Roatan's Yacht Club

Roatan's Yacht Club

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HOMELESS IN HONDURAS PART 1: ROATAN DIVE AND YACHT CLUB, FRENCH HARBOUR ROATAN

Feb 24, 2005 (Updated May 9, 2005)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Wonderful little property, fantastic staff.

Cons:No beach, water pressure.

The Bottom Line: It wasn't our first choice, at least on this trip. Next trip it just may well be.


There’s an old saying something akin to, falling into a pile of excrement and coming up smelling like a rose. On our trip to Roatan in Honduras that’s what happened to us. We’d booked an air/hotel package a couple of weeks prior and everyone was going smooth. The flight down was uneventful, aside from the landing, which was a little hard. The pilot I think got off and walked up the runway after to see if anything important fell off. On the plus side though he got us there 45 minutes early.

Like the good sheep we were all went through Immigration and Customs and trooped out to board three mini buses to take us the 20 minute drive to the Fantasy Island Dive and Beach Resort. (http://www.epinions.com/content_174649413252)

Being in the middle bus meant that we were well back in the check in line, but as long as the waiters kept circling with those little fruity umbrella drinks who cared. Finally we reached the front desk and that’s when the fun and games started.

The desk clerk took one look at our names and said we had to see the manger. “See Hon,” I said, “we’re getting an upgrade.” Well I was right, sort of.

It seems the hotel was overbooked and there was no room for us. In fact there was no room for 16 of us. Not too worry we advised by the manager. She had made arrangements at a nearby hotel and once the luggage arrived we’d all be shuttled over there. It was nicer hotel we were told and we’d be there three to four nights.

Of course we’d be compensated for our trouble financially. That was in addition to having our rooms there covered and a $30.00 US per person for dinner that night.

In addition as we’d be using the facilities at the resort we’d be staying at, meals, bar and beach etc. They’d lay on a rent a car for each couple or group.

The manager also assured us it was a nicer property, with nicer rooms. Although she did point out it didn’t have a beach.

There was another short delay, as the bus carrying the luggage broke down enroute from the airport. Hey what can I say it was one of those nights. Eventually though we checked into the Roatan Dive and Yacht Club.

We ended up spending four nights there. While our days were spent tracking down our rent a car, getting our “inconvenience, please don’t sue us” money and other goodies like free tours, there was still time to explore the place. What I saw impressed me.

The Roatan Dive and Yacht Club (RDYC) is small hotel and marina located on the eastern edge of French Harbour, the second largest town on Roatan. It’s in the middle of the island and on the south side.

There are 18 rooms in two blocks, one facing the marina and the other the small parking lot. A third main building contains the reception area, office, restaurant and bar. The hotel is partially built on the side of a hill and the grounds are full of lush vegetation. The buildings are all wood, and stained or painted in pleasing colours, and the overall effect is quite pleasing.

We actually had the opportunity to stay in rooms in each block. The first night we managed to get a second floor room in the block overlooking the marina. This is the better of the two blocks and the second floor in turn is nicer than the first. Our room was spacious with to double beds. Some of the rooms we were advised have a single king size instead. The room came with a spacious private balcony with built in wooden benches, chairs and table and our own hammock.

The room, and in fact the building was built with dark or stained woods. This and the high vaulted ceiling, complete with ceiling fan, reminded me of a ski lodge.

After one night we unfortunately were moved to the other building. That’s where we were supposed to be and the majority of the other “homeless” had been put up. There just hadn’t been enough rooms there the first night. Our magnificent room was already pre booked for guests coming that day, and as they were friends of the owners, naturally they got the good rooms. The second room had no balcony. It did however have a communal porch with a view of the parking lot.

Both rooms were clean and as I said spacious. It was obvious that the bathrooms while small had recently been upgraded with new fixtures, including glass block showers. The showers were big enough for two. Water pressure wasn’t that great, but it was adequate and there was no shortage of hot water. In fact the water went out for a few hours one morning, but was fixed and up and running in a few hours. The maids ensured a good supply of towels and the usual toiletries. There was also a built in hairdryer.

The rooms had all the modern conveniences one comes to expect. There was a satellite TV with remote and a good selection of US and local channels, and in room phones with direct dial. In addition to the ceiling fan there was an air conditioner. In the second room we had this also came with a remote in holder on one of the beds for added convenience.

