First of all I have to say this resort based on its prime location and absolute attention to cleanliness and friendly staff is at the top of the 3 star food chain for any location.
This is a small 30ish unit resort surrounded by combo room/condo resorts in west bay Roatan. 3 of the 1/2 dozen or so boutique resorts in the area are owned by the same company including this one and some benefit comes from that being able to dine (with reservations) at any of the other hotels in this group. This is a good thing because the selection in the small buffet left us with a lot to be desired. Our room was immaculately kept by the staff and the grounds never had a piece of sand on the tile that didnt belong there long before someone picked it up. The beach and grounds are also patrolled by armed private security people that seemed both friendly and attentive to their duties.
The resort includes a dedicated strip of beach along its frontage and the beach backs right into the "Beachfront condo rooms" which is where we were on the second floor. You could throw rocks into the water from the balcony. The resort also includes a series of pool view rooms with small 2 chair balconies on the second floor as well as small single and double units all facing into the pool area. Even the smallest rooms had a small outside sitting area with cushioned seats.
We booked condo unit#7 and were not disappointed with much, especially considering its "3 star status" The condos retail for about $300,000 USD all though one was listed higher in the local real estate magazine and are all privately owned. So that should give you an idea of the quality of fixtures and furnishings within. We took a lot of photos of it so people would see what they are getting for their hard earned money if you go this route.
The room itself being on the top floor had cathedral ceilings with skylights, several ceiling fans and a VERY powerful central air unit that was modern and quiet. The appliances were all top of the line bordering on gourmet and ours came with a full compliment of top end cookware and utensils that were nicer then we have at home. Be warned though, we met another couple with a similar unit but it didnt come with any of the "extras" like dishes and cookware that ours did but we could have easily skipped the all inclusive and fed ourselves with a cheep local grocery trip to town.
The room had a large flat screen TV and DVD player that we never used and the room did NOT have a phone. None of them do. It had 1 bedroom with a nice queen bed and walk in closet with an en-suite bathroom and large shower. The unit had a separate entrance for an "en-suite second bedroom and bathroom that is reserved for the owners use only" which was locked from both sides. The dining area would seat 6-8 people. two HUGE glass doors opened out to the balcony which had several chairs and a large table. The view and proximity to the beach was fantastic while still offering the privacy of being on the second floor. It also kept the bugs away, which was a real issue for folks on the ground floor when the sun went down. Needless to say the room was 5 star. IT DID NOT come with a safe, in the suite, but there was one for our use at the front desk at no charge which suited our needs just fine. A nice final touch was a guest book that the owners of the condo annotated with various phone #s and locations for the island. Like good places to eat, cell #s for trustworthy cab drivers and things like that. Nice touch that came in really handy.
Hotel Grounds and Amenities:
The rest of the hotel was an enigma to rate. The pool was large enough to accommodate the # of rooms and was as clean as everything else in the resort. Up the beach is the Henry Morgan, owned by the same company and the pool was so dirty I wouldn't dream of using it and it has a higher star rating. The majority of the accommodations surround the pool with the prime ocean front space belonging to the condos. None of the rooms are farther then a 30 second walk to the beach however.
There is only 1 bar on site and it opens for breakfast and serves till 11. There are no bottles but all beer is poured from bottles to plastic cups big enough to hold them. The liquor list is NOT large so be warned if you want a lot of variety in your selection.
The bar is attached to the small buffet restaurant. There is NO a la carte on site but you can book dinners at the other resorts the company owns. Overall it is a Very pretty little resort
Definitely the worse part of the hotel. The food is trucked in from the above mentioned Henry Morgan and really left a lot to be desired. I suppose it was 2-3 star food but being 3 meals of buffet all tasting like re heated catering truck stuff got old after a very short time.
There were some exceptional dishes on a number of meals but even they lost a lot to the time between cooking and serving If I owned the place id expand into the unused parking lot and make a proper restaurant. I believe if they did that they would be an instant 4 star + rating and its size and overal condition, cleanliness and the great staff would keep the place exclusive and packed every week. Alas the food really brought the place down. We actually ate more out then using our all inclusive meals at an average price of 25bucks for 2 with drinks at the various spots a long the beach. Ironically eating at the Henry Morgan where our meals originated wasn't really any better. Just more of the poor food to choose from.
Roatan and West Bay:
Diver's paradise. That's it, the island is all about diving. Ton's of excursions with a huge variation in prices all revolve around the islands biggest treasure and that's the huge coastal reefs. we did a lot of snorkeling right off the beach of our hotel for free and enjoyed the reef to its fullest. To really get a feel for what this spot offers for the diver, you need to hook up with a charter and hit the uncountable dive spots around the island, like Spooky channel for one ^^ We used our trusty guest book in the condo to find a guide to take us and a few others for a 4 hour snorkel trip and dolphin show for 20bucks a head as long as we brought a case of beer and let the guide partake (the 4 6 packs cost under 10 bucks) so it was no hardship. Ironically our tour provider offered the same boat with the same guide for 75 per person for the same trip, so as I mentioned smart shopping is required on Roatan as will most third world destinations.
Other then diving, the landscape is hilly jungle and beautiful. Much like St. Lucia if your comparing but without the in your face poverty. There are dangers (robbery for one) to tourists that get off the beaten track so we were warned but the locals we talked too were all very friendly and helped us out when we looked lost. But they all want a piece of the pie. You have to be smart when shopping for guides and excursions and even taxi's as there really isn't a set price for any cash service. A ride to west end from west bay can cost you from $10 a head to 40 depending on the driver and many will try to extort you for more if they feel they can get away with it. Using people recommended by your travel provider will generally fix that issue for you but you may pay more for the "no haggle price."
West Bay is the lagoon that the hotel is located in and its pretty much in the middle of the stretch of beach surrounded by small 2 story resorts. It is a popular place for cruise ship guests and the beach can get fairly crowded but the resort staff does its best to ensure you always have a place in the shade or sun in front of the hotel. If your looking for night life, West bay dies a quick death at 11pm. Up to that point there is dancing, live bands and various activities. Anything after 11 you need to take a water taxi or land taxi to West end and partake in more local clubs and bars. Wasn't our scene but its there for people that want it.
A word of caution for people that care. The Italian owned resorts that are part of the group that this one is owned by have made the beach in front of their hotels top optional. Be warned if this is your thing, the locals reallllllly dont approve of the lack of modesty when it comes to topless tanning but they tolerate it in this stretch. I would ask wherever your planning on going if this is important to you one way or the other what the policy is as Roatan is generally accepted as a place you DON'T go to tan topless or nude.
Many of the local businesses in this area are actually owned by North American ex pats and some of the restaurants, coffee shops and groceries they run are pretty good.
Other then the food which is a no brainer
1. the lack of phones in the rooms was a pain. Not that we wanted to call anyone, but there is no alarm clock either so there is no wake up call service Bring an alarm clock or something to wake you up. Our check in time at the airport to depart was 6am and it was a shaky thing ensuring we got up that morning. Fortunately someone we met had an alarm (we dont own cell phones) and banged on our door to get us up for our flight.
2. Even though there are 3 resorts that share food and facilities (like playing pool at the Henry Morgan or swimming in the princess's beautiful pool, you can only use the bar at your home resort, I thought that was kinda silly but what can you do.
3. The lack of potable water. There is none on the island really so everything is out of bottles which is fine if your prepared for it, but you have to take precautions to ensure you spend your vacation on the beach and not locked in your room with bad tummy problems. We noticed our resort staff washed everything with boiled water and rinsed with bottled spring water then dried completely before they were used for anything which was nice to see.
ALL ice on the island is purified or so we were told. We took precautions like with the toothbrush and keeping your mouth closed in the shower for example and had no issues what so ever.
4. Bugs. But for us on the balcony they were NO issue, especially since we brought mosquito coils from home. Which we only ran out of giving them away to people on the lower floors when they were using their porches. We didn't have the reported issue with sand fleas there either, but I attribute that to the fact the staff raked the beach nightly and every morning as well as fog it once a week in the late evening.
5. Money. There was a lot of confusion on currency for us in the beginning. We were told that under no uncertain terms you needed 35dollars or something like USD to get off the island as departure tax. So we brought american dollars to use as currency for the trip. The problem with this is that if you dont keep up with the exchange rate, your liable to get ripped off on the exchange into the local currency when you use it and if you run out of American dollars dont even bother trying to find more, Its not worth the hassle. I found that local currency was easier to use and I had no trouble spending even the larger denominations and having change made. Also the Bank at the airport was more then happy to take local currency for the departure taxes and exchanged the rest of our currency back into american dollars for our flight home (most Canadian banks will not even issue Roatan's local currency)
So where money was an issue, it turned out to NOT be a problem. However there are some issues with modern chip bank cards and you would be wise to ensure you at least have enough American Dollars for the trip just in case.
Do yourself a favour bring some american money but hit an ATM when you get there and load up on the local stuff to use, you'll save money in the long run on dirty exchanges.
As always we welcome all comments and questions regarding our trip