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“Laid back paradise”
Review of Paya Bay Resort

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Paya Bay Resort
Ranked #17 of 41 Hotels in Roatan
Certificate of Excellence
Near Niagara Falls, New York
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Laid back paradise”
Reviewed 18 April 2013

It was great. The end. Just kidding.....they were a bit slow picking us up at the airport, but hey...we were on island time!! Then they were kind enough to take us to the store for some goodies and a quick drive around Coxen Hole prior to picking up the next arrivals. It takes about 1 hr. to get to the hotel. Some of that is on an unpaved road, which others have complained about. But they apparently haven't seen SOME island roads that are barely passable!! The road was gravel, not pot holes. The driver was excellent and fun. We arrived to a quick check in and drinks. Then went to our room which was directly over the water. Also had a balcony which we used every day we were there. The breezes were blowing so we were able to leave the door to the balcony and the side window open, even at night. What a GREAT way to sleep!!! There were some no-see-ums on the beach. But we never used bug spray and each only got a few bites. The restaurant and food was FABULOUS!!! And we quickly made friends with others there. All of the staff was very professional, pleasant and willing to serve us. We snorkeled each day with Tom, the guy who ran the boat. And while I have been in clearer water for snorkeling, it was still just amazing. We did do the Pigeon Cay trip one day (well worth the 75.00pp price tag and 1.5hr. boat ride) and that has to be close to the best snorkeling I have ever done, if not THE best. Water was incredibly clear and the schools of fish were just amazing. I did see a Lion fish out there and told the Captain. He did say that they were all over. One day Tom even took us to La Selene (sp) and we had lunch and ate lionfish burritos!! What a great little joint!! Something everyone should do who goes there. This is not a place for dancing after dinner, it is quiet and laid back. We were up at 5:30 every day, would take time for some morning exercise and then head to breakfast. I never did try yoga as I didn't have the attire for it, but really wish I had!!! I will take some next trip for sure. Afterwards we would all pile in the boat with Tom and head to the reef. The views from all rooms are spectacular. Come back and it was lunch time. Then we would all head to the beach for some relaxation and beach time and then we started our own little happy hour for chatting at 4:30 up on the hill by the rooms. What a great way to spend the evening with some great people. Then you guessed it, dinner. By the time all was said and done, it was about 9p and we were all heading to bed after a fun filled day. The vacation went by way too fast. Our last full day the winds died down. THEN the bugs came out. DON'T leave a light on with your door open if that's the case. We had to be murderers and kill all the little bugs that were attracted to the light after we returned from dinner. On the bright side, we were able to go to the OTHER side of the reef...which I hear is a rare treat....and it was!! The reef had sooo many little caverns and twists and turns. There were more actual schools of fish on that side as well. It was all just great fun. We DID find out that on the clothing optional weeks, all you had to be in the dining room was covered. Men were fine with no shirts. On the other weeks they ask that men wear shirts. Most people were wearing pareo's...men included. And while it is o.k. with them for you to have your own liquor, they request that it is kept in the rooms or beach area and NOT in the dining room. We asked about all of the above as we didn't know what their policy was prior to arrival. They have a library with books, and a wonderful fish book is there as well. So you don't really need to take any reading material. We never even tried to use the television. I had taken a movie with me, but we never even tried to watch it. This is a wonderful trip for the laid back type who are able to make their own fun and not rely on a resort for entertainment. Also, be aware that the rooms are a bit on the rustic side, which we are fine with. My husband and I would go back in a heartbeat. As a matter of fact, we may be planning another trip in the near future!!!

Room Tip: It can be noisy in the cliffside rooms with the crashing waves.
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  • Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Justjudy59
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wisconsin
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 April 2013

