Friday, 18 April 2014

Henry Morgan Resort, Roatan, Honduras

Henry Morgan Resort 
Roatan, Honduras 

After a very long winter, it was time to get away. It was time to go to Roatan. The beautiful Henry Morgan resort is about 20 minutes from the airport. Check in was quick and most of the staff spoke English, French and Spanish. We were surprised at how many French Canadians there were; us Anglophones were definitely outnumbered. 

As you enter, the animation staff greet you with cocktails and music. The whole resort ahs wood floors, like a deck. It's beautiful. The lobby is full of couches with colourful, oversized cushions. I didn't like that the luggage did not come with you on the same bus. All of the luggage was brought in a separate truck. We arrived before it, so we had to wait around, sweating like crazy. Since our flight was early, our rooms weren't ready either. Not a big deal, we didn't have to wait long. The weather was fantastic, so we didn't care. We already had our bracelets, so we could get ourselves food and drinks. The bar closes at 11pm, so it's a quieter resort. You'll be able to find some people that stay up, we did. If not, there are bars and restaurants with live music on the beach. 

Each day, the room had a different, beautiful design on each bed with either towel animals or flowers. 

The layout of this resort is a little awkward. Nothing is close to the beach. You have to walk through the lobby to get to the pool or beach from your room. All of the rooms and villas are in one area. If you have accessibility issues, this might not be the place for you. There are not many ramps and I didn't see any to get to the walkway that lead to the rooms.  

The hotel has multiple small buildings that are 2 floors high. Ask for the second floor! The walkways are all wood, so if you have a first floor room, you can hear when people walk by. However, if you have strollers or other items that are difficult for stairs, get a first floor room as there is no elevator. Either way, your balcony has 2 hammocks waiting for you! We loved them so much, we bought one. 

Let's talk about food. The food was AMAZING. It was a great mix of local and North American food. The only course that was repetitive was breakfast. Everything else was changed daily. I don't care if you're not a fish person, because you need to eat it. They did amazing things with it and it was a hit every time. The beef and chicken were good, especially their fried chicken. I think I had it everyday. There is a hidden(to me at least) secret at the supper buffet, if you don't eat outside. There is a cook with fresh meat, cooking up something amazing on the patio. Go out there everyday and check it out. I was sorry I didn't make it out there on day 1!  

The buffet hours were annoying though. I'm a snacker and there wasn't always food there. Breakfast was 7-930am. Lunch wasn't until 1230-2pm. Supper was 630-8pm. So hungry! The snack bar on the beach was great. You could get food early and then hit the buffet there at 1230pm if you were still hungry. Sometimes the lobby bar would have a few platters of food. 

You receive 1 a la carte per week. 1?? What?? It's a small resort, so there is only 1 restaurant besides the buffet. Don't fret. You get to have dinner right on the beach. I don't mean that you can see the beach, I mean that your table and chairs are in the sand. It was a great experience. If it's your anniversary, tell them ahead of time and you will get a special table. We didn't know they did that, but we told the person that booked our dinner reservation for the hell of it. We had been seated at a regular table when our server realized we were at the wrong table. It was gorgeous. So romantic! 


The pool area is small, but comfortable. As you choose a lounge chair, either at the pool or on the beach, a staff member will bring you a cushion. Awesome. The beach and pool area are kept very clean. They rake the sand to get the garbage and cigarette butts out a few times a day. Smoking is only allowed outside. You can't smoke in any of the buildings. The beach area was a decent size. Since many people go there for diving, they leave early, so you don't have to reserve your spot at the crack of dawn in the shade. 

Excursion 1 - Barbaretta & Pigeon Keys 

I'm sorry if I sound a little bitter here, but I'm giving you my experience and the feedback I received from other people there. This was the only negative part of the whole week.  

We had made a few friends and it was time to book an excursion. They all wanted to go on the Barbaretta and Pigeon Keys trip. It is an all day trip. I should probably let you know I'm not a strong swimmer. If you need a life vest, get one ahead of time at the dive shop. You can borrow snorkeling gear for free if you're going on this excursion, so take the vest there. Don't assume they will have them on the boat. 
  
This included 3 snorkeling opportunities and lunch(lobster, beef AND chicken) on a deserted island. There were at least 20 French speaking people there, so the leader did a 10 minute overview in French before we left. She came to us, 6 English speaking people, and gave us a 5 sentence overview. Not impressed with that. I understand a bit of French and I felt like we were missing out on important information.  

Oh and BRING GRAVOL. The calm waters at the resort are a lie! Your tour person will assure you that you won't get seasick, THEY ARE LYING. I grew up on a lake, been on oodles of boats and was never seasick until that day. I was the most popular girl on the boat! This is not why I'm bitter. I know I'm not a strong swimmer and the water was very choppy, I probably wouldn't have snorkeled much anyway.  

As people returned to the boat at the first stop, I asked them how it was. Every one of them said, there was no fish and the coral was terrible. I guess I didn't miss much. The next stop was a shipwreck. Everyone said it was fantastic. Many different fish to see! The 3rd stop was the deserted island. We spend a few hours there. You could snorkel while lunch was being cooked. They said you had to go out very far because it was shallow. When you got out far enough, the coral was very high, so it was like a maze. Many people came back with small cuts from accidentally touching the coral. Before we left, the group was asking if we'd see any sharks, they said sometimes they see Nurse Sharks. Well, you didn't have to snorkel to see them. Leftover lobster from our lunch was tossed into the shallow water and baby nurse sharks swam right up, no snorkel required! 

The highlight of the trip was the boat ride back and it wasn't even a feature of the excursion. Dolphins were playing in the wake of the boat. There were about 8 of them swimming alongside us! They were jumping and doing barrel rolls in the wake. It was AMAZING! 

