Royal Decameron Costa Blanca Reviews

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Royal Decameron Costa Blanca  

Avenida Principal, Playa Blanca, Panama

"Definitely not a 4 star."
Posted by: Darlene on Apr 4, 2012
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Royal Decameron Costa Blanca Reviews
Royal Decameron Costa Blanca Pictures and Information
Royal Decameron Costa Blanca Panama Panama

of 9 Hotels in Panama

User rating 3.8

Based on 37 reviews

Royal Decameron Costa Blanca Information

Royal Decameron Golf Beach Resort & Villas Panama offers a traditional All Inclusive experience and more.

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Royal Decameron Costa Blanca Reviews

Royal Decameron Costa Blanca Review: 3.8 of 5 37 reviews
Very good
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"An excellent place to spend a couple of weeks."

Royal Decameron Costa Blanca
User Rating:  Royal Decameron Costa Blanca Review: 4.0 of 5

Posted by:  Doug and Pauline  on Jan 1, 2009  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2009
165 people found this review helpful

Date of visit: Dec 1-15/08

We had read many of the reviews prior to departing for the resort, and thank the authors very much for their contributions. Despite the, by definition, subjective views of each of the reviews, it is FAR better to go prepared, than to run across something that someone else had found long ago, but which was not reported. And better to hear that the food is bad, from a few, and to find out it met our palette very nicely, than the reverse ...
With that in mind, then we offer our own personal comments about the Royal Decameron, and the support services offered through our local booking agent, Nolitours, and Ait Transat. Briefly, to deal with all of those before commenting on the resort itself:

* our local booking agent was in fact an online travel service, and I think we got the best rate possible. It was less than Nolitours itself offered, and what I got by calling was better than what they offered on their website … so, don't always believe anything that folks say – it does not hurt to check a 1-800 number if they have it

*Nolitours: trying to book with them in advance, by internet, and then by phone, was exactly what they said on the website – might have done with them had we not first checked out the other one noted above (but heck, the price difference was only $30 per person, so no great shakes either way.) At the resort, we found that the Nolitours folks were always available – they could not make miracles happen, but it was apparent that they were there to help when required and feasible (eg., a French-speaking person needed help at the medical centre with the doctors who could not speak French). (One additional note that does not quite fit here, but we found out too late: it appears that if you want to do the two-hotel split [more details later], it needs to be done in advance, and I believe only possible through Nolitours directly – we tried to do this while there, and there was no possibility.)

* Air Transat: A good-enough airline, full plane, normal airline service (ie., these days, ie., nothing special, nothing tragic) – staff were friendly enough, check-in was painless enough. Only anomaly of note was that the check-in to return found our bags to be in total 3 kilos over the limit (and which would have been an additional $30) – we found this odd, due to the fact that such was not the case on departing, and our “leaving behind” weight was almost equivalent to our “going home weight” [suitcases, I mean – body weight was somewhat different]. So, we quickly removed a couple of items from the suitcases, and they got down to proper weight .. but that would have been an unplanned expense – making the few souvenirs very expensive.

As to the resort – and to simply comment on issues raised previously, and not to re-do the well-done explanations provided already by others:

*the food was exceptional, to our mind, at all restaurants and buffets. There was continuous variety, it was well-cooked, eye-appealing, in sufficient quantity (ie., at the restaurants), etc. I know some have complained about the food, but this was NOT an issue at all for us (and we are very fussy about our home-cooked meals)… The only point with which we concur with some of the reviews in this regard is that the beef (and specifically, steaks) are not to be ordered. The chopped beef in the buffets was not too bad (when simmered), but not what we'd classify as recommendable. However, that is not a problem. Virtually every menu in every restaurant has chicken, most have some form of seafood (which is delicious), pork and lamb are available quite often, etc. In summary, go there because of the food (and other things)!

*The grounds: beautiful, well-maintained, generally in spotless shape (except when there's been a lot of “messy people” around an area (and it's amazing how many there are – cannot believe they'd live like that at home!). Not a fault of the resort, and not something that is going to be fixed easily. But generally, the groundskeepers were able to keep pretty much on top of it, by the end of the day. But bring your own large drink cup, and avoid using their little flimsy plastic cups – that is what is all over the place after a few hours.

*The heavily used areas: very well maintained: for example, there is a bar at the beach about centre of the resort, with washrooms, pool nearby, shower, etc. It's a very popular area, near to one of the buffet restaurant for lunch.. There was 1 person constantly cleaning in that area, as the washrooms were heavily used, the outdoor shower was constantly getting overloaded with sand (obviously – that's why it is there), etc. That person daily was very vigilant to the needs to keep the washrooms looking reasonable, and dodging the charges of those who spent too much time at the bar.