I commend the McNab family that owns and runs Paya Bay. They have a fine operation and a beautiful and well managed piece of property. Everything they control is well run. One thing they can’t control is burning in a nearby dump. The smell of burned plastic was in the air at times which is unpleasant. All staff and family members go out of their way to make you feel welcome and that same attitude seems to be imparted to the guests who were generally very welcoming to new arrivals. Many nights we dined in groups with the other guests. Tom McNab often bartends at night and he also runs the snorkeling boat. Tom is a character and adds a bit of life to the place. All of the staff speaks English and most very well. Communication was a breeze for the non-Spanish speakers like us. It appeared that Tom’s wife is the one that cleaned the rooms daily. She did a great job generally cleaning while we ate breakfast. A security guard was on site at night patrolling. Security was good and we felt safe and secure at all times. There are very few residents on the east end of the island where PB is located. PB stored our valuables in the resort safe – no problems – no worries. Michelle McNab (Tom’s daughter) is the reservation manager and is there most days greeting guests with a smile and warmth.
The owners have four dogs that roam the property. They peruse the outside dining area for scraps but only three of them will go away when asked/told. The younger two are Butters and Billy and they hang together like the older two do. Butters is friendly and well behaved like the older dogs. Billy is a problem and he needs to go to school or be restricted from the guest areas until he grows up and learns some manners. He must be a puppy because he likes to bite and chew on your legs or pants and will jump on you or the table during meals. He also likes to get into the hammocks on the deck with guests (yuck). I observed Billy urinating on the cement floor (outside dining area) area more than once. That is annoying and unsanitary. Billy seemed indiscriminate in his pestering and bothered and chewed on other guests too. The black iguanas love to come up for handouts during breakfast too. While it is entertaining, it probably would be best to not allow that practice or dogs in the bar/restaurant area. When the General Manager, Davinci McNab was in the area the dogs stayed out of the dining area but when he was gone Billy bothered everyone in the inside dining area to some extent. This tells me that the Billy problem should be easy to remedy since he behaves when he has to. Billy was quite bothersome during our stay. I was told that Billy is an adopted stray so perhaps he needs some training or more time. In the meantime he should not be allowed to roam the property.
The beach side bar (The Black Iguana) is 90% complete and should open soon near Bliss Beach. It will be a nice addition near the plunge pool and will be beautiful when completed.
PB has no hot tub. A hot tub would be a nice addition up along the side of the cliff rooms or in the yoga pavilion. It would allow guests to transition from socializing in the bar to the hot tub. Another possible location is on Bliss Beach near the plunge pool since that pathway is lit at night. Several other guests thought that a hot tub would be a nice addition as the resort expands and improves. The bar shuts down and PB goes dark about 9PM so a hot tub would give you something to do.

