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Pacaya Lodge: A Five-Star Nicaragua Jungle Resort

Pacaya Lodge & Spa featured in Miami Herald, El Paso Times, and others

This month, Pacaya Lodge was profiled in more than two dozen US newspapers including Miami Herald, El Paso Times, and The Buffalo News, among others.  The article appears in its entirety below:
Cooper Cary-designed Pacaya Lodge & Spa Employs Nicaraguan Locals, Trains Students ourstory-fullscreen

  This year, 48 Nicaraguan high school students, the first graduating class from Opportunity International Nicaragua’s Emprendedora, cheered as they accomplished a feat they never thought possible: earning a valuable education in hospitality management and service. Throughout their schooling, many of the students gained useful hospitality experience at the Cooper Carry-designed Pacaya Lodge & Spa, an eco-resort featuring 26 luxury villas nestled into the lush surroundings of Laguna de Apoyo, a picturesque volcanic lake overlooking the historic city of Granada in Nicaragua.

The nearby technical high school, which supports over 300 rural students, was conceived and brought to life in conjunction with the eco-resort – a pioneering vision led by Atlanta-based developer David Allman, the founder and chairman of Regent Partners. Also sited and planned by Cooper Carry, the high school focuses on two of Nicaragua’s most profitable sectors: agriculture and hospitality. The resort and school are located less than an hour drive from Augusto C. Sandino International Airport in Managua.

Portions of the high-end resort’s funds are reinvested into the school. This unique model represents a disruptive approach to charity by dramatically impacting the cycles of poverty in third-world countries.

“This model makes money with the poor, not ‘for-the-poor’ or ‘on-the- poor’,” Allman said. “Pacaya Lodge & Spa is an incredible example of how for-profit business investment can have an impactful, lasting effect on an entire region where years of charity work alone would fail.”

The resort, which opened in March 2016, employs 35 locals and provides internship opportunities for students in their senior year.

“This innovative partnership between the resort and school arms the impoverished community with the tools to grow and support its own economy,” said Pope Bullock, principal with Atlanta-based design firm Cooper Carry, which provided pro-bono design services for the venture. “Our team was tasked with designing a resort that looked like it was always there, like a natural extension of the topography and local culture. This is a project for the community, and we wanted it to feel like theirs.”

Cooper Carry interfaced with local architect, Patricia Somarriba, to incorporate indigenous Nicaraguan architecture using local materials from nearby craftsmen. This includes locally made furniture, art and even saltshakers on the restaurant tables.

The main building offers a great sense of arrival with a traditional Nicaraguan courtyard. The reception, bar and restaurant are open-air, immersing guests in the wonders of the surrounding natural habitat. Throughout the resort, local materials such as tile, wood and stucco abound.

The 26 open-air cottages are connected by meandering paths, gently placed in relation to the distinct topography as they slope down hill towards a zero gravity pool. Every room offers panoramic views over the jungle canopy to the volcanic lake. The resort also includes a restaurant featuring local cuisine, a spa offering private massages and indoor meeting rooms.

“This resort is perfect for travelers seeking an impactful and immersive Nicaraguan cultural experience, especially for those looking to enhance the sustainability of the local region,” Bullock said. “We purposefully limited access to power to provide guests an ‘off the grid’ stay, encouraging them to appreciate and explore their beautiful surroundings.”

Guests have the opportunity to enjoy relaxing yoga classes on the yoga deck, dig for pre-Colombian artifacts, track wildlife in the rainforest, and set sail or paddleboard on Laguna de Apoyo, the clear waters of Nicaragua’s iconic crater lake. Wedged between the towns of Masaya and Granada, guests are in easy access to the artisan’s market and Mombacho Volcano, where they can hike and zip line.

“The resort gives travelers a new and unique way to experience Nicaragua, while also economically impacting the region in a meaningful way,” Allman said. “Rather than creating a culture of dependency, as many well-intended, one-way charity models do, this collaboration between the school and resort creates a sustainable solution to help the local community. We’d like to see this model replicated in other scenic, developing regions.”

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Indulge Yourself at a Nicaragua Luxury Hotel

Infinity pool overlooking a crater lake at Pacaya Lodge & Spa

Infinity pool overlooking a crater lake at Pacaya Lodge & Spa

After an action-packed day romping through Nicaragua’s many hiking trails and cultural sites, all you’ll want to do is relax and rejuvenate for your next adventure. At a Nicaragua luxury resort like Pacaya Lodge & Spa, you can do just that! Pacaya Lodge & Spa is a boutique resort in Nicaragua that offers luxury accommodations and amenities unlike other Nicaragua hotels or resorts.