*Bars and eating places: you are NEVER far from food or drink!! And the quality is virtually the same at every location. (eg., food: many of the restaurants are serviced from the 2-3 central kitchens). The bars are overly-generous with liquor (even when one asks for less – but that can be solved by ordering another non-alcoholic drink and “watering it down” oneself). Plus they have some weird drinks: one I loved (but stayed away from as much as I could) contained 7 liquors (and not small doses). Even if the liquor coming out of the bottle is watered down (not sure, as I saw bottles going into the bar, and they looked like they had secure caps), but I cannot see how they could not be – I could never normally consume a glass of 7 liquors!

*Wine: it is Argentinian – I asked for the containers to verify. At each bar, they open tetra-paks and empty the 1-litre contents into the caraffes. I forget the name of the wine … but it is FORGETABLE! Unfortunate – even if they got a good deal on it; but the red is undrinkable, and the white, when very cold, is not too bad – when warmed up in the weather there, it approaches undrinkable. But the servers in the restaurants will refill your glasses as many times as you want. Alternatively, you can buy a bottle of Chilean wine at one of the boutique stores for $10USD, and bring that to any restaurant. And one or two actually sell that wine there (but the price is considerably higher - $19USD). That wine sold for $6 in the supermarket that we visited, and sells at LCBO for about $18. Despite my comments, we normally had a glass of beer for lunch (very good, not unlike US beer), and white wine for dinner.

*The rooms: all tiled, no rugs, large bathrooms, everything functional but not spiffy! If you don't like these types of rooms, then the whole place is too mundane for you (as simple tile floors, and few accouterments is the norm).

*The pools: MANY. In total, they are never too-full (one may be for a short while, but there is another not far away). Clean and well-done. All pools are 1.3m deep, except for the wading “pools” which are 0.3m - these are for small kids, or more generally for sitting in a lounge chair in the water.

*The age of the population: THIS was the surprising thing: for most of our two-weeks there (which was school break down south), the place was overflowing with younger people – at least 30% of the total population was less than 20yrs, with another 10-15% in the 20-30 year bracket (visual guesstimates only). And that includes MANY children not long out of the womb, many in strollers , etc … To my mind, not a place to go with children (aside from beach and pools, not a great to do), but they paid the price so they can go. It was not generally disruptive to others, though (eg., the pools were not teeming with young kids except for short periods of time. AND, with the younger [population, one must also note: those bodies looked incredible in the string bikinis – never seen so much skin in my life!

This is probably enough. For pictures, you can go to

Or, if you have any specific questions that are not answered by fellow travelers or myself, you can email to:

Finally, is it a place to RECOMMEND to others without question, it is an excellent place to spend a couple of weeks. (And do go for 2-weeks – the marginal cost for the 2nd week is almost nothing!)

We did a few tours about the area, and they were interesting, but NOT nearly as much as the literature would have you believe. Except for a couple of places.
BUT, and I hinted at this earlier, reserving to go to the Decapolis Hotel in downtown Panama for 3-days at the end has its pros and cons. If you want to do it, you must do so before you leave. Others before us said you could make the switch once there (ie, give up 3-days at the reosrt for a switch to downtown), but that is generally not possible anymore. Downtown Panama is not a place to do much strolling, though the Decapolis is right across the street from a large shopping centre (also owned by Decameron Corp). There are advantages, in that one can do the Panama Canal stuff much easier. But really, there's only so much of value in seeing a canal (and in Canada we have quite a few, and it's not much different). However, to take the train to Colon, to visit Portobello and Gamboa Resort, etc – these all require more time than is available on a day-trip from the Royal Dec resort. Personally, I'd suggest that it is not worth the effort to do the switch – the return procedure from the resort is well-done, and it is the least-amount of inconvenience we have ever had after a trip (eg., you bag at the foot of the stairs of your building by 08:30, if you are returning to Toronto with Nolitours/Transat – a little earlier if returning to Montreal). And the day-trip from the resort to Panama City is an all-day affair, leaving at 8am, returning at 6pm, with lunch in Panama City, for $70 [and the lunch we had was very good] – so, that was good value, and it included entry to the Canal property as well, plus the guided tour of the old-city, etc.

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""Not recommended for people with restricted mobility"

Royal Decameron Costa Blanca
User Rating:  Royal Decameron Costa Blanca Review: 4.0 of 5

Posted by:  Sandra & Byerbill from Brighton  on Jan 1, 2009  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2009
204 people found this review helpful

Our Arrival:
This was the first trip that my wife and I (mid 60’s) had taken to Panama. We were pleasantly surprised at the spacious seats on our Air Transat Airbus 300 for the 5 hour flight from Toronto.

Panama airport clearance was fast and efficient. Nolitours had several reps to meet our plane at the airport. The hotel had its own table next to the baggage carousel. Here they handed you a brown envelope with resort info and tie-on baggage tags (with your room number), a resort map, and other information. After tying these tags to your own bags you move them to a nearby coral at the far side of the room where they are loaded on a truck for the resort. Next time you saw our bags they are at our room.

