Pacaya Lodge and Spa at Laguna de Apoyo
Tours Nicaragua was pleased to visit the brand new luxury hotel on the upper rim of the Apoyo Crater Lake on March 5 prior to the property celebrating their Grand opening Friday March 11, 2016.
We went to check out the new Pacaya Lodge and spend time with everyone from the general manager to the Chef as well as meeting many of the high-school students who intern at the hotel one day a week after school.
The lodge has a dual purpose as a wonderful retreat for visitors, and as a training facility for local area students who want a career in tourism. We at tours Nicaragua see this as a wonderful initiative that may well serve as a model for other high end hotel/ lodge properties.
The Pacaya resort property enjoys spectacular views of the largest of Nicaragua’s 12 crater lakes and also has views to Lake Nicaragua, Granada and the Mombacho Volcano Cloud Forest Reserve.
Pacaya lodging is a mixture of two story cabins and main lodge rooms. All have private balconies and lake views. Even though it is a lodge it includes all of the comfort amenities such as Wi-Fi and air-conditioning.
There is a swimming pool overlooking the lagoon, a spa and transfers to the shores of the lake for swimming are included, as is an in-room rooster breakfast. All rooms are appointed with handmade artisan crafts unique to the villages that dot the hills around Laguna de Apoyo.
The Guardabarranco restaurant on the first floor is large, with a nice natural light that comes in from the garden and is very pleasant. Cool artisanal touches include the chairs made of woven banana leaves that are very comfortable as well as coffee cups made of local clay by local ceramic artist.
The fare is best described as novo Nicaraguan and the menu reflects this. The restaurant boasts one of the best trained chefs in Nicaragua and he put a lot of thought into the menu. It’s an ambitious blend of traditional Nicaraguan food with a twist.
Local sourced produce is used and the hotel is in the process of starting its own 37 acre organic farm for all types of produce.
Pricing is not inexpensive. Lunch is in the + or – 17.00 range and Dinner is + or – 26.00 range for entrees. Add to this mandatory 25% tip and tax and you can easily spend 60.00 per person per day.
Tours Nicaragua is already offering the new lodge and we welcome our clients to spend some time enjoying the fresh breezes and breathtaking views of the crater lake, as well as its diverse flora and fauna. For those visitors who want to be close to Granada, but not sleep in the city, this is a great option, with just a 20 minute driver to Granada, Lake Nicaragua or Mombacho Volcano. Ask Richard our traveler planner to include Pacaya Lodge in your travel itinerary today.
NICARAGUA VACATION PACKAGES
Travel to Nicaragua is really picking up. You can almost hear the buzz. Thanks to rave reviews in the international press, more and more travelers are searching the internet for Nicaragua vacation packages. Unlike travel to many Central American countries, international travelers are looking to book those Nicaragua vacation packages direct with a local company like Tours Nicaragua.
Part of the reason is the search for the best possible price, but also it is a growing sentiment in the tourism marketplace that local, on the ground expertise and knowledge is really what the visitor to Latin America is looking for. Buying a vacation package direct can be a leap of faith for some, but one of the keys is to look for a well-established Nicaragua tour operator, one that has at least 15 years of experience and caters to travelers from the country in which you live. That is not to say you cannot have a good experience with a German or French-owned tour operator in Nicaragua, just that the company knowledge of what makes American or British travelers happy is harder to come by with companies operated by those whose first language is not English.
Since Tours Nicaragua is an American owned and operated Nicaragua tour operator, our staff understands better the desires and needs of the English speaking market. This means more than just answering your e-mail in English you can understand, but also effects the way in which we create a tour package, how we design an itinerary. From your first e-mail request to your private transfer to the airport at the end of your tour in Nicaragua, we are working 24/7 to make sure you have the best experience possible.
So whereas vacation package might bring images of faceless, mass tourism, Tours Nicaragua brings its high level of personalized service to your visit and we speak your language. The package is a useful tool, one that takes the worry out of travel to Nicaragua, we have everything arranged, but being a private tour, you chose the pace and emphasis of the tour. There is no finer way to travel in Nicaragua. We invite you to visit Nicaragua and leave the planning and logistics to us.
When we opened Tours Nicaragua 18 years ago in 1996, Travel to Nicaragua was quite a different experience than it is today.
The hotels were horrible, guides untrained and buses were crumbling smoking beasts with ill-mannered drivers. Nicaragua was awaking from years of political unrest and the entire country was groggy, with messy hair and dark circles under the eyes. Nicaragua travel was thought to be only for the very hearty, reserved for those checking off country 120 on their list of places visited. We did not flinch.
In what was no doubt a brave move, we decided to transform Nicaragua travel to something entirely different by creating Tours Nicaragua. With Nicaragua’s first ever ecotours, volcano hiking tours and archaeology tours and we expanded quickly to the first ever Nicaragua surf, birding and political history tours as well as traditional sightseeing. We trained guides, put together the country’s finest transportation and hit stride with some very nice new hotels that came on line as the years progressed. There was a slight problem. No one wanted to come to Nicaragua.
