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.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Oh Well

We don't want those kind of people coming to Nicaragua anyways. Keep the bad reviews coming so it can stay somewhat prestine and untouched just how I like it.

Valuable feedback, thank you.

I agree that Nicaragua is definitely not for everyone. A true spirit of adventure is pretty much a necessity!

I think your friends did not really think about what they like to do and what conditions they like to be in prior to going to Nicaragua. Maybe poor advice too? Sorry but that's how I read it.

I rail all the time on TripAdvisor forums, "Don't stay at the Las Mercedes" albeit in a slightly more nuanced approach. There are some really lovely small properties to stay at in Managua and I wish more visitors would not get freaked out about being in Managua or at least being okay with driving through to get out to the nicer areas and smaller bed and breakfasts, small hotels, and inns.

Also, I can't believe they didn't have good meals here in Nicaragua. There are certainly fine restaurants in Granada. San Juan del Sur has Colibri, which I find to be an excellent restaurant.

Agree totally that the bay of SJdS is getting very disgustingly polluted. I think the way the bay is setup will ultimately limit its growth beyond the surfer/party crowd.

To get a really good beach experience, you have to drive north or south about 15 minutes each way, and for people who are used to clean clear water suitable for snorkeling and such right in front of their hotel, SJdS could easily be a disappointment.

But all that aside, your friends and others with similar tastes (and pocketbooks) will, I predict, be very satisfied with Carlos Pellas' Mukul Resort at Guacalito de la Isla when it opens in January. This is very upscale and will provide a high level of customer care for the demanding clientele.

I have not yet visited, hope to do so in December, but this is the first real luxury beachfront offering in Nicaragua and while it will never be Cancun or Belize, it will be a unique offering on a gorgeous beach and pristine natural condition, something hard to find in other countries.

Doors of hope fly open when doors of promise shut. -Thomas D'Arcy McGee

Let Us Know

if you hear of any deals at Guacalito. Pellas mentioned in his interview that he wanted Nicaraguans and "friends" to enjoy his resort too, and his pricing structure for the FDC tour indicates that he is trying to keep things affordable for Nicaraguans.

We're his "friends", right ? And it never hurts to ask for a better price . . .

http://www.mukulresort.com/

Maybe Pellas would let you "package" some nights for your existing guests?

We will see..

When I contacted them they looked at my website and basically told me that my clientele is not of the same timber as theirs...but if they have that attitude it might prove difficult to establish mutually beneficial relationships.

Doors of hope fly open when doors of promise shut. -Thomas D'Arcy McGee

Don't be offended, its a fact..

Its not an "attitude".

You should express the same if its suggested you have any synergy with the Naked Tiger or the Surfing Donkey....

Hmmm

I can't comment on any of the hotels they stayed at or prob the restaurants--maybe they were lacking???? But I have had my in-laws come twice to visit us. Brother n law brought his girl-friend on the most recent trip and they LOVED it here!! Maybe since they have spent many many yrs in South America, it helps for them to appreciate various cultures;not sure!! Nothing but great things to say. Nicas provided top notch service at most places we went to. A great alternative to hotels is renting from owners--VRBO.org We just returned from a 3 night stay at Tola in a beautiful house. Split that with 3 couples--very cheap. But some people just like to complain--not to sound like a certain female writer that partakes on this board---in this 1 area I may tend to agree with her--people think 3rd world country--they expect their $$$ to go much further and be waited on hand & foot.

Nicaragua isn't for everyone

Two of my sisters and their husbands may come here in 2014 and we'll meet in Granada (and when and if that time comes, I'll ask for some suggestions). One sister wanted to come up to Jinotega and see my house. I just laughed. If those sisters are uneasy in my brother's house he bought when he was an artist, they'd have real problems with here. But I found possible golf courses for one brother-in-law near Managua, so he'd be happy.

My friend who lived in Honduras and the other friend who travels all over, last in Guatemala, I think would enjoy here.

Rebecca Brown

One thing for sure....

Nicaragua is definitely not Cancun! And thank God for that! When Nicaragua "develops" to the point where it is acceptable to visit for people like your friends, is when I leave! You don't come to the second poorest country in the western hemisphere (first poorest before the Haitian earthquake) looking for the french riveria. But you can come here and turn back time 50 years and more and experience authentic latin culture at it's finest and purest. There is no fault to be found with your friends and none to be found with Nicaragua. They were just in the wrong place for the wrong reason. They should have made an adventure out of it and rode the "chicken" buses, ate at roadside comedores, stayed at some hospedajes run by Nicaraguan people, shopped and ate in some of the local mercados and taken in a few local festivales. I'm afraid you friends are too "higienico" for Nicaragua. Nicaragua is a very rustic, basic, real and very human destination. The only real way to experience it, is to allow yourself to live it. If you have friends who are interested in such a vacation, I can guarantee you that the people of Nicaragua will not disappoint!

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 and then they stayed and ate at places 1/2 to 1/4 that price - What did they expect?

Did they select these unworthy hotels expecting to to be pampered with luxurious accommodations after reviewing evaluation sites like Trip Adviser?

Do they know that those same evaluation sites also offer reviews of the best restaurants to whine & dine!

Don't ya just hate those freudian slips?

Oh dear...thats too bad

I guess we can't win em all!

How is your own Exodus plan coming along?

I seem to remember you announcing that you were "outta here" yourselves.

Perception is a wonderful thing. I wouldn't call El Jardin "A nice little mom and pop hotel" therefore I wonder how accurate "dirty, traffic choked, and boring' is for San Juan del Sur .