A couple of hundred feet further there is a bus awaiting with a refreshing complimentary ice cold can of water, beer or pop. The first hour of our bus trip a guide gave us an informative narration of what we were seeing as we drove along. After a short washroom break the second hour on our bus trip we saw a narrated video of our resort and tours that we could book at the hotel. Each Monday about 1,000 new guests arrive at the Decameron from Canada alone and since most arrive late afternoon the resort pre-books specialty a-la-carte restaurants for the first night’s dinner. Each bus from the airport is booked to a different restaurant.

Upon arrival at the resort there were tables outside the lobby (about 10) numbered like your coded brown envelope where you got your room keys, beach towel cards, and wrist bands. If you want a room safe key/lock go to the table at left end inside the lobby. ($2 US/Day). I prefer a second room key and this were immediately available at the main desk for a returnable $15 US deposit. The process is efficient and well organized. An informative orientation was held the next morning at the convention centre which was well presented by 8 or 9 speakers.

This is a very large resort with different room locations. We requested a 2nd floor beachfront room and got what we ordered. Many of the other rooms are on top of a hill which is 65 steps above the beach which seems further each time the thermometer rises. Our room (#1120) was basic but quite acceptable and near most facilities such as bars, restaurants, stage and ocean. Central air conditioning worked well. Room came with TV (limited English channels), bottled water, hair dryer, telephone, shower and room safe as well as a balcony. Our room was made up at 4:30 pm the first full day so we requested that it be made up by noon in the future. (assuring uninterrupted afternoon siesta). This was done as requested on all future days.

Restaurants and Bars:
The Atlantis and Pacifiko theme buffet restaurants are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Pannamai is open as a buffet for breakfast and lunch. (becomes Italian a-la-carte at dinner). Each night the two buffet restaurants rotated menus so you could choose your favourite. (e.g.: Spanish, Caribbean)

There are several restaurants which serve as snack bars in the afternoon 12:00-4:30pm

There are eight a-la-carte restaurants each requiring advanced reservations for your choice of three evening sittings. I have photographs of these menus and have posted them about half way through my resort pictures at

Reservations can be made at any of the three lobbies or over your room phone.

1) You will be booked automatically to one a-la-carte for the night you arrive.
2) On Tuesday of your first week and on Sunday of yours second week (for 2 week stays) you may book any 3 a-la-carte restaurants in advance for each week.
3) On any day that you do not have a previous a-la-carte reservation you may book for that night only. Usually this is best done before 9am. Yes this is correct…you can eat at an a-la-carte every night of your stay. You can also book any a-la-carte restaurant more than once.

We feel that the a-la-carte food is better than the relatively limited selection at the two evening buffets. The most popular appears to be the Panammai (Italian) which fortunately is the largest.

The local beer (Balboa) is on tap at all bars and restaurants. All drinks are served in light plastic disposable cups except at restaurants and lobby bars where glass is used. This resort would be a good place to bring your own insulated mug due to high average temperatures. The Argentinean house wines served with meals were at best acceptable with the red the best in my opinion. A number of people preferred to buy their own wine locally and bought it to dinner.

January is the dry season in Panama but there were exceptionally heavy rains in early December this year which might help explain why everything was such a magnificent green with many bushes in full floral bloom. For those of you who check Panama weather on the internet before you go don’t worry if it says rain. The resort is positioned in an area where there is seldom any rain. We saw about 45 minutes of misty rain the 2 weeks we were there. The resort is like one gigantic botanical garden with many of the trees carrying identification labels. Gardeners were everywhere as were garden watering hoses which ran 24 hours a day. Peacocks roamed free on the upper level. Birds were everywhere both on land and over the Ocean.

The resort is very large and in built in two levels on the top and bottom of a steep hill. These levels are joined by 3 roads and two sets of stairs. There are numerous pools and many of these were on the length of the beach just in from the Ocean.

The beach is among the widest that I have seen with soft light coloured sand. 20 foot tides come and go twice each day. Lifeguards man the beach and it is interesting that, likely due to the tides, the beach flags were always orange with no green ever visible. The ocean was exceptionally calm at all times due to winds blowing offshore all the time we were there.

As well as the usual nightly shows, poolside games, golf, disco, casino, and other activities, the resort had lots for you to do. Each Monday and Wednesday night local crafters display their wares in the resort next to the Atlantis restaurant. The Decameron Explorer had tour desks in each of the three lobbies where almost 20 tours were available. Many are all-day tours as there is a two hour bus trip each way to Panama. We chose the Panama Canal Partial Transit which gave us a 4 hour trip through two sets of locks in a 300 capacity boat combined with a lunch on board. At $110 each it might have seemed expensive until you hear what it costs to take a boat through the Canal. This trip runs Friday and Saturday with alternative days going north or south. The excursion was great but I wished that we had locked with one of the larger ocean vessels instead of the smaller yacht that joined us. Such is luck of the draw. I have posted a few pictures here: After the trip we went to a duty free shop and although the prices seemed good they were actually much higher than we found at the airport later on.

