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“Love at first sight”
Review of El Otro Lado

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El Otro Lado
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Portobelo
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 10 August 2016

As the private launch crossed the bay from the charmingly laid-back and colorful town of Portobelo (on Panama's Caribbean coast and just 90 minutes drive from Panama City), the other side (el otro lado) came into view...it was love at first sight!

A smiling and genuinely warm reception committee of extremely hospitable staff were there waving at us from the private dock and they continued to pamper us until two days later they stood and waved us off until we were out of sight and awakening from our dream.

If you want to get away from all but the best things in life then this is the perfect spot. The owner is a professional photographer with impeccable and refined taste and every corner of this exclusive wonderland has been thoughtfully designed. In the private grounds there is a XVI Century Spanish fort, a lake (with boating, chill out area) a tropical rain forest nature walk, waterfalls, streams beautiful birds and botany). It is right on the bay and the view is beautiful but strictly speaking it is not a beach resort as there is no sandy Caribbean beachfront to the property. This is not a problem however as they will take you in your private boat to a deserted sandy beach around the corner whenever you want and there they will set up chairs and a picnic so you can enjoy a private beach for as long as you like. Other excursions include a boat trip through the mangroves, guided nature treks or even day trips to see the Panama Canal. Maximum capacity is only 20 guests and there are two types of accommodation: The rooms in the main house (a beautiful building on the higher ground of the property that was built as the family home of the owner and is still used as such when family are at the property. This really gives you the feeling of being in your own luxurious villa and the place is full of family photos and very personal knick knacks. It is quite a steep walk through the beautiful garden to the main house and it can be slippery if wet, but this is not a problem as staff are always happy to drive you up and down on a buggy (part of the fun for my kids!). The other accommodation is in colorful and charming Caribbean cottages by the sea and around the spectacular infinity pool.

Although exclusive and definitely a luxury property there is a relaxed feeling of community. The staff are a delight and they are attentive but discrete and respectful of your privacy. The property is indeed contributing a great deal to the local community with its own foundation (sponsoring a music and dance school in Portobelo) and there is even an art workshop on the property where the locals make beautiful wood carvings, furniture and paintings. It is perhaps this "giving back" and sustainable, responsible philosophy of running a hotel for love and not for profit that makes the staff so dedicated to guests.

  • Stayed: July 2016, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank Chrisinterface
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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16 - 20 of 107 reviews

Reviewed 10 July 2016

Accessible only by boat, this place was simply beautiful. Great rooms in a beautiful tropical setting, very room and comfortable. The infinity pool overlooking the bay was truly relaxing. And, the grounds are amazing - very lush, with onsite waterfalls and an old Spanish fort. This truly is an amazingly beautiful and relaxing place. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5, however, for 2 reasons. First, while the service overall was good, the check out process was frustrating. Second, its location - not so much because it is across the bay and accessible only by boat (that's part of its charm), and not so much for its remoteness (that's part of its charm as well), but that it is in Portobello, a small town on the northern coast of Panama that has seen much better days. I am sure there are hidden gems in the town, but I saw none. For lack of a better word, it looks like a dump. Someone needs to come in and clean it up, and put some money into it. The bay is also a boat graveyard, so there are lots of boats essentially collecting seagull poop that you have to pass as you go to and from the hotel. If you want a place to go and sit at and enjoy the grounds and surrounding tranquility without venturing out, this is the place - a great destination for simply disconnecting and relaxing. If you are looking to use this as a jumping off spot, it may work. If you are thinking you can head into town to do things or enjoy meals during the day or at night and see some sights, you might want to consider other options.

  • Stayed: June 2016, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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1  Thank Mark E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 April 2016

For the moment we arrived to this exquisite paradise, we were impressed; first, with the detail the staff welcomed us and then with everything else we got to enjoy through out our short stay. From the wonderful little cabana that was decorated with unique items and artistry to the the amazing culinary creations the chef cooked for us. Not to mentioned the individual service we got when we went to the beach. They packed our lunches in a picnic basket and we got surprised we were served. Detail, detail to make you feel so welcomed and really make you feel you are in vacation, just to enjoy yourself and let the world pass you by. Truly I recommend this great find and definitively will visit again.

  • Stayed: April 2016, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Thank Violet I
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 March 2016 via mobile

This trip was unchartered territory for our family of four. We are cautious about new adventures. We've been to many Caribbean destinations but never Central/South America. El Otro Lado allayed all fears, especially skeptical thoughts about past reviews. Could this place really live up to such great reviews?
We arrived after a long day of travel by plane and car (8 1/2 hrs). First impressions: Remote, peaceful, private, like being invited into someone's special art gallery. This place has love and passion around every corner. The owner has shared her love and stewardship for the locals and the land in a way that is genuinely delightful. Picture taking opportunities are plentiful. Highlights of our visit were: great food quality (we are not an easy family to contend with regarding dietary restrictions, but were thoroughly satisfied ) the warm pool, attentive but discreet service, great music playlists that are tasteful, a walk up to the lake above the hotel, paddle boat ride on the lake, sitting in a hammock overlooking Portobello Bay. If traveling a long way by plane we recommend staying a night or two in Panama City before traveling by car to the resort. Google translate on my cell phone came in quite handy many times. We were extremely impressed by the level of professionalism on two occasions: one was our air conditioner was fixed within fifteen minutes of notifying staff, the other was an issue regarding transfers that was dealt with in a timely and satisfying way. We definitely recommend El Otro Lado!

Stayed: March 2016, travelled with family
1  Thank Machiklabdron
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 March 2016 via mobile

We spent three perfect days and nights in El Otro Lado in late March. The resort is simply exquisite. No detail is missed. The staff is incredible. The food terrific. The rooms and facilities first rate. Highly recommend the cruise through the mangroves and the beach adventures. Great hikes and wildlife galore. Can't wait to return!

Stayed: March 2016, travelled as a couple
1  Thank VinceBurgess
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about El Otro Lado

Address: Bahia de Portobelo, Portobelo, Panama
Region: Panama > Colon Province > Portobelo
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet (WiFi) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Portobelo
Price Range: $706 - $1,033 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — El Otro Lado 4*
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
El Otro Lado is a private retreat situated in an exceptional enclave of Portobelo Bay, mixing design, culture, nature and luxury in a unique manner in order to offer its guests authentic, exclusive and custom-made experiences.Situated just over an hour from Panama City, and surrounded by the National Park of Portobelo, El Otro Lado is the perfect place to relax and disconnect while contemplating the exuberant vegetation. With views of the sea, its four exclusive houses of eclectic tropical design integrate simple details with traditional handicraft of the Atlantic Coast.A streak of truly unforgettable experiences, El Otro Lado will take you to a harmonious and dreamlike place which is equipped with all the comforts of modern life. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
El Otro Lado Hotel Portobelo

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