No luck

luring my daughter down here on vacation yet. She prefers Hawaii and the central California coast--clean, safe, convenient, economical. We went camping when she was young but it is not really her cup of tea. She saw El Paso and Juarez as a kid and has no great infatuation with poverty, so Nic. is a cultural turnoff, too. Plan B is to lure my daughter to a vacation in CR and we can meet her down there. Wish me luck.

I had some guests down from across the pond last year. They were polite but not satisfied, but we stayed in the north which is even more primitive than the areas you are talking about.

Las Mercedes has some definite differed-maintenance issues. Sad because it has such a good location and well trained staff. For 10 bucks more your upscale friends can go just down the road to Camino Real. We haven't stayed there yet but we eat there when we stay at Las Mercedes. The airport restaurants are another good option, but watch for stale food depending on the hour. And it seems the latest assault to Nic. tourism is that United is now landing at 11pm instead of 8 pm!

Travel in Nic. is very much a crap shoot. I assume things will be screwed up and am pleasantly surprised when anything goes right. I did a post a couple years ago about good budget hotels. There is value here, but your chance of finding it is slim.

"Anything that is complex is not useful and anything that is useful is simple. This has been my whole life's motto."

Mikhail Kalashnikov, Russian inventor

"United is now landing at 11pm instead of 8 pm"

For my next trip to the U.S., United is offering me three return times at the Managua airport: 11:21 am, 9:13 pm and 11:21 pm. The 9:13 pm time is the old 8:13 pm time - an hour later due to the end of daylight savings.

One of my friends liked it.

She came down with me on the first trip. Through one of the kids here, I've picked up another FaceBook friend who loved it when she was here teaching English. I think the north is a better place to live than to visit unless a person had serious botanical interests or serious birding interests. I'd only invite people to Jinotega if they'd had experience with relatively rough third world travel elsewhere, but am now more likely to meet them somewhere else (one friend wants to spend several week in Copan after her dog dies).

Las Mercedes is the easy solution for people flying out early. I can get a cab to Jinotega for close enough to what the rooms at the Mercedes cost so if I come in at night, I'd simply pay to get all the way home rather than stay over at the Mercedes and doing the cab and bus shuffle in the morning, but I suspect they do get some additional business from people whose flights arrive at night after buses stop running, even among the backpacker set. I almost called the guys who have the bed and breakfast and who post here, but didn't know how well they got people to the airport at wee morning hours or how much extra that would cost. Las Mercedes is the easy choice, probably not the best one, but generally I have enough on my mind if I'm flying back to the US.

I will add that in the three times I've stayed there, I've never had the bedbug problem others have reported.

Rebecca Brown

I've probably

stayed at Las Mercedes at least 10 times over the years and never had a problem with bugs or cleanliness. If you are prone to hot showers, make sure the room has hot water before you settle in.

Since someone posted about bedbugs I've seen 2 programs on TV and one on the net. Seems like bedbugs are making a huge worldwide comeback in the past couple years. The pesticides that worked in the past have been outlawed and the bugs have become resistant to the new pesticides. New treatments using heat or cold are coming in, but probably not available here.

If you take them home to your house it can be very troublesome to get rid of them--you may need to fumigate 3 or more times. Some advice on the web included inspecting the room and never putting your luggage on the bed or the floor. (I suspect the floor warning is for 1st world hotels with carpeting). It might be a good idea to inspect or treat your luggage before you take it in the house when you return.

I think I've been bitten by my share of bugs in Nic. but so far bedbugs isn't one of them.

We used to pay somebody $70-80 dollars (plus lunch and a small gift) to pick me up from the airport from Esteli. It's one approach, but it makes the day that much longer and driving at night in Nic. is a bad idea--not instant disaster, just a bad idea. Money wise its about a draw to just stay in a hotel and catch an expreso north during daylight.

"Anything that is complex is not useful and anything that is useful is simple. This has been my whole life's motto."

Mikhail Kalashnikov, Russian inventor

Try Crowne Plaza

You can often book on Priceline for a few bucks more than Mercedes, it's upscale, well-located, and their van comes to pick YOU up. Just let them know by email when you are arriving.

This is the Sandinista era Inter-Continental, lots of history, Godoy Bros restaurant/venue across the street, Sandino monument walking distance, actually lots of stuff in walking distance if you like to walk.

Hotel cabs are safe (little more money, true, but worry free). Good place to hire a driver. Huge lobby, nice bar, Benihana type restaurant.

Yes, plenty of good hotels in MGA

I've done the Crown Plaza on a few occasions, most always top flight and the breakfast buffet one of the best in town. A recent change in ownership (now Chinese?) seems to be cutting corners however. Wasn't the place built by Howard Hughes, for his helio-pad on the roof? It was where Chavez & entourage stayed before the Ortegas owned hotel(s).

You can get a comparable deal online at the Inter-Continental Hotel by Metro Centro Mall. So once you're hopping a taxi, there are lots of good options in Managua.

Never stayed at Best Western-Las Mercedes by the airport despite flying in after midnite. Reviews of the place written here on NL were too spotty for me to chance it.

Have enjoyed Hotel Conquistador by Plaza Inter/Crown Plaza. Its ample rooms with private bath have A/C, wi-fi, TV & 'hot' shower for $60/nite (2-4 persons). Altho its quality slid after an apparent Sikh takeover. They arranged for airport taxi too.

US Investors with Tradex Hospitality

Had seized (foreclosure) the hotel back from a Taiwan group after they racked up debt of $ 3,088,000.

They (Tradex) then hit a few problems when the Taiwanese sniveled to the government and matters got complicated.