Other Comments:
By traveling on a Monday instead of the weekend the airport was much less crowded. The dominant language heard among guests at this resort was French. (Montreal) with Spanish (Columbia) and English (Canada, USA) a distant third. It is truly an international resort. As Nolitours brochure clearly states “This resort is not recommended for people with restricted mobility” as the necessity of traveling between the two levels. Food was great. (especially the a-la-carts) although we found the buffet’s assortments were small for a resort of this size. This is a giant resort with a large number of guests but staff is well trained to handle large numbers of people so at no time did we fell crowded and line-ups were few and far between. You can see this from our pictures. There is a rumour that a second international airport might be built in the future nearer the resort. This would help. For those of you who smoke there is a law in Panama that limits smoking in certain areas. The resort allows smoking in two locations only: 1) On your room Balcony and 2) on the beach. ( Marlboros $19US/carton at airport duty-free) We had a great trip, met many new friends and certainly would consider returning and many people who we spoke with have already done so.

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"Always a smile."

Royal Decameron Costa Blanca
User Rating:  Royal Decameron Costa Blanca Review: 4.0 of 5

Posted by:  Walter Blady  on Jan 1, 2009  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2009
169 people found this review helpful

This year was our second winter getaway to the Royal Decameron in Panama. We did notice some changes from the previous year that degraded our experience a bit.

There were too many small trucks and vans on the path ways. Far far more than last year. The vehicle traffic was extremely heavy, and there was a constant smell of diesel fumes in the air. Quite unpleasant out of character with the beautiful and lush surroundings.

We were continually jumping out of the way of trucks. Most of these vehicles had only the driver and no load. Seemed to us that the staff were using them for personal conveyance and not for business. Bicycles make more sense. Would certainly save wear and tear on the concrete pathways.

The restaurants are now booking three seatings per night instead of two, making dining a rushed affair. We barely had time to finish our meal when we were asked to leave the table for the next seating. I understand they're trying to accommodate more people but the experience was unpleasant.

One last comment. I realize that any business should always look for revenue making opportunities. However we found it hard to understand the WiFi fee of $15 for 24 contiguous hours. I don't know anyone who would spend 24 vacation hours tied to a laptop. Twenty four any-time hours sounds more reasonable.

WiFi is pretty much offered as a free attraction by many places these days, including Woody's Beach Bar and Grill just down the beach from the Decameron. Let's face it, the cost of a wireless router is insignificant, and offering complimentary WiFi to customers would be more in keeping with the times.

Other than that, the Royal Decameron is still a beautiful and lush resort with a very friendly and thoughtful staff. Always a smile.
These folks work very hard behind the scenes to make your stay a comfortable experience.

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"Fantastic resort but needs improvements."

Royal Decameron Costa Blanca
User Rating:  Royal Decameron Costa Blanca Review: 3.5 of 5

Posted by:  Karen from Oshawa  on Feb 1, 2009  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2009
183 people found this review helpful

Arrival: Jan 19 - 26
bus ride long but enjoyable.

Not what we expected for the money we paid. Not overly clean. Showers had no pressure. No face cloths, no tissues, ran out of toilet paper, only 1 drinking glass.

Restaurants and Bars:
bars need more bartenders who spoke English and also should have been more friendly. Would like to have had more seafood and beef in rests. Lacked variety of food.

Grounds were beautiful, pools exquisite, beach great. Adult only pool stil had young children using it. Should have horse manure cleaned often instead of being buried in the sand by handlers. Vendors on beach should use "inside voices"

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Took other tours not from resort due to high prices.

Other Comments:
Found many people very pushy, shovey, and rude at bars, restaurants, and shows. Must have gone at bad travel time. Need more English at shows so we could understand theme nights. Resort should be more accessible for those with disabilities. Need more computers for internet users. Fantastic resort but needs improvements. Panama is a beautiful country and I will return but at a different resort.

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"If you are looking for Paradise, this is it."

Royal Decameron Costa Blanca
User Rating:  Royal Decameron Costa Blanca Review: 4.5 of 5

Posted by:  Betty from Ontario  on Mar 1, 2009  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Mar, 2009
177 people found this review helpful

Arrival: Feb 23 to Mar 9
it was a long drive from the airport but the busses were waiting for us when we arrived and were comfortable and in good condition. We were given a choice of a soft drink or a beer as we boarded the bus.

the rooms were nothing fancy but spotlessly clean.

