Palmetto Bay, Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras
As with other upscale Roatan lodging choices, there are compromises aplenty at Palmetto Bay Plantation, but if your family wants to get away from it all and have a comfortable bungalow of your own in pristine surroundings, this is the best choice on the island.
Palmetto Bay appeals to guests who want to experience natural isolation with a minimum of noise and outside intrusions. Getting here requires bumping along for miles on a rutted dirt road, but since the resort picks you up at the airport, at least you don't have to worry about trashing the rental car. The difficulty of getting here is part of the appeal for some, however, with recent guests Michael Douglas, Richard Gere, and the second in command at the United Nations offering a hint of who appreciates the secure and private location. Despite all that, rates here rank among the world's great bargains.
On its own private bay and miles of protected of land, this area is a planned development of private homes and select bungalows for rent. It attracts buyers who like the idea of nature being mostly left alone. This means a few more bugs than usual and a beach that is closer to one you'll find on an isolated islet somewhere rather than one stripped of all its sea grass and inland vegetation.
The meal plan here is a great deal, at $45 a day adults, $30 a day for children, but it's fine to take advantage of your kitchen and just order a la carte when you want. The restaurant and lounge are in a dramatic open triangular structure made of wood, its high ceiling sailing up to a peak in the center, everything spilling out to the pool and whirlpool on the desk, with a view to the beach beyond. The cuisine is more diverse than expected in such a hard–to–reach spot, but making the most of fresh seafood and fruit that is in season. The indoor/outdoor bar and lounge gives you the choice of barstools, chairs around a table, or a giant Rajasthani–looking daybed. A couple of hammocks do the trick for an afternoon siesta.
A full dive center is available, of course, and through the staff you can set up fishing charters, seaplane rides, snorkeling excursions, sailing trips, or even full–week Spanish lessons. At the end of a long dock is a gazebo, which is a popular spot for massages, yoga, or pilates. These activities all come with a fee, but kayaks are provided to guests in the rates and many choose to take advantage of all the local hiking trails that wind through the fruit trees. You can go on a snorkeling excursion, but with a reef right off the shore, it's easy enough to just rent the equipment and wade in. Each Friday night there is a beach party with bonfire and Garifuna dancing.
The hardwood bungalows on stilts are impressive to look at and are well–designed. Much of the square footage goes into the common areas: an open great room with kitchen and a furnished wraparound deck with hammocks. You can reach the deck from both the great room and at least one of the bedrooms in each bungalow. You can choose from the smallest option––a two–bedroom unit with one bath and no air conditioning––or pay an unbelievably minimal upgrade and get a three–bedroom, two–bath bungalows with air just a few steps from the beach. All include a full kitchen with barstools and full appliances, a washer and dryer, a stereo, and assorted books and games for lazy afternoons. TVs have DVD players, with movie rentals available in the office.
© Palmetto Bay Plantation
The furniture is island comfortable but attractive and varies in style from one bungalow to another. Louvered doors in the great room open up fully to the open air and the sounds of singing birds. Baths get bigger as the units do, with combo tubs instead of shower–only stalls found in the smaller ones. Some of the larger units have two walk–in closets. None of the bedrooms are all that large, however, so most guests spend the bulk of their time in the great room or on the deck. Six new units planned to be finished by the end of '08 will be more luxurious, with larger bedrooms, more upscale materials, and private plunge pools.
Bungalows facing the water command a $20 premium, but note that none have an unobstructed view: the developers have wisely not stripped the trees and bushes keeping erosion in check and have placed the buildings back a good distance from the water. The location of Palmetto Bay Plantation is far from convenient and your family could quickly rack up hefty activity and transportation charges if you get antsy. If you're up for quality time and relaxation in a natural setting, however, this is paradise at a great price.
Web Address: www.palmettobayplantation.com
Total Number of Rooms: 29 bungalows
Published rates: $135 to $245 including airport transfers
Review and photos by Timothy Scott except where indicated.