More than once we felt as if we were selling ice cream in Antarctica, there simply was no demand for our product. Over these 18 years this sentiment has changed dramatically. To the point that Nicaragua travel is now quite fashionable, with travel to Nicaragua making New York Times, Lonely Planet and many other publications top 10 lists of places to visit.
Tours Nicaragua guides and drivers now are recognized as some of the finest anywhere in Latin America and we have world class ecolodges and unique colonial hotels restored to offer our clients. We still remember the sardonic smiles (are you mad?) at world travel shows when we presented Nicaragua as a travel destination in the 1990’s, but today’s smiles are totally sincere and across the board.
Travel to Nicaragua is not only accepted, but hotter than ever.
Nicaragua Travel – Getting here by Air
Nicaragua Travel – European Code Share
There are many ways to get to Nicaragua. Since most of our customers are from the U.S., the U.K. and Canada I will focus on those flights.
There are no direct flights from the Europe or Canada. Much of the traffic flight coming to Nicaragua comes through 4 hubs located in the southern part of the United States; Miami Houston, Atlanta and Los Angeles although there are some exceptions.
Using the codeshare system – kind of like an airline partnership – Air Canada and British Airways work with American Airlines go through Miami; flights on Air France connect with Delta in Atlanta as well as flights on KLM, and flights with Lufthansa and United Air are from London to Managua via Houston.
There are no direct flights from LAX to Managua. Avianca leaves LAX and connects in El Salvador, American flies across the states to connect in Miami, as does Sprit Air, and United leaves Lax to connect in Houston for the flight south.
Copa the airline of Panama, has one of the most unusual U.S to Nicaragua travel schedules. The traveler boards the plane in Chicago (ORD), and flies south over Nicaragua continuing south for another 2 hours; lands in Panama’s Tocumen airport only to change planes to fly 2 hour north back to Nicaragua. For “mileage runners” this may be useful as Copa is known for its outstanding cabin service.
The Miami leg of the trip on an American last 2 hours and 15 minutes. As a side note, back in the 90’s when saving fuel wasn’t so important to an airlines bottom line, the flight was 1 hour and 55 minutes. So, Nicaragua travel is longer as the pilots pull back a bit on the throttles to save fuel. The flight from Houston to Managua is just over 3 hours.
The Airlines that travel to Nicaragua
American Air dominates the Miami Airport , terminal D, and has 3 flights a day to Managua.
Taca now rebranded as Avianca leaves out of Miami out of newly renovated terminal J.
Delta flies to Managua daily from Atlanta.
United Air –flies out of Houston’s George Bush Airport.
Spirit Air Leaves out of Ft. Lauderdale.
Nicaragua travel from Costa Rica is via Nature Air 4 days a week, Copa and Avianca have several flights daily. The latter two being part of a milk run up through Central America then on to the States.
Customs and immigration clearance is refreshing easy
While we don’t handle any international flights, the Tours Nicaragua team cares for you from the moment you pass through customs in Managua to your return back to the airport for your flight home. Perhaps after 9/11 the Western world’s immigration services have had a lot of new responsibilities and the mission of keeping us all safe is unquestionably hard. Nevertheless it’s refreshing to pass through Nicaraguan customs and hear the common refrain of bienvenido – welcome.
A Nicaragua Holiday – Smiles All Around
Many travelers looking where to spend their holidays consider the natural beauty of a country. Others look to the culture of a country, its history, archaeology or architecture. Who then searches on the internet for a holiday of smiles? All tourism boards promote the “warmth of their people”, so who can really tell from abroad?
Yet a holiday in Nicaragua really is a pleasant experience, not least because of the warmth and effortless openness of her people. A Nicaragua holiday is a bit of a revelation for even the most jaded. How does the populace of the world’s poorest Spanish speaking country smile so much?
Nicaragua’s collective smile has now been documented by a company called Jetpac which did stats on 150 million Instagram posts in 6,000 cities around the globe, to rank the happiest countries on earth: http://www.businessinsider.com/happiest-countries-in-the-world-2014-3 A curious aspect of this survey was that they weighted bigger smiles with more points. After all there is smiling to look good and to look happy vs. smiles from people actually happy.
For those who have enjoyed a holiday in Latin America, it is no surprise that the top 5 in the world were all from the region. Number one was Latin America’s biggest country and biggest economy: Brazil, but then again they are about to host the world cup in a country that worships football and as the Brazilians are quick to point out to their southern tango dancing rivals, “the Pope might be Argentine, but God is Brazilian”.
In any case, a close second on the smile Richter was Nicaragua.
Little Nicaragua, the second poorest in the hemisphere, overflowing with folks quite happy, nearly won the survey. How can this be? Those who have experienced a Nicaragua holiday already know the answer, for smiles indicate friendliness, as much as they do happiness. It is a natural expression of joy, which comes easily to people who enjoy life so much, that they don’t mind wearing it on their sleeve.
Here’s the scores for the top 5:
1. Brazil 60.8
2. Nicaragua 59.4
3. Colombia 49.8
4. Bolivia 48.1
5. Costa Rica 47.4