Family Hotel Review: Casa Guardia, Farallón Beach, Coclé, Panama
A friendly nine-bedroom house located at the quiet end of Farallón Beach, and just two hours from Panama City.
Best For: Large families or multigenerational groups, kids 5+ years (but all ages welcome)
Reviewed by: Victoria Westmacott
Why You’ll Love It
Farallón Beach, on the Pacific side of the isthmus, is fast becoming one of Panama´s top beach spots for weekend getaways from the capital. Located an easy two hour drive away from Panama City, Farallón falls under the umbrella of Playa Blanca and is home to an long stretch of soft, dappled grey sand. At the quiet end of this beach is Casa Guardia, a comfortable nine-bedroom house that occupies two plots of land separated by a single track road. The property itself is located on the inland plot, roughly 75m from the sea and the swimming pool sits on the beachfront plot overlooking the Pacific. The road that runs between the two was very quiet during our stay (I don’t recall seeing or hearing any cars at all) but needless to say, young children will need supervising when going back and forth between room and pool/beach.
The house was designed by the owner´s brother and draws inspiration from the local communities – the enormous palm-thatched roofs echo those of the Kuna people for example – and is one of its kind in an area that is fast attracting new resorts and high-rise condos.
For many years, Farallón was home to a Panamanian military base and the beach was a no-go area. During the US invasion in the late 1980s, this area was heavily hit and many of the buildings were abandoned with bullet holes peppered across the walls. The owners of Casa Guardia, Enrique and Karin, witnessed this era and are fascinating hosts. As we lay by the pool one morning they pointed out that the house on the neighbouring plot – now a derelict ruin engulfed by jungle – was the beach home of the former Panamanian military dictator (and now convicted drug trafficker) Manuel Antonio Noriega, who the US ousted during ‘Operation Just Cause’.
At the turn of the millennium the hotel chain Decameron opened a resort in Farallón and the area has seen a development boom ever since. One of the most recent additions is the Scarlett Martinez International Airport, or Rio Hato Airport (RIH) which is just a five-minute drive from Casa Guardia. This is good news for beach goers who don´t want to transit through Panama City but it does mean that Farallón Beach is subject to the sound of the odd plane taking off and landing.
Why The Kids Will Love It
Our children, aged 8- and 6- years-old, had a wonderful time at Casa Guardia. The property is positioned at the end of Farallón beach and as such, away from the crowds. From here, you can see the mysterious-looking Farallón Island; apparently there´s a cave tunnel that cuts all the way through the island! You can swim in the sea but be aware that the currents can be strong and at high tide the sea comes right up to the walls of the hotel swimming pool. The beachfront pool is one of the property’s highlights and where our kids spent most of their time during our stay. Foam tubes are at hand for kids to play with and cold drinks can be ordered and brought right to the pool edge.
The garden, roughly the size of a volleyball pitch, is home to myriad exotic birds, colourful flowers and exotic plant life including aloe vera, anturo, papos and various palms. There´s even a little treehouse, which is very Robinson Crusoe-esque, and kept the kids amused. One day Enrique took us all to ‘The Magic Tree’, a spectacular Banyan Tree, all twisting arms and gnarled roots, that had us all imagining we were characters in Enid Blyton´s The Faraway Tree. An earlier snake sighting kept us from exploring its nooks and crannies in great detail but we still had fun dreaming of adventures and lashings of ginger beer!
The other huge family benefit with Casa Guardia are the rooms, that are all good sizes with lots of options for big families and multi-generational groups.
Casa Guardia has nine spacious and homely rooms in total; seven in La Casa and two in La Casita (the garden house). The rooms face either the garden or the dense jungle that the property backs onto. There are no sea views from any of the bedrooms.
The Family Section: Located in the main house, this section houses a communal sitting room (with enormous tv!) and 4 double bedrooms (three upstairs and one downstairs). All rooms have an ensuite bathroom with the exception of one of the upstairs rooms that uses the bathroom on the landing. This section also has it’s own balcony.
The Studio: A double (queen) bedroom with 1 single bed and ensuite bathroom. A large bookshelf doubles up as a headboard.
