Nicaragua Keeps Inflation Low for Second YearTODAY NICARAGUA – Nicaragua will end 2016 with inflation lower than 3.5 percent, which would keep that economic indicator low for the second consecutive…
Managua Guide to Foodie Travelers
From Nicaraguan street food to fine culinary experiences, the Nicaraguan capital offers cultural experiences in addition to good eats
Managua locals aren’t just about getting their business done—they also love to have fun and eat well. In recent years they’ve proven that international food trends are alive and well—even in Nicaragua. Folks visiting Managua today have many options to choose from, with food coming from top kitchens and world-class chefs to street and market food that reflects the working-class roots of the city.
In Nicaragua, your food experience starts with breakfast. Places like La trenza (the braid), Leche agria de “Mi Vaquita” (sour milk from My Little Cow) and Leche Agria El Ganadero (The Rancher sour milk) offer breakfasts, quesillos (braided cheese with tortilla, onion and sour cream), and other platos tipicos (typical plates).
A traditional breakfast at one of these spots can consist of fresh hot corn tortillas, gallo pinto (red beans and rice), eggs, cheese, avocado, and the ever-present leche agria, which actually is more like a home made yogurt. Let’s just say, you won’t leave the place hungry. And let’s talk prices, a full breakfast including a natural fruit drink or Nicaraguan coffee costs about $3 U.S. dollars.
For lunch, a world of options awaits you. The widest variety and quantity of international cuisine is located in Managua, so if you are headed out to more remote and rural locations, you might want to enjoy the luxury of choices found here, but let’s save those for dinner, shall we?
If you would like to try some of the more typical options, get yourself over to La Cocina de Doña Haydee, El Garabato, or El Güegüense. These restaurants all have a very nice atmosphere and good eats at fair prices. Don’t miss trying some of the local dishes such as indio viejo (corn meal gravy cooked with sliced grilled beef with cilantro), baho (a sort of tropical pot roast with slow-cooked beef and root vegetables), and vigoron (a snack of boiled cassava root topped with pork rind and cabbage salad).Some of the best budget options are the buffet restaurants, where for about five dollars you get a very good value for your money, plus these are all good people-watching spots. Now for my money, the best buffet restaurant is actually Brazilian! Picanha Buffet Brasileiro is fantastic and one of the best lunch places around. Recently they have begun to offer limited dinner hours.
Next, let’s look at dinner. This is where the international cuisines standout, plus maybe you’ve already had your fill of the local stuff? In case you haven’t, try a local fritanga, which is a sort of “pop-up” restaurant typically setup in the front of someone’s house. Options include grilled meats, gallo pinto, plantains in the form of crispy chips or fried sweet, local cheese, and two items that sound Mexican but aren’t. Snacks include enchiladas, which I call an “unidentified fried object” which is really cornmeal masa formed in a crescent shape, filled with a chopped beef and rice mixture, then deep fried. Another smaller dish are tacos which are more like Mexican taquitos, served with a cabbage salad and sour cream.
In past years, this part of our review would mostly describe French, Spanish, Cuban and Italian restaurants (with a smattering of ever-present Mexican and Chinese joints..) Nowadays there are really delicious middle-eastern, vegetarian, Irish, Peruvian, Venezuelan, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese choices. Some casual meal options are Cuban, fried chicken and American fast food chains. Steak restaurants also abound, with El Churrasco, Los Ranchos, Don Candido, and Porterhouse among the best. Gastronomio del Buzo and Restaurante Summer are just a couple of the better seafood restaurants. The best place in town for good ‘ole American food is Jimmy Three Fingers Alabama Rib Shack, which is exactly as it’s name implies, a great rib joint.
But if you have one place to choose from for dinner, look to the creations of Carla Fjeld, who favors organically grown, locally sourced ingredients transformed into well-served, simple, yet elegant meals with consistently excellent service and a relaxed ambiance.
The menu at her popular Restaurante Ola Verde, located on the south end of town, just off of Carretera a Masaya (Masaya Highway) near the Galerias shopping mall, sources it’s ingredients primarily from local farmers.
While her oft-photographed quesadillas, organic sesame salad, Mediterranean and seafood dishes are popular, the variety of gluten-free, sugar-free, and locally-sourced dishes and desserts are what really makes Ola Verde a standout in the local restaurant scene. On weekends there is usually live music in the garden area.
Wealthy Americans have a new attitude about traveling — and it should terrify hotel chains
When busy people go on vacation, they’re often looking to put their feet up, catch up on sleep, and just generally enjoy being somewhere else for a spell.
