Bruce Beckner, a former car dealer from Southern California, came to Roatan on business in 2002 and “fell in love with the place,” because, in his words, “it’s about as close to paradise as you’re gonna get.” He loved it so much, in fact, that he bought a parcel of land with a thousand-foot beachfront, built a home and raised his children here.
Last month, with his first set of children grown and the second still in diapers or on the way, he opened his property to the public as Palm Beach Resort. With an entry fee of Lps. 50 and a decidedly laid-back attitude, the resort is aimed squarely at the local market of Roatan’s East End.
“Most places here are oriented for the tourists,” said Denis Posadas, who manages the resort. “We very much like the local market.”
Beckner hastens to add that he certainly doesn’t mind if cruise ship passengers visit the resort as well. However, his model is predicated on the idea that, for someone living in Punta Gorda, Diamond Rock or Oak Ridge, “it’s a long way to go to West End,” and “there’s nowhere else they can go with music, beer and food.”
“We’re trying to give them an option on this end of the island.”
One could argue that other resorts, such as Camp Bay, French’s 44 and even Parrot Tree, already fill that niche. But Beckner claims his formula is unique: “Let people in, give them a good price on beer and food and the freedom to have fun on the beach.”
“You’re free to do what you want,” Beckner said, in contrast to some area resorts, which he said had “too many rules,” defeating the purpose of “why we all came to Honduras.” The only rule at Palm Beach, he said, is no glass on the beach, because, “We don’t want children injured.”
The 26-acre resort is divided into three sections. At one end is a playground and waterslide for children, as well as soccer and volleyball courts. The middle section is the “party zone,” with beach chairs, palapas, a bar, a food tent and a DJ and loudspeaker system that blasts music late into the night (as late as authorities will allow) on weekends. The third section is more secluded, with palm trees to provide privacy, for those who want to “get romantic.”
The resort also features a swimming pier with dive platform, an artificial key people can walk out to and animal cages that Beckner plans to populate with a “full set” of Roatan native species, including pesotes and monkeys (only a few iguanas now).
The resort officially opened to the public March 31, but Beckner considers the true “Grand Opening” to have been Holy Thursday, when about 300 people showed up. He expected about 2,000 more over Easter Weekend. He planned to open Friday through Sunday after Semana Santa.
Beckner said he threw the project together with $15,000 and “a bunch of IOUs.” Friends and neighbors, in particular Javier of Blue Ocean Reef, contributed labor and materials. With their help he improved the access road, built a bath house, installed lighting, planted shade trees, put in a parking lot, made sure the swimming area was safe and hired a pest-control firm to spray nightly for sand flies.
“We’re really happy with how it came out,” said Beckner. [/private]