The captains of each boat were true professionals. They did an excellent job handling the rough waters. The captain of the Mama Ioletta gave me candied ginger to calm my stomach and joked that I wasn't the only one to get sick. I was moved to the speed boat and Gary was fantastic. He took us through the mangroves and didn't hesitate to slow or stop the boat so we could see the dolphins playing in the wake. 
 
Here's why I'm bitter: It was $175 USD. Everyone said it wasn't worth it and I agree. 

TIP: The best snorkeling was FREE! There is a rock wall 10min down the beach from the resort. It was packed full of amazing varieties of fish in nice calm water. 

Excursion 2 - Island Tour 

This tour was the best and an absolute highlight of the trip. There was us and the 4 people we met at the resort in a minivan. Since it was a small group, the driver was very flexible about the tour.  

We started with pictures at a few scenic viewpoints and the off to the Mayan Eden. It has a butterfly sanctuary, monkeys and other indigenous animals. Our guide had a great passion for his work. He was very knowledgeable and answered all of our questions. He would pick up the butterflies to show us with such care. He has a great relationship with all of the animals there. We got to hold the monkeys, the Roatan rabbit and the lion monkey. It was awesome! 

We then went to the iguana farm where they have 5,000 iguanas! They give you a long leaf to feed them. I put the leaf down near a few iguanas and within seconds I had over 20 iguanas piling on top of each other to get some. It was crazy! They also had spider monkeys and lots of turtles. Their gift shop was fabulous; lots of beautiful gifts you won't find at the shop at the hotel! 



From there we went to a village for lunch. You had the choice of chicken, shrimp or lobster and it came with rice and beans, salad and fried plantains. I love plantains. We chose the chicken and everyone else chose the shrimp. The helpings were large. The chicken was breaded and fried and the shrimp were smothered in a curry sauce. We left very happy and very full after watching the village children dance. 

This tour was absolutely worth the money. This made up for the previous excursion! Just remember, you've paid for this tour and it includes everything above, so if you are asked for entry fees into any park, tell them you've paid your driver. Make sure everything is clear before you leave. I strongly recommend this tour. It was only $69! 


This was a great vacation. I could easily live there and I've never said anything like that about any other spot I've been. It's has the option of party and relaxation.  

Like many of the other reviews, I would go back, not only to Roatan, but to this resort.  

You need to check it out! 

Lisa

Saturday, 15 March 2014

The Newest Pizza PIE in Town

Pie Pickering 
1550 Kingston Rd 
Pickering, ON 
L1V1C3 
905-492-9393 

On the hunt for a new pizza joint, I came across this little gem. Only opened for a month, Pie had a continuous stream of people entering and many happy customers leaving. It's located just west of Brock Rd on Kingston Rd. TIP: The plaza address is blocked by bushes, but I have a handy dandy picture of the outside above! You can't miss it and you don't want to!



The inside is shiny and new. It screams fun. The menus are printed on the actual table! I thought that was a great way to save on paper! You think a regular pizza joint has a lot of choices for pizza? You are wrong. These are not your average pizzas. Delicious combinations laid out on an fresh, ultra thin pizza crust is always a winner.



They come in one size equaling 6 slices or about the same size as a smaller, frozen pizza. It safely fed my mother and I, but if you are a guy or a hungrier gal, you might want to get your own pizza. The prices are good, so getting more than one pizza just lets you try more! 

The servers were very young, but attentive. It was busy and they realized there was a gap in between dishes, so they gave us our drinks on the house. This locations is very knew, so growing pains are to be expected. 

We started with the Cornflake Crusted Calamari. It was so tender; I don't know how they did it. It was comparable to expensive restaurants! The breading wasn't overpowering, just a hint of cornflakes.  What a great combo! 

After much deliberating, we chose the Porky Pie. Topped with slices of prosciutto, wood fired bacon an spicy sausage. It was fantastic. The prosciutto and bacon were perfect and then you'd get the surprise of spicy sausage hiding underneath. The crust was so thin, that we finished the pie and felt satisfied, not in a food coma.  

That means there was room for dessert! The Nutty Pie had been calling us since we sat down. Ultra thing pizza crust topped with nutella, banana and crème de leche. Why didn't _I_ think of that?? It was amazing. It makes me want to put anything I would put on a pancake or crepe on pizza crust. 

A great experience and I'd love to go back and try some of there other pie creations! 

Lisa





Friday, 7 March 2014

Warming Up at The Loose Moose

The Loose Moose Tap & Grill 
146 Front St W 
Toronto, ON 
M5J2M2 
416-977-8840 

On a terribly cold, windy day of visiting a trade show, my friend and I were starving. We had taken the GO Train in and were looking for something close to Union Station....and there it was, The Loose Moose. 

We (literally) ran in and hoped they could seat us. It was packed! Luckily, their bench style seating allowed us to squeeze in. It's HUGE and perfectly designed for a fun, pub atmosphere. Hell, even the bathrooms were fun; random antique stall doors, random sinks, even random taps! Not to mention, the beer selection was fantastic! It's never too cold for beer! 

The menu has a good variety; there is something for everyone. Some of the meals had fun names. You don't make friends with salad, you say? What if it's called a Big Bitchin' Green? Definitely sounds better than 'salad.'  

I went with the Avocado, Tomato, Brie and Bacon and my friend went with the Classic Burger. I couldn't believe how much avocado was on this sandwich; I could barely take a bite! To top off this wonderful creation, it was on a BACON foccacia. It had strips of bacon baked INTO the bread. Amazing. The burger was juicy and the toppings were fresh. The fries were pretty good too. The beer just topped it all off! 

Great location, great service, great food and beer. I would absolutely go back. 

Stay loose, 
Lisa 







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