The only “modern” convenience that no one seemed to appreciate was the power saving device installed in all the rooms. One had to insert your room key into a slot near the door, to power the room, air conditioner, and lights, TV etc. Because it was an old fashioned key not a card key system there’s no way to trick it with a piece of cardboard.

It’s worth noting here that Roatan and in fact Honduras operates on the same electrical system as North America therefore a converter is not required (that is unless you’re coming from Europe or elsewhere). However a lot of Honduran outlets, including the ones at the RDYC are of the old two prong style. If your appliances have the new three prongs, as most do these days, you’re going to need an adaptor. A surge protector is also a good idea especially for more “delicate” electronic items like digital cameras and laptops.

The main building as I said contains a rather tiny reception desk and office. Free safety deposit boxes are available in the later. There is a large indoor dining room and bar decorated in a maritime, pirate motif including a life size and very realistic buccaneer guarding the door. One of the corners is a small lounge area with seating and a TV. At the end of the bar is a computer with Internet access available for a nominal cost.

Outside is a large covered patio with tables and another bar. For the most part this is built on stilts on the hillside and provides an excellent view of the harbour and marina. As it faces east, the sunrise from the patio is spectacular.

Past the second bar is a small deck with a tiny pool, good enough for a quick dip to cool off in. Beside the pool are stairs leading up the hill. At the top is a bench and covered hut provided great views of French Harbour and the surrounding area.

This area and in fact the whole property is covered with lush vegetation and with the dark wood colour of two of the buildings offers an overall pleasing look. In fact the only thing I was disappointed in was a lack of a beach. Mind there are plenty of those on the island.

A path leads down to the marina, a private dock in a sheltered bay. During our stay there were a couple of boats moored here. One of their owners was a regular and colourful fixture at the bar most nights. A building here serves as the marina office and the dive centre, although I never availed myself of either.

We ate here twice; our first night and a second time a couple of nights later. I also dropped into the bar for a drink or two every night we were there.

The food was fantastic. As expected seafood dominates the menu, but there’s plenty else to choose from including beef chicken and pizza. The first night we both had shrimp and grilled lobster washed down with some great local beers. It was excellent and the price was unbelievable. Even with several drinks our tab was about $40.00 US.

Prices are more than reasonable especially for Roatan, which is more expensive than mainland Honduras, although still fairly cheap by Caribbean standards. One night we had several drinks with another couple and our bar tab was barely over $10.00

The second night my wife tried the snapper and gave it her seal of approval. I opted for the Wiener schnitzel, which may seem an odd choice but I’d already met the chef. Gunthar is from Stuttgart, and an avid diver, which is why he’s on Roatan. The schnitzel was as good as the lobster.

The restaurant is open to non-guests and most nights a few locals or people from other hotels drop in for a meal or a drink. Sundays specially seem to be popular judging by the number of tables I saw full.

The setting and magnificent food though are not the best part about the RDYC. It’s the staff. Everyone from reception, to the waiters, to the maids, was polite, friendly and most of all professional and efficient. Later in the week after being moved to the other hotel, we had the chance to compare staff, and found the new ones for the most part failed to measure up, mind that could be said about several other things too.

I had the opportunity to speak to Nicolai the owner over a beer or two one night. He’s originally form Munich and took over the RDYC in November 2004. He has what I consider the perfect idea on how to run a hotel or any establishment. First of all you get good people. Several of the staff told they’d worked at other establishments on the island and now preferred to be here.

Secondly you treat them right. Most nights Nicolai was there and always seemed to have a friendly word about or to them. Wednesday, the day we checked out, he was shutting the place down, or at least the restaurant and bar, so he could take his employees out for a fun day of fishing.

Nicolai told me that our getting bumped wasn’t the first time it had happened. In fact he said one group opted not to check out when their rooms became available at Fantasy Island. They spent the rest of the week at the RDYC, even though it cost them more. I know how they felt we considered it.

Roatan Dive & Yacht Club
P.O Box 113 Roatan 34101
Islas de la Bahia, Honduras
Tel/Fax: + + (504)455-5407
Email: reservat@roatanyachtclub.com
www.roatanyachtclub.com


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