all.
We have been travelling south and enjoying all inclusives for years, and once again, we were not disappointed - how can you complain with how little we pay for these trips?

  • Stayed February 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank B0wmanville
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Saskatoon, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
62 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 168 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 February 2012

We found a couple of great last minute deals to Panama and ended up at this resort 4 days later having done no research whatsoever. The Bijao was $60 more for the week than the Royal Decameron 5 km away but the small size of this resort sold us.

Within 5 minutes of our arrival, we were in our ocean-view room. What a beautiful place. The layout, use of light and fantastic gardens made this place incredibly picturesque.

We arrived on a Monday and the resort was way below capacity until Thursday when it filled up. It stayed that way until Sunday afternoon when it returned to how it'd been upon our arrival.

The room was great; we had one on the 8th floor of building 2 overlooking the pools. There were patio doors but the balcony was only a foot deep. It was possible to squeeze out there but I can't believe that they wouldn't just build proper balconies; it wouldn't have cost any more. Nevertheless, we didn't spend much time in the room and probably wouldn't have hung out on the balcony anyway if we had one. The front desk advised me that rooms with a proper balcony were available for $50/night more.

The beach was superb. There is a bit of black volcanic sand mixed in with the regular and that, combined with the incredible Panamanian sunshine, made the trip from the grass to the wet sand pretty interesting. During the heat of the day, it was tough to do it without breaking into a run. It was really nice, however, when you got into your lounge chair on the beach and the heat radiated towards you from every direction.

The resort had kayaks, windsurfers, a couple of hobbiecats and a paddle boat. We took advantage of the kayaks and the windsurfers. One of the staff took us on a ride on the hobbiecat and I later saw a guest out there on his own, too, so you're set whether you know how to sail or not.

One bad thing about the beach is that the resort rents out ATVs and evidently has no rules whatsoever about who drives them or where. The serenity of the lapping ocean waves was continually interrupted on the weekend by kids tearing around up and down the beach wearing no helmets and generally being annoying. During the week, the ATVs were rented rarely so it wasn't a problem then.

The pools were great; the entire grounds are covered with pools however there are only 3 that you can actually swim in. The others are only 20cm deep but they were wonderful for keeping the temperature down when you set up your lounge chair in one; they even had umbrellas in them to give some shade; don't be fooled, though, I got a good burn while spending my day in the shade. The shallow pools were also good for getting around the resort barefoot and not scorching your feet on the concrete.

There are four restaurants on site; we only had supper at the main buffet on our first night and also went there for breakfasts. The staff seemed to have quite an issue keeping up with clearing dishes and providing drinks when the resort was nearly deserted; when the place filled up on the weekend, they were completely overwhelmed to the point where I just gave up on trying to eat and waited to have lunch at the grille instead.

The grille was down closer to the beach right by the swim-up bar. The food here was good; they had hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, nachos (but often no salsa) and usually some chicken fingers or other finger foods. Being right by the swim-up bar was handy.

For suppers, there were three a la cartes (for which there are no limits!); the grille turned into one and offered ribs, barbecued chicken and similar dishes. We went there for one meal and it was quite good. The location was the best part as you could easily hear the ocean while you dined.

The Mediterranean restaurant was pretty good, too. We went there twice and enjoyed our meal the first time but not so much the second. My wife had one of the best steaks I've ever tasted on our first visit. I tried it on the second but evidently the influx of guests meant that they only had time to sear the outside of the meat leaving the inside nearly raw. Fortunately, I'd had so much other great food that I didn't bother sending it back.

The Japanese restaurant was the best. Unlike other resorts, there was no additional charge for dining here so it's no surprise that we ate here the most. Three times in a one-week trip and it was excellent every time. The food was delicious, the presentation awesome, and the cooks very entertaining. One word of warning, however, is that the alternate between two menus so don't go every second night like we did or you'll only see 1/2 of what's available.

The Grille and the Mediterranean didn't require reservations (which wasn't a problem until the weekend and even then we only had come back 20 minutes later). The Japanese restaurant required reservations be made at the front desk but they only accepted them on the day you were dining; this worked out really well as often we've gone places and people book up the places to the point that the only opening is after you leave and if you're lucky enough to get in, the place is mostly empty because everyone forgot when they had booked.

There are several bars on the resort however we liked the piano bar the best. Maricruz was there every morning to mix up my coffee and Bailey's and Adeher mixed up our cocktails in the evenings. These two were by far my favourite employees at the resort and were extremely efficient in their work. In the evenings, they had a guy playing the piano who was very good.

The swim-up bar was okay but faced west so that even with the roof, I was exposed to the sun in the afternoons. This is probably a plus for most people. You could also access the bar without getting in the pool and that was really handy when you needed to grab something for the beach or to go with your meal at the grille. And for the first time at an all-inclusive I've visited, the resort actually had reasonably good-sized cups. We often had our cocktails and beer served in glasses which must have been at least 750mL. I'd brought along our 1.5L Bubba Kegs and never took them out!