At least 50% of the guests were returning guests so that says something about the Paya Bay experience. There are probably less expensive and nicer resorts but PB surely has the intangibles in order and we thought it was worth the cost.
The rooms are old and dated and very small but clean and adequate. The toilet in our room was a bit troublesome and the shower head was so-so. Both could be fixed in an hour with minimal cost. The previous reviewer commented on the quality of the rooms and apparently they have never been to Mexico. PB is decent all things considered. The A/C worked well but the satellite TV was not functional while we were there except the half a day. TV was a decent flat screen model. During the rainy days the TV would have been nice to help pass the time. Movies are available and we borrowed a few to pass the time in the evenings.
The cliff side rooms are just that. They sit on top of the rocks that are at seaside. It can be a bit too noisy from the surf at times but the view is awesome. There is a small deck and two chairs. All rooms at PB are probably about the same. The cliff side rooms are smaller than the other rooms but have an ocean view. All rooms are close to the beach and facilities and other guests told me that the rooms not at cliff side were much bigger. So I would not worry about which room you get. All are probably good or at least good enough. The property and atmosphere are so good that I’d be happy staying in a tent!
The property shows good planning/management and continuous improvement. There are paths throughout the resort leading to the beaches and palapas. Pathways right along the beach through the rocks make the place special. The paths are lined with crushed coral and sand and even the unlighted pathways are navigable at night in the moonlight. There are some ingenious handmade lights along the pathways to the beaches but still bring a flashlight for late night walks to the beach. It truly is a Garden of Eden feel and the scenery is spectacular.
There seemed to be no rules about photography and it seems like there should be a sign at least near the clothing optional lagoon prohibiting photos at least at certain times. Single males with huge camera lenses pointed at the c/o beach surely do not put all at ease.
Our drive from the airport was good both ways. Our driver Jose speaks great English and explained the sights on the way to the resort. At our request he stopped at a supermarket so we could buy adult beverages. He ran some errands while we shopped the modern and well stocked store. There was a guard outside the supermarket brandishing a 12 gauge shotgun. That made me feel more secure as we awaited the return of Jose.
The public beach near the entrance of the resort was unoccupied for the week we were there except for a few kite surfers. PB has two private beaches. Bliss Beach is labeled topless allowed and the Secret Cove or Lagoon is labeled clothing optional. While we were there it was a Naturist week so all beaches and pathways and yoga were clothing optional and most took advantage of the naturist theme. There was a good blend of guests and a few day visitors. Most guests were from the USA. Professionals mainly and most were naturists but not all. There were a couple of single guys and a couple families but most were couples. It seemed like a perfect blend of people creating a good atmosphere. There were no rules stated by Michelle when we arrived and it appeared that none were needed except perhaps some rules on photography at or near the c/o beaches and the dogs. All guests used good sense and the environment around the bar and restaurant was a family atmosphere suitable for their young children and families.
The food was good but nothing exceptional by US standards. It is probably as good as you will get at a resort in the Caribbean and that includes the mega resorts we have been to. The only beef on the menu is a cheeseburger which is good. The resort had recently added more guest capacity and appears to still be refining the procurement of supplies. We arrived on Wednesday and the food and beverage delivery arrives on Fridays. The Wednesday meal of chicken on the grill was pretty good and came with vegetables. Breakfast options were sparse on Thursday and Friday with things like no hash browns, bacon, or bread happening both weeks. Our dinner on Thursday night was very minimal. Dinner was some sort of sausage grilled on the grill with salsa and some tortillas and guacamole. That was it. Dessert was some average cookies. The food got much better after supplies arrived. All meals take a long time to get but are all good when supplies are up. Bring your book to the dining room so you can kill time while you wait. PB served lobster on Sunday and also in a dish served on Monday. The garden salad and house dressing was very good. Shrimp cocktail and grilled shrimp were my favorites and the fresh fruit plate for breakfast was a treat. The melon was the best I have ever had. All of their soups are awesome and some of the best I have ever had. I thought it strange that in the room there was a conservation poster about not consuming conch or lobster but they served us both! The conch chowder was unbelievably good. We brought some snacks we bought at the store on the way there and while the food is good I recommend that if you intend to stay up later you should consider bringing a few snacks too. USA currency was no problem at the supermarket.
The bar/restaurant is typically shut down and dark by 9:00 PM. There was a small fridge in the room which was nice for cooling water and soda. They provided a small cooler and ice as required for hauling beverages to the beach. The staff is very accommodating and jumps to serve you when you need ice or anything else at all. All have a great attitude and great you with a smile. Very different from the corporate run resorts. Electricity is same as USA and was only out for less than an hour one time during a stormy and windy week.
It was rainy for our first few days and then sunny with a good breeze for a couple of days. When it got hot and more humid a few bugs came out but there were no bug problems or need to use bug spray all week but be prepared for a bug or two. Some guests who stayed at neighboring island of Utila complained of bugs but bugs were not an issue at PB while we were there. There was almost always a good breeze which helps any potential bug issues.
Snorkeling trips go twice per day weather permitting departing right from the resort. Equipment can be borrowed but I recommend bringing your own. No PFD’s are brought aboard but a few are available to be borrowed if you choose to wear one snorkeling or feel better with one when offshore. In general, your safety is in your own hands while at PB. There are some railings but in many places a few too many drinks could cost you your life with a fall over the edge of the cliff. That said, I like PB just the way it is and would not change a thing other than mandating floatation devices while at sea. A collision with a reef could cost you your life if you can’t swim to shore. The boat is not the type that would float if it got a hole in it. Snorkeling was great and it was only a 10 minute boat ride to the spots. There was lots of marine life and coral to observe. Most folks snorkeled nude. Watch out for the sharp coral since it rises to the surface in many places and the current and waves can be a challenge!
There is a newer yoga pavilion on top of the hill that provides a perfect location for the sunsets. Both sides of the island can be observed from this location. PB has a wine and cheese party there for guests on Sunday afternoon/evening. It was a nice event hosted by Davinci McNab. The wine and cheese party was a blend of different folks. If nudity is offensive to you then skip the wine and cheese party during Naturist weeks. We didn’t attend the twice daily yoga classes but other guests commented that those were good too. Casey from CA runs the classes and also does massages.
If you have an open mind and like rest, relaxation, decent food, snorkeling, beautiful views, and good treatment by the staff, then you will enjoy Paya Bay. The bar serves a decent variety of good local beers and Miller Lite but most folks brought their own beverages and consuming them in the bar or restaurant was tolerated. Drink cost at PB is reasonable.
Several divers used PB as a home base and seemed to enjoy their dives each day. They told me that the dive cost was minimal and a great value.
As I noted above, this resort isn’t perfect but is as close to perfection as you will get in similar circumstances. The problems are few and minimal. Even with these issues it is a five star resort to me. The views and the freedom is awe inspiring. Their feel good mantra is spot on.
The positives far outweigh the few negatives cited in this review. We plan to return next year for a longer stay and will make it a yearly destination. International travel and the Immigration lines at Houston is a major hassle so the resort has to be top notch like PB in order to make it worthwhile. The Roatan airport was smooth and fast but you do have to plan ahead to pay cash to get out of the country. The machine gun toting police outside of the Roatan airport were a bit unusual for this reviewer but I guess they are there to keep us safe.
I’ll attempt to answer any questions you may have. Give PB a try. You won’t regret it.

