Family Hotel Review: Casa Amarilla, Punte Chame, Panama

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey!

Best for: Panama City residents looking for an easy weekend escape; kite-surfers and kids of all ages.

Reviewed by: Victoria Westmacott

 

Why You’ll Love It

It’s hard to miss Hostal Casa Amarilla. Approaching it is like driving headlong into a low set sun, its blinding sunflower-yellow exterior had us all reaching for our sunglasses as we pulled into its driveway.

Located in the sparsely populated village of Punte Chame at the end of a long thin peninsula on the Pacific coast (a 1.5 hour drive from Panama City), Casa Amarilla is a popular weekend retreat with city residents, particularly kite and windsurfers.

The hostel is owned and run by Rose Marie and Gilles, a charming French couple who, despite not having had any previous experience in hotel management, have won Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Award for the last two consecutive years – a testimony not only to their management skills but also to their role as hosts. It was the little gestures we appreciated, such as providing towels for the children without having to ask for them and being ever so gracious when we broke one of their glasses (sorry!).

When I asked Gille ‘why yellow?’ he explained that he would never have been allowed to paint his house yellow in France and like children, if you are told not to do something, it makes it that much more fun to do it. Good answer!

 

Why The Kids Will Love It

Although our group consisted of seven rather active children the staff were very patient and welcoming. The kids spent a lot of the time splashing about in the pool and a small selection of inflatable toys were at hand for them to play with. The small garden is well maintained and offers a safe space for little kids to run around in.

Bursts of magenta pink bougainvillea add to the bright colour palette of the hotel and various palm species punctuate the enclosed grassy lawn. Our favourite was the aptly name Travellers Palm.

The beach is a couple of minutes walk down a little track and offers a long expanse of sand to stretch little legs. A few words of caution however; despite being virtually deserted, this particular stretch of coastline is not Panama’s most child-friendly. The currents are strong and the waves rough, making it unsuitable for novice swimmers. Furthermore, the waters are riddled with jellyfish and stingrays, many of which are washed up onto the grey sands at low tide (tread carefully!). This, however, didn’t put off one of the dads in the group who had a kite surfing lesson every day (and yes he got stung, many times!).

On the flip side, the lack of crowds make this wild spot ideal for long weekend walks and the kids had a blast combing the beach for sand dollars and other curious ‘treasures’. It’s worth knowing that there are more child-friendly beach options nearby as well. El Palmar, a good spot for learning to surf, is a short drive away, as is Santa Clara, another popular option with families.

Hotel Details

Rooms:

Casa Amarilla offers 10 bedrooms and three cabins. All rooms are equipped with air-conditioning (except the mezzanine and the garden cabanas that have fans) and, with the exception of the cabanas, have private bathrooms with showers.

The rooms are divided between the property’s three buildings:

The Main House: There are two interconnecting rooms in the main house which, combined, can sleep 5 in total, making these an ideal option for large-sized families. The rooms also have access to a separate sitting area with music and a dvd player. An additional room in the main house can sleep a couple and infant.

The Annex: The rooms in the Annex have different configurations (queen + 2 twin beds, queen + queen) and are able to sleep up to 4 individuals.

The Cabanas: These basic yet cosy wooden cabins in the garden are designed for individuals or couples who are happy to share a communal bathroom, located a few metres walk away. They come with a fan but no A/C.

 

Best Rooms for Families: The interconnecting rooms in the main house sleep up to 6 individuals and the rooms in the annex can sleep up to 4 people. The cabanas are aimed more at backpackers.

 

Food: 

I have yet to review a French-owned property that disappoints in the food department and this hostel is yet another example that lives up to the cliché! The food here was excellent.

The open-air restaurant serves a mix of French, Mediterranean and Creole cuisine. When we visited we enjoyed their Carpaccio de Corvina, steak and fish filetes, and were also impressed with the selection of wines and cocktails. It was also here that I discovered Panama’s finest ice-cream, a gourmet brand called Gran Clement, a family business set up by – you guessed it – a French couple!

Breakfast was also a delicious balance of fresh fruits and yogurt to start with followed by pancakes and Nutella or eggs & bacon. Coffee addicts like myself can also request a Lavazza espresso (*charged as extra).

