When it comes to hotels and resorts, Haiti is playing catch up. The good news is that the country is, in fact, catching up, with new builds appearing and older resorts investing in renovations. Over the last decade, political disarray and the earthquake of 2010 took its toll on the country. Those days are hopefully in the rear view and Haiti is once again attracting tourists, who choose the country for its authenticity and captivating Creole culture.
While there are over 500 hotels in the country, only a handful have been ranked as being either 5 or 4 hibiscus properties (instead of a star system, Haiti has created its own hibiscus ranking). Here are some of the country’s best hotels and resorts, singled out for their appeal to a traveler’s specific needs.
Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince is the travel and business hub of the country. Constantly in motion, the capital sees a flow of business and NGO travelers either passing through or hunkering down. With the recent opening of the Marriott Port-au-Prince Hotel, these travelers now have a world class hotel that can meet their demands. Port-au-Prince can be a difficult city to navigate, having daunting traffic jams at peak travel periods. A hotel like the new Marriott puts business travelers in the center of the action, instead of in the outlying suburb of Petionville – sometimes referred to as the “Beverly Hills of Haiti,” where many of the best hotels are located. The 175-room Marriott has lots of perks appealing to business travelers, including free WiFi in the public spaces, indoor and outdoor meeting space, an onsite restaurant and café, and proximity to the international airport, which is only 6.5 miles away. There’s also a feel-good component to booking the Marriott, since the hotel is making a concerted practice to hire Haitian women, who in many cases are the sole supporters of their families.
The NH Haiti El Rancho is an oasis in Petionville, offering sophisticated digs in a boutique 72-room resort setting. After a packed day of business dealings or leisure sightseeing, NH Haiti El Rancho can function as the perfect decompression chamber, especially given its outdoor pool, lush landscaping and al fresco dining and cafes. The hotel recently completed an $18 million renovation and refresh, elevating the guest experience even higher. When Haiti was at its peak as a tourist destination, NH Haiti El Rancho hosted celebrities ranging from Richard Burton to Nelson Rockefeller.
Most Romantic Hotel: Hotel Montana
The historic Hotel Montana, which was built in 1946, overlooks Port-au-Prince. The family-run, 70-room property has an atmosphere of yesteryear and it’s easy to imagine a gentler time, of rumpled linen suits and rum sours. It’s the peaceful, relaxed ambience and hilltop setting that makes the hotel perfect for romance-minded couples. The hotel faced massive destruction and saw multiple casualties in the 2010 earthquake, but has since been restored. While it may seem odd to single out a hotel with a tragic history as being romantic, when I visited it was my impression that the owners wouldn’t allow past tragedies to be the hotel’s defining moment.
Best Business Hotel in Petionville: Best Western Premier Petion-Ville
This is not your granddaddy’s Best Western. The Best Western Premier Petion-Ville is one of Haiti’s newer hotels, having opened in 2014. While the business amenities are first rate, there are other aspects to the hotel that make it really appealing. They’ve gone above and beyond the call when it comes to showcasing the artistry of Haiti, with the hotel’s public spaces functioning as galleries of Haitian art. Another plus is the rooftop bar, the place to be on Wednesday nights, when it hosts a lively, happy hour party, with a DJ providing the soundtrack as the capital’s most stylish residents come out to play.
Best All-Inclusive Resort: Royal Club Decameron Indigo
It’s hard to imagine a Caribbean destination lacking at least one all-inclusive resort, but that was the case with Haiti until only recently. In December, the Royal Club Decameron Indigo on the Arcadins Coast will open, offering the option for all-inclusive stays in Haiti. The 390 room hotel has quite a history, originally being the Club Med Magic Haiti, and then operating as the Club Indigo Resort. On reopening, the family-friendly Royal Club Decameron Indigo will have three restaurants, four pools, and 390 rooms, with 350 of these having sea views.
Best Arcadins Coast Resort: Wahoo Bay
No one is going to describe Wahoo Bay as the most glittering resort in the Caribbean, but they might call it the friendliest. The beachfront resort has a homey and welcoming vibe. Beachfront Wahoo Bay is situated on La Gonave Bay, with the Matheux mountain range providing a dramatic backdrop. There’s an array of watersports to choose from, as well as dry land activities like horseback riding through the local countryside. The resort is about a 45 minute drive from Port-au-Prince. During my visit, fishermen were pulling fresh lobsters from the sea, to be prepared in Wahoo’s restaurant.
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Click Here To Read Mark Rogers Haiti for beginners: A guide to 2015’s hottest Caribbean destination