Room Tip: All rooms are good. Cliff side is louder from surf
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  • Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank birthdaysuit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level 3 Contributor
7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 April 2013

To begin, my review will be slanted toward the negative as they lost our pre-paid reservation during Semana Santa and I am still awaiting my refund nearly four weeks later. However, I will try to be factual and accurate in my review. Paya Bay probably has one of the prettiest locations on the island. You sit high on the cliff with a beautiful view on all sides. The beaches are very nice and virtually empty. There is some construction going on at the private beach that is a problem until complete. One of the beaches is public and is open to anyone yet still draws very few. The probable reason for this is the 8 km bumpy, pot hole filled road that takes about 30 full minutes to traverse. We had rented a car in hopes of exploring some of the East end highlights but once we got to Paya Bay, we realized we were probably not willing to attempt that road again anytime soon. With that being said, you must be prepared to stay put and everything that goes along with that. For example, you better hope you like the menu. I found the food to be pleasant but not outstanding. Not as much fresh fruit as I had hoped. However, we only stayed for 1 night so I did not experience the whole week of meals. Now for the rooms. If you are not in one of the 4 cliffside rooms, you will be unhappy. The hillside rooms have this spectacular view and small balcony yet not a breath of air to sit out and enjoy it. There is also little or no privacy on the hillside rooms with the communal walkway right in front.The only reason I even wanted to stay here was because I had visions of beautiful early mornings and late evenings on the patio with breezes and a view. This is not possible in any room but the cliff-side rooms. The interior is even more disappointing. There is actually decent potential in this property but some money has to be spent. The room has an unfinished wood floor (ouch), very pretty high ceilings, bright new paint in the bedroom, but then a silly framed poster on the wall, some ancient thrift shop dresser and a rusty old mini fridge. The king bed was comfy but had an exposed, stained box-spring that was a huge turn off. The bathroom was just awful. Cracked tile, cracked Formica counter, filthy stains on the walls, exposed electrical panel, and stains on just about everything else. See my photos. We ended up checking out and wandering the island. We stayed at Palmetto one night and the rest at Xbalanque, by far our favorite. See my review. Our room at Paya was $149pnt and our suite at Xbalanque was $159pnt. Two important notes I want to add...Paya is the best location to be isolated and if you want to do the trip to Pigeon Island. Also take note, during certain times of the year, they are clothing optional. Make sure you check first!

Room Tip: Don't even bother unless they have the cliff-side available
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  • Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple
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2 Thank hexacat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Fort McMurray, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 April 2013

We stayed on west bay beach during our stay on Roatan and while the beach is great it is so busy, so we decided to hire a driver and visit Paya Bay for the day. Although it is a far drive from the rest of the island activities, restaurants, etc Paya Bay the perfect place to relax & unwind away from the crowds!

The resort grounds are amazing. Little paths with plenty of private, quiet sitting areas with amazing ocean views. The random sitting areas along the paths have chairs, shade and you can also pick up hammocks at the reception area to bring to the spot of your choice.

The beaches are great! We walked around to check out all 3 but spent all of our time on bliss beach. Just be aware that there is a nudist section of the resort.....the reception can provide you with a map of the resort and all the paths are well marked.

There is a beach bar that is under construction at bliss beach which will be a great addition because currently you need to walk up to the restaurant to grab a drink. Until the beach bar is done I would recommend packing drinks, water and snacks for on the beach.

We had lunch at their restaurant and the food was good and the views are awesome!

Definitely a must see if you are looking for a quiet, secluded getaway.