There was another bar between the Japanese and Mediterranean restaurants that was pretty small. We didn't bother hanging out there at all but the people there when we passed looked like they were having a good time.

We went to the disco one night (during the week) and there were 4 people there besides us. If you're planning on some night life, don't hold your breath (although the weekend may have been okay).

The part about the resort that was the least appealing is that they're building condos next door and every weekday morning at 7:25 they started driving piles into the ground. BANG BANG BANG constantly. There was no point in trying to sleep later than 7:25 because it just wasn't going to happen. Fortunately, down by on the beach the sound of the ocean easily covers the sound.

The nightly entertainment was likely the best I've experienced at an all-inclusive mainly because they didn't try to do that hokey stuff that a lot of places do. They had a guitarist one night, a string quartet another and some folk dancers on another. Simple, elegant, and nice.

Overall I was extremely impressed with this resort. The food was good, the drinks were big (and not watered down), and the beach was serene.

Room Tip: Building 1 might be your best bet to get away from the construction noise to the west
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  • Stayed February 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
12 Thank shabadoux
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 February 2012

My husband and I stayed at the hotel for one week as part of an all-inclusive package (Jan. 30 – Feb. 6). After waiting for an hour for the shuttle bus to get filled up at the airport, it took us about an hour and 40 minutes to get to the hotel. On the way there our tour guide, who was very pleasant, was telling us about the country. On the other hand, the bus driver continuously texted/talked on his cell phone, which, as we found out later, is now illegal in Panama. When we arrived to the hotel, the staff placed us and the couple we made the reservations with in separate buildings, even though our travel agent requested that our rooms be side by side when making the reservation. I am unsure whether it was our travel agent’s or the hotel’s mistake.

Our room was on the 8th floor in building 2 with a partial ocean view. At around 7:30 in the morning we were awakened by the loud and repetitive sounds of construction in the neighbouring hotel, which lasted about an hour. We spoke about it at the reception, who agreed to change our room to a room on the 9th floor in building 1. Luckily, we visited the room before carrying our things there and discovered that there was a constant loud noise, apparently from the air conditioning system on the roof. We were then given a room on the 5th floor in building 1, where we stayed there until the end of the week. Since the 5th floor was only one floor above the ground, we were repeatedly awakened throughout the night and early in the morning by staff members and guests speaking loudly below our windows. We know that our friends, who stayed on the same floor, had called the reception about this problem and it was not resolved. A special mention about the mattress: as one person turned, the opposite side of the mattress moved as well (a kind of a “ripple effect”), awakening me periodically throughout the night. I have been visiting all-inclusive resorts yearly for the past ten years and I can honestly say that this was the worst sleep quality I have ever experienced.

The beach was decent overall. Not the white-sand-and-turquoise-water you would see in Cuba, but I understood that darker sand and water were typical for the Pacific side of Panama. There were opportunities to engage in beach sports, such as wind surfing and ocean-kayaking. There was also a snack bar nearby and a swim up bar next to it. The pools were beautiful and warm and there was a water slide. There was also cotton candy and popcorn offered. On a more negative side, beach umbrellas were very limited, so you had to arrive there very early to get one, or wait until someone leaves. Also, although we haven’t actually seen jellyfish in the ocean, something repeatedly stung us while we were in the water.

Food quality was good, although variety was limited. During breakfast, there were no vegetables AT ALL offered in the buffet. We enjoyed the Japanese a la carte restaurant “Sakura”, which had teppanyaki, where the food was cooked right in front of us. We also enjoyed the “Los Olivos” Mediterranean a la carte restaurant, where seafood was amazing. On the other hand, I absolutely hated the food at “Coco Solo” and the other three people I was with were not terribly impressed with it either.

The staff were friendly, although most of them barely spoke English, so basic knowledge of Spanish comes in handy. Also, while the bartenders were friendly, they were incredibly slow and if you ordered more than one drink at a time, there was a good chance they would forget the other ones.

There wasn’t very much entertainment in the resort and the people were generally older, so this resort is not for younger crowd looking for a lot of excitement. However, there was aquaerobics and yoga during the day and live music in the evenings. One night there was also a Panamanian dance show, and once there was a karaoke night. There was a disco at 10:30 every night, although unfortunately no one attended it but us! The staff were awesome in that they played any songs we requested, including searching for Russian songs on YouTube for us. When we returned after several days, they recognized us and played those same songs again, without us even asking for it!

Overall, despite some issues, we enjoyed our stay, although likely would not return to the hotel.

  • Stayed February 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank VeryCurious_Traveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Sheraton Bijao Beach Resort

Property: Sheraton Bijao Beach Resort
Address: Carretera Interamericana, Km 108, Guias de Anton, Santa Clara 0229-00140, Panama
Phone Number:
Region: Panama > Panama Province > Santa Clara
Amenities:
Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Santa Clara
Price range (per night): $161 - $489
Hotel Class:4 star — Sheraton Bijao Beach Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 293
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

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