The best new hotels of 2013 are higher, shinier and deluxier than their one-year-older peers.
1. Mukul Resort & Spa, Nicaragua
Opened: February 2013
Part of Guacalito de la Isla, a 676-hectare, eco-sensitive resort on four miles of untouched Pacific coast, Mukul has only been open a few days as of this posting, but is already a benchmark for luxury in Nicaragua.
The brainchild of entrepreneur Carlos Pellas, the retreat takes its design cues from local culture: villas and bohio-styled huts crafted from native teak and pine are distinguished by an ancient Mayan numerical system, reclaimed rum barrels are used in headboards and the Pellas’ family rum is the nightcap of choice.
Book the six-bedroom Casona Don Carlos, Pellas’ private beach residence, and you’ll also enjoy a pool and oceanfront living area.
Spa treatments offered in themed suites include a crystal temple, rainforest room and hammam using a bounty of local ingredients: raw cane sugar crystals, seaweed and Nicaraguan volcanic clay.
There are plenty of more active diversions, such as golf on an oceanfront course — its 18 holes were chiseled without cutting down a single tree.
Mukul Resort & Spa, Kilometer 10, Carretera Tola-Las Salinas Rivas, Nicaragua; rooms from US$550 per night;+505 2563 7100;www.mukulresort.com
The impressive publicity and buzz factor for the new Mukul resort owned by the Pellas family of Nicaragua is continuing yet again with this number one position in a CNN Travel story. Congratulations!
This quiet and rustic Caribbean escape is starting to see a new type of tourism development. But will progress change Little Corn Island’s chilled-out vibe?
February 19, 2013
Travel writers have been hyping Nicaragua as the next big tropical paradise for years. The New York Times listed it as one of 46 places to go in 2013. A host of travel magazines have promoted it as a cheaper Costa Rica without the crowds. And CBS brought some of Nicaragua’s natural beauty into American homes three years ago by filming a season of “Survivor” in the country.
But an article in the Wall Street Journal last week about the challenges of trying to pitch Nicaragua to high-end travelers highlighted the reality that the country is still more of a haven for backpackers than the well heeled. In 2011, visitors to Nicaragua spent an average of just $43 per day, compared to $118 in neighboring country. But is Nicaragua in danger of losing the cool, off-the-radar status it once enjoyed?
Fifteen years ago, Amber Dobrzensky boarded a Greyhound bus in New York City and eventually washed up in Matagalpa, Nicaragua’s Central Northern Highlands, where she helped build a medical clinic and taught English.
“The country had a profound impact on how I viewed the world,” she said. “I didn’t want to leave Nicaragua.”
The Vancouver native eventually did leave, but she returned in 2008 and has lived there ever since. She edits a cultural magazine called Hecho and is the author of the “Moon Guide to Nicaragua,” which just came out last week. We spoke to Amber to find out if Nicaragua’s still the next big thing or if it’s already arrived.
Interesting article by the author of the latest update to the Moon Handbook of Nicaragua, Amber Dobrzensky. The update just came out and I hope she has some great sales of this very good (IMO the best) travel handbook. She discusses how it appears that the mainstream media is finally recognizing Nicaragua as a great place to vacation, and whether or not that will have an impact on Nicaragua as a whole and whether that means that adventure and ecotourism travel will be going the way of the dodo anytime soon. (Answer, it ain’t going anywhere…)
Check out our latest advertisement in Craigslist. I’m marketing Farmstay El Portón Verde as the best alternative to the major hotel chains in downtown- or airport-area Managua.
Staying with us is not for everyone, but those who are truly seeking a tranquil place near to Managua but not in Managua, want an excellent quality stay with nice beds, hot water, swimming pool, free WiFi, custom furnishings, tasty filling farm breakfasts, and fabulous views of forested hills and smoking volcanoes, I am certain we are your best option.
The only way to find out for yourself is to book your stay!
Nice family blogging about their Nicaraguan lifestyle. Will add to the blogroll.
Reviewed January 27, 2013
Mike and Miranda were superb hosts and great company, the best we’ve stayed with on AirBnb (so good we stayed with them on our last nights). The farm is just south of Managua, out of the heat of the city and overlooks the Volcano Masaya. Upon arrival we were generously upgraded to their larger apartment which was was spacious and really well kitted out (all rooms are amazing). Breakfast was hearty with fresh fruit from their farm garden. The home-roasted coffee is a real treat. They were also incredibly helpful in terms of local information and giving us lifts to bus and taxi points so we could start our day. Incredible value for money given the room and the overall experience and service. (Mike also has a fascinating family history). Muchos gracias por todo Mike y Miranda!
Chris and Lisa
Well well, what a sweet review (*blushing*). These two, Chris and Lisa, were pretty wonderful guests! Thank you guys for the nice review, we really appreciate it!
It is so nice when we have return visitors, when they come back to us before they go back home it is so interesting to hear where they went and what they did when there. These two took some real adventures, well beyond the usual triangle of Granada, Ometepe, and San Juan del Sur.
Return visitors are great too in that we know each other already, they know what to expect, how to get around in our area, etc. so it is really more like greeting friends returning from a trip somewhere then anything else. We do pride ourselves on the number of return visitors we get.
If I recall correctly, Lisa and Chris went to San Carlos, all the way down the Rio San Juan de Nicaragua, spent the night with a Rama family in the jungle, etc. all quite the true adventurers! All without hardly any Spanish as well. Most impressive indeed!
On a recent Tuesday morning, three of the U.S.’s most influential travel agents were hiking on a cliff-side trail overlooking the Pacific Ocean, gazing at the pristine beaches below and watching a group of howler monkeys in a nearby tree. Leading them were executives of Mukul, a not-quite-open 37-room $40 million luxury resort. The scenic tour was just the beginning salvo in a three-night, all-expenses-paid trip organized by the hotel to convince the travel agents to promote the property to their wealthy clients.
With its 24-hour butler service, lavish spa and a golf course created by the celebrated Scottish designer David McLay Kidd, it would seem an easy sell. But there is one complication. The resort is in Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the hemisphere, one with a war-torn history—and a place where none of the agents had ever sent a client, or been themselves.
The Wall Street Journal is now on-board with the launch of Mukul, it would appear. The video embedded on the linked page has an interesting discussion about how the high-end travel agents and other jet-setter confidantes will need to do some convincing of their clients in order to have them travel to a country like Nicaragua. Also interesting and not news to those living in Nicaragua, Mukul had to establish a training program that started from the basics to train the staff on things like what bidets are, how to pour coffee, make a bed, communicate with the guests, etc. Good stuff for those interested in following this new resort that is launching right now.
Interesting movie about surf tourism and the boom and inevitable bust that happens at different spots in the world and how groups like Surfing for Change is trying to help local avoid the downside of the mass tourism that occurs in the progression of any known surf location. Take a few minutes to check it out. Well worth 13 minutes of your time!