But in addition to the mental break, it seems more and more likely that what well-heeled travelers value is the chance to have a truly authentic experience, wherever they’re headed on vacation.
When the rewards-focused travel portal American Express Travelsurveyed 1,540 affluent American adults — defined as having an annual household income of at least $100,000 — it found that 81% valued having a personalized experience over anything else in their travel itineraries. 73% of those surveyed said they would be willing to exceed their budget to have a unique local experience when they travel, and more than half said they would splurge to enjoy the cuisine of a particular destination.
And when it comes to where affluent travelers want to stay when they vacation, it seems that cookie-cutter hotel rooms are out, and authentic flavors are in.
“We see lifestyle-inspired, design-focused hotels increasing on the consumer wish list and in fact, are seeing a more than 30% spike in bookings for these type of hotels in the US for 2017,” said Claire Bennett, executive vice president of American Express Travel.
Travelers want to sample a destination’s food, take in its art scene, and go out where the locals do. And with the rise of Airbnb — which launched its travel agent-like Trips feature in November — travelers in the know can do this with ease. Trips offers two services for now: Experiences, like going truffle hunting or driving classic cars, which are led by locals, and Places, which are recommendations from local residents. Airbnb plans to add Flights and Services in the near future.
Many traditional hotels see this as a challenge to how they conduct their business.
“Experiential vacations — this is the big trend, and that has a major impact on the industry. I think you can say that has been one of the things that contributed to the creation of things like Airbnb, because [travelers] want to experience how someone in Prague, in Paris, in Rome, or in New York lives in his own flat,” Henri Giscard D’Estaing, global CEO of Club Med, recently told Business Insider.
Of course, what exactly constitutes an authentic experience is difficult to pin down, and people who come from the same place might disagree on what cuisine or landmark most authentically represents a destination. As Adam Dennett and Hanqun Song recently wrote for The Conversation, “One can argue that an ‘authentic tourism experience’ is a contradiction in terms. When places or experiences are discovered and populated by tourists, they ultimately change by the demands of tourists themselves and the economic opportunity this presents to providers.”
The hospitality industry has responded to this shift in perspective in varied ways. Over the last decade, many hospitality companies have eitherlaunched or acquired boutique-style brands that are great at capturing local flavors (InterContinental Hotels Group acquired Kimpton Hotels in 2014, for example, and Marriott launched the Autograph Collection in 2010).
Other hotels are focusing on redefining themselves as lifestyle brands that prioritize culture and design, and as places where travelers can completely customize their own experience.
To do this, hotels might pay an Instagram “influencer” to visit and post filtered photos of a property so that their large audiences can see what kinds of experiences they can have there. They might hire food trucks to serve local fare certain days of the week, or incorporate craft beers into the beverage program.
In September, Standard International — the company behind the trendy Standard hotels in Los Angeles, Miami, and New York — launched a new spontaneous-booking app called One Night, where users can book rooms at a curated selection of hotels. The goal is to target the next generation of travelers — people who are on the go, accustomed to the convenience of on-demand apps, and who still want the very best experience possible.
The Standard International team created a local guide for each of the hotels, providing hour-by-hour suggestions of the best things to do in that neighborhood throughout the day.
Club Med, the all-inclusive chain founded in 1950, continues to invest in resorts in emerging markets, like ski mountains in China and Japan, that are not yet popular with mainstream travelers. The brand has also introduced the ability to have a 360-degree virtual tour of each property so travelers can experience it before they book.
In April, Hilton’s Conrad Hotels hired former Conde Nast Traveler Executive Editor Peter Jon Lindberg as the brand’s director of inspiration. Lindberg works with concierges across Conrad’s 28 properties to build out itineraries lasting one, three, or five hours.
The goal is to get Conrad guests to see the destination as the locals do. Lindberg says that food experiences — whether that’s an outing to a local market or a beachside grill — are always extremely popular with guests.
“Travelers want to find things that exist only here, that remind them why they came, and that they’ll remember for years later. We think of it as collecting stories, not just souvenirs,” Lindberg told Business Insider. “What will they tell their friends back home about their trip? How can we give them something they can’t find anywhere but here?”
“Give us a compelling reason to choose this path over that one, and lead with how it will feel. That’s the primary task of the travel industry now: finding the emotion and inspiration behind every journey.”
NANDAIME, Nicaragua–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nekupe Sporting Resort and Retreat, an intimate eight-room property located on a 1,300-acre nature reserve in Nicaragua, today debuts as the country’s first luxury countryside resort. Located 30 minutes from the historic colonial town of Granada, Nekupe fosters a spirit of exploration, adventure and wellbeing through its understated and culturally sensitive design that was influenced by Feng Shui principles, immersive activities, and indoor, outdoor living that provides guests with a rich sense of place.
