I booked this place through SunWing as I was looking for a resort in a area good for divers and also offering PADI dive certification. The other great attribute to this place was the direct flight from Montreal, Qc to Roatan. I travelled with my 16 year old son and we booked a Learn to Dive package.
If you went to other all inclusive resorts in other countries, please lower your expectations! But it might be the right place for you. West Bay is surrounded by an incredible coral reef. A diver’s paradise.
My experience is that all vacation flights always leave late and it did by an hour. We landed in Roatan which has a miniscule airport without sufficient space for people to walk inside. It was pouring rain. Once we finished the arrival procedure, our Sunwing agent pointed us to a tiny bus which got packed and off we went. It was an adventure starting! We were told our luggage’s would come in a different "transport". We all eyes wide opened looking at that open bed transport truck being loaded with the luggage’s going to all hotels. No roof and still risk of rain! Well, welcome to Honduras! The drive was around 30 minutes on roads in worse shape than Montreal streets in the spring.
We arrived in the West Bay area. and took a small road and, to my surprise, that is where the bus stopped. The driver opened the door and helped us out. We were on a little dirt road with pot holes in between two fences. No readable signs to great us or at least tell us that we were at the Paraside Beach Club. Luckily, one person from the reception opened the door and called us in. As soon as we walked into the reception, it was a different place. The staff was very polite and helpful. They served us a cocktail and had the rooms ready. We then walked through the other door to discover the numerous little buildings each with 6 rooms. There is around 40 rooms in total which makes for a friendly and cozy place but not a large audience to justify large restaurants and bars.
We learnt that all of them had just been renovated and that the hotel had reopened two weeks prior to our arrival. We were given a room at the 3rd floor of one building right in front of the new hotel building under construction. Not yet having entered the room three skill saws were happily cutting wood 30 ft from us. No way! I went back to the reception and the service people tried to help me without having a room for us. They promised to move us the next day which they did. The rooms are small but cozy. The bathrooms have been reworked with nice tiling. The fan on the ceiling was so unbalanced that it was dancing the Meringue on the ceiling. The good side was that the air conditioning was working so off went the fan. The pool is the size of a backyard pool but that is where the nicest chairs are located and a very good place to spend time reading. About chairs, there are very few tenants to the hotel and plenty of chairs on the beach; beach which is very pleasant with warm water, very little if any wind thus no waves. It is so nice to walk to the beach and not have to fight to get a chair or get up in the middle of the night to go put your crocs on to reserve them. The only problem is that West Bay gets somewhere between 1 and 4 cruise ships a day! So, to make money, the hotel rents the chairs to the arriving tourists and hotel tenants end up with no chairs!
We went to the Hengy Morgan hotel where, TGI Roatan, the dive center used by SunWing. The TGI people were great at setting us up. BUT, we learnt that before we could start diving, we had to rent the equipment which was not included! It is interesting to learn that people going on a learn to dive session are expected to bring their own diving gear! So, I had to pay $50 times 2 to get my son and I the rig needed. The course went well and the instructors are professional and knowledgeable. We ended with our Scuba diver license in 2 busy days. We then learnt that, to pursuit to the Open Water certification, although the TGI brochure calls for an additional $109USD, the same guy who claimed the equipment rental asked for $190USD plus taxes and said that this was because we were with SunWing and that it was because of the low rate we had that they had to recover and charge us more. Bull… it was to hold us by the balls! I refused and we continued our training at a different center: Ocen-Connection which is attached to the Paradise Beach. All went well and we got our certification. We just hope they register it and PADI sends us our diver cards.
About the food:
If you are picky on food, I advice you do not go to West Bay. As far as I have learnt from other Quebecers flying back, all hotels have very rudimentary buffets. The only large resort is the Infinity Bay which SunWing does not offer. At Paradise Beach, the buffet was made of two or 3 stainless food warmers each heated with a Sterno (so cold most times). All meat is over cooked. The salads and fruits are always good. That is the only restaurant part of the “all inclusive” so if you decide to go to the pizzeria next door, you ought to pay.
This leads me to the “all inclusive” part of the deal. In all the trips I went to before, all inclusive has always been all inclusive which means the drinks, the food… no need to sign checks, nobody asking you what your room number was; all you need is the good old hotel wrist band. First, you must know that by ALL inclusive, they mean MOST included. Like I said, only the mini buffet is included and, drink wise, the “local drinks” would be included but no-one could clearly explain which drink were local and which were not. So, at Paradise Beach, EVERY TIME we would order a drink, we were asked what our room number was. Then, most times, we would be handed a tab to sign. When asking what it was for, they always said it was no problem, we would not be charged, and it was just for inventory. Well, in most instances it is true that this bothering signature process was not leading to extra charges. Most times but for the last day when I ended up with a $12USD bill for a Bleu Roatan drink (could that be more local) and 2 glasses of red wine. In the bus to the airport, when I asked the other vacationers, they did not get charged for Blue Roatan although they had many. So I recommend you do not leave a credit card number at the reception when checking in and not sign those tabs for inventory.
The manager and all staff are very friendly, helpful and dedicated to their customer’s happiness. They organized a very nice New Year’s eve diner. As for other activities, a small band came one evening. It is a very quiet environment and most people were happy that way.
The return was a bit tedious. The flight was delayed, the airport is way too small to hold all the flights leaving on the Monday morning but we made it back safe.
In conclusion, the Paradise Beach and most hotels around it are places to go diving; not to go in a deluxe trip. With all I write above, I should rank it with one star but no; I went to Roatan for diving and got out with my certification after some serious dives! But this long text was written to deliver the plain truth knowing that most people travelling do so with “luxury” in mind and I felt it is best for all to know what kind of a treat you’ll get in Roatan. Then why don’t I give it 5 stars just for diving is simple; even the small choice of food was not very good, the tabs to get a drink were annoying, overall the rooms and hotel layout were so-so and the chairs rented to the cruise ship tourists were abuse. The staff is 5 stars.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Set in tropical gardens, the newly renovated Paradise Beach Hotel with direct access to the renowned West Bay Beach and only steps away from turquoise waters and world famous coral reef is a great family destination. With four restaurants, two swimming pools, fully equipped dive center and Gym, Paradise Beach Hotel has something for everyone. Roatan as a destination is renowned for its Dolphin attractions, world Class Golf Course, numerous outdoor activities and its close proximity to the USA with direct flight from Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Miami and El Salvador. Come and join us for one of the most beautiful sunsets in the Caribbean. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Paradise Beach Club Hotel West Bay
- Paradise Beach Resort
- Paradise Beach Hotel Bay Islands, Honduras - West Bay