Pico Bonito Lodge
Within months of opening in June of 2000, the Lodge at Pico Bonito was listed among the 200 Small Luxury Hotels of the World, a record accomplishment.
With 200 acres, this is hardly a small property but guestrooms are limited to only 24 wood cabins.
Located within the rain forest of Pico Bonito National Park just a half hour from La Ceiba's airport.
Lodge facilities are extensive for so few guests (maximum 48). Its separate reception, restaurant and conference buildings are linked together by a raised wooden walkway.
In back are a swimming pool, several wildlife observation towers and miles of hiking trails. Night walks are a favorite specialty.
Because of the heavy annual rainfall, gravel pathways are needed to connect the cabins to the main buildings, which eliminates any worry about having to slip and slide down to dinner on a muddy slope.
Dining in the oversize restaurant (the high-ceiling could easily enclose a small ski chalet) is as relaxed as being at home since you choose the time your meal is served.
Lunch and dinner always have several entrée selections and the servings are generous. A combination bar/library at one side of the restaurant is well stocked for before or after dinner drinks.
For relaxing afterwards, a huge unscreened porch running the length of the building offers couches and rocking chairs for fine views of Pico Bonito's forested slopes.
Cabins have ceiling fans inside the sleeping quarters and outside on a covered porch but no air-conditioning. Some guests who've arrived on a sweltering afternoon have departed without ever checking in, believing the nights would be equally hellish.
Instead, evenings are normally cool and pleasant no matter how uncomfortable the daytime temperatures. And the fans are there for when it gets stifling.
Tours to nearby natural attractions can be booked through the lodge, which also has its own butterfly farm open to guests anytime.
Although about 275 bird species reside in the area, they're usually not easy to see. Perhaps the Lodge's one fault is that it does little to attract them, which disappoints some visitors.
The Lodge would do well to adopt some of the feeding techniques used at Trinidad's famed Asa Wright Nature Reserve if it really wants to become an outstanding, must-see birding location.
The Lodge at Pico Bonito makes it easy to see an overview of the country through its 8-day, 7-night Ruins to Reef to Rain Forest package. The tour includes 2 nights in Copan Ruinas, 3 at the lodge and 2 final nights at Anthony's Key Resort on Roatan in the Bay Islands.
For information, call 011 504 440-0388 or fax 504 440-0468. Web site: www.picobonito.com