Story and Photography by Manos Angelakis
The Lodge at Pico Bonito
AP710, La Ceiba, CP31101, Honduras
Tel: +504-440-0388 / 0389
In 200 acres of tropical wilderness, with lush gardens and a landscaped pool, the Lodge at Pico Bonito is a remote yet luxurious eco-retreat set well off the beaten path against a stunning mountain backdrop, 20 minutes from Honduras’ La Ceiba’s airport. The Lodge is a bird-watchers’ paradise with an delightful restaurant, a pool, observation towers, a Butterfly Farm and a Serpent House. The open-air lobby houses registration, a gift shop, two Internet computers, and a long porch overlooking the gardens full of multicolored tropical flowers and views of the mist-covered mountains. Trails lead to a river and beautiful waterfalls. As I understood it, the property is a working cocoa finca.
On arrival, we were greeted with a tropical drink and invited to sit on the porch to admire the breathtaking views of the towering peaks of the Nombre de Dios Mountain Range.
The 22 wooden casitas built from tropical hardwood trees felled by a hurricane, are found after wandering down gravel and pebble paths; they are scattered among banana, coffee, and cacao groves in the rainforest that grows around the reception building, the restaurant, and the conference center. The casitas have private verandahs with hammocks; louvered and screened windows; air-conditioning if desired; double fans; high-quality cotton sheets, and bathrobes and slippers. It is one of the few eco-resorts considered luxurious enough to be accepted by the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH).
Itzama, the Lodge’s restaurant serves gourmet breakfast, lunch, and dinners, which combine classical cooking methods with a local ingredient twist. The adjacent Carbunco Bar, with a lounge area and the hotel's only TV, offers a large variety of tropical cocktails and wines. Maria Vinelli, the youngest daughter of Robert Vinelli, founder and former General Manager of the Lodge, trained in the culinary arts at the French Culinary School in New York and received a BA in Food Studies from NYU. She has taken over the kitchen with outstanding, world-class results. The availability of fresh ingredients, many grown in the Lodge’s kitchen garden, allows her to present both Mesoamerican and international specialties in an environment that is difficult to surpass.
One of the Lodge’s primary social objectives is the employment of Hondurans. Through a training program in an area where local unemployment is rampant and where there is no actual luxury hospitality industry to train prospective employees, the Lodge has trained and hired staff that is 98% Honduran.
We had an overnight and less than a full day to enjoy the Lodge. I hope to be able to return in the near future having more time to enjoy the friendly hospitality that the Lodge at Pico Bonito offers.
© July 2009 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.