#Nicaragua’s first luxury countryside resort opens! #NekupeSportingResortandRetreat
Experiences at Nekupe are rooted in an active-outdoor lifestyle ideal for multi-generational families, groups of friends or adventurous retreats that include exploration, hiking, tennis, horseback riding, sporting clay and target shooting, and more. These activities are complemented by opportunities for thoughtful inner reflection through mountain-top yoga overlooking majestic views of Mombacho Volcano, outdoor spa treatments utilizing native ingredients, meditation and nature walks.
Nekupe was conceived as a private family retreat by Nicaraguan philanthropists Don Alfredo Pellas and Doña Theresita Pellas, avid travelers and adventure enthusiasts whose commitment to nature is exhibited through the resort’s core principle of respect for the environment. They created a sanctuary, reforesting more than 14,000 trees, building water reservoirs, and nurturing local wildlife, with the desire of cultivating a destination where guests may enjoy shared experiences in a meaningful way.
“Nekupe, which means ‘heaven’ in Chorotega – the indigenous language of a native tribe in Nicaragua, has been a true passion to bring to life, driven by the love for our country, its breathtakingly raw beauty, cultural heritage and kind people,” said Don Alfredo Pellas. “We are excited to see Nekupe and Nicaragua evolve into destinations where guests will reconnect with nature and each other through relaxing and invigorating experiences.”
- Accommodations – Guests may buy out the entire eight-room resort or book any of the following accommodations individually. Each room comes with a luxury ATV to navigate the miles of natural terrain.
- La Residencia de Doña Theresita – Perched atop a hill to allow for views across the reserve and out to Mombacho Volcano is the 24,000-square-foot main residential compound, La Residencia de Doña Theresita. The residence houses two grand suites, each measuring 1,300 square feet, which overlook a 1,900-square-foot deck that includes an infinity plunge pool with grand vistas of the deep forest. It also houses two standard 870-square-foot suites, a full kitchen and recreational pool.
- Villas – Four standalone villas that range from 700-1,000 square feet, each with an open terrace and floor-to-ceiling windows, are nestled along the countryside offering guests an immersive indoor/outdoor experience. Guests will enjoy access to the neighboring dry river outlined with giant bromeliads and impressive rock fountains.
- Central Lobby – Nekupe’s central lobby, Casa Club, is a communal space with airy living and lounge options to enjoy a cocktail or convene to coordinate the day’s activities. The 10,800-square-foot lounge also houses the resort’s restaurant, Don Alfredo’s, a gift shop and pool court where guests may take in panoramic views of the Nicaraguan landscape, including a stunning view of Nicaragua’s majestic Mombacho Volcano.
- Outdoor Pursuits – Nekupe’s incomparable setting is highlighted by its roster of extraordinary outdoor experiences taking advantage of the varied terrain full of trails, manmade nature pools and babbling creeks. A designated Ranger Center will guide guests through on- and off-site activities including:
- On-site: Horseback riding, sporting clay and target shooting, ropes course, fully equipped fitness center, tennis, butterfly and birdwatching, stargazing, marimba classes, swimming in the recreational pool and folkloric dance lessons.
- Off-site: Day tours to Granada and the Islets, volcano hiking and sandboarding, surfing, golfing, cultural tours and coffee plantation tours.
- Culinary Offerings – Guests will enjoy traditional Nicaraguan dishes with a modern interpretation using a bounty of native ingredients, inspired by Doña Theresita’s own cooking and sourced from the on-site garden and local purveyor. For those in search of more bespoke menu items, the resort’s chef may customize any meal to suit culinary needs. An outdoor chef’s table and exhibition kitchen serves as the backdrop for cooking classes and bespoke dinners. Hand-crafted cocktails and cigar and rum tastings complement the culinary delights.
- Wellness – A sanctuary for the soul, Nekupe’s peaceful and intimate reserve serves as a restorative destination that invites guests to benefit from the area’s healing energy and attributes. Travelers are invited to embrace the calm and inner peace afforded by this natural countryside oasis through meditative practices on the resort’s expansive yoga deck that overlooks the rolling reserve out to Concepción and Maderas Volcanos.
