What We Love
- Each room is provided one ATV to explore the surrounding nature reserve
- A complimentary bottle of Flor de Caña rum, presented upon arrival
- Unobstructed views of the Mombacho Volcano
- An annual onsite yoga retreat
What To Know
- Don’t be surprised if you receive an email prior to your stay, asking how you take your coffee—hospitality takes on new heights here
- Over 12 percent of Nicaragua’s 700 animal species reside here
- The resort is predominantly solar-powered
Despite its mountainous backdrop—home to 14,000 trees, 73 bird species, and unbeatable volcano vistas—this beguiling eight-room property is anything but rugged. The otherworldly vision of Central American philanthropist Alfredo Pellas Jr. and his wife Theresa pairs intimate affluence with a conservationist’s zeal. Case in point: the one-on-one cooking lesson with the chef-in-residence features produce from the resort’s 13,000-square-foot organic vegetable garden. Though sustainability doesn’t overpower style here. Accommodations consist of four stone-and-glass villas and one four-bedroom residence (the latter comes with its own infinity-edge “hot tub”), kitted out in local woods, leathers, and cowhides. At the property’s heart is an airy communal space, the Casa Club, featuring a swish lobby lounge and panoramic views of the surrounding bluffs. It’s the outdoor experiences, though, that are the all-stars here, whether it’s a horseback ride that meanders through the neighboring teak plantation, Ashtanga yoga on a deck surrounded by plumeria blossoms, or a jaunty hike that concludes with 360-degree views of the dazzling property.
In the Area
Tucked in Nandaime, a small farming town, this sweeping countryside retreat is about half an hour from the colonial city of Granada, and two hours from Managua’s international airport. Its most intriguing neighbor, however, is the Pacific Ocean, an hour’s drive west. The hotel can arrange for surfing trips, though real thrill-seekers may opt to swap beach waves for the slopes of Cerro Negro and try their hand at volcano boarding, which involves sliding down a sleep, sooty incline on a plywood sled. With a shooting range, marimba classes, and ATV adventures onsite, though, you may opt to hunker down in your lush hideaway instead.
How to Get There
This review is long overdue since our stay the 1st week of January 2018. My husband and I stayed for 4 nights in what is now called "Nangu Cabana" upgraded from a Jr. Nangu Cabana. Not sure why they changed the names of the room from suites to Nangu.
Our trek to Nekupe started off horribly since the driver we hired on our own got lost and took us over an hour out of our way to get there. So I highly suggest you hire Nekupe's drivers to get you from the MGA airport to the property although very pricey. Once we finally got there we were greeted by our ranger Luis for the duration of our stay. We then hopped on the ATV and Luis drove us to our cabana. Your ranger is w/ you on ALL your activities w/ the exception of when we went to the gym and we asked if he can just drop of us off and pick as up in an hour. You are really not permitted to walk around the property w/out your ranger for safety reasons. You are driven by your ranger to all your activities. You can easily call him from your room and he is readily available.
Chauffer driven ATV or the only way you can drive the ATV yourself is when accompanied by your ranger for liability reasons. Upon your arrival you must sign a waiver saying you're responsible for any damage to the ATV if you choose to drive it which is the norm.
Horseback riding was awesome thru the property. There are numerous monkeys you will encounter while on your ride. I've only ridden a horse a handful of times and it was a pleasant experience for me. The horses were well kept and friendly.
Specialized mountain bikes offered are in great condition but know that the terrain on most of the property is rocky and bumpy w/ a few inclines and more like off road biking if you're into that sort of cycling which I was not so I quickly ended that activity.
The ropes course is only available if there is a minimum number of guests willing to participate in the activity. Unfortunately during our stay, the minimum was not met.
Hiking was very moderate and leisurely. No advanced trails.
Additional cost activities:
Target shooting was awesome although pricey at about $2/bullet
There are plenty of off-site activities that we did not participate in due to its distance from the property as well as high costs.
The culinary was the best! I cannot fault it in any way along w/ the service and the staff. The service and culinary at Nekupe was definitely 5* quality. The staff is VERY ATTENTIVE and FRIENDLY. The only negative about dining was having to sign off on a bill at the end of every meal even though meals are included in your rate. So for example, at breakfast we still had to ask for the check. You are also driven by your ranger to the restaurant for all your meals.
One final note, the roads especially on an ATV is a very bumpy ride. And you are on an ATV daily going back and forth to the restaurant, activities, etc.
All-in-all I would love to return to Nekupe w/ my family next time.
I doubt I can write anything that will serve this resort justice. Nekupe is a truly unique experience with exceptional experiences for the nature lover, adventurer, foodie, spa seeker and more. All with the highest level of service and attention to detail. Having a dedicated park ranger who tailors an experience to make a truly memorable experience for your group or family makes it effortless to plan! Our senses were heightened in every way while there. We will certainly return for more.
How often do you leave a hotel where you feel it has been absolutely perfect with nothing to improve? That is Nekupe. To be more precise, Nekupe is not really a hotel. It is a magical world set on 1500 acres which is the realization of Don Alfredo and Señora Theresita Pellas. There are surprises around every corner... There is a teak forest to drive through on ATVs which they will let your kids drive if they are 12 and up (a favorite of our son), there is a river where you can horseback ride along and across and get to an amazing viewpoint (our daughter the equestrian's favorite), there is riflery and pