Central American Bliss
Central America’s hub for creative minds, surfers and eco-tourists welcomes yoga at sunrise and presents an impressive historical back catalogue for the intrepid traveller. Total Management’s travel expert Katie Nelson feels completely revitalised.
Central America is full of hidden gems for the avid traveller and Nicaragua has to be the area’s crown jewel. With the oldest Spanish colonial history in the region, a buzz of new boutique hotel openings, a landscape of mountains, volcanoes, lakes and brilliant beaches spanning two coastlines, Nicaragua is rivalling its neighbours and stepping up in a big way. It is less touched by tourism, more culturally rich, and home to a population whose hospitality is innate. Deemed an emerging hot spot for 2015, Nicaragua is perfect for eco-tourists and luxury escapists alike, yet it has somehow remained delightfully undiscovered.
No matter what part of the country you are looking to explore you’ll be immersed in astonishing beauty. From Little Corn Island off the east coast, where life is the essence of tranquility, to Lake Nicaragua in the west, the largest in Central America, is peppered with tiny islands and magnificent volcanoes ripe for climbing. Moving south you have San Juan del Sur which has long been the surfer’s insider secret and the Emerald Coast with its lush jungle and unspoiled beaches along the Pacific Coast. Then there are the colonial cities. Bohemian Leon boasts the largest church in Central America, while Granada is a classic colonial city. Both breath-taking towns are filled with art galleries, old churches, political graffiti and an up-and-coming café scenes that makes it hard to pick a favourite. As Lonely Planet puts it, “many people fall in love with Granada, but leave their heart in Leon”.
There is something about Nicaragua that makes you feel like you are the first to stumble upon such a magnificent treasure. Meandering through the cobblestoned streets of Granada or strolling along pristine white sand beaches of the Emerald Coast you know that this is a place on the verge of becoming a major power player in the tourism game. Get in now before the rest of the world figures out what we’ve known for years.
The Tribal Hotel, a laid-back luxury retreat, is setting the new standard for style and service as the finest boutique hotel in Nicaragua. Positioned in the heart of the colonial city, Tribal Hotel offers guests the perfect location in Granada to enjoy the charm and treasures of the historic sites, culture and excellent restaurants. Nestled in tranquillity, a stylish lobby welcomes you and opens onto a tropical garden oasis with a dipping pool designed with whimsical tiles, reminiscent of the sidewalks of Copacabana. The relaxing cabana-style outdoor lounging beds offer the perfect respite. The covered veranda surrounding the courtyard provides a modish outdoor communal living and dining area for guests. In the evening, the courtyard turns into a romantic torch-lit lounge where cocktails and light tapas are served. The hotel offers five Deluxe Rooms, either on the first or second floor, all with private terraces, and two Junior Suites on the second floor, each with a large private terrace that serves as an outdoor living room.
jicaro island ecolodge
Isletas de Granda
Jicaro Island Ecolodge is a luxury property set on a private island in Lake Nicaragua and a short boat ride away from the colonial town of Granada. As a world traveller, owner Karen Emanuel’s journey to create a sustainable resort began in 2007 when she was visiting Granada and happened to see an “Island for Sale” notice. Fulfilling her dream of creating a wellness retreat, Jicaro Island Ecolodge – designed by architect Matthew Falkiner – first opened its doors to guests in January 2010. With nine casitas or separate bungalows, Jicaro offers large, two-level accommodations, each featuring large master bedrooms, living areas, decks and sweeping views of the Mombacho Volcano and Lake Nicaragua. Guest amenities include a large open kitchen and restaurant, a pool with lounge area, a floating yoga deck and a private massage and wellness treatment center.
inn at rancho santana
In March 2015, the Inn at Rancho Santana opened 17 rooms on a breezy isthmus with five private beaches dotting the Pacific Coast two hours southwest of Granada. Rancho Santana is the picturesque seaside residential and resort destination which sits on 2,700 acres of Nicaragua’s Southwest Pacific coast. Conceived as a stylish hideaway within the larger ranch, it is rustic but elegant. It is rugged but romantic. It is sophisticated but cool. While today’s travellers live in a world of peek-a-boo showers and moody lobby music, Rancho Santana, Altevers Associates Architecture, and Altevers International Interior Design instead opted to imagine something more meaningful. Simply put by Rancho Santana CEO Matt Turner, “If a boutique hotel is a weekend fling—this is true and lasting love. The real thing”.
Mukul Resort opened as Nicaragua’s first five star luxury resort to great fanfare in 2013. Its name means “secret” in the Mayan language, and Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa is certainly one of those special gems you’ll want to keep for yourself. Picture a four mile long stretch of pristine white sand along Nicaragua’s dramatic Emerald Coast, where the Pellas family has created a boutique resort within their 1,600-acre estate. Just 37 freestanding rooms dot the tropical grounds, each with ocean views, private pools and handcrafted furnishings by local masters. The award-winning spa offers ancient healing rituals in six private casitas — perfect for resting after a nature walk, surfing or a round on the country’s premier golf course. Request a private tour of Flor de Caña distillery and you’ll experience Nicaragua’s beautiful scenery by helicopter and taste one of the world’s best rums.
pelican eyes resort and spa
San Juan del Sur
Pelican Eyes Resort and Spa, perched on a lush hilltop above Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast, is one of the best hotels in the country. The tranquil San Juan Del Sur hotel overlooks a stunning, crescent shaped bay and breathtaking sunsets. With an infinity pool that offers panoramic views of San Juan Del Sur so you can watch the boats go by. You can also catch yoga class on the deck or wander the tropical gardens before hitting the beach for the day.
July 30th 2015