Indulge in some serious pampering at our tranquil, full-service spa staffed by fully accredited massage therapists. Choose from a range of massages, facial and body treatments. For example, there’s Bamboo Therapy, which relieves muscle tension, promotes lymphatic drainage, combats localized fat and provides a powerful endorphin release. There’s also the Poultice Massage. Using traditional herbal pindas medicine, this detoxifying massage is especially beneficial for those suffering from muscle stiffness or poor circulation. All herbs and botanicals used are from our on-site organic garden.

Junior suite at Pacaya Lodge & Spa

Junior suite at Pacaya Lodge & Spa

If you want to stretch and rejuvenate your muscles after a hike or a swim, feel free to use our yoga deck. Or you can also join any one of our daily yoga classes. 

No luxury hotel is complete without a fine-dining restaurant. Nourish your body with a hearty meal at our open-air Restaurante Guardabarranco. All ingredients are sourced from local purveyors and our own organic garden.

At the end of the day, unwind in a hammock on your quiet, private balcony and watch the sunset over the jungle and crater lake. Now you’re ready for another day of exploration!

So treat yourself, and experience a Nicaragua luxury hotel like Pacaya Lodge & Spa!

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San Jacinto Day

Hacienda San Jacinto

Hacienda San Jacinto, site of the Battle of San Jacinto. Image credit: Jorge Mejía Peralta (flickr)

On September 14th, Nicaragua celebrates the anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto. A public holiday, San Jacinto day commemorates the defeat of invading American filibusters under the leadership of William Walker.

For a bit of history, Walker and his filibusters–or rogue soldiers aiming to instigate insurrections– arrived on the coast of Nicaragua in 1855. Walker proclaimed himself as president, but eventually surrendered in 1857. A big turning point that led to Walker’s demise was the Battle of San Jacinto.

The battle took place on September 14, 1856 at Hacienda San Jacinto, Managua. The filibusters were defeated by Nicaraguan fighters after four hours of combat in the early morning. The win over Walker also symbolized a victory over Western arrogance and control, and this spirit of independence continues to be celebrated on San Jancinto Day today.

On San Jacinto Day, documentaries, exhibitions and presentations about the historic battle and events leading up to it are presented to Nicaraguan citizens. Early in the morning, the Nicaraguan flag is hung outside all windows, with the act traditionally led by the President of the Republic. There are also lively parades throughout the streets.

If you happen to be in Nicaragua on San Jacinto Day, consider taking a trip to the site of the battle. At Hacienda San Jacinto, visitors can enjoy museum exhibits in the beautifully preserved hacienda and stroll through the many monuments on the property. For more information about things to do at Hacienda San Jacinto and San Jacinto Day, Hacienda San Jacínto – Preserving Nicaragua’s History is worth the read.

Well, there’s your tid-bit of Nicaraguan history and culture! We hope you’ll want to learn more about this country and come see it for yourself!  

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4 Challenging Volcano Hikes in Nicaragua

volcan Concepción

Volcán Concepción. Image credit: Zenia Nuñez (flickr)

For hiking enthusiasts, Nicaragua’s mountainous terrain provides scenic and challenging trails. Check out these advanced hiking routes that lead you up volcano sides and to fantastic views!

Volcán San Cristóbal

San Cristóbal is a popular hike in Nicaragua, but also one of the longest and hardest. At 1,745 meters above sea level, San Cristóbal is the tallest and largest volcano in Nicaragua. The terrain can also be quite difficult, at points you will be climbing up sifting piles of gravel. Once at the top, you will find gas and smoke as San Cristóbal is an active volcano. Through the haze, you’ll get a magnificent and rewarding view of surrounding volcanoes and the clouds below you.

For more information about hike lengths, pick-up points and more, click here

Volcán Momotombo

Momotombo is an active, cone-shaped volcano. Paths are very steep and sand and rocks cover the surface near the summit, but the climb is well-worth it. At the summit, you’ll be able to see neighboring volcanoes, the Pacific Ocean, León, and even Masaya Volcano and Ometepe Island on a clear day.

For more information, click here.

