El Otro Lado
What We Love
- Rate includes daily plated breakfast
- The wine cellar, with more than 20 varieties from Argentina, Italy, Chile, France and Spain
- Visiting the community projects in Portobelo founded by El Otro Lado's owner
What To Know
- The only dining option is the on-site restaurant
- Portobelo is an 90-minute drive from Panama City, followed by a five-minute boat transfer from the mainland
- Best for couples and groups of friends; not ideal for youngsters
- Free WiFi
El Otro Lado (“the other side” in Spanish) is so named because it’s across the bay from Portobelo’s mainland, on Panama’s “other” coast, the Caribbean. A 90-minute cross-country drive from Panama City, the town of Portobelo itself doesn’t have cars, so the final approach is in a small dinghy painted in a signature colorful checker pattern. A sign pinned above a swing chair at the entrance says “a private retreat,” which feels more like a promise to guests than a deterrent to anyone else. Dotted around the central pool, the four houses were originally built to accommodate the owner’s friends and family, so the vibe is intimate, homey and as far from cookie-cutter as it gets. Like the rest of El Otro Lado, it’s an impossibly successful mix of patterned tile floors, bright pink sofas, handmade wooden furniture, looming African masks and black-and-white photographs taken by the owner. Local artwork by Kuna Indians adorns the walls, ornaments are scattered on almost every surface, and one house has a full kitchen. The real heart of the retreat, however, is the central living gazebo, where a fresh (and included) breakfast is served each morning.
In the Area
Since the resort is remote, guests tend to rely on the concierge to organize activities and excursions. Request a hike through the 270-acre estate with one of El Otro Lado’s guides and see spectacular virgin rain forest and the UNESCO-listed fort of San Fernando. The retreat makes much of the wooden furniture and colorful paintings in the on-site workshop, and guests can join in on an artisan-led workshop. As the staff for details. For true pampering, request a Caribbean-influenced massage treatment in the single treatment room. If its adventure you’re seeking, get up at dawn for a kayak ride in the wild marshes, where you’ll see flying fish, heron and maybe even sloths. The crocs don’t come out until after dark.
How to Get There
This is an intermit hotel which is ideal for a long weekend .The rooms are spacious very quirky and colourful and comfortable. When booking you should agree an all inclusive rate as there is no where to go for dinner although you might find a place to eat lunch on the mainland as you are on an island on beautiful grounds with nature.Beware the insects!!
The breakfast is fine and lunch and dinner are a semi set 3 course meal, which you should check on as they will happily change things you do not eat.This was also pleasant but not outstanding.
We were there during the Holy Week break and several families were there but I felt it was more of a couples place--romantic.Our last day ws just us with all the attention you could wish for but not if you are very social
The real disappointment was the beach which was really dirty partly due to the holidays as it is a public beach. The sand was not white and pristine more dark and grainy, the best part was the boat ride over.
First we reached the hotel private parking in Portobelo, hotel staff were there waiting for us and guided us to the boat, we took no more than 5 minutes to get into the island. El otro lado is a beautiful boutique hotel, with a friendly and very attentive staff that took care of every need that we had. Food was delicious and they even prepare something special for our kids. 100% recommended. Just remember to use repellent, always.
Super clean with superior staff that look to take care of your every need! Great food too! Would highly recommend this resort if you are looking to hike, snorke, swim, eat and drink deliciously. Would enjoy a return trip!