The Resort at Marble Hill, Roatan
If you are like a lot of Scuba Diving readers, you probably think you know Roatan, with its dazzling variety of dive sites on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, golden beaches, jungle-covered hilltops, and fun-loving tourist hot spot, West End. Roatan is 40 miles long and is the largest of the Bay Islands of Honduras. Among divers, it is arguably the best known and most popular of the main Bay Islands, and that’s for good reason.
But if you think this is the sum of Roatan, you have not experienced the island’s extraordinary East End. This part of the island moves at a slower pace, a tranquil respite from the West End’s more boisterous approach to a dive vacation. It’s a place where you can embrace the soothing rhythms of the Caribbean Sea and the island’s lush jungle and explore dive sites that are blissfully uncrowded. And there is no better place to immerse yourself in all of the East End’s natural treasures than at the Resort at Marble Hill, a secluded, 27-acre wedge of paradise on the Caribbean Sea.
Formerly Marble Hill Farms, the Resort at Marble Hill has undergone a thoughtful renovation that was designed to showcase the property, as envisioned by its new owner, Joshua White, who is a construction company owner as well as a former military diver. “The resort takes advantage of what’s here,” White says. “It’s beautiful land.”
Courtesy of The Resort at Marble Hill
Formerly Marble Hill Farms, the Resort at Marble Hill has undergone a thoughtful renovation.
The Vision Realized
White has expanded on what Marble Hill Farms produced. The former owners sold mostly jams and jellies, but White has branched out to create a space. Along with creating a plan for a dive resort, based on his passion for the sport, he incorporated the farm’s gardens, as well as a brewery, distillery and creamery, into the design blueprint.
The resort has a hydroponic kitchen production garden with about 30,000 plants, including fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs for the restaurants, brewery, distillery and creamery. White has hosted special “farm-to-table” dinners that are prepared by an award-winning executive chef and his team and feature the vegetables and fruits grown on the grounds. He imported cows onto the island to start a creamery, which produces the freshest milk, cheese and ice cream on the island. The resort’s brewery and distillery is top-notch. “We have world-class brew masters working at the resort,” White says. “They make amazing beer and we just added a cider.”
The resort often hosts performances by local musicians, while guests dine on the chef-prepared meals and sip beers made in the brewery, such as the tart and crisp Tropical Sour beer. Evenings at the resort are a time to savor the beauty of the gardens, the sun sinking into the Caribbean, delicious food and a refreshing cocktail, and the memories of the day’s underwater experiences.
Courtesy of The Resort at Marble Hill
“Farm-to-table” dinners are prepared by an award-winning executive chef and his team and feature the vegetables and fruits grown on the grounds.
Original buildings have been restored, while new accommodations were planned to provide a higher level of luxury. Each of the guest bungalows and suites takes its inspiration from the riches of nature that are abundant on the property, from the lush gardens scented by tropical flowers to the emerald hillsides and blue sparkling waters of the Caribbean. The 16 beachside bungalows have views of the Caribbean, a private plunge pool, king-size bed, in-suite lounge area, and patio with outside shower and hammock. There are four treehouse suites that offer panoramic views of the jungle and sea, king-size bed, kitchenette, and private deck with outside shower. The four seaview rooms have ocean views, king-size bed, kitchenette, and private deck with hammock. All accommodations have private full baths with walk-in showers.
The Main House has a restaurant that features a creative, rotating menu blending Caribbean, Latin American and modern cuisines, while the Dockside Grill offers more casual fare, such as ceviches, burgers and sandwiches. Cocktails and food can also be enjoyed at the Treetop Bar, where guests can kick back, take in the views, and have an authentic Caribbean experience.
Before the dive boat leaves for the day’s underwater excursion, guests can enjoy breakfast at the Main House restaurant or have it delivered to their suite.
The Guest Experience
White’s vision included an approach to customer service that is a high-quality experience for a small number of guests. The staff strives to provide vacationing divers with an intimate experience. “We want to offer a concierge service to guests,” says White. “We want them to feel spoiled.”
Massage, yoga and Pilates sessions are offered either outdoors or inside, depending on the preference of the guest.
The concierge approach to customer service extends to the diving, too. The boat dock is only a short walk from your room, and the dive staff handles all your gear, from setup to storage.
Courtesy of The Resort at Marble Hill
The dive sites show off the island’s volcanic past.
Roatan’s dive sites are brimming with dazzling fields of corals and sponges, hundreds of fish species and sea turtles. Along the island’s shores, mangroves serve as a nursery for tropical fish and invertebrates. It is a vibrant ecosystem that’s tailor-made for vacationing divers, and on the East End, the reefs do not receive the same diver pressure as West End sites.
“We are fortunate to be located so close to the reef. We have about 35 dive sites all within about 30 minutes from the resort’s dock,” White says. “We have about 17 sites that are only a 10-minute boat ride.” The resort is located on the north side of the East End, so conditions are usually stellar year-round.
Like many dive sites off Roatan, the sites off the Resort at Marble Hill show the island’s volcanic past — there are caverns, caves, swim-through tunnels, crevices and canyons that cut through the reef. “Gretchen’s Shell is one of my favorites,” White says. “It’s an awesome night dive, too — there are several octopi there that I’m friends with.”
The water clarity at McNab’s Pinnacles makes it easy to explore the canyons there, which are frequented by sea turtles, barracuda and spotted eagle rays. Dolphin’s Den features an underwater cave that gets its name from the skeleton of a dolphin that is found there. The cave gets ambient light from openings to the surface. The Mongoose is an open cavern that’s in recreational diving depths and features a fringing reef.
On the rare occasions when the conditions are not good, the staff will drive the boat to a more favorable spot, and then transport guests to where the boat is. That’s one of the best parts about Roatan diving — if one part of the island is too rough for diving, there’s always a side with more favorable conditions.
Eventually, White wants to add a larger infinity pool for guests, a space for artists, including potters and glassblowers, as well as a studio for recording artists. “The world gets in the way of a lot of creativity,” he says. “I want to have an inspiring space for artists.”
While the resort has a small space that serves as a beer garden — where guests can enjoy a brew and order tacos, pizza and smoked meats — White plans to convert a larger patio area into a cozy, European-style beer garden.
“I have the opportunity here to put out the best product and service for guests,” White says. “I like getting stuff done, and I like doing it right.”
It’s clear that the Resort at Marble Hill has benefited from White’s thoughtful vision that combines refined craftsmanship, an elevated dive resort experience and exceptional customer service.
The Resort at Marble Hill is ready to welcome, inspire and spoil guests.
Readers Choice Awards
The Bay Islands placed in all 13 Readers Choice awards categories this year, including 2nd place for Wall Diving, Beginner Diving and Best Value.