A Diamond in the Rough
With its premier beachfront location, and a completely secluded feel, the Ibagari Boutique Hotel can best be described as an exceptionally intimate and stylish haven.
The 8-room adults-only oceanfront property stands out on the island as a uniquely exquisite sanctum combining the sense of privacy of villa combined and the first-class amenities of a luxury hotel. The building doubles as an art gallery showcasing a magnitude of art by local and Guatemalan artists, given thats where the owners originate. Also unique to the property is the island’s only fine dining restaurant, an infinity pool that essentially blends into the sea, and an astounding focus on personalized service.
The hotel’s laid-back, low-key, easy-breezy personality mirrors that of its surrounding environment staying true to its roots, but elevates itself to a level of sophistication not present anywhere else on the island.
The Ibagari Boutique Hotel (also now a Smith Hotel) is the ultimate and only luxury hotel on the island of Roatán, Honduras. That may seem like a bold statement but trust me on this. On the more ‘rustic’ island of Roatán, this boutique hotel, offers the only true luxury, five-star accommodations and amenities.
The hotel’s Luna Muna restaurant, is the best restaurant on the island hands down and the only fine dining option. Its popularity is evident from the amount people that flock here at night to dine - it was the only time of day I saw other people. The menu was created by acclaimed Guatemalan chefs Rick Zachrisson and Alex Flores, with no other theme than delightful, as it offers an eclectic mix of dishes made from seasonal locally sourced ingredients, most grown onsite. I think I must have tried the entire menu as I ate every meal here during my 4 day stay and everything I ate was a culinary delight. What really stood out are the unique pastas that are mainly seafood forward for obvious reasons.
Guests are treated to an astounding level personal service with attentive, personable and genuinely caring staff. I feel like I keep saying this of the last few hotels I have written about but honestly, I maybe just pick the right places. Despite being the only hotel guest at the time, I truly feel the service would be this good anytime. Staff were so conversational, caring, helpful, I felt like they just genuinely wanted to make sure my stay in the island was perfect.
All rooms at Ibagari are spacious and offer views of the Caribbean Sea, which is perfect for enjoying sunset. The rooms have a minimalist yet refined decor yet with an island flare and come equipped with all the necessary modern amenities.
I was lucky enough to stay in room 8, the Hati Suite, which i believe is a premier suite and it was absolute perfection, I think it is known to be the best room in the house. The room was massive, as was the outdoor terrace with a dining and lounge area and the bathroom was very spacious and the shower overlooks the ocean as well.
The hotel is in the middle of an expansion which will add another building consisting of 9 rooms, all ocean view, as well as a two-bedroom suite (no ocean view) with its own private swimming pool.
Scuba diving & snorkeling is the ultimate reason people visit the island of Roatán. Located on the world’s second largest coral reef, the Mesoamerican Reef, the island is a diver’s paradise. Duna Divers is the Ibagari’s exclusive diving centre offering PADI training and lessons, as well as regular diving and snorkeling excursions all conveniently departing right from the hotels beachfront. If you want a more casual snorkeling experience just catch a water taxi on the beach in West Bay and they will cheaply drive you out to the reef.
This island beach paradise is also a jungle oasis, offering visitors a wide range of non-snorkeling activities as well, such as horseback riding, zip-lining, hiking, kayaking, or interacting with the wildlife of the island such as monkeys, sloths iguanas and more. There are also some spectacular golf courses on the island.
Relaxing and enjoying the famed beaches. I will have to note here - while Roatán gets a lot of credit from visitors for its stunning beaches, as a beach lover and someone who was travelled as much as I have, I somewhat beg to differ. While the islands location does mean the sand is powdery white and the water is 50 shades of turquoise, the beaches aren’t necessarily all that well kept especially in the bustling West Bay area, but ultimately they are nice and the water is delightful, you just can’t go in expecting it to live up to some of the elite better known Caribbean islands. The Ibagari’s beach is small, but very well maintained.
What to Know
The West End vs West Bay. The West End is a little sort of village with a paved road lined with shops, eateries and bars, and is known more for nightlife. The West Bay hosts the famed scratch of white sand beach lined with hotels, beach bars and restaurants and numerous water taxis. The Ibagari is ideally located, on a pristine stretch of beach and conveniently in between the West Bay and West End.
Roatán is a somewhat popular stop for cruise ship lines, so if you want to spend some time enjoying the bustle of West Bay beach, go before noon to beat the cruise ship crowds in order to get a prime spot at one of the beach front establishments.
The hotel is a 25 minute drive from the island’s international airport in Coxen Hole, Roatán’s largest city but not one of its main attractions so don’t worry about planning anytime in the city. The hotel can arrange for return transportation for $50 USD (at least when I was there), a rental car isn’t ideal or necessary.
While there is no spa or wellness facilities at the hotel, in-room massages and treatments can be booked as well as private pilates and yoga sessions.
The beach at Ibagari is remote, yet technically not private, so expect some onlookers and passerby-ers, but it doesn’t take away from the overall experience.
In the event you are currently scratching your head wondering where exactly Roatán is located (you are not alone), it's a large island in the Caribbean Sea 65 km off the northern coast of Honduras. It is part of the Bay Islands of Honduras and is mostly known in the diving community. Ready to visit Honduras yet?
Bring American dollars. Although I didn’t leave the hotel grounds much, and many blogs will tell you to get local currency, the little interaction I had with the outside world made me glad I brought some US cash on hand. The hotel prices everything in USD as well yet charges your credit card in local currency.
I feel like I need to elaborate on how amazing the service was at Ibagari. The bartender (I wish I could remember her name) would make me custom cocktails, go to great lengths to source and innovate with my favourite ingredients, and sit there and keep me company instead of going about her work, as I usually ate at the bar as well so I lingered. Daniel and Fernando always kept me company whether dining or hanging at the beach/pool and made sure I saw this and did that and tried another angle of the place out. Daniel mapped out my walk into West Bay one day so I could walk along the beach and take photos and then insisted on picking me up to come home. Fernando even went into town one night to see if it was safe enough for me to venture alone with him and some others, given it was nearing election time. It was not, so the staff rallied (they live on site) let me DJ my own dance party and when the manager heard rap music and called down to give everyone a yelling at (thinking they were disturbing me)…...I made it clear I was the one disturbing everyone. I cannot wait to bring my husband for a visit as this place is paradise and he is into scuba diving. When I say manager, I mean Thelma, who prior to arrival helped me with every stage of my trip and who would personally check in during my stay and was just a gem to communicate with.