Getting to Nicaragua is easy, only three hours from most U.S. gateways to Managua. Being there is safe. Visas for visiting Nicaragua are issued on the spot upon arrival, no fuss, no muss with embassies and consulates. And visiting Nicaragua is timely. Nicaragua, is described these days as what Costa Rica used to be before the crowds. And now it harbors one of the best boutique beach resort options in the Western Hemisphere: Mukul Resort on the Pacific’s Emerald Coast. What to do in Nicaragua? Let the beauty and ease take over.
Getting to Mukul just got easier. To arrive at Mukul on the scenic southwestern edge of Nicaragua, you used to have to take a two-hour drive or half-hour helicopter flight from Managua International Airport. As of November 2015, however, private flights, be they ATR-42s, ATR-72s, Gulfstream V jets and most turboprop planes, are able to fly right into the new Costa Esmeralda Airport at Guacalito de la Isla, just minutes from Mukul. The 5,000-foot landing strip will take your breath away – for it’s beauty.
Find your cool at Mukul
Mukul is the next cool place, luring such Hollywood icons as Michael Douglas and Morgan Freeman since opening its doors in 2014. But its location makes it all the more compelling. Nicaragua is just emerging into the bounty of travel and tourism with beaches untouched and unseen by outsiders, with people friendly, curious and trusting, with new resort concepts that are creating buzz beyond the borders. Mukul is not only Nicaragua’s pre-eminent luxury resort, it is also the first and it is attracting an international jet-set interested in being first and invested in brining back bragworthy experiences. They will find them here.
Mukul became the passion of Nicaraguan industrialist Carlos Pellas, whose family goes back generations in developing rum, cigars and a swathe of industries in media, healthcare and trade. The Stanford Business School graduate saw potential beyond spirits and commodities, focusing his vision on the pristine beach areas and natural beauty along the Pacific coast. Pellas has not only created Mukul on these scenic cliffs, but a complete residential community where golf, hiking, good living and resort spirit come together at Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa at Guacalito de la Isla.
Mukul: Distinctively Nicaraguan
Mukul is distinctively Nicaraguan with a precious layout of 37 keys in exquisite bohios and cabana villas along 1,670 acres overlooking the ocean. The beaches here are part of Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast, an up and coming mecca for surfers and long a spot for spectacular Pacific sunsets.
As Mukul is the Mayan word for “secret” the spot is a good place to hide, while taking in some of the local treasures: good rum, cigars (Nicaragua attracted many Cuban cigar makers after the revolution on that island in 1959. Award-winning cigars are now a staple in the region), coffee, grass-fed beef and art. The local culture of skilled crafting and art is evident the minute you step into Mukul’s rarefied world. The accommodations and public spaces are filled with furnishings made by local villagers and craftsman and from sustainable woods found in the nearby jungles. Sustainability is a big word at this resort and runs through the food, the infrastructures, the design and the activities.
Mukul and Environmental Vision
Pella’s $250 million vision incorporates every aspect of environmental interest. No trees were cut down for construction; trees were planted; soil is conserved and recycled; turtles are protected; villagers are included in plans and purpose.
An 18-hole golf course designed by David McLay Kidd (Bandon Dunes and the Castle Course in St. Andrew) anchors the resort and residential development with a meandering beachfront fairway that did not destroy trees and plunder the native growth – plants and trees from the region were transplanted to areas that needed it while the natural beauty took care of the rest.
The resort is surrounded by Nicaragua’s untouched wonders: dozens of volcanoes rise from the terrain, several of them active. Howler monkeys shout from the trees. Colorful birds and wildlife become part of the Mukul immersion.
Mukul: Secret Pleasures
While enjoying a vacation of guilt-free resort luxury, guests can take inward journeys afforded by the Mukul Spa. This is not a spa in the classic sense. You won’t find a group sauna or steam room here, or the lockers that usually complement such a facility. The spa is actually six different spa “casitas,” where guests receive private treatments according to the theme of each casita — Secret Garden, Hamman, Rain Forest, Crystal Temple, Healing Hut and Casita Mukul. Each spacious casita offers treatment tables for two, an aqua circuit (for example, enjoy a salt-water soaking session in the Rain Forest casita) extensive indoor and outdoor relaxation areas. Guests can try Thai massage and Ayurvedic ritual, experience a Turkish/Moroccan-style hammam with Middle Eastern body scrubs, or immerse in a “secret garden” Watsu. Casitas can be booked for three hours or for a full day and contribute to some of the serious enjoyment to be had at Mukul.
Other pleasures are of the epicurean kind. The Pellas family made its name on Flor de Caña, one of Nicaragua’s flagship products. The premium rum begs to be tasted the Pellas way – in special tours and tastings offered by Mukul.
A trip to the Flor de Caña rum distillery combines nature, adventure and fun as guests are taken by helicopter to the distillery’s location at the foot of the San Cristobal Volcano, surrounded by miles and miles of sugarcane. The 123-year-old Chichigalpa Ingenio San Antonio, may well distill the best rum in Central America. It’s a full day trip that brings in spectacular views, explorations of the Nicaraguan countryside, an entirely new perspective on rum and lots of sipping and tasting.
Food, too, is an important addition to the Mukul experience. La Cocina NiKul prepares dishes with local ingredients with a menu offering Mexican, Italian, French, Mediterranean and even Asian accents. On the menu may be lobster and sweet corn soup, corn gnocchi, basil and vanilla bean custard and steamed black mussels with coconut water, cilantro and special Flor de Caña Gran Reserva rum. The chefs will source the valuable Nicaraguan grass-fed beef and use produce grown by nearby farmers, and fish caught by fishermen in the neighboring villages of Gigante and San Juan del Sur.
Dishes can be prepared for a romantic dinner on the beach or a perfect family picnic. Or time can be spent at nearby villages, exploring the streets and dining like a local. Regional favorites are gallo pinto (fried rice and red beans mixture), nacatamals (pork or chicken tamales) and caballo bayo (a buffet of traditional delicacies spooned onto homemade tortillas).
Small delights to be enjoyed during a stay at Mukul: Macuá, the national drink of Nicaragua made with guava and citrus juices, semillas de marañon (otherwise known as cashews) that are roasted in a wood-fired oven. Instead of potato chips, snacks served here are green plantains and yucca. Try the Nicaraguan corn-and-cheese crackers called rosquillas, usually enjoyed with a cup of hot coffee. Then there are the delightful cajeta candies made with coconut milk, yucca and sugar.
In celebration of life, if not the brand new airport, Mukul is offering two package options.
“Emerald Coast Explorer” package introduces guests to the best of the coast with rounds of golf at the beachfront Guacalito Golf Course and pampering spa treatments using native ingredients at Spa Mukul. The package is inclusive of daily breakfast, two bottles of Nicaragua’s own Flor de Caña Rum, air transfers from the international airport in Managua, and ground transfers from Costa Esmeralda Airport to Mukul. Rates start at $769 per night for a minimum four-night stay, available through December 31, 2015.
Ongoing: Book 4 nights and receive a complimentary 5th night with daily breakfast for two at La Terraza; round-trip ground transfers to and from Managua Airport; two 200ml bottles of Flor de Caña Rum “Extralite” and “5 Aged Years Añejo Clásico”; use of private gym, complimentary high-speed wireless internet and use of on-property golf cart. Available for booking now until December 15, 2015 and from April 1 to November 1, 2016.