Airbnb sees opportunity to promote another type of tourism in Nicaragua • El Nuevo Diario

Approximately 50% of tourists coming to Nicaragua through the Airbnb application are looking to stay in shared spaces, said Carlos Muñoz, Public Policy and Government Relations Manager for Airbnb for Central America and the Caribbean.

That means, according to Muñoz, that this type of tourist shares the lodging with another person who lives in the house, which in his opinion “creates an immense possibility of a very strong and rich cultural exchange, which promotes the possibility of that person wanting to return to Nicaragua.”

According to the official of Airbnb, the tourist agencies could take advantage of that characteristic to attract more tourists to the country.

“Normally in the region where I work, the Caribbean and Central America, 70% of tourists rent a whole house, that is, do not cohabit with a family or another person. They rent the whole house to go and spend with the family, “he said.

“In Nicaragua I see it as a great opportunity to develop this type of tourism that I mentioned, which is a tourism with a very cultural experience, well personalized, that differentiates this country from others in the region. And it should be noted that many of the tourists who come to Nicaragua are looking for this type of experience and it is an experience that is not achieved in the traditional tourism market,” he said.

“Collaborative Economy”

Airbnb, the world’s premier hosting business that has no place physically speaking, emerged in 2008 in San Francisco, United States, as an idea of ​​two young college students.

According to Carlos Muñoz, the application has more than two million properties registered, in more than 34,000 cities in 191 countries. It is a company valued at US $ 30 billion.

In Nicaragua there are over 1,000 properties active on Airbnb.

Currently Nicaraguan lodgings registered in Airbnb are concentrated in the Pacific of the country. “There are a lot of holiday homes, beach houses, but at the same time there are houses in Managua, in the mountains and some other offer on the Caribbean coast,” said Carlos Muñoz.

For Muñoz, it is difficult to predict the growth that the use of the Airbnb system of business in Nicaragua could have during the next years.

“Airbnb is an open platform. It is not that we buy hotels or buy properties and that way we can predict what supply we can have in the country. It is an open platform and everything depends on the free market, and how many people want to enter,” said Muñoz.

Airbnb’s Public Policy and Government Relations Manager for Central America and the Caribbean participated in the Nica Tech Summit 2017, held last Saturday in Managua, and said that they are starting to socialize a little about what is the “Collaborative economy” and publicize the Airbnb platform, so that more people can participate and enjoy the benefits of the tourism sector.

Democratize tourism

“We see this platform as a way to democratize what tourism is, because it allows people who have traditionally not been able to participate to participate and receive benefits from that sector,” said the manager of Public Policy and Government Relations of Airbnb for Central America and Caribbean.

Muñoz pointed out that one of the characteristics of the “collaborative economy” is that it does not require a big investment.

In the case of Airbnb the idea is that a person who has a property, whether a whole house or a single vacated room, can enable and offer it through that application to more than 100 million users worldwide, and so generate income for the family.

Source: Airbnb ve oportunidad para promover otro tipo de turismo en Nicaragua • El Nuevo Diario

As part of the recently held Nica Tech Summit 2017 (21 January in Managua), the person who heads up Airbnb’s efforts in Central America spoke and had some interesting things to say, namely that more people using Airbnb to book their lodging in Nicaragua look for shared spaces, i.e. not a whole house but a room or two in a house with other occupants, be they Nicaraguan or foreigners.

The point Mr. Muñoz is making is that this is a higher percentage than other countries in the region and that it is a good thing because this means that, especially for first-time visitors to Nicaragua, they can get a more locals perspective and experience than they would if they didn’t interact with actual Nicaraguans or expats at their rental properties.

Here at El Porton Verde, we certainly believe that, especially for your first and/or last night in Nicaragua, it’s good to get a very comfortable experience and one that is much more personalized than one that you might get just staying at a regular hotel or hostel.

When you are living with a family you get to eat the food they eat, listen and learn about what their lives are all about, and have a chance to ask questions as a visitor that just doesn’t happen in a more corporate or chain hotel type of situation.

As I’ve posted before, I think it’s completely legit to ask the first-time visitor, “why stay at a chain hotel when you can stay with us?” Not only does the visitor get more value for their dollar, yen, euro, pound, etc. you get the experience that totally supersedes having a room at a chain hotel that is pretty much like any other hotel room in that chain. I mean, a Holiday Inn is a Holiday Inn, amiright? 🙂

Another benefit of staying with a place like El Portón Verde is that you get to ask about things like relocation, medical tourism, local tours, beach house rentals, rental car tips, driving tips, and a bunch of other topics that you won’t get any exposure to in a more traditional lodging option like a big hotel chain.

If this doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will? If you have a question about the value proposition that places like El Portón Verde offers, please comment below!

Uber about to reach Nicaragua

Uber about to reach Nicaragua

EFE January 18, 2017 | 11:41 PM

Uber in Nicaragua? La Prensa Nicaragua

The Uber private transport network, of American origin, is interested in establishing itself in Nicaragua, reported the main business leadership of the Central American country today.

Although Uber has so far not taken concrete action, “it is important for companies like these take a look at Nicaragua again,” José Adán Aguerri, president of the Higher Council for Private Enterprise (Cosep), told reporters.

Regarding the possibility of Uber services being rejected by traditional taxi drivers, Aguerri mentioned that “it is an issue that must be analyzed in full” and that the objective of a possible opening in the country is not to affect the transport sector.

Nicaragua has a vehicle fleet of about 800,000 vehicles, of which about 25,000 are taxis, according to official figures.

Uber is present in 581 cities of more than 70 countries of the world, among them Costa Rica, Guatemala and Panama, according to company data.

Taxi drivers from these neighboring countries and Colombia, among others, reject Uber because they consider that private drivers contacted through the mobile application make unfair competition because they are not supervised by local regulations.

Source: Uber a punto de llegar a Nicaragua

Surely the taxi drivers will try to prevent the arrival of Uber in Nicaragua, but it would seem that the idea of the service coming to the country is inevitable. It will be interesting to see what the pricing of the service is and if it will be a good option to traditional taxis and rental cars.

Also, the service might have higher initial usage rates from foreign tourists who come from place where Uber is already well-established and users already have the app is installed on their smartphones. Your thoughts and comments are welcome below.

Transportation to Granada: Late flight to MGA, best way to get to Granada at midnight? – Nicaragua Forum – TripAdvisor

elportonverde Managua, Nicaragua Level Contributor 739 posts 22 reviews

4. Re: Late flight to MGA, best way to get to Granada at midnight? Feb 03, 2016, 1:09 PM

Greetings Amen9: You are saying things that aren’t so, it would be nice for the readers of this forum to know why…of course I already know why! Anyway…

 

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify for you and the readers El Porton Verde’s location and ambiance.

 

We are at 1,000 feet elevation so the nights are always cool. Views of two volcanoes, forested hills and plains. On a working eight acre farm full of fruit trees, plantains, bananas, pineapples, etc. Location is 10 minutes to a fancy Managua shopping mall, five minutes to the best hospital, 15 minutes to Masaya Volcano, 20 minutes to the town of Masaya, 25 minutes to MGA.

 

We are less than an hour from 4 of the top 10 things to do in Nicaragua. And none of those places are in the city of Managua!

 

Plus, Managua has improved considerably and there are world-class things to do and see in the city now. So thanks for asking! Take a look at my website and you’ll see I’m not stuck anywhere. We already know you have a hidden vested interest in promoting Granada. (Speaking of stuck!)

 

Just because you don’t like to hear that there are really nice options besides just going straightaway to Granada doen’t mean that they don’t exist. At least I am transparent with the readers of this forum. It’d be nice if you did the same…have a great day!

