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“A place to get away”

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Royal Playa Dive Resort
Ranked #24 of 53 Specialty Lodging in Roatan
Colorado
Level Contributor
15 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“A place to get away”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 10, 2011

We stayed at Royal Playa for 14 days and had an incredible time. One of the best vacations ever. There is so much to write about this place. I will start with the most important: the people. Everyone at Royal Playa was not only an employee but quickly became good friends. Randy, Mr. T - our scuba diving buddy, Eloise, Lorraine and off course Corrine, Matt, Archer - their son and Mr. Jennigs were all incredible people, full of wormth, full of generosity and full of stories. Incredible human spirits and we enjoyed meeting them. There is a sense of easiness about the place, no formal schedules to adhere to and no structure - you simply come and go.

The resort:
Incredible privacy and eco-friendly design, places you in your own private cabana with aweome views of the ocean, reef and nearby islands. This is a "no frills" type of place, so bring your favorite soap,shampoo and the likes. The beds are comfortable and the room offers a truly islander design - there are lots of open windows and don't expect an air conditioner - your best cool-off device is the breeze from the ocean and a room fan, if you need one. I am not sure why you would want a TV or a radio while on vacation in paradise, but if you have to be connected - bring your own own devices. I don't think you will use them at all. This place is intended to get you unplugged and connected with yourself, your family and friends and enjoy the silcence. We learned how to play cribbage and became fans of the game.

The Diving
Awesome - Awesome - Awesome - enough said
In almost 20 years of traveling to many islands and diving many places, the Roatan reefs remain pristine (especially on the east side of the Islands). The amount and variety of marine life is incredible. My husband did on average two to three dives per day and registered over 30 incredible dives during the stay.

The food
Plan on enjoying local, home cooked meals. Everything was freshly made and we never went hungry. I have never had such awesome papaya and mangoes and pineapples in my life. The variety of food was also very good and we enjoyed learning about a few local favorite meals. My favorite was yucca cake and corn flour pastolites. I learned a few new recipes that I am bringing back to the States.

The lifestyle
This resort is not for people seeking non-stop adventure. it is a low key, laid back and comfortable home like atmosphere. Please come prepared to deal with sand flies and yes, they do bite - i recommend lots of bug sprays, baby oil and a tube of hydrocortizone just in case you start reacting to the bites and start itching. The entire two weeks, we wore our swimsuits and a few shirts during the day. Flip flops is all you truly need, unless you want to do some heavy duty hiking. I found a pair of lightweight long pants to be very helpful for the evenings.
Diving, snorkling, kayaking around the local islands and swimming in the warm waters is the key to this adventure.
Matt and Corrine - thanks a bunch - not only have we found an awesome place in the Bay Islands, we made some incredible new friends.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank W0rldTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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28 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room Tips
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
USA
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 14, 2011

My girlfriend and I just returned from our fifth visit to Royal Playa Dive Resort, this time over the Christmas break with our friends. Our friends, being new scuba divers, had completed their openwater referral, and Matt the owner at Royal Playa arranged for them to complete their openwater certification with his local instructor in spite of the Chrismas holiday .

We did all the great diving we could accomplish, had our own boat and driver. I think our newbie diver freinds are now really spoiled. We had groups no bigger than six at any given time, and most of the time the four of us had the boat to ourselves!

I logged 26 dives including a night dive, a dive around the dock with some small corals on either side and an adventure to the Pigeon Keys and Morat wall. The wall diving was pristine, at times 100' visibility, and we never saw another diver in the water.

The proprieters, Corrine and Matt Cavannah, have created a lovely beach resort located at the base of a National Forest. A trail leads to the top where you can view both the north and south shore of the island. We viewed the relics of pirate steps dating back to the seventeen hundreds when those buccaneers made Port Royal there home. We also made the Sunday Prime Rib and Lobster brunch at "Hole in The Wall," a colorful local bar.

Unlike many dive lodges I've frequented, Royal Playas rooms are not the typical motel room configurations. Each of the private Cabannas are inspired by island architecture reminscent of "Pico Bonito" resort on the mainland. The two story screened in rooms take advantage of the sea breezes. Between that, the hot showers and cold drinks, we were very comfortable. Each day we were served three excellent island style meals at the main room, prepared by a Eloise, a local island resident. I enjoyed getting up early each morning and having coffee on our own private porch while watching the sunrise.

Matt an Corrine are excellent hosts, they live on site with their young son Archer and Matt's father Tom Jennings, who famously popularized the compound bow. They always made sure that we got the diving, snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing, etc.. we wanted to do. After a morning of activities we also enjoyed just laying out over the water on the Palapa with a good book. We've been keeping this place a secret for too long, but now it's time to share it with you. Just watch out for the sandflies!

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank ricoUsa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 12, 2010

Date of Stay: Feb 1 to Feb 8, 2010
The star rating is not based on the resort, but on the experience as this is not your typical hotel resort.

We met Matt (the owner) when he came to pick us by boat. Total ride from airport to resort is about 1 hour 30 minutes. Right away, we knew we would get along very well. We were advised that other than some of their family members that were staying a few days, we would be the only guests, so this was a very intimate experience.

We were greeted when we arrived by two huge dogs which were very friendly. We then met Corinne, Matt’s wife and their son Archer as they all live at the resort. We were in Kabana 1. This is a rustic room set up on two floors. We would wake up with the sun every day as there is a lot of sunlight that comes through the screened windows. Although there was no air conditioning, it was cool enough for us to sleep at night because of the wind. The room is not made every day, but I’m sure that if you request for new sheets or for the room to be cleaned, they will gladly agree to your request.

The next morning we went for our first dive. We spent more than 18 hours underwater that week. We had a great experience thanks to Tarran and Tyron. The surface intervals and the boat rides never seemed long with them around. Tarran was great for finding all types of cool critters and fishes. Although the fishes and lobsters are not as huge as on Cozumel due to the fishing, the diving was great, with a great diversity of animals, but especially for the coral, sponges and sea fans which composed a spectacular landscape.

Eloise prepared the food for everyone the first few days, and Laureen prepared the food on the remaining days. Everyone was served what they decided to prepare. They accommodated a few special requests for us. One evening, we had an amazing crab & lobster dinner. This is typical family eating style food, not restaurant type fare.

There is no beach, but you can access the water through a ladder.

The palapa over the water was great for relaxing at the end of the day with one or two beers. We went to bed very early every night. My husband & I need a lot of rest when diving that much.

In our spare time, we walked around the resort a few times, and we took the kayak once to snorkel around the cow & calf small islands. There are a few decks of cards available and some books as well.

In a nutshell, this is not for high maintenance guests or people looking to be entertained all the time. It’s a great place for relaxing and scuba diving.

Tips: Bring insect repellent, body oil such as skin so soft and oil yourself up good to avoid nasty sand flies bites.

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
2 Thank sea_seeker4ever
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Albuquerque, NM
Level Contributor
24 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 22, 2009

This end of the island is unbelievably gorgeous, but Royal Playa is not the place to stay. The website wants you to think that this is a "luxury" vacation spot and that the cooling winds mean no AC is necessary, but those come-ons are not true. The cabanas are built well back from the water and 85 degrees at night with 85 % humidity with little desk fans to cool off with is not luxurious. The cabanas are little better than tents, poorly built so that the mosquitos have free access to your person. Maybe in the winter it's cool enough to be comfortable with AC or decent ceiling fans, but not the rest of the year.

My husband is the diver of our party and he described the dive master as neglectful and uninterested. We are still not sure that the person the RP uses for its daily dives is really even certified, as the place brought another dive master in to certify the friend we were with. The boat used for diving (except when we went to Pidgeon Caye) was a skiff and difficult to get into after surfacing.

The whole resort has an air of abandonment since the owners went back to the US and have it up for sale. The poor watchman has to act as host and the staff is resentful. Our sheets were never changed and the wastebaskets emptied once (which is no good if you are not supposed to flush toilet paper).

If you want to experience this end of the island stay at Mango Creek and hire a dive master.

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank TheCaretaker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
mashmup, owner at Royal Playa Dive Resort, responded to this review, February 4, 2010
It is with regret that I have to write a response to any sort of review of our resort. My wife and I personally built Royal Playa from the ground up. We have operated the resort since it opened in 2006. We are a small resort and take a personal interest in the experience our guests have when staying with us.

We live at the resort year round and once in awhile we try to get to the states to see our families. We have had personal interaction with almost every guest that has been to Royal Playa.

Without exception, our staff have been with us from the beginning. The same staff that has been reviewed in previous posts. We are as close as family, and I know they are professional in every respect when it comes to interacting with guests. There is nothing I can say about our staff except that they are gracious and courteous, and do everything in their power to ensure that a guest is satisfied. They have read this review and weighed in on it. They have a different perspective of that week.

Our Divemaster is not an Instructor, and therefore does not do any type of certifications. We have a PADI Instructor that does that. He also acts as a Divemaster when necessary.

We have five dive boats ranging from a 20' panga to a 30' center console. If we have a small group, we use a smaller boat, it is a matter of economics. There is no skiff diving.

I am limited in my reply, in that I cannot address some of the comments in the review and have this response posted. So, I will simply say that our website is honest and straight forward.

Looking at the pictures and reading the description on the website is important to determining if a particular place is suitable for whatever vacation plans are envisioned. With very few exceptions, we have been successful in fulfilling our guests expectations.

It is impossible to be everything to everyone, and it is apparent that we failed to please these folks.

I have been in the resort business since 1995. I have built two of them, the first one being in Belize, and now Royal Playa in Roatan. This is not my first rodeo.

As for the resort being for sale, it is, and has been since the day it opened in Jan. 2006. And, someday it will sell. But, for now, we will continue to do our best to give our guests the best hospitality and diving that we can offer.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 24, 2009

July 4-12, Roatan, Honduras
An all-inclusive dive operation. Snorkelers would be very happy as well.
A stay with Matt, Corinne, Archer, Tommy and Keith at Royal Playa Roatan as 2 of 5 guests was the finest trip I've experienced in 32 years of diving.
Clean, comfortable, efficient, relaxing.
"Fancy Camping," as Matt puts it, would more accurately be put "civilized shoreline jungle living." Maybe even "live-aboard ease from land."
They bought the right mattresses. Just right for quality sleep in the refreshing air blowing through the screened, loft accommodations.
Uninterrupted power from solar, battery banks and generator.
As untouched a Caribbean reef system on the East end of Roatan as any I've experienced. Never saw another dive boat all week.
Even when choosing to repeatedly dive "Front Porch" for night or 3rd dive of the day, it delivered something fresh each time. Even a large ray sighting!
Large schools were not common, except for the 3 days when we motored even further east. All the usual suspects were there, even a turtle, which we were told wasn't as common as in past.
Full tanks, relatively reliable boats- 1 konk out requiring a fuel filter flush- and terrific diving.
Meals were plentiful and quite good. Maybe not outstanding, but never unappetizing. Enjoying them by candle light several nights on the dock's over-water palapa was a bonus.
Non-stop wireless Internet to keep up on the "news" of the change of power.
The only evidence of the event were a few white flags out on Roatan lawns, symbolizing "peace." The airport closed for a day or so, but did not effect our plans.
Our friends at home appreciated regular "Coup Updates" posted on Facebook. They consisted of the day's diving experience... and what was for dinner.
We really felt like the Undercurrent review of Royal Playa was on the mark and would highly recommend the place to anyone who really wants to get away and relax, off the grid.