Volcán Maderas's misty cloud forest

Volcán Maderas’s misty cloud forest. Image credit: Saint Michael (flickr)

Volcán Concepción

Another active volcano, Concepción is located on Ometepe Island within Lake Nicaragua. Trekking up the steep volcano side, you’ll encounter verdant coffee plantations and wildlife such as monkeys. When you pass the crater, you may be able to catch one of the small to medium ash explosions. When you reach the top lookout point, the view from Concepción’s summit one of the most remarkable on this list. Surrounded by Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America, you’ll see water stretch out from every perspective. 

For more information, click here

Volcán Maderas

Ometepe Island has another popular hiking trail–one that climbs up Volcano Maderas. Although Maderas and Concepción are both situated on Ometepe Island, their climates are different. Maderas has a cloud forest, which creates more humidity and mist. At the summit, Maderas also provides extraordinary panoramic views.

For more information, click here

To learn more about any of these hikes and more, check out this great blog post on Go Backpacking.

Stay at Pacaya Lodge & Spa

If you’re coming to Nicaragua for its challenging yet fulfilling hikes as many people are, definitely consider staying at a Nicaragua mountain hotel like Pacaya Lodge & Spa. Staying at a hotel situated near volcanoes and mountains will give you easier access to hiking routes; the less time you spend getting to trails means the more energy you will have for the uphill climb.

View of Laguna de Apoyo's mountains from Pacaya Lodge and Spa

View from Pacaya Lodge and Spa

Pacaya Lodge & Spa is well situated near Nicaragua’s volcano ranges. All the volcanoes listed here are within driving distance of Pacaya Lodge & Spa. Pacaya Lodge & Spa even organizes day excursions to Ometepe Island. Book your next Nicaragua adventure here!

If you’re looking for less challenging hikes or warm-up hikes, check our blog: 3 Breath-taking Mountain Hikes in Nicaragua

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3 Breath-taking Mountain Hikes in Nicaragua

Hiking along Volcán Telica's crater rim

Hiking along Volcán Telica’s crater rim. Image credit: Václav Synáček (flickr)

It’s no secret that you’ll find fantastic hiking routes and stunning lookout points throughout Nicaragua’s mountainous landscape. Experience a Nicaragua adventure by doing one or more of these breath-taking hikes up volcano sides. 

Volcán Telica

A 2-3 hour drive away from León lies Telica. This incredible hike takes you up Telica Volcano to the edge of a large crater. Look down and you’ll find lava 1,000 feet below. Look up and you’ll get a panoramic view of surrounding volcanoes across the horizon. Either way, it’s a win-win.

View from Volcán Telica's summit at sunrise

View from Volcán Telica’s summit at sunrise. Image credit: Václav Synáček (flickr)

Volcán Masaya

Masaya is an active volcano located in the first national park in the country. Within an hour’s drive of Granada or Managua, Masaya is a nice warm up hike. Peering into the many craters at the top, you’ll be surprised to see parakeets flying around their nests inside the crater and bats looking for food.

Volcán El Hoyo

After driving about 30-45 minutes from León, you’ll reach this hiking path that leads to the summit of El Hoyo. On the way to the top, the winding trail meanders through two volcanoes, Las Pilas and El Hoyo. Once you reach the summit, a rewarding view of Lake Managua, neighboring volcanoes, and El Hoyo’s crater rim awaits you.

Peering into a crater rim at Volcan Telica

Peering into a crater rim at Volcán Telica. Image credit: Adam Baker (flickr)

Stay at a Nicaragua Mountain Resort

If you’re traveling to Nicaragua for its volcano hikes and spectacular lookouts, consider staying at a Nicaragua mountain resort like Pacaya Lodge & Spa. Staying at a resort close to volcanoes and mountains will give you easier access to hiking routes. The less effort you spend getting to trails means the more energy you will have for the uphill climb.

Pacaya Lodge & Spa is well situated near Nicaragua’s volcano ranges. Telican, Volcan Masaya, and El Hoyo are all within driving distance of Pacaya Lodge & Spa. In fact, Pacaya Lodge & Spa organizes its own Volcan Masaya sunset excursion that you can join. The evening tour includes a ride to Volcan Masaya National Park, a guided tour of the park’s museum and interpretation center where you’ll learn about the volcano’s history, mythology, and wildlife, and of course the hike up the volcano side.

If you’re looking for more challenging hikes, take a look at our blog: 4 Challenging Volcano Hikes in Nicaragua

For more on Nicaragua hiking trails, visit:

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