Restaurants and Bars
the buffets left a little to be desired, there was not a great selection, but what there was was very good. We went to 5 of the specialty restaurants and the only one we didn't go to twice was the cayuco. The Kontiki was our favourite but the steaks were good in most of them.

the beach was good, with lots of shade and we never had a problem finding a cabana or a thatched roof to sit under. The grounds are absolutely beautifull, and very well kept. All the pools are great we liked the one at the sushi bar best because it never got too busy.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
no the only place we went was to a shopping town about 1/2 hou on the local bus. there is as much or as little as you want to do. I really enjoyed the casino, am going to have to go back to visit the money I left there.

Other Comments
If you are looking for Paradise, this is it. I read a lot of reviews before I went and can't understand the people who gave this resort a bad one. We were there for the second time and met people who were there for the 6th time so that has to tell you something about the resort.

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"Our first trip to Panama and no regrets."

Royal Decameron Costa Blanca
User Rating:  Royal Decameron Costa Blanca Review: 4.5 of 5

Posted by:  Jeff from Ottawa  on Apr 1, 2009  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Apr, 2009
179 people found this review helpful

Arrival: March 9 - March 16
Arrived at Panama City airport around midday and entrance to country was fast and smooth. Tour company representatives made transition of luggage easy and bus was waiting. The 2 hour bus ride was very interesting as a tour of the country side with the only downside being the guide only spoke French as we took the trip out of Montreal. This was a very minor inconvenience. Arrival at the hotel was very smooth also.

Rooms are medium sized and very clean. We booked an Ocean view room and it was well worth the extra $40 per person. Rooms have safe ($2/day) for key and we rented a mini fridge for $3/day which was a great convenience as it gave us the means for cold drinking water at any time.

Restaurants and Bars
Buffet restaurants were okay with different themes at each Buffet every night. They included wine or beer with each meal and servers were very nice. We booked a few nights at a la carte restaurants and they were good too.

The beach is very clean and had lots of lounge chairs. There are many pools with most of them next to a bar or restaurant. Everyone working in the bars, restaurants and pool areas were extremely friendly and though most did not speak a lot of English they all made an extreme effort to communicate. The grounds of the hotel are spectacular and well kept.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We went on the tour to El Valle Anton which is a city built in the crater of an inactive volcano. It was a good trip and the trip to the Panama Canal and Panama City was worth the effort. Tours were a bit expensive but were well done. We found the nightly shows at the amphitheatre a bit loud but there was a small band playing Spanish music at one of the beach bars each night and that was more to our liking.

Other Comments
This was our first trip to Panama and we had no regrets about going. Everything at the Royal Decameron was first class and we never felt any threat or danger on the entire trip.

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"Overall, an amazing trip."

Royal Decameron Costa Blanca
User Rating:  Royal Decameron Costa Blanca Review: 4.5 of 5

Posted by:  Melanie from Toronto  on Apr 1, 2009  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Apr, 2009
174 people found this review helpful

Arrival: April 13 - 20
Arrival was eventful, due to delay at the airport. Otherwise, be prepared for the 2 hour bus ride, but very informative and a quick stop for washroom break & drinks. Check in was quick. Bring a change of clothes as the luggage arrives at least an hour after you do!

Clean and spacious. Definitely recommend a beachfront hotel room - less stairs to walk multiple times throughout the day.

Restaurants and Bars
Buffets are okay, sometimes good sometimes not the best. A la Cartes - El Cayuco - recommend the Beef Steak. Italian & Thai are both really good. Heard that El Canal (seafood) is also very good. Bars were good - variety of drinks

Pools and grounds are amazing. Very clean and well kept. Have to get there early to get a covered table by the pool. But plenty of palapas and covered areas on the beach. Careful....the sand is very very hot!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Renting seadoos is a must - lots of fun! Went on the Ecocanal tour and absolutely enjoyed it. If you love nature, definitely recommend it. Friends did Panama Canal & City tour and said it was well worth it. If you are into birdwatching, that tour is beautiful as you go up a mountain and it is breathtaking.

Other Comments
Overall, an amazing trip. Do recommend protecting in the sun. Even if its cloudy or in the shade, you will still tan or burn!

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"Anyone with mobility issues may want to go elsewhere."

Royal Decameron Costa Blanca
User Rating:  Royal Decameron Costa Blanca Review: 4.0 of 5

Posted by:  Brian from Ontario  on May 1, 2009  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: May, 2009
189 people found this review helpful

Arrival: April 27 - May 4 2008
Not much to say, quick and efficient. Nolitours meets you after clearing customs and directs you to the busses and the truck transporting your luggage. We were on the road in under 30 minutes. travel time from airport to resort was just over 2 hours including a stop for beer and munchies along the way. A very scenic drive.We requested a king room but due to guest volume we received a double. After the crowd settled in the lobby we spoke to Robert (guest relation supervisor) who had no problem changing us the next morning.

Check in at the resort is fairly smooth. Tables are set up outside of lobby one, with 6 clerks to deal with the rooms and requests. Our luggage was waiting at the room when we arrived. Note: Both Garden view and Ocean view rooms are located at the top of the hill in the same buildings. You either have a view of a tree (garden) or a partial view of the ocean (ocean). Beach front rooms are located at the bottom of the hill.

Rooms are pretty basic - king bed, day bed, TV, good sized bathroom with shower only. You can rent a safe for $2 per day, and a fridge for 3 per day. To use the phone for any outside calls (including collect) you must leave a $30 deposit at check in. They charge $3 per collect call, and will bill for any long distance call that rings more than 3 times - regardless of if it answered or not. I found this a bit of overkill, but hey, I'm on vacation. I don't want to be calling home anyway. Maid service was quick and efficient - in and out before we finished breakfast in the morning. Rooms were always spotless. A/C had two temps...cold or off, which is good because the temp outside is in the 40's!

Restaurants and Bars:
I am not a fussy eater so had no issues with either buffets or a la cartes. Typical breakfasts - fruit, made to order eggs, meats, cheeses, great juices and breads. Lunch was fine, grilled meats or fish, made to order pasta, beans, rice, veggies, and salads. There were always a few dishes that looked a little strange, but nobody seemed to die from eating them. We did a la carte dinner every night so I cant really comment on the dinner buffets. A la cartes were great. Steak house was the only one that was a disappointment. Fusion and Mediterranean were my favourite - great choices.

Drinks are decent, mostly local brands, some imported rums, vodkas, and gins. They free pour and do a decent job of getting your request right. Beer is Balboa or Atlas - light, but good. Waits were no issue, the resort was packed the last few days, so bars were pretty busy. Disco is fun as well.

Great pools, beach was fine...Pacific so don't count on snorkelling. There is only one pool with a swim up bar (adults only) and it is the only one that allows drinks in the water. All other pools have bars around them. Life guards are stationed at EVERY pool and on the beach.

The grounds are by far the nicest I have seen. The landscaping is beautiful. The resort is laid out nice, with pools and dining areas scattered through the property. Anyone with mobility issues may want to go elsewhere though as there are a ton of wife and I named them hills of death!

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"A good resort."

Royal Decameron Costa Blanca
User Rating:  Royal Decameron Costa Blanca Review: 4.5 of 5

Posted by:  Matt from Toronto  on May 1, 2009  >  3 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: May, 2009
190 people found this review helpful

We booked a 2-resort trip to Panama through Nolitours. The first 11 days were spent at the Royal Decameron resort in Farallon.


We flew to Panama with Air Transat; while the flight was very comfortable, the food was really terrible. Going down we were served a breakfast sandwich that had been overly-nuked to the extent that the cheese morphed into a superglue that bonded the spongy “ciabatta” bun to the wrapper. On arrival at Tocumen Airport we sat on the tarmac for close to an hour before room was made at a gate for our allegedly larger plane. For some reason that didn’t bother me, nor did the long trip from the airport to the resort. I was however slightly annoyed that our luggage, like most others, came out on the carousel with a greasy black smudge on it. Not sure if that happened in Toronto or Panama.


The resort was well organized for our arrival. We pulled up to Lobby 1 and waiting there for everyone was an envelop that held a room key as well as important documentation about the resort. So it took all of about 5 minutes before we were walking toward our room, an ocean view number on the third floor in building 46, next to the adult pool – about as distant from Lobby 1 as possible. From our balcony we looked out over the Pacifico restaurant and pool to the ocean. The room furnishings were modest but clean. The resort has some notoriety for the many steps that lead from the beach to the upper buildings, but the climb never bothered us and in fact we were happy – but delusional – with the thought that we were burning off some fat. The grounds of the resort are beautifully kept. Palms as well as native Panamanian species abound. Flowering bushes line the many paths. The place is huge, and while we were there it was filled to capacity it never felt like others were right on top of us. But there is a problem with the basic design of the resort in that vehicles and pedestrians share pathways, and you’ll find yourself stepping off the path onto the grass to let to avoid being run over. It’s poor planning but there doesn’t appear to be any more available land to remedy the situation.


The beach at the Decameron is not pristine like those in the Mayan Riviera or Punta Cana, but typical for a beach on the Pacific. In places it is close to spotless while in others there’s crud mixed in. Some effort is made to keep it neat and tidy and for the most part it’s effective. The public beach leading to Woody’s Beach Bar was full of black crud that thankfully washed off. The sand is very coarse with a lot of broken shell mixed in. Rough skin on the soles of your feet will be polished smooth by the end of your stay. The heat of the day raises the sand temperature into first-degree burn territory – there were a number of times where my feet were on fire and I had to make a dash for shade. There are lots of palapas for use. A mild form of the towel game was being played, and the resort does have signs indicating that they will remove towels and belongings left unattended for more than 90 minutes, but I never saw that rule enforced. I was up at 7 am each day so finding a spot was never a problem. The ocean water is murky. The waves were on the calm side while we were there, with most days being of the yellow flag variety. The resort doesn’t bother to tie a green flag to their ocean condition poles; presumably they’ve never been needed. A lot of 4 inch jelly fish washed up on shore during our stay, but I never heard about anyone being stung. But their presence as well as the general murkiness of the water kept me out of it for all but the briefest of instances.