 

Mike @ El Portón Verde, Managua

Source: Late flight to MGA, best way to get to Granada at midnight? – Nicaragua Forum – TripAdvisor

Either way is cool, but ask yourself, do you want to wake up to this:

Transportation to Granada

Panoramic view from the porch of El Portón Verde

Or this for your first morning in Nicaragua, your choice!

Late flight to MGA

Expat central, La Calzada, Granada at night

VACATION COST COMPARISON: HAWAII VS. NICARAGUA

This winter think Flor de Caña instead of Mai Tai’s

Go to Nicaragua instead of Hawaii this Winter

Want to save a couple of hundred dollars and have a really unique vacation? Try Nicaragua!

If you feel like a tropical getaway is needed this winter, why not consider doing something different this year? Sure Hawaii is nice. The luau is fun with the poi, roast pork and dancing girls, but seriously, don’t you want to try something a bit off the beaten path?

Let’s do a vacation cost comparison, shall we?

Flight times are roughly the same. A flight to Managua usually entails a change of planes so it ends up a half-hour to an hour more time between your destinations. Flight costs are lower to Nicaragua as you can see above.

Volcanoes are more numerous and varied

Hawaii and Nicaragua both have volcanoes

The only place you can actually surf down a volcano is in Nicaragua. Plus there’s a lot more of them to see in Nicaragua if that’s your thing…

Speaking of surfing…

Surfing is better in Nicaragua! There, I said it.

What about Overall Cost of the Vacation?

I found a website that says that the average one week vacation for two to Hawaii costs $3,760 dollars. Let’s break that down and figure out what the same thing would cost in Nicaragua, shall we?

Much less expensive to go to Nicaragua than to Hawaii

Airfare is roughly the same, even though in the example we started with it is couple of hundred dollars cheaper. This will vary depending on the time of year, etc.

Lodging is a big save. The Hawaii cost website says $175 per night and in Nicaragua you can get very nice lodgings for $75-80 per night.

Likewise, food is much less expensive in Nicaragua than in Hawaii for obvious reasons, namely we’re on the mainland, its unlikely you’ll be eating a lot of imported items, and the general cost of living is much less.

Activities was a bit tough to determine, but for example a full-day tour with El Porton Verde tours is $80, Lots of activities such as tour of Las Isletas is $40 or less. $30 for volcano boarding down Cerro Negro near Leon. You get the idea…

Transportation was a bit easier to determine. Rental cars are less expensive. Now you can get private shuttles that can be costly, but in a week you won’t take more than two long trips and they are each $100 from the Managua airport to San Juan del Sur. If you came to Nicaragua and took public buses (or even one or two buses) you would save a ton of money.

NOTE: You can easily spend much more money in Nicaragua than this example shows. For example, you can book a night or two at the five-star Mukul Resort and spend about $500 per night. Even Aqua Wellness in Playa Gigante is about $200 a night. You can also spend more on food, booze, tours, and transport than listed here. But it’s a heck of a lot easier to stay at a moderately priced place for a night or two and then splurge on the nice beachfront locations, for example. As usual, CAVEAT EMPTOR aka YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY.

This posting only talks about cost of things. We haven’t touched on the value of experiences. I wager the true value of the experiences you’ll have in Nicaragua is much more valuable than any cost considerations.

So, what will you do with the $1470 in savings? Here’s an idea, why not stay another week in Nicaragua!

Comments and questions are welcome as always!

Top Five Tips for Renting a Car in Nicaragua http://wp.me/p1VgwB-1ac

Top Five Tips for Renting a Car in Nicaragua http://wp.me/p1VgwB-1ac

Posted by Bed and Breakfast Farmstay El Portón Verde, Managua on Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Google image search reveals quite a few rental car companies here in Nicaragua

A Google image search reveals quite a few rental car companies here in Nicaragua

Top Five Tips for Renting a Car in Nicaragua

A Google image search reveals quite a few rental car companies here in Nicaragua

A Google image search reveals quite a few rental car companies here in Nicaragua

If you’re not sure whether or not to rent a car in Nicaragua, see “What it’s like to drive in Nicaragua” first. You might find that it is better to arrange a driver with a private vehicle, take taxis, or arrange for shuttles.

As an alternative, you can always hire a taxi to take you around!

As an alternative, you can always hire a taxi to take you around!

 

Public buses are also a good alternative for some visitors to Nicaragua.

There are several private shuttle services serving Nicaragua.

There are several private shuttle services serving Nicaragua.

The public buses provide cheap transport from point A to point B

The public buses provide cheap transport from point A to point B

This post assumes that you have already decided that renting a car is the right decision for you. Even if you are set on driving yourself, please read my Four Essential Nicaraguan Driving Tips to make sure you are prepared!

One: Understand how the insurance works and what is the actual daily or weekly cost of the vehicle.

There is a mandatory collision damage / insurance that you cannot avoid, and there is “extra” insurance that may or may not be worthwhile to take. There is 100% coverage, for example. The mandatory is 80% coverage. Most of the big rental car companies also offer roadside assistance and even hospitalization insurance. The smaller companies usually offer only the full coverage.

Here’s an example of some of the acronyms that might be used in this discussion. (Thanks to centralamerica.com, all rights go to them.)

Not as simple as one might hope for...

Not as simple as one might hope for…

Renting for a week gives you a better deal than a daily rate, but don’t get fooled by looking at a website for a rental car company and thinking that it truly costs less than $20 to rent a car! The websites typically don’t show the cost of insurance online, and you will be surprised that the car now costs $40 something dollars a day. Getting the full insurance more than doubles the daily rate of the vehicle, in my experience.

Just to get a feel for the insurance and collision options, check out the Alamo Nicaragua information here: http://nicaraguaairportcarrental.com/alamo_nicaragua_nicaragua_airport_brand_info.html

Two: Make a good decision on the rental car company you choose.

There are better deals to be had by renting from one of the smaller, Nicaraguan-based companies, but they tend to not have the level of customer support available. That is something that if you need it, you really need it! For example, there is a local company that offers a nice small sedan vehicles, year 2014 model of a Nissan Tilda, for $35 including everything. A comparable vehicle offered by an international rental car company will be a bit more, about $45 dollars per day once you buy your collision and insurance.

My recommendation would be that it works out better for most visitors to select one of the international companies just in case your car breaks down somewhere you will have a better chance to get rescued. Also, with an international company they might respond a bit better to consumer complaints and such things?

With a small local company, you will be very much on your own and especially if you don’t have decent Spanish skills, a roadside breakdown could be a stressful situation. We want to avoid those, right? You’re on vacation after all!

Three: Make a good decision on the type of vehicle you will need.

Some people visiting Nicaragua who are looking to rent a car will want a four-wheel drive vehicle thinking that the roads are very bad and 4WD will be necessary. I’m here to tell you that it isn’t so! For the majority of visitors looking to rent a car, a small sedan will be perfectly fine. If you are planning on going to the major tourist attractions in Nicaragua, you will be okay with a regular 2WD vehicle.

If you are a real beach goer, and especially a surfer who is traveling to Nicaragua during the rainy season and you want to be able to check out a variety of beaches, then get a Toyota HiLux, Prado, or another 4WD vehicle.

A Prado is a nice luxury vehicle

A Prado is a nice luxury vehicle

As far as the exact type of vehicle, you will have to do some research for yourself on what is available and what works best for you. On the extremes for example, there is a small car called the Suzuki Alto, which to me is a “clown car” as it is so tiny with miniscule sized tires that it might not be too comfortable for more than two people, especially if you have a few suitcases. A large vehicle here would be a mini-van for a small group or a Toyota Prado, which is a luxury SUV (think Lexus) that will have a very smooth ride and you will feel great cruising around in that.

Clown car?

Clown car?

But, of course you pay for the privilege of having the luxury vehicle.

Four: Document the condition of the vehicle as it is received.