- Chapel – Perched atop one of the highest points in the nature reserve and surrounded by trees that bloom the fragrant sacuanjoche flower, lies the resort’s Chapel San Francisco de Asis. With stone walls and wooden trim, the stately venue immediately impresses with its simple, yet elegant nature; thoughtful design, including an Italian bell customized for Don Alfredo and Doña Theresita; and breathtaking fountain that streams water to the baptistery. Whether guests opt for a leisure stroll or ride up the hill, they will take solace in the calming energy of the journey. The chapel is available for guests to meditate and use as a venue for intimate weddings and events.
- Spa – A cornerstone of the resort, Nekupe Spa gives more than a nod to its inspired location set amidst lush vegetation. Embracing all energy points of the property, select native-based treatments utilizing natural ingredients will be available in the Casa Club and designated meadows within the reserve starting November 2016. The spa’s full concept will debut in 2017. Guests will enjoy views of the sprawling locale and hear nature’s meditative soundtrack while experiencing restorative treatments created to nourish and restore in this unspoiled setting.
Nekupe, an hour-and-a-half drive from Augusto Cesar Sandino International Airport, will offer rates beginning at $750 per night. Rates include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks; non-alcoholic beverages; one ATV per accommodation; and select activities on property. For reservations and additional information, visit www.nekupe.com.
Nicaragua, known as the land of lakes and volcanoes, is Central America’s hottest travel destination. It offers travelers one-of-a-kind experiences due to its vast natural beauty – all set amidst a backdrop of striking colonial architecture, charming culture and the warmth of its people.
About Nekupe Sporting Resort and Retreat
Nicaragua’s first luxury countryside resort, Nekupe Sporting Resort and Retreat, is an intimate eight-room property located on a 1,300-acre nature reserve. Offering a seamless confluence of sustainable nature-based design with Feng Shui influences, rich Nicaraguan culture and warm hospitality, the property effortlessly blends with the environment to nurture exploration, adventure and wellbeing. Nekupe is the vision of Nicaraguan philanthropists Don Alfredo and Doña Theresita Pellas, avid travelers and adventure enthusiasts whose commitment to nature is exhibited through the resort’s core principles of respect and stewardship of the environment.
Murphy O’Brien Public Relations
With the demand for Cuba extremely high at present, there are other alternatives to consider, writes Simon Calder.TRAVEL / 28 October 2016, 8:00pmSIMON CALDER
Question: We tried to book for Cuba for a week’s holiday post-Christmas, but the travel agent said it was full to bursting and suggested Nicaragua instead, flying in and out via Miami. Would you agree it’s a good alternative?
Answer: Demand for Cuba is extremely high at present, with such limited tourism infrastructure relative to demand, it’s not unreasonable to describe it as full – especially in the capital, Havana.
Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America, doesn’t do 1950s American cars and music in quite the same way as Cuba, but it is a superb destination in its own right. The scenery is dramatically volcanic; there are a couple of beautiful Spanish colonial cities in the shapes of Leon and Granada; and an indulgent Pacific beach resort, San Juan del Sur.
You might notice I have not mentioned the capital, Managua; that’s because it was flattened by an earthquake and resembles a scattering of scruffy suburbs rather than a proper city. There are, though, some colourful markets.
My one concern is the length of the journey. In the absence of direct flights from the UK to Nicaragua, the connections are gruelling – and involve the daunting prospect of US immigration.
With only a week, you might consider flying non-stop on to San Jose and driving up the Pan-American Highway from the Costa Rican capital.
We get a lot of Canadian visitors to El Porton Verde, and when I mentioned something about how “Americans” from the USA can finally begin to travel to Cuba, I wondered out loud if that will affect the number of visitors from the USA. She said to me “Don’t worry, because more Americans in Cuba means more Canadians in Nicaragua!” 🙂
So yes, folks, if everything is booked in Cuba, take a look at coming to Nicaragua instead. You can always go to Cuba after the rush is over!
You’ve already got some very good advice here, so I’ll just add my dos centavos. For your surfing, I would recommend Popoyo more than Maderas. There is a beginner’s break right in front of Magnific Rock and just to the north is Popoyo reef, but it’s not super sharp or anything. If you go out on the higher tides you’ll be fine. Plus if you are coming in January, the surf won’t be real big anyway… Now if you do want the option to go to San Juan del Sur, then Maderas is the call. I’ve dropped folks off at Hulakai and when they came back to stay with us again they said it was really nice. There is a little bit of a dining scene at Maderas whereas while Popoyo/Playa Guasacate has fewer restaurants albeit some much better and more international flavors then in past years.
For your transportation budget, you might save a bit if you stay at Maderas as you can bus to SJdS then take a taxi which won’t cost too much, max $20 as it’s only fifteen minutes away.
That’s it from me, have a great vacay!
Cheers, Mike @ El Portón Verde, Managua