Far & Wide: Nicaragua


GUACALITO de la ISLA: MUKUL BEACH, GOLF & SPAIn the Mayan language of Tzotzil, Mukul is the word for secret, which seems a fitting adjective for a secluded oceanfront resort. Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa delivers discreet service, ultimate privacy and understated chic, assuring that this well-kept secret will soon be on the radar of luxury travelers from around the world.

Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa is located in a private 1,670-acre beach community on a four-mile sweep of the southern Pacific Emerald Coast of Nicaragua, where the jungle meets the sea. Easily accessible from the U.S., this Central American resort extends a warm welcome to visitors throughout the year.

Setting Mukul apart from a growing list of resorts in Nicaragua is its feast-for-the-eyes natural environment. “For millennia, the land bridge between North and South Americas served as a migratory thoroughfare and mating ground for species native to the once-separate continents,” explains Carlos Salazar, general manager. “Perhaps Nicaragua’s unique location between both continents explains why the region comprises only 0.05 percent of the earth’s landmass, yet it is home to seven percent of the planet’s biodiversity. Plants you’ll find on the property include Purple Pineapple, Lady Palm, Aloe Vera, Paper Flowers, Zamia and others that are naturally found in the surrounding rainforest.”

The resort boasts numerous lodging options, including 38 spacious hotel-style accommodations, each with an ocean view and access to the pool. Enjoy barefoot chic at one of a dozen of the resort’s one- or two-bedroom clay tile-roofed villas facing gently rolling surf, each featuring a plunge pool, secret garden and outdoor shower. Guests can also select one of 23 Bohios, or cliff dwelling residences, set high above the ocean with their own plunge pools. For larger groups, Casona Don Carlos, a private four-suite beach residence of Mukul’s owner, is offered when the family is away.

Guests can also be accommodated at Suite Dona Vivian, consisting of two suites adjacent to the Casona Don Carlos. In the mood for some extra pampering? Five additional suites at the oceanfront Casa Madera complex are offered with butler service.

On-site amenities include Spa Mukul, with six private spa-treatment sanctuaries, a beach club, a swimming pool and an 18-hole David McLay Kidd-designed Guacalito Golf Course. Guests enjoy access to the property’s four miles of pristine beaches and rugged coastline, and over seven miles of nature trails for hiking, biking and observing the four species of monkeys and other wildlife residing in the lush coastal forest. Additional activities on the property include surf lessons from luxury Australian outfitter Tropicsurf, mindful yoga retreats with classes on the new oceanfront yoga deck, and meditative forest bathing experiences.

NANDAIME: NEKUPE SPORTING RESORT & RETREATAs a growing number of world-class resorts debut in Central America’s largest country, Nicaragua is fast becoming a hip destination for those seeking low-key luxury in an unmatched setting of natural beauty. Vacationers return time and again to experience its amazing scenery of volcanoes, rainforests and colorful botanicals, as well as the country’s warm, friendly people. All that and more can be discovered at Nekupe Sporting Resort & Retreat, the first luxury resort in Nicaragua’s countryside. This intimate eight-room property, which can be booked in its entirety, is located less than an hour from the historic colonial town of Granada on an expansive nature reserve.

The resort takes advantage of its incredible mountain setting, where it showcases serene landscapes and vividly hued botanicals. “Nekupe is situated on a 1,300-acre protected reserve with an animal sanctuary housing spider and howler monkeys native to Nicaragua, deer, foxes, sloths, 78 species of birds, ducks and more, along with a butterfly sanctuary showcasing 61 species,” says resort owner Don Alfredo Pellas, Jr. “Grounds contain over 158 species of plants, including more than 14,000 trees planted throughout the reserve, such as mahogany, oak, citrus trees, including mangoes, plus a teak forest. Wildlife and fauna are sustained by manmade reservoirs located here.”

At one of the highest points in the nature reserve stands the resort’s Chapel San Francisco de Asis, which is surrounded by fragrant flowering sacuanjoche trees, a national symbol of Nicaragua. Guests can enjoy the bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs from Nekupe’s huge organic garden, underlining its healthful farm-to-table philosophy.

Accommodations are sited in a main residence, La Residencia de Dona Theresita, and four nearby villas, all with views of Mombacho Volcano. These unobtrusive and culturally authentic lodgings enhance the natural surroundings, providing a seamless indoor-outdoor experience while giving guests a strong sense of place. Each accommodation also offers a personal ATV for guests to explore the resort.

Activities include ranger-guided horseback riding, hiking, sporting clay and target shooting, wildlife watching and ATV tours. The schedule of events offers daily outdoor and indoor yoga, cooking and cocktail-making classes, cigar rolling, rum tastings, gardening lessons, tennis, spa treatments, folk dance or painting classes, and excursions to neighboring towns or one of the area’s many volcanoes.

Socializing and relaxation are enhanced by an infinity edge pool, tennis courts and Casa Club, Nekupe’s exclusive lobby lounge and communal gathering area.

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