Sunday, December 17, 2006

Tegucigalpa (Nov. 20, 2006)

On Monday, we moved to the Clarion Hotel Real Tegucigalpa, $$$/***, (Col. Alameda, Calle Principal Juan Pablo II, tel. 286.6000, fax 286.6001). This high rise hotel is only a couple of blocks away from the Marriott, and is in a convenient location close to the Multiplaza mall. There are plenty of eating places nearby from fast-food to Chinese, steak, and Mexican restaurants. It has an elegant lobby and the swimming pool area is also very nice, but the rooms are showing their wear.

I remember when I first started to go to Tegucigalpa on a regular basis in the mid-1990's this hotel was only a skeleton of what was supposed to be a Sheraton hotel. After the frame of the building was erected, construction stopped for many years. I guess the developers ran out of money. For years, people gave directions by saying, "down the street from the Sheraton hotel", or "turn left at the Sheraton and go three blocks..." But there never was any Sheraton hotel, only the skeleton of the 'intended' Sheraton. Regardless, everyone called it the Sheraton.

Finally, in the late '90's, a Guatemalan company bought the place and finished the hotel, renaming it The Princess Hotel. This company owned several Princess hotels scattered about in all the major Central American cities. They did a really fine job of completing the hotel with a grand lobby and pool. Close attention was paid to all the details and the rooms were finished in an traditional English style. There was a 'piso ejecutivo' with a lounge and impeccable service. I stayed at the Princess several times and it was one of my favorite hotels in Tegucigalpa.

Soon after it was opened, the Real Intercontinental Hotel was built nearby, and then the Marriott a couple of years ago. I guess the market wasn't big enough for three luxury hotels, so the Princess was sold to the Salvadorian company, Grupo Real. This company owns all the Intercontinental hotels in Central America as well as some other hotel properties. They rebranded the hotel as a 'Clarion' hotel, and have positioned the hotel a notch or two down in price, service and quality. They've done away with the executive floor, and the rooms while nice seem to be showing their wear.

We ate lunch at I'golosi, $$/*** (Col. Palmira, Ave. Rep. de Argentina, tel. 232.2168). The restaurant is tucked away behind the furniture store, Amanda's, and there is no sign. You can enter from Amanda's or from a walkway on the left hand side of the store. The ambiance is simple but tasteful with hints of the Mediterreanean and Mid-East. Because you would never know its there, its not rushed and you can relax and enjoy your meal. It's a wonderful place to linger with a friend and enjoy an espresso, pastry and conversation. The one drawback is that the menu is limited, but what there is, is all very good. There are some appetizers, lasagne, salads, soup of the day, and some sandwiches. My wife and I shared orders of kibbeh ($1.60), hummus ($2.10) and an Italian sandwich ($4.25). I'golosi is one of Don Godo's Favorites!

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