 

For Kids: There are plenty of kid-friendly options on the menu to choose from; our children enjoyed grilled fish and chips and pasta during our stay here.

 

Activities: 

Activities for Parents: Divide your time between pool and beach.

Arrange a kite-surfing lesson (our friends booked lessons through Machete Kites), or enjoy a long walk along the deserted beach.

Rose Marie & Gille are passionate about fishing and can arrange private fishing trips. It helps to make a booking in advance.

 

 

Activities for Kids: Kids will enjoy hanging around the pool and searching the beach for treasures.

The nearby Panama Surf School is a good place to go for lessons.

 

Facilities: 

A/C, common rooms, baby cots available, doctor on call, a hospital is nearby, max of 2 extra beds per room, laundry, swimming pool, wheelchair access, free WiFi.

 

Rates: 

Room prices per night inside the main house:

CH 1 : Airy room, teak parquet, 1 queen bed, 1 bathroom with hot water, fan and air-conditioning.

95$ for 2 people, possibility to add a crib.

CH 2 : Teak parquet, 1 full bed, bathroom with hot water, fan and air-conditioning.

80$ per night.

CH 3 : 1 double bed, 3 twin beds, 1 bathroom with hot water, fan and air-conditioning.

For 2 people 75$, for 3 people 100$, for 4 people 125$, for 5 people 140$, for 6 persons 155$.

 

Room prices by night in the new building (there are 7 rooms, 2 on the ground floor, 5 new rooms on the first floor)

On the first floor :

Rooms 6 & 10 have 1 queen size bed and 1 twin size bed, private bathroom, hot water, air-conditioning, fan and television.

110$ for 2 people and an additional coast of 15$ for an extra person (adult or child over 11 years)

Rooms 7 & 9 have 2 double beds (full size bed), private bathroom, hot water, air-conditioning, fan and television.

110$ for 2 people and an additional coast of 15$ for an extra person (adult or child over 11 years)

On the ground floor :

CH 4 : 1 full size bed and 2 twin size beds, air-conditioning, private bathroom.

CH 5 : 2 full size bed, air-conditioning,private bathroom .

70$ for 2 persons, 90$ for 3 persons, 110$ for 4 persons

 

Please note that 10% tax are not included in the above rates.

 

Cabins:

3 cabins in the garden for 2 persons, with 1 double bed or 2 single beds, fan and bathroom outside the room.

25$ for 1 person and 35$ for 2 persons, taxes included. You can use the pool, the swimming pool and free wifi.

 

Breakfast and accommodation charges:

Breakfast: 8$

Lunch & Dinner menus: 15$

Possibility of take-away meals at noon or sandwich package with or without a drink and a fruit.

 

Please contact the hotel directly for an exact quote based on your family’s requirements.

Travel Information 

 

When to go: 

Punta Chame is the kitesurfing and windsurfing spot in Panama. From mid-December to April, the wind blows between 15 and 30 knots almost daily. Winds are often strong in the morning, then die down around midday, only to get stronger again near the end of the afternoon. If you’re just beginning your adventures in kite-surfing then the gentle midday winds are perfect. The strong afternoon winds are ideal for experts.

The water temperature fluctuates between 24 and 27°C (75 to 80°F), and the air between 30 to 35°C (86 to 95°F) year-round.

 

Location & Travel: 

Hostal Casa Amarilla is located in Punta Chame, at the end of a long thin peninsula on the Pacific Coast, approximately 1.5 hours by car from Panama City.

Add Casa Amarilla, Punte Chame to your Pinterest ‘Wish List’ board by hovering over the image below (or tapping on it if on a mobile device) and clicking on ‘Pin it’

Casa Amarilla WEB

Contact The Hotel

For more information or to make a booking enquiry, visit the hotel’s own website by following the link below:

Casa Amarilla

Reviewer’s Top Tips!

Reviewed by: Victoria Westmacott
Co-founder, globetotting.com

1) There are lots of jelly fish. Take some anti histamine (for both adults & kids), just in case…
2) If you book surfing lessons in El Palmar on weekends remember that Saturdays tend to be quieter than Sundays.
3) If you depend on hotel toiletries, you need to bring your own shampoo etc.

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