  • Stayed March 2013
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
Helpful?
Thank DreaminCostaRica
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 March 2013

Location, location, location...Very relaxing vacation, beautiful place, amazing kitchen, friendly owners.. We are never going twice to the same place... But we will make exception.... One day we will come back to this amazing place..:-)
Thank you for great time!!!!
Agnes&Ziggy

Room Tip: We love our room no.4 (cliff room)
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  • Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple
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4 Thank agnesziggy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Westbay ,Roatan
Level 6 Contributor
125 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 March 2013

This property is a lovely and well thought out resort with a little something for everyone. The grounds are splendid. The water and snorkling are perfect and for something different , sneak off to the very well hidden nude beach or just explore the nature that abounds at every turn. The rooms are very nice and comfy with awe inspiring views. I highly recommend this place. I cannot wait to return.

Room Tip: We usually request the rooms that hang over the cliff on the far side of the resort as I like the vi...
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  • Stayed September 2012, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Lovergirlie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lido Beach, New York
Level 6 Contributor
371 reviews
40 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 168 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 March 2013

Paya Bay is nearly everything that my fellow Tripadvisor reviewers have written about. It is situated on a peninsula, on the northeastern, undeveloped side of Roatan, 20 minutes drive on a rough road off the main highway. It is more than worth the schlep. If you want amazing views of turquoise waters and tree-covered hillsides everywhere you look, this place is for you. If you want quietude, no raucous speakers blaring disco music, and prefer instead to read, relax, do a bit of local hiking, snorkel, swim, scuba dive, sunbathe, kayak, learn yoga against a gorgeous backdrop of sunset, get to know folks who live and work in surrounding towns on a more personal level, and prefer to do all this to the tune of lapping ocean water and cooling trade winds, then this is the place for you. Oh yes, and, if you like large, sleepable beds in comfortably appointed rooms with amazing vista views (either cantilevered directly over the ocean or overlooking the half-moon-shaped beach and hills beyond.) AND if you like HUGE portions of freshly-made and colorful meals (from scratch, and caught/grown locally, MOSTLY!), refreshing and thick fruit smoothies, and, most importantly, and this was a biggie for me, if you want to come to a boutique-sized resort where the resort's matriarch and owner, Miss Lurlene, sits down to meals with you and shares her life story and community history, or the manager/owner DaVinci finds out you collect hand-carved masks and presents you with a gift of one from the property, or, Tom, the owners other son, offers to let you trade your too-small snorkel fins for one of the hotel's better sized pair, or you are ill for a day and a staff member comes to your room to see how you are feeling, then, run, don't walk to Paya Bay, because this very personalized, beautifully and lovingly cared-for resort with owners and staff members whose names you will get to know immediately and whose ocean views, accommodations, low-keyed activities, and caring for the environment and your inner person is the place for you.
Let me just add that, with all of what I have said above, the one suggestion I could offer, since I heard other guests echo this sentiment, is that the owners might want to consider adding in one or more evening activities. On Thursdays, dinner is served on the beach, with the seating being "banquet-style" (conducive to socializing), an excellent dance and music show performed by members of the nearby Garifuna community, followed by a beach bonfire. Because of the "personalness" of this resort, several guests with whom we spoke felt that there should be more such opportunity for evening socializing and mingling, or maybe a small craft/food market one evening...
P.S. I have included a few sepia-hued photos, showing variety and texture.
In the meantime, I wish I was at Paya Bay Resort...right now...

Room Tip: Rooms 1-4 face "dead-on" towards and over the ocean. They are average sized. Our favorite...
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  • Stayed February 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Clubess1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Paya Bay Resort

Property: Paya Bay Resort
Address: Main Highway, East End, Roatan 00000, Honduras
Phone Number:
Region: Honduras > Bay Islands > Roatan
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#10 Top resorts Hotel in Roatan
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:3 star — Paya Bay Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Paya Bay Beach Resort is Roatan's Ultimate Escape. Located on the pristine east end, it is Roatan's premier boutique hotel. Perched atop a bluff with private beaches on each side, Paya Bay features 10 uniquely designed rooms and an amazing restaurant. Paya Bay's on-site dive operation, Dive Roatan, specializes in underwater tours and training for one to ten divers. Paya Bay also offers: flats fishing, boat tours, hiking and of course relaxation. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Paya Bay Hotel Roatan
Paya Bay Beach Dive Hotel
Paya Bay Beach Dive Resort
Paya Bay Resort Roatan, Honduras - Bay Islands

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