As seasoned travelers we are all aware that when we go out of the country - especially to developing countries that there can be issues. & challenges. As the owner of a Dive Store and as a seaoned traveler - we took a group of divers to Utopia Village in November 2007. We booked Utopia Village because it was off the beaten path - remote and out of the ordinary.
We started out with mechanical problems with our first lfight out of Albuquerque on Contintal Airlines. We were delayed and ultimately missed out connecting flight in Houston and had to be put on a later flight. We got into Roatan to late to make our interisland flight. (Utila is a visual landing only airport - which means they can only land there during daylight hours and in proper weather conditions.) We landed in Roatan and discovered that our luggage never made it out of Houston .We had 3 hours between flights and it is a TSA rule that luggage has to fly with passangers especially for international flights . With the luggage restrictions on small interisland flights we had to pack a little differently. So now we are stuck in Roatan overnight - we were put up at a small Hotel for the evening. Most of our people did not have a change of cloths or toiletries with them.
We are thinking this is not starting off real well. Once we are able to get to Utila the next day we had a group fo people that did not very good evening -( the hotel we stayed out lost power and electricity at about 4 AM). No one had the opportunity to shower and were still in the same cloths that they traveled in.
We were greeted in Utila by one of the representatives/ owners of the resort. We had a traveler coming from a different city and had made it to Utopia right on schedule. We were informed that he was already diving. We expressed our concerns about our luggage and about not having the basics. So before we took the boat transfer to the resort - Utopia staff made sure that we had to basics - toothbrushes / toothpaste and other essentials. They did not have to do this.
Having missed breakfast that morning - we were pleased to know that the staff was holding breakfast for us. Wow real food that we could identify ( our dinner was a litttle mysterous in Roatan). After breakfast the Hotel staffed made sure that everyone had the basics inlcuding a change of clothing, and bathing suits. They opened thier pesonal closets for us. Wow we knew this type of treatment is very rare or non existant. I cannot think of a place that I have traveled to would have done this for us.
The next issue was what about the diving. We all had our own regulators & masks, but what about the rest of the toys we need to dive with. The dive staff let us reconfigure their equipment and go diving.
So o recap our adventure we flew out of our home town Early Saturday morning and finally got the resort on Sunday late morning with no dive gear or cloths. But we were clothed - fed - and were getting ready to go dive.
Being as remote as we were sometimes communication is not what we are used to. We are spoiled - cell phones - internet - etc. There is internet available and there is phone service via "Skype". But as we all remember before the day of wireless and back to the days of dial up - there is sometimes some down service. We are on vacation .
To make a long story short - the hotel staff did everything they could to track down our luggage. As we all know once a bag is lost it goes into a black hole somewhere to maybe appear at some point. We had 11 bags there. There were lotsof e-mails - phone calls utilizing "skype" and thier own personal cell phones from the "phone booth" ( a Palapa on the beach that got cell phone tower service). We had 4 bags get to us on Tuesday evening, 7 bags make it on Wednesday evening and the last bag(of course it was my and my husbands clothes) was finally tracked down and was waiting on the plane when we left the island .
The staff would do laundry and lend us clothing for the time that the group was without. We would just bring it to them and when we returned from diving it was in our rooms.
The rooms were very nice - it is not your typical 4 painted walls and bed. They all had a/c and ceiling fans. The bathrooms had plenty of towels and hot water. as for being asked for not putting toilet paper in the toilet - but in a covered can right next to toilet not an issue. This happens all over the world - if you have a problem with this and cannot go without putting your make up on - than off the beaten path of travel is not for you. We always had plenty of hot water for showers.
We were there in the rainy season - and of course we all know that rain means run off which means some limited visability. The dive shop had a storage locker for you equipment . It was great if you were diving all you had to do is pack up your gear from your locker and put is outside the diveshop. they hauled it to the boat - yes there was a walk along shore to the dock - and yes it was crushed coral. No one had a problem with that. The dive staff chose the locations based on the weather and conditions and the experiene of our divers. Never did we feel that we were put into a situation that we felt was dangerous. There was plenty of freshwater on the boat as well as a mask tank and a camera tank on the boat. There was no head / toilet on the boat - but many dive operations do not offer that. When we returned our equipment was taken back to the dive shop and half of the time it was rinsed and hung up for us. what service. The rental gear that we dove was good quality brand new entry level equpment you find anywhere in the world. Unforunately we were not able to get all of the divng in that we wanted to do - becuase of lost luggage. the shore diving was good as well. The reefs are healthy and full of life.
The food at the resaurant was very good. It was not fill yourself buffet until you explode food. If you want that than go to Fantasy Island. We always had several choices and of course it was based on what they could get locally. The flavors were always wonderful with the use of herbs and seasonings. If someone wanted more all they had to do was ask. The selection of wine was equally as good. They had plenty of snacks available at the bar and gift shop.
The spa services were taken advantage of - and personal are very well trained.
As for the bugs - yes they do live there. we never had a problem with them in the room. I fyou were going to be outside than insect repellant was in order - Remeber the Bay Islands of Honduras are known for n0-see-ums.
With the issue of being delayed - our luggage being lost and with the amount of rain we had - our week spent at Utopia was great. Everyone would go back without hesistation. I cannot think of any resort that I have been to that would treat their customer the way we were treated. If were were staying else where we would have had to buy cloths at the gift shop and take chances on the rental gear that there was available.
In closing I would rate Utopia Village - as exellant. If you are looking for all of the american Fluff - don't travel out of the United States and to a third world country.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Casually elegant, beachfront dive and spa resort. All rooms are oceanview or oceanfront and have air conditioning, ceiling fans and spacious balconies with views of the ocean and mainland mountains. Full service dive shop, beach bar, lounge and on-site restaurant with table service. All meals are included in weekly package rates. Pool, hot tub and dive pool as well as fitness room and spa treatment room are among the great amenities added during our recent renovations. Rates are per person, double occupancy. We can arrange island connections from Honduras or the neighboring island of Roatan. One bedroom oceanfront bungalows with separate living areas and small refrigerators are also available. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Utopia Dive Village Utila
- Utopia Dive Village Hotel Utila