There are an abundance of beautiful pools at the resort, ranging in size from the small adult-only and Sushi Samba pools with their infinity edges, to the much larger pool in front of the Atlantis restaurant. Permanent umbrellas ring the pools and are spaced such that you never sit too close to others, although this of course lessens the amount of shade. They probably could use a bit more shade. Many of the pools have devices that shoot jets of water a considerable distance, and these are a popular feature with the guests. A towel card system is used for beach towels, with the hours of operation being approximately from 8 am to 5 pm. The adult pool and many others close at 5 pm, a bit early to my mind. The Pacifico pool closes at 7 pm.

As many others have pointed out, food is not the Decameron’s strong point. The buffets serve a small but varied selection each day, and none of it will blow you away. There are made-to-order stations serving up freshly made food, but honestly after giving it a few goes I went back to the buffet. The lowest of the low were the burgers at lunchtime at the Kon Tiki beachside restaurant. They were really bad pre-formed things served up on spongy moist buns – my wife got one covered in mould. For dinner there’s the option of reserving in up to three specialty restaurants each week, and that’s just what we did the first week. El Cayuco is beachside in front of Lobby 1 and has a menu of meat, meat, and meat. To the English eye it is hard to tell the difference between some of the beef choices. I ended up ordering a sampler platter with beef, pork chop, a couple of sausages, and what appeared to be a pre-gnawed chicken drumstick, since most of the meat was strangely missing mid-bone. Overall it was not enjoyable and the worst of the three. Upon entering the elegant El Canal restaurant, right off of Lobby 1, we were asked if we spoke English and then were told that we might end up sharing our table. Sure enough another couple was trooped over to where we sat and we were asked if we would share; hard to say “no” at that point. Normally I would be severely annoyed by this sort of thing but our tablemates ended up being a very nice couple from Richmond Hill, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. My wife and I both ordered salmon, and while overcooked it was presented nicely and overall was a pleasant upgrade from El Cayuco. The service was good too.

Our last a la carte experience was at Catch Of The Day, which is at the opposite end of the resort in the part reserved for villa owners, right down near the beach. I had whole fried fish (pescado entero) while my wife had lobster ($15 or so extra). I even ordered a $9.75 half-bottle of Chilean red (Errazuriz?), which of course normally doesn’t go with a white fish, but after days of limp Balboa/Atlas/Panama beer and the red wine in the buffet, it surprisingly did. Our waiter was extremely attentive and I tipped him accordingly, his service and our meals being the highlight of our a la carte experiences. We visited Woody’s one night; it’s a fun place but I have to say that Woody serves up a plate of extremely scrawny but delicious chicken wings. For all I know it may have simply been Frank’s Hot Sauce on them, but they were good. Woody appears to be the object of some scorn from the neighbour behind him, who was blasting music as we left and was doing the same a few days later when I strolled through Farallon.

We also dined one night at La Fogata, which is about 100 yards from the Lobby 3 end of the Decameron and easily seen at night with its attractive icicle lights. The owner offers up local seafood at back-home prices, which is a great racket for him. My wife and I both had the same dishes: a small salad with a delicious home-made dressing, garlic bread, a shrimp salad, a half lobster with more shrimp, and coffee and desert, all of which set me back $70 bucks or so. It’s a pretty setting under the big palapa and a good meal, especially for those looking for a change and don’t mind paying. Recommended.


After reading so much about the red wine at the Decameron I summoned the courage to try it and found it to be on par with badly made homemade wine. I never did try the white. All the Panamanian beers are unsurprisingly wet air. Atlas I believe comes in at around 3.5% ABV, the other two, Panama and Balboa, are at 5%. We really enjoyed the Panamanian coffee and ordered it at every opportunity despite the oppressive heat. Many of the servers pour a cup that’s half coffee, half milk, so keep an eye out if that’s not, er, your cup of tea. Drink service at the beach and around the pools was very good. We brought insulated mugs but barely used them. The staff at the bars had a good eye for who showed up first and therefore deserved to order first. I had planned on going down the drink list to determine my favourite, but I couldn’t get past the Farallon, which was a banana/rum/amaretto concoction. Even my booze-avoiding wife liked it.


