November 19, 2012

Herby's Sports Bar - A Sports Mecca in Roatan

Watching Peyton Manning start as a Bronco for the first time on a Monday Night finally gave me the sought after inspiration I needed to begin writing a new entry. This topic was a much needed change of pace for my blog and I agree it was about time I wrote about something other than my favorite hobby, diving. So here I was feeling motivated to write another piece on Roatan but trying to include in this story another one of my favorite hobbies, sports. Well, let’s say watching sports. As both, tourists and locals know, it does not take long to realize that there is one sport which reigns supreme in Honduras; we all know it’s football, sorry soccer, the most mentioned and talked about sport in Honduran society, after all it is our national past time; however, one place exists in Honduras which caters not just to soccer fans, but to all the other sports fans from around the world. I found it to be the perfect place in Roatan, not only to order a rectangular pizza, eat colorful tortilla tacos, or sip on imported beers, it is also the ideal place on this island to watch and talk and think all about sports. I’m talking about the one and only, Herby’s Sports Bar (HSB). 

It is located in The ClarionSuites Roatan at Pineapple Villas, a recent hotel and condo development in French Harbour. The Pineapple Villas, as it is commonly known, is a four story structure with spectacular rooms/condos, several scenic pools with matching landscaping, a health club, a restaurant, and even a beautiful lagoon, every one deserving an entry of its own, however, on this occasion I will focus on one of its more unique properties, the ultra modern and most true to the bone, sports bar concept, I have EVER seen; and not just in Honduras, I can even go further and include a Nordic country l lived in and a few others I have visited during my entire life time. I may be exaggerating a little bit with the “few other countries” comment, after all, it’s not like I have been to every single sports bar in those places, however when it comes down to Honduras, I can honestly say I have personally seen its share of sports bars open and close throughout its history, and one thing is certain, none of them ever came close to the setup found at Herby’s Sports Bar. 

retiredJERSEYShang from the rafters
To begin with, what I think is the most important aspect in any sports bar should be the ability to display as many sporting events there are on TV, on multiple units, and at the best possible angles for you to never miss a play, either from your table or from the bar; as it turns out, HSB has 32 large screen TVs strategically placed around its dome-shaped walls making it actually impossible for you to miss out on the action. If there is anything sports related going on, HSB will more than likely cover it, and in HD too. I have to say that the decoration is totally Americana so you will no doubt get a lot of the major US sporting events at HSB, but I am sure they will not leave out most of the Latino and European population by not transmitting the UEFA Champions League, La Liga, or World Cup qualifier matches. My wife and I certainly enjoyed a tense but satisfying one nil victory in one of Honduras’ World Cup Qualifier matches during our visit in September of 2012. Don’t get me wrong, even though I am from Honduras I don’t enjoy just soccer, I lived in Maryland during the mid 80s when the Skins won the Super Bowl and the twin towers, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo where swatting away opponent layups at Georgetown. Thus, I grew fond of the NFL and probably became one of the biggest March Madness fans in the process, and if you know college hoops, you know about the multiple games going on at the same time on different networks, therefore a place like HSB with all those screens, only made me think of two things, Tournament time and watching the NFL Sunday game of my choice.

theJUMBOTRONin High Def
Guinness, Bud, or Sam AdamsDRAFTbeer
One of the first things that caught my attention when I first stepped in the locale were the four large HD screens suspended in the center, creating a stadium-like jumbotron, which by the way, was custom designed especially for HSB. I guess it could be the equivalent of the Dallas Cowboys' stadium, super large, high definition scoreboard, but for sports bars – Very Cool! Also very appropriate for a proper sports bar, is a real-time score ticker providing all the day’s updated results, which they have strategically placed right below the jumbotron. The roof was lined with authentic signed jerseys from the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL from some of the most iconic figures US sports have ever seen (Jordan, Abdul-Jabbar, Rice, Montana, Canseco, Ryan, just to name a few); Most of whom are from the 80s, pretty much the decade I began to follow American sports, so you know that made me want to identify each and every single jersey. It got even better for me when we sat down at our table and I realized it was filled with NFL football cards with names such as Russ Grim, Art Monk, Darrell Green, and Doug Williams (anyone who watched the Super Bowl in 1988 knows what I am talking about) – sadly, it’s already been 20 years since the Redskins last made it to that elite level – Please RGIII, pleeease, you are our last and only hope! 

