The Central American nation of Nicaragua has been, until recently, a tourist destination reserved for the most adventurous travelers. With wild, unspoiled landscapes, immense lakes, pristine tropical beaches, active volcanoes and abundant rivers, as well as unexplored islands and large forests, it is still relatively undiscovered and one of the most fascinating countries in the world.
However, while Nicaragua boast an impressive selection of natural treasures, its tourist infrastructure does not measure up to its cultural heritage. But things are about to change, and you may be one of the first to discover this Garden of Eden. Mukul Boutique Resort, opened in February of 2013, paves the way for this kind of upscale ecological resorts, becoming the model for eco-friendly development in the country.
Mukul Beach is located between a verdant tropical forest and the heavenly beach of Manzanillo, in perfect harmony with the surrounding landscape. It offers 12 beach villas, each with private pool and garden, more reminiscent of summer luxury residences than hotel establishments, and twenty-three huts (bohíos), built on a lush hill ninety meters above the sea. But the star lodging is “Casona de Don Carlos”, the summer residence of Carlos Pellas, the resort’s owner, which is available to select guests when the family is away.
To make visitors feel at home, and following a traditional sense of hospitality, Mr. Pellas also offers guests his own boat for tours, and opens up the family house in the city of Granada— a colonial jewel declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO— for private dining. Additionally he organizes visits to his sugar mill, where Flor de Caña, one of the world’s most exquisite rums is produced.
There are two names we should mention for their prominent role in creating this splendid resort. One is interior designer Paul Duesing, who, with remarkable mastery, combined traditional and modern elements to achieve a contemporary atmosphere steeped in Mukul’s local traditions. The other is David McLay, a Scottish architect who designed the magnificent eighteen-hole golf course, which extends towards the sea on one side and the hills on the other, crossed by creeks and shaded by ancient trees.
The luxurious spa is among the most popular amenities of the resort. Consisting of six individual pavilions with gardens that can be booked on an hourly basis for total privacy, it is an oasis of relaxation and well being. Also on high demand is the rum tasting room, a welcoming gathering place that highlights an important cultural component of this unspoiled corner of Central America: rum production.
A Mayan word that means secret, Mukul is the best example of luxury eco-tourism in Nicaragua. Its beauty is such that even the gods worshiped by its ancient inhabitants would accept it as their secret lair. ■