The Master Suite: This double bedroom with four-poster bed can also fit a bunkbed on request. The bathroom includes a large Jacuzzi tub which honeymooners might find a little dated but kids are sure to love!
The Super Suite: This room can sleep six people comfortably in two sets of bunkbeds and one queen bed. Finally, parents with more than two children can sleep in the same room! If you are travelling with other families, it also makes a fantastic kids dormitory.
The owners of Casa Guardia occupy the upper floors of this garden house. The two ground floor rooms offer the following configurations: Two Queen beds and one bunkbed (this room is closest to the dining area and the room we slept in) Two Queen beds. This room opens into a large sitting room with kitchen (also shared with room 1).
Best Rooms For Families: There are a lot of options for families here. The Family Section is great for families with multiple children, particular those who have older kids who are happy to sleep in a separate room. For families with one child, the Studio – Master Suite would work well. The rooms in La Casita work well for families with 2-3 children. If you’re travelling with four or more kids then opt for the Super Suite. We stayed in a room in La Casita and enjoyed the convenience of being on the ground floor and close to the dining area.
Note: there are no ladders or safety rails on the upper bunk beds.
Dining at Casa Guardia is very much a homely affair. Food is simple but tasty and substantial. At the beginning of the day the kitchen staff ask you if you will be eating in or out. Menus are fixed, but specific food requirements can be accommodated with sufficient notice (bearing in mind this is a small town with no large supermarkets). The staff are incredibly friendly and go out of their way to help you, which really helped make our stay special.
Breakfasts: (7am-10am). Depending on occupancy breakfast is either offered as a buffet or table service. The usual suspects are served included eggs, cereals, toast, filtered coffee.
Lunch & Dinner: (12pm – 2pm and 6pm – 8pm). We ate out for lunch when we stayed but for dinner enjoyed our own table buffet of fish, chicken, patagones (fried plantain) and salad. Beer and wine are available.
For Kids: There is no kids’ menu but our children enjoyed the buffet options, particularly the puddings: ice-cream, cheese cake and lime pie. A highchair is available.
Activities for Families There´s a small “spa” ( a simple tent in the garden) that offers a range of treatments. There´s a basketball and volleyball court, billiard table and the pool. For kids´ there´s a treehouse and, just a short distance away, ¨The Magic Tree¨ (which our kids referred to as the Faraway Tree). And then there´s the beach! Nearby are golf, fishing and walking opportunities.
Air conditioning, common rooms, extra beds, highchairs, kids’ activities, swimming pool, spa, swimming pool, WiFi
Rates vary according to room type, extra bed requests and date of travel. As a guide, room rates range from USD $175 to $350. Please contact the hotel directly for an exact quote based on your family’s requirements.
When to go:
High Season: Mid Dec – April is the dry season and considered the best time to visit most regions of Panama. Rainy Season: April to December marks the rainy season with short and heavy downpours. National Holidays: The main holidays for Panamanians are Easter, November festivals, Christmas and New Year. Beach destinations are often crowded during these holidays.
Location & Travel:
Casa Guardia is located on Playa Farallón (part of Playa Blanca), in the province of Coclé on the Pacific coast of Panama. It’s 115km from Panama City (approx 1.5 hours drive). The nearest airport is Scarlett Martinez International Airport, or ‘Rio Hato’ (RIH), only a 5 minute drive away. Although this is good news for incoming beach goers who don’t want to have to transit through Panama City to access the Pacific beaches, it does mean that you hear the occasional plane taking off. We only noticed a few in the late afternoon but certainly nothing during the evening and night.
Take a video tour of Casa Guardia, Playa Farallón, Coclé, Panama:
The video below is by Fera Fotografia and is a lovely introduction to Casa Guardia’s charismatic hosts, Karin and Enrique:
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Contact The HotelFor more information or to make a booking enquiry, visit the hotel’s own website by following the link below:
Reviewer’s Top Tips!
- Talk to Enrique and Karen. They are lovely people and meeting them was one of our highlights.
- Visit ‘The Magic Tree’!
- Bring mosquito repellent if travelling during the rainy season. Like many places in Panama you will need it in the evenings.
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