The Canopy Lodge: I didn’t include pictures of the rooms because there’s nothing particularly memorable about them. They are comfortable, spacious and rustic. What’s nice about the Canopy (if you like nature) is it’s setting: It’s surrounded by heavily vegetated moutnains, rivers, streams and exotic plants and trees. When I woke up this morning to birds chirping so loud it sounded like they were wearing a microphone. The hotel is owned and run by a Panamanian named Raul who also runs the Canopy Lodge in Gamboa, considered one of the best bird-watcher lodges in the world. Raul was a pretty nice guy and we talked for a bit. I have to admit that when I meet hotel owners and like them, it can make being completely objective a little bit harder. I’m all about ambience, and if the customer service is really great, the owner has interesting stories to tell and the place feels “special” I tend to overlook slightly chipping paint, cushions that don’t quite match the bedspread and a sometimes unreliable wireless connection. I guess I kind of figure that the kind of Americans who come to Panama are more interested in seeing birds, going hiking and listening to interesting stories than their decorative cushions, but maybe I’m wrong.
The Canopy Lodge is one of those places where everyone sits at the table together for breakfast and dinner along with the hotel owner. I’m not going to lie — I really enjoy these situations because it lets me talk about ME. I have never met anyone who looks like they feel sorry for me when I tell them what I do, and inevitably, everyone wants to find out how I ended up being a travel writer, how hotels treat me, if I get everything free, what places I recommend, et cetera. I like being the center of attention and giving advice. It’s fun. Plus, it lets me interact with the demographic Frommer’s is writing for and they give me feedback on what they look for in a hotel, what they like, don’t like, et cetera.