This is something different from how one would rent a vehicle in North America, for example. When you get your car, a guy with a clipboard holding a line drawing of a vehicle will appear. He will want to show you all of the little scratches on the vehicle. Every small dent, every abrasion, every little ding should be marked down on his little piece of paper.2000px-Clipboard_01.svg

What I recommend is that you use your smart phone or camera to take photos of every little thing the rental car employee will show you, including the little piece of paper at the end! Also, make sure he checks the underbody of the vehicle, as sometimes they will not note that someone tried to jack up the vehicle in an incorrect spot without the proper support, causing a buckle or indent.

The whole point of this exercise is that you and the car company have documented the current state of the vehicle. If you bring it back and they discover an extra dent or scratch, they will attempt to charge you for a “repair” that may or not actually be fixed. It appears to me that this can easily be a scam sort of setup, so renter beware. I do believe that if you appear to be paying attention to all of this process that the rental car company will be less likely to attempt any funny business, but of course your mileage may vary!

Five: Bring or rent some navigation and communication technologies to make your trip more relaxing.

This tip is about having a local phone and/or SIM card/chip in a phone you brought from home. It is also about whether or not paying extra for a GPS system is worthwhile.

Best is to bring an old phone with you from back home, and buy a chip from either Claro or Movistar (the two phone companies) so you can be in communication. Likewise, if you have a GPS device or your smartphone has that feature, it doesn’t hurt to have that along with you too.gps

The rental car companies do offer both phones and GPS, and they almost always will charge you for the rental of the GPS and some charge for the phone too. Either way, its best to bring your own device, or if you will be here for a couple of weeks or more, it might be worthwhile to buy a cheap cell phone, which should set you back no more than $30, as, for example, Alamo charges $3 per day to rent a phone.

Special Bonus Tips:

  1. You might go to all the trouble to decide, yes, I’ll go ahead and rent a car, and then you get to the rental car counter and they don’t have any vehicles for you! This just recently happened to Farmstay visitors.
  2. Don’t be thrown off when you sign the rental contract that they run your credit card right then and there, and ask you to sign a blank credit card receipt! The point of this is to put a hold on your card at an amount somewhat in excess of the expected charges for the rental. This is a normal way of doing business here and they will just tear it up when you return the vehicle and pay the total amount at the end of your rental period.
  3. If you are going to be visiting the Farmstay and arriving at nighttime, let me pick you up, then the next morning you can pick up your car at a location not far from the Farmstay. If staying with us on your first and last nights in Nicaragua, you can turn in the vehicle the day before, saving you one full day of rental car costs!

Okay, I hope this helps. As always, we encourage your comments and corrections. If you have a good story about your rental car experience in Nicaragua, let us know that too!

Managua Airport Tips: What to expect when arriving at MGA Augusto Sandino International Airport

MGA-Sandino-International-Airport-Managua

Exterior of the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport in Managua, Nicaragua (MGA)

Managua-Augusto-Cesar-Sandino-Airport

The main lobby of the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport in Managua, Nicaragua (MGA)

Will you be arriving at MGA, the Managua International Airport soon?

Would you like some Managua airport tips and a step-by-step look at what to expect? Here you go, enjoy!
The drill will be:
  1. Get off the plane, follow the people and signs down hallway and then down the escalator to Immigration.
    (Note: If you use the VIP service, you will stay on the same level and someone from the service will have a placard with your name on it!)
  2. Get in one of the lines (the ones on the right side of the room seem to be shorter generally speaking, but YMMV).
  3. Have your forms, passports, and $10 USD in cash ready. The immigration officer will normally just swipe your passport, stamp it, then take the money from you and give you a receipt.
    Note: Speaking of forms, if you are coming to stay at the Farmstay, write down “km. 10 1/2 Carretera a Masaya, Managua” in the space on the form titled “Direccion Prevista”
    Note: Keep the little piece of paper they give you, this is your visa and should be kept with your passport. It is automatically given for a 90 day period and can be renewed one time.
  4. Follow the other people towards the baggage claim area…there is a tourist information desk on your left if you want to grab some brochures and you can stop and use the bathroom on the right if necessary (optional 🙂 )
    Note: There is a money exchange there too, but I do not recommend exchanging money at the airport. They give you a really lousy exchange rate, about a fifth less then what you can get from a bank or a street exchange.
  5. Get a free baggage cart or two if needed (they are on the left side of the baggage claim area, near the windows where you will see lots of people waiting for the new arrivals)
    Note: There will be airport workers there to help you if you want it, they will just want a tip of a dollar or so…could be well worth it if you have multiple pieces of luggage.
  6. Get your bags off of one of the two carousels.
  7. Get in the line for the bags to be checked and give that person your remaining customs form. (Also, have your baggage claim tickets ready, they check to make sure you are taking the correct bags.)
  8. After that you move towards your final check, where you will put your bags on a conveyor belt. It will go through an x-ray machine (half the time no one is even looking at the screen). There are a lot more customs officials and stations here now, so this part can go very quickly.
  9. Put your bags back on the cart and turn left.
  10. After retrieving your bags, head towards the exits. There are three sliding glass doors, two on your right which takes you curbside, and the other by going forward, staying in the terminal building, heading towards the Rental Car desks.
  11. If you have arranged transport for your first night’s lodging already, look for them but don’t panic if you don’t see your pickup person immediately. They’ll find you!
    Note: If you are staying at the Farmstay, do not go out to the curb, after turning left, go straight through the automatic glass doors into the terminal. I usually stand away from the waiting people that tend to crowd the area just on the other side of the sliding glass doors. Just keep your head high and with complete confidence, keep walking past all of them, ignoring their offers for taxis and transport, and look for me in front of a little coffee bar on the right with my sign saying “FARMSTAY”.
    Note: If you have a scheduled pickup with another lodging option, look for their sign. If you are looking to rent a car, keep going forward and you will see the sign pointing to the rental cars. If you need a taxi, look for the men in the yellow or blue shirts, they are the official airport taxis. Actually, they’ll find you!
  12. If you are staying with us, look for me holding the sign “FARMSTAY
    Note: If you have nothing previously arranged, you have some decisions to make. You can stay across the highway at the Best Western, which, while rather expensive, has an undeniably handy location, or any number of other hotels. See my guide to your lodging options: Where should I stay on my first night (or last night) in Nicaragua?
    There are now two tourism-services kiosks on your left as you enter the main terminal. They will have their representatives at the sliding glass doors. They can help you in case you come in to Managua without any sort of plan whatsoever and you want them to set you up with transport and lodging for the night. 
    Note: You can also set you up for transport to Granada, which many people do. It will cost you about $40. But before you decide on that, there’s a case to be made for staying that first night in Managua because you can catch the public bus to Granada the next day and save money. Plus there are several other reasons, especially to stay at FEPV.

    1044303_10151721685172429_403430706_n

    Your host Mike will be waiting for you at the airport with his FARMSTAY sign.

streetchildNote: Once you are in the terminal or outside on the sidewalk (or even inside the terminal), there may be street urchins looking to give you a sort of origami flower made from straw, help you with your bags, or just asking for “dame un dollar” (give me a dollar) usually followed by “chele” (roughly translated as “whitey”). Lately, the authorities have done a better job keeping them off the airport grounds but they still are around at times.
Welcome to Nicaragua!  If you are going to Granada and to a lesser extent Leon and San Juan del Sur, expect to see lots more of these children. The best way to deal with them in my experience is to give them a firm “No gracias” followed by a stern (louder) “No!” and keep an eye on your things, do not maintain eye contact. If you do want to give them money, best you give them a Nicaraguan coin, no more than five cordobas.  But just understand, you do not have enough coins/money on you to give money to everyone who asks! There are several orphanages, street children’s help centers, and other worthy charities in the major cities where you can help these young people at risk.