Got feedback from some friends that visited us here.
Nicaragua just did not make the grade as a tourist destination with some guests we had visit. We had a group of 4 couples come and visit a little while back and their opinion of Nicaragua was not good. The first disappointment for them was the poor service and the poor quality of the rooms at Las Mercedes. We went to Granada and La Colon was a saving grace a quality hotel equal to a Marriott, Ramada or Westin of the late 1970's and for the same price as the Mercedes. La Colon made Las Mercedes look like a Motel 8. Granada was off to a good start until we went out to try the restaurants. Oh my god nothing but bad reviews only Mike's was considered close to acceptable. The main complaint was that what was served had no resemblance to the menu description. The meal presentation was lacking, many times looking like mesh hall slop. The meals usually were missing key ingredients and usually were horrible tasting with the stale "can" taste coming through in many plates. But the activities did at least make up for some of the disgusting restaurant conditions. Everyone did enjoy the boat tours of the islands and the zip line tour on Mombacho and some did enjoy a spa treatment. But there is no fine dining in Granada! Next was San Juan del Sur and the hotel El Jardin. A nice little mom and pop hotel 3 miles NE of San Juan in the hills with a nice view of the bay. The rooms were a bit more then Las Mercedes per night but the hotel is quiet and clean and a nice place to sun bath next to the pool. The little town of San Juan del Sur itself is dirty, traffic choked, and boring. Our guests were shocked at how polluted the bay and beach are there in town. Since none of us are into surfing this was our time to relax at the hotel. We all agreed that the hotel served the best meals we had in Nicaragua for the whole trip. Selva Negra was next on the itinerary and fortunately was an uneventful drive. We got the chalet that used to be the power house for the finca. Quaint old and could use some updating. The tour of the finca was interesting. The restaurant food here was acceptable Nicaragua fare but did not impress anyone. The only thing to say about Selva Negra is we did it once, but would not visit there again. A few days in Selva Negra and everybody was ready to leave for the beach, any beach. We tried Suyapa Beach hotel in Leon. We ended up there since it was the only beach hotel with air conditioning at the closest beach. The ocean and beach are a lot cleaner then San Juan del Sur but a long drive from anywhere. It is even a half hour drive to Leon. Everyone enjoyed relaxing at the beach. The hotel was in the 60 dollar a night range but definitely more like an old outdated Days Inn in need of a revamp. This beach area only had comodors with the usual over cooked and over salted meals. This was a less then stunning end to their trip but the beach was relaxing and the only part of Nicaragua our visitors liked. So far not one of the four couples that visited have expressed a desire to ever return. They have said that they would rather return to Cancun, Roratan, Belize, or Costa Rica before ever considering coming to Nicaragua again. The guests we had were people that were accustomed to paying $100 to $200 a night for a hotel room and dropping $25 to $55 per person for meals. Nicaragua was a disappointment to them. Only 2 hotels met their expectations for service and quality of room; La Colon, and El Jardin. Not one restaurant we visited came close to their expectations for service or quality. The main complaints were long waits, poor quality ingredients, and the need for trained dedicated personnel.