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank CKofABQ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philly, PA
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 21, 2009

When I booked our trip at Royal Playa Dive Resort, I had no idea what to expect, but we were delighted with what we found! Upon arriving at the small airport, we were met by a driver who took us to BJ's, a little dockside convenience store, where we were met by Matt, the owner of Royal Playa, who took us the rest of the way by boat. Royal Playa consists of a main open-air, thatch-roofed building, where we congregated and took most of our meals; a lovely palapa over the water, where we ate several candlelit dinners and lounged in the afternoons; and the individual cabanas, where we showered and slept. At this point, let me be very clear. If you require 24-hour concierge service, clean linens every, single day and wild nightlife, then this is not the place for you. This is a very relaxing, laid back resort and you are encouraged to help yourself or ask for anything you would like or need.
We were up fairly early each morning, usually awakened by the calls of the boat-tailed grackles. Coffee was ready by 6:30 and breakfast was served around 8:00-8:30. Then, we got our gear together and went out on the boat for one or two dives before lunch. After lunch, we dove again, took a nap, read a book or explored the area. Dinner was served between 6:30 and 8:30, depending on the activities of the day, and whether we were doing a night dive. Everyone went to bed soon after dinner, because we would do it all again the next day!
Most of our dives began on a wall and ended on top of a pristine coral reef with a long, lazy safety stop. On one dive we saw three different types of moray eels, scrawlfish, pufferfish, lobsters, many juvenile fish, plus the usual suspects: parrotfish, durgons, angelfish, arrowcrabs, and tangs, etc. - all this in 80-plus degree water. Our meals were simple, but deliciously prepared using local ingredients. During our weeklong stay we feasted on wahoo, grouper, shrimp, lobster and chicken accompanied by local fruits, rice, plantains and flavorful pureed black beans. Late afternoon usually found everyone gathered around the table with a beverage of choice (wine, beer, mixed cocktail or soft drink) reliving the adventures of the day and exchanging personal histories. By the end of our too-short stay, we all felt like we'd known each other for much longer than a week and made plans to stay in touch. I highly recommend Royal Playa and plan to go back sometime soon!!
-Gwenanne Hartshorn, April 2009

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank gwenanneh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nashville, Tennessee
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 16, 2009

We very much enjoyed our stay at Royal Playa, Roatan. Traveling for the first time to Honduras was a little worrisome, but our stay at Royal Playa was delightful! If you are looking for something rustic and authentic, but not primitive then I would highly recommend this resort for your getaway. I'm not a diver but a napper. There was time for me to snooze...read...sit in the sun...have a pina colada... while my husband had an absolutely wonderful diving experience. He dove two or three times each day and never saw the same thing twice. His gear was great and the dive master and boat captain had a knack for keeping him laughing and safe! Also, we could not have asked for a more hospitable staff. Everyone made it their job to ensure our every wish was accommodated. Meals are a communal event giving us the wonderful opportunity of getting to know those staying at the resort...guest and staffers alike. Dinner conversation was always enjoyable and one of the best parts of the day. If you want to be far from the crowds with good company, good food and incredibly beautiful waters then pack your bags and head for Royal Playa. Don't forget the bug spray!

  • Stayed February 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank theOtheHalf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Royal Playa Dive Resort

Property: Royal Playa Dive Resort
Address: Carretera Ms Vecinal, Port Royal , Long The Shore, Roatan IB3100, Honduras
Location: Honduras > Bay Islands > Roatan
Hotel Style:
Ranked #24 of 53 Specialty Lodging in Roatan
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Royal Playa is a botique resort located in Port Royal, Roatan offering diving, snorkeling and other resort activities. Away from the crowds, privacy is assured with our intimate atmosphere and five waterfront cabanas with thatched roofs. The cabanas are tastefully decorated and have four poster beds. We offer diving and non diving packages. This is Roatan at it's most pristine, with 2200 acres of National Park surrounding the resort. The diving is unsurpassed. We have complete rental gear from Scuba Pro. We dive from Calabash Bight east to the Peigon Cayes. Our dive boats handle small groups, guaranteed to provide personal service. Come and enjoy Roatan with us! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Royal Playa Dive Hotel Roatan
Royal Playa Dive Resort Roatan, Honduras - Bay Islands

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