We’re not show fans, so we didn’t go too often. Most nights we were there included a “hey, who here’s from Colombia? Who’s here from El Salvador?” call and answer kind of routine. The MC, who looked like Flavor Flav, had two dancing assistants who reminded me of Milli Vanilli, all of which of course are unwritten no-nos. The highlight was the Panamanian folkloric show. More often we were down at the beach listening to the live music performed by 2 or 3 guitarists. I would rate them as just “OK.” Plus they have an annoying habit of goofing around for 2 or 3 minutes between songs. Other than that, the resort seems to roll up the sidewalks at night and doesn’t appear to be the place for partiers. Perhaps things were rocking over at the casino but I never stuck my head in there.

Our first outing was the Arts & Crafts tour. We visited a small cigar factory, a cashew nut processing plant, the purported oldest still-functioning church in the new world, an archeological site with pottery shards and bones, a Panama hat maker, and at the end made a short stop in Penonomé. The cashew nut plant, the highlight of the trip, completely lacks automation, and after seeing what the employees do each day I took a since-discarded vow never to moan about my own job. The archeological site for me was a bit boring, but the local mosquitoes enjoyed my blood. Take repellant. Our second outing was to El Valle de Anton, which is a community high up in the crater of a long-extinct volcano. The altitude provides some respite from the heat. We visited the Nispero Zoo and saw all kinds of indigenous wild life. The famed golden frogs were there but unfortunately the building that houses them was locked, so the best we got was a peek through glass. We then went to the El Macho waterfall with steep paths, swinging bridges, and a zip line. A small side trip but nice just the same.

We then visited the market in El Valle where I bought a Panama Beer T-shirt for $6 and my wife bought a beautiful mola from a Kuna woman (she later bought an even nicer one on the resort grounds during one of the market days for even less). Our final outing was the Panama City & Canal Tour. This took place during the week of Semana Santa (Easter), which as were warned many times is a week during which Panamanians go on vacation. So there we were the day before Easter trying to drive past the fish market in Panama City. Easter. Catholic country. Fish market. Not a good combination. In fact the traffic congestion was a constant nightmare throughout this tour. Our first stop was at Panana La Vieja, the original Panama City settlement fought over by pirates and eventually burned to the ground. Except we weren’t told this. Nope, it was a bathroom break and a chance to buy some souvenirs. I’m glad that I stayed outside and snapped some quick shots of the ruins.

We then visited the second iteration of Panama City, Casco Viejo, with the in-progress renovation of its balconied buildings that overlook the street in a New Orleans sort of way. Very picturesque and it will be interesting to see what Panama does with the final result. We visited a few churches but were uncomfortable interrupting worshippers on the cusp of the holiest day in the Christian calendar, so I only got off a few interior shots before beating a hasty retreat. We had lunch a pleasant lunch with one beer (two if your wife doesn’t drink) included at a restaurant on the Amador Causeway. I had fish and it was good. Our last stop was at the Miraflores locks and it was an absolute mob scene, everyone jockeying for a front-row spot to see the big ships in the locks. There’s a museum inside that for the most part I didn’t find interesting, except for the “helm” simulation where you experience what it’s like to be on the bridge of a ship passing through the locks. The floor even moves to mimic the roll of a ship on water.

The trip back was like being of Highway 400 on the May 24 weekend, or getting on the Gardiner on a Friday afternoon of the same weekend. Everyone in Panama City headed for the countryside as we tried to get back to the Decameron, resulting in a 90 minute trip being doubled. Some inventive locals sold bottled water at the side of the road, while bolder ones sold it while standing between lanes - that’s how slowly traffic was moving. Bottom line: don’t visit during Semana Santa unless you have to. Oddity: three tours, three different bus drivers, all named Jaime. Oh, and by the way: saw many “push buttons” in our travels throughout the country – Google it for an explanation.

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"May be better in the winter when the Canadians head south."

Royal Decameron Costa Blanca
User Rating:  Royal Decameron Costa Blanca Review: 4.0 of 5

Posted by:  Mary from Toronto  on Oct 1, 2009  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Oct, 2009
192 people found this review helpful

Arrival: Sept 28th 2009
This is not a good time for Canadians to travel to Panama. The resort is mainly occupied by Columbians and outher Latins.

The rooms are good and clean. But it is advisable to stay on the lower units or Ocean front.

Restaurants and Bars:
Variety of Restraunts, drinks are so so but plentiful. Only local liquor and drinks.

Beach and Ocean are the best part of the Holiday. Water was always warm, lots of beach chairs and cabanas or palapas.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
This is not a resort to go if you want to Scuba Dive, the cost is too high for 1 single tank dive out to the island it was 60.00. Tried to arrange a series of dives but not available at this time. We wanted to go to the Caribean on a tour but was cancelled the day before we were to go as they didn't have enough participants. We did go on the Canal Expedition which was excellent and would recommend it.

Other Comments:
May be better in the winter when the Canadians head south.

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