SAMUEL ADAMSfrom the tap!
Anyhow, just when I thought things could not get any better, the waitress dressed like a referee, offered the option of Budweiser, Guinness or Samuel Adams, in their draft version! Oh Man, I was about to explode!! However, the grand finale occurred when I was introduced to a whole new concept in bar entertainment. The name of the game is QB1 and I am talking about a football strategy game played in conjunction with live professional football telecasts. With the use of the Playmaker, an Electronic Battleship-like device, you have the task of predicting each offensive play in real-time, in a real game being transmitted live on TV while scoring points if you guess correctly. You need to put in 10 bucks US to participate and play against the other football fans where at the end of the game the one with the most points is declared the winner and takes the pot. Do not be surprised that as the scores get tighter and the clock begins to run out, an amazing transformation takes place, where the once sociable and well mannered patron forgets about etiquette and displays a constant barrage of cuss words directed towards one of the hanging TVs – For a while there, I was literally in guy heaven; perhaps my wife did not share the same enthusiasm, but she was a good sport and played along, although I have to admit it all started to go downhill once the game began. Let me explain why I was brought down to earth – I was sitting there with my Sam Adams and a slice of pizza waiting to show off my football IQ, when suddenly the televised game began and I started sucking at it. Don’t get me wrong this is a really cool idea and a great way to spend time at a bar, but it really wasn’t doing my reputation any good, and there I was boasting about my football knowledge. I have to clarify that the initial synchronization of my Playmaker with the telecast wasn’t accurate therefore I was not scoring points on plays I actually did guess right. Anyhow, I will never see the game of football in the same way and from this point on I will end up playing defensive coordinator on every down I watch until eternity. 

Now, the top prize at HSB, the buzzer beater, the hail mary, the grand slam, (I just could not log off without using all of those old sport clich├ęs in one sentence), has got to be the insane amounts of authentic sports memorabilia on display belonging to a man by the name of Herb Morici (which by now, you may have figured out is the proud owner of Herby’s Sports Bar). True to sports bar fashion, there aren’t just flat screens mounted on the walls, there are also plenty of sports related items hanging pretty much everywhere; except that at HSB these include real valuables such as several framed Super Bowl tickets together with pictures from on-the-field personalities, players, coaches, etc, as well as other similar collectibles in the same ticket/photograph format which range from NBA Finals, NBA All-Star games, World Series games and some even from historic boxing matches. In addition there are other remarkable items, such as plenty of signed jerseys, bats, baseballs, footballs, helmets and other gear from most major sports, you name it, there’s something there for every fan to admire; I even saw in the mix, some of those funny looking bobble head action figures, a great collectible. There are two teams which seemed to prevail in the amount of space they occupy and those would be the Miami Dolphins’ memorabilia which dominated the display stands with an impressive autographed team photo from the 1972 undefeated Dolphins, no less; then, there is also plenty of Texas Rangers gear with a Nolan Ryan’s autographed jersey as the main attraction (according to Herb, this being his quote – unquote, most prized possession). The collection is simply amazing! Literally, one beer isn’t enough to look at everything so have that tab ready and keep them Sam Adams and snacks coming cuz if you like sports, you’ll be in there for a while.

If you are not so much into sports, no worries, HSB is kinda like an Irish Pub where plenty of bar activities are going on every day such as happy hour, trivia games, karaoke, pool, foosball, video poker, live bands etc. In fact, just recently they had a Halloween party with prizes and everything. So basically there is both much to do and much to see at HSB, no matter what you are into. In the meantime I will be waiting as long as it takes until Robert Griffin III gets the Redskins back to the Super Bowl, and I can promise you one thing, if he does, I’m definitely gonna go watch it at Herby’s Sports Bar!