Travel Agent chatted with travel advisors Rob Harper, director of business development and co-owner of the Namu Travel Group, and Caroline Fridley of Protravel International, to gather the hottest selling points on Nicaragua for Millennials.
Here’s what we learned:
Unusual Adventure Offerings
While many Latin American destinations offer an abundance of action/adventure opportunities, Nicaragua’s is arguably a tad more unique.
For example, have your clients ever taken part in volcano surfing?
Volcano surfing, also known as ash boarding or volcano boarding, is a sport performed on volcano slopes. The most popular slope is of Cerro Negro near Leon in western Nicaragua. Riders hike up the volcano and slide down, sitting or standing, on a thin plywood or metal board.
Or perhaps diving off the Caribbean Pacific and into the crater lake of Laguna Apoyo is more your clients speed.
Fridley also notes that first-timers to Nicaragua should visit Masaya Volcano, where they can look over the rim of the crater into the roiling lava lake — one of only a handful on Earth that is currently active.
She suggests going there at night for the most dramatic scenery and photos. The famous craft market in the town of Masaya is also well worth browsing for local handicrafts, textiles and other souvenirs.
Still Under the Radar
Since Nicaragua is still considered to be an off-the-beaten path destination its doesn’t draw a lot of the crowds that you may find in more mainstream Latin American destinations like Colombia and Belize, says Harper.
“To get a great look at an old-style, European colonial presence in the Americas, visitors to Nicaragua can avoid mainstream locales like Cartagena, Colombia or Antigua, Guatemala and visit Leon and Granada in Nicaragua instead,” he tells us.
And the other benefit to getting a destination before the masses, says Harper, is bragging rights.
“Beat your friends and family members in the annual travel story telling battles during the holiday season,” says Harper. “Pretty darn good chance no one you know has been to Nicaragua. Social media superiority reigns supreme.”
Money Goes Very Far
When is the last time your clients had a beer for a buck or took a cab ride for less than 50 cents?
They can do both in Nicaragua, as the country offers some tremendous bang for your buck.
But booze and transportation aren’t the only value buys available in Nicaragua. Excursions can be booked for less than $30, lobster dinners can be had for $10 and street meat can be devoured for less than two dollars, says Fridley.
“The current USD to Nicaraguan Cordoba exchange rate is excellent,” says Harper. “Nicaragua can definitely be an inexpensive locale for budget-minded Millennials.”
Wide Range of Hotels
Nicaragua has long been a great escape for adventure-seeking clients looking for a rustic vacation for great value. But when luxury entered the Nicaragua market in 2013 in the form of the high-end Mukul hotel, the country began to emerge as an experiential destination with some top-notch accommodations, which in turn opened the floodgates to Millennials.
And in 2016, Nicaragua further emerged as a luxury haunt for the seasoned, thrill-seeking traveler when it opened a solid complement to Mukul in the form of Nekupe Sporting Resort and Retreat, an eight-room property on a 1,300-acre nature reserve.
A 30-minute ride from the historic colonial town of Granada, Nekupe promotes adventure and wellbeing. Experiences at Nekupe are rooted in an active, outdoor lifestyle suitable for multigenerational families, groups of friends or adventurous travelers, with activities that include exploration, hiking, tennis, horseback riding, sporting clay and target shooting.
Fridley also recommends Hotel Tribal and Hotel Dario in Granada; Xalli, Ometepe Beach Hotel on Ometepe island, and Yemaya (high end) and Little Corn Beach & Bungalow on Little Corn Island.
Besides the rainforest hikes you would expect from a Latin American destination, this getaway also offers a wide variety of additional entertainment, some of which your clients wouldn’t expect from a country like Nicaragua.
For example, America’s pastime is the most popular sport and clients can catch a game for a fraction of the cost of an American baseball game.
“Baseball is the most popular sport in the country by a long shot,” says Harper. “Visit during baseball season and get a front row seat to the next round of MLB prospects where a hotdog and a beer are about one-twentieth the cost of a major league park.”
Who to Sell it to
Travel Agent thinks that Nicaragua is a good fit for either backpacking Millennials looking to explore the countryside on the cheap or seasoned luxury travelers seeking high-end options while taking in the destination’s cultural and experiential offerings.
“Customizing a trip that includes very different experiences such as exploring old town city centers, culinary discovery, eco-centric nature/wildlife/rainforest experiences is easy to do in a place like Nicaragua,” says Harper. “It is not a massive country and spots worth visiting are well connected via a decent highway system and domestic flights. Staying in two to three different locales is both easy and a must."