Nicaragua is an up and coming country for luxury resorts, though there are some things to be aware of in terms of actually getting there since the Nicaraguan infrastructure is still developing. Before going, I was previously in Costa Rica (read about it here) so the process of getting into the country took quite a bit of time. One must go through a Costa Rican office where passports are stamped, then on to the offices of the country of Nicaragua, which is considered third world. The weekend we passed through, the offices were packed with people, so the process took us about 4 hours. It is very tiring and there is a lot of corruption; we constantly had to pay bribes to pass through the enormous lines.*
The road from the boarder to Mukul Resort is not in the best condition; therefore, the drive takes about another 1.5 hours. Soon, this drive will be cut down significantly as the owner of Mukul Resort is making arrangements with the migration offices to make this easier by giving a free pass to guests in order to avoid lines. If you prefer not to deal with the roads at all, there is always the option of getting there by helicopter.
The resort itself is a whole experience though it is a bit difficult to get there.** If you are coming from your home country, the resort is located 2.5 hours from the airport of Managua by car or the trip can also be made by helicopter. On the way there, you can stop in the colonial city of Granada, although there is not much to see there.
The property is almost perfectly situated in the southwest corner of the country. Mukul is a stones throw from some of the best beaches in Latin America, and is under two-hours from some amazing cultural gems: Granada, Masaya, Lake Nicaragua, and Ometepe.
Mukul Resort is the first luxury hotel Spa in Nicaragua- it opened its doors in February, 2013. The 12 beautiful beachfront villas, known as ‘Bohios’, consist of 23 constructions among the trees, each with an ocean view and a private pool. The property boasts 6 separate Spa buildings, each one offering a different Spa experience. This was truly incredible: the perfect amenity for a luxury getaway. The spa is unreal and won “Best Virtuoso Spa” of all the hotels in 2015. Unlike most hotels, there is no “general spa area”: no locker rooms, no waiting rooms, no sauna/steam areas, and no people. Furthermore, the spa is not housed under one roof. When you book a treatment at Spa Mukul, you have an entire villa-sized space to yourself.
Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa is a luxury boutique hotel and spa in Guacalito de la Isla, designed by David McLay Kidd, a new 1,670-acre low-density private beach community on Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast and one of the most beautiful that I have ever seen. Mukul – “mukul” is the Mayan word for “secret” – features 37 spacious accommodations, each with an ocean view, pool and private staff. Other resort amenities include Spa Mukul, with six private spa-treatment sanctuaries; several dining outlets, including La Terraza, a beach-front, outdoor restaurant and La Mesa, a fine-dining restaurant; a beach club featuring dining and lounge areas; a swimming pool; and the 18-hole Guacalito Golf Course. Guests enjoy access to the property’s four miles of white-sand beach and rugged coastline, where at Manzanillo beach they offer surf lessons with Tropicsurf (which is a great instructing company around the world), and 12 kilometers 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. Guests can also explore Nicaragua through customized experiences that introduce them to the nature, culture and people of this up-and-coming tourism destination, known as the “land of lakes and volcanoes.”
Hotel Tip: Request a private tour of Flor de Caña distillery and you’ll experience Nicaragua’s beautiful scenery by helicopter and taste one of the world’s best rums.
All in all, Nicaragua’s new luxury resorts and beautiful beaches, while still a bit rough around the edges***, marks an up and coming tourist destination and are currently a great adventure.
*The situation has become better since the time this article was written in 2013.
**There are direct flights to Augusto C Sandino (MGA) from Miami and Panama City as of 2016.
***Safety: Nicaragua is safe. In fact, Nicaragua is the safest country in Central America, according to 2013/2014 crime statistics. Nicaragua has almost no drug trade, as the country is merely a “pass-through” from South America to Mexico. Furthermore, Nicaragua doesn’t have the tourist economy to warrant petty crimes [those crimes targeting tourists: pick-pocketing, tourist scams, muggings, etc].