Haiti is perhaps the one part of the Caribbean Canadians do not think of as a travel spot, but that could change: one hotel at a time. The first is the year-old Royal Oasis. It’s part of the Occidental chain, and the first luxury hotel to open in Haiti since well before the earthquake.
The Royal Oasis is in the centre of Pétionville, the prosperous suburb that overlooks the capital of Port-au-Prince. It’s less than a five-minute walk from several bars and restaurants, including a couple of late-night ones, and you’re no more than about a 15-minute walk from whatever you might want to see or do here.
If it’s high-end shops you need, two storeys of boutiques are attached to the hotel and sell everything from Q-series BlackBerrys to high-end men’s wear to $5,000 Haitian canvases.
If I could change one thing
The staff were plentiful and adept, answering all my questions, opening doors with great aplomb, and even exchanging my U.S. currency without service charges. But the cleaning crew also repeatedly and insistently knocked on my door before 7:30 a.m., well before I’d even had time to make a mess.
I stayed here before the hotel was completed. At the time, there was a rooftop infinity pool with poolside bar in the works , but the view of colourful Jalousie, downtown and the sea is already stunning. The complimentary airport transfer is also a welcome perk.
Whom you’ll meet
This is a business hotel, and while I was there, there were quite a few Haitian government ministers and officials conducting meetings with foreign guests. Makes you feel like you’re where the action is, I can tell you.
Eat in or eat out?
I had the best fish dish of my stay, and one of my best ever, at La Villa, the hotel’s courtyard restaurant, built in what was once one of the most fashionable boîtes in Haiti, Le Picardie. (In its heydey, Brando ate here and Gloria Vanderbilt was a regular.) Downstairs at La Villa, it’s ambient Caribbean luxury, and upstairs is an ultra-mod, all-white bar and terrace.
Room with a view
Though the hotel is on a hill with good views all around, the best ones are south-facing, overlooking lower Pétionville and Port-au-Prince itself.
Royal Oasis, 115 Avenue Panaméricaine, Pétionville, Haiti, 509-29-406-274; occidentalhotels.com; 128 rooms from $275.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.