Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Visiting Haiti: Hotel Cyvadier Plage

Haiti is a great place to visit on it's own merit.  You don't need to do a project or go on a mission to visit Haiti.  And so I am going to create a tab on my blog where I am going to start reviewing places to visit and things to do when you visit Haiti.  I thought I'd start with my favorite place in the Jacmel area and that is, without a doubt, Hotel Cyvadier Plage.

Nestled into a cove right on the ocean, the view is perfection. The atmosphere is perfect for a breakfast with an ocean view, a quick lunch for business, a leisurely lunch for pleasure, a romantic dinner for two, or even a get-together with friends.

The restaurant, which overlooks the cover and provides and excellent view for sunsets, is the only place I've ever been in this area that has consistently good food, and everything on the menu. Oftentimes, when you visit a restaurant in Haiti they give you the menu and then they only have 3-4 things on the menu. So, most times, when you are handed a menu in Haiti, you must ask, “What do you have tonight?” And they will say they have everything on the menu. And then you will try to order off the menu and they will say, “No, we don't have that.” They usually don't have the next thing you want either, and so you finally get back to your initial question, “What do you have tonight?” Cyvadier Plage is not like that. They almost always have everything on the menu, other than the very rare occasion where something is in high demand and they sell out, just like you would get in any North American restaurant.

The other thing that makes Cyvadier Plage stand out is that the food is not the typical Haitian menu. Sure, you can get traditional Haitian dishes like Creole chicken or spaghetti, but you can also get some really neat Haitian fusion dishes. The proprietor, Christophe Lang, is a professionally trained chef and not just a guy who knows how to cook a few things. The dish I always recommend to people is his Lambi Thai. Lambi is Creole for conch, and so it's conch served in a Thai coconut curry sauce. The sauce is perfection. And I am not just saying, “Oh it's perfection... for Haiti.” No, it's perfection for anywhere. Because I am not a big seafood eater, sometimes, if they are not too busy, I can talk the kitchen into making chicken with the Thai curry sauce. Probably my favorite meal ever. And I really like food. (Obviously.)  They also always have a selection of fresh fruit juices that is based on whatever is in season.

Several times I've spent a night or two over in the hotel as a little mini-getaway from my life. The rooms are very, very clean. Most of the rooms are air-conditioned. (You can request air conditioning when making the reservation, it's not just luck of the draw.) There are 6 new “deluxe” suites that were just opened last year that are very modern and comfortable. There is hot water in the showers. There is a small pool and two different walkway entrances to the cove's beach. While the cove not the best swimming location in the Jacmel area (because the bottom is rocky in places), it's perfect for a little afternoon dip or a place to play in the sand with the kids.

Christophe does a great job with customer service. You will never have someone come hassle you while you are in his hotel/restaurant about buying something, or begging for something. There is usually a souvenir guy set up on one of the beaches by his cove, but they are very non-pushy, and I repeat, you will never get bothered in the restaurant or hotel. There aren't stray dogs coming up to your table, like at many other outdoor restaurants in the area. The staff is professional, clean, kind, and polite. The food is delivered in a reasonable time. (Sure, it takes longer than it does in most restaurants in the States) but it's always hot and fresh. And it's consistently delivered in a timely (for Haiti) fashion.

My favorite night to visit Cyvadier Plage is Friday night because it's when they have pizza night. It's standing date with Nick and I. We shoot to go every Friday but we only hit it about every other Friday or so. Friday there is a special pizza menu with some really delicious gourmet pizza options. My favorite is the vegetarian pizza which has spinach, peppers, onions, olives, and (the best part) fried eggplant. So unlike anything I've ever tried anywhere else. I recommend you ask for it to be served with a side of lwil piman (hot pepper oil) if you want, to dip your crust. So freaking delish.

Cyvadier Plage also does great parties-- we've been to parties there on Haitian flag day and on New Year's Eve.  Dance expositions, champagne, fireworks. So fun.

(fireworks over the water on New Year's Eve)

Best of all, the place is totally non-pretentious. It's a welcoming environment to lots of different types of people. You will see different classes of Haitians there, you will see ex-pats and missionaries, you will see European/North American/Dominican vacationers, you will see UN soldiers, you will see government groups doing lunch meetings/conferences. There's something for everyone there.

Next time you're in Jacmel, check it out!

(Note:  I was not asked to write this review, I just wanted to.)


  1. Yes. I loved it there. The view was killer at sunset. I still think about the Lambi Thai and the Prestige...

  2. I love this dreamy place! Had a birthday dinner there. Best lobstah this bostonian has ever had (different kind of lobster, presented and eaten differently). First time there,I said if I ever got engaged I would want it to be there. Very romantic.

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