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Nicaragua: Adventure Now, Luxury Later

August 31, 2012 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent


Mukul, Nicaragua’s first luxury resort, is slated to open in January.


Nicaragua is quickly gaining steam as one of the best destinations in Central America. Tourism there is up by 12 percent so far in 2012 and INTUR (, the destination’s tourism board, is spending twice as much money on marketing Nicaraguan tourism than it did last year.

Surfing—and adventure travel in general—is the main reason this hot spot will continue to make a great Central American vacation. But Mukul, the destination’s first luxury resort, which is slated to open in January, could be the reason why it may become the hottest getaway in all of Latin America.

The Present

Surfing in Nicaragua is now recognized as among the best in the Americas. The International Surfing Association held the first Masters Surfing Championship in Nicaragua in July, and is planning to hold the Junior Surfing Championship there next summer. 

The beaches of Nicaragua, especially those on the country’s Pacific coast, are known for impressive surf and unexploited beauty. The most popular destination for surfers from around the world is a 37-mile stretch of beaches called San Juan del Sur. This region on the southwest coast of the country was a stop on The Quiksilver Crossing in 2003, a worldwide quest in search of “the perfect wave.” Maderas, a secluded beach beloved by locals and visitors alike, is one of the surfing community’s best-kept secrets. 

Specifically, the city of Granada remains the top tourist destination thanks to its beautiful Spanish Colonial architecture; Grenada Cathedral and other historical churches; wide choice of hotels that are set in former haciendas, including Hotel Plaza Colon and Hotel Dario; and close proximity to adventure and eco activities such as kayaking on Lake Nicaragua, and ziplining and hiking on Mombacho Volcano. For details on local hot spots and some general information about surfing and traveling in Nicaragua, visit and

The Future

Travel Agent got the skinny on Mukul (the Mayan word for “secret”), a luxury boutique hotel and spa in Guacalito de la Isla that is expected to open by January next year. It’s a $250 million, 1,670-acre low-density private beach community on Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast and will have about 40 rooms, each with an ocean view, pool and private staff.

Among these rooms are 16 one- and two-bedroom Beach Villas, beginning in size at 881 square feet with nine-foot ceilings and walls of glass, facing the gently rolling surf of Playa Manzanillo

With stone walls and gardens providing privacy, the white-stucco, red-tile-roofed Beach Villas exude the ambiance of luxurious vacation homes. Mukul’s “carefree luxury” philosophy is embodied by each villa’s spacious “barefoot chic” indoor-outdoor setting, complete with swimming pool, wraparound deck, outdoor-lounging palapa, and secluded garden with an outdoor shower. 

The impressive 500-square-foot Bathroom Suites, designed as true sanctuaries for the senses, include separate “his and hers” vanity areas and a “Liquid Temple” wet room with a soaking tub and monsoon shower. The two-bedroom villas are family compounds with their own private show kitchen, pantry and living room. 

Like tree houses nestled in the lush canopy, Mukul’s 23 Bohios perch dramatically on a steep hillside 300 feet above Playa Manzanillo, boasting ocean views all the way to the horizon. Built of sustainable native teak and pine, each of the 621-square-foot cliff houses have high ceilings and a wall of glass that opens onto a sweeping wooden deck with a private plunge pool. The spacious bathrooms are finished in Nicaraguan travertine marble and offer couples “showers-with-a-view.”


Granada Cathedral
Historical churches such as Granada Cathedral make the city of Granada the top tourist destination in Nicaragua.

The best accommodation, however, embodying the essence of Mukul’s hospitality philosophy, is Casona Don Carlos, the Pellas’ private beach home. Adjacent to the Beach Villas, the oceanfront compound has a 20,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor living area with a soaring 80-foot-high palapa ceiling, six bedroom suites, a wraparound stone terrace and a large private swimming pool. 

Other resort amenities include Spa Mukul, with six private spa treatment casitas; a beach club featuring dining and lounge areas and a swimming pool; and the 18-hole Guacalito Golf Course. Spa Mukul comprises six different spas in one location. Clients can reserve a spa casita for several hours, during which they can enjoy a series of treatments and then relax in its private garden, which has palapa-shaded lounging areas and a monsoon shower—all without ever crossing or meeting any other guest at all. Each of the six casitas focuses on a different spa experience.

Clients will enjoy access to the resort’s four miles of white-sand beach and rugged coastline, and roughly seven miles of nature trails on which they can hike or bike to observe the four species of monkeys and other wildlife that reside in the lush coastal forest. 

Mukul and Guacalito de la Isla are the vision of prominent Nicaraguan entrepreneur Don Carlos Pellas, whose family has roots in the country that date back to the 19th century. The Pellas family businesses include transportation, computers, sugar, ethanol, Flor de Cana Rum and the world-class Vivian Pellas Hospital. Pellas also founded the BAC Credomatic financial network in 1985, which he sold to GE Capital in 2011 in what was the largest business transaction in the history of Central America. 

Agents should reach out to Claudia Silva ([email protected]), director of sales and marketing, with any queries.

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About the Author

Joe Pike
Joe Pike is Travel Agent's senior editor covering the Caribbean, Bahamas & Bermuda; Hawaii; Central & South America. Previously, Pike was a newspaper reporter for The Asbury Park...

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By Joe Pike | August 31, 2012
Surfing is the destination’s strongest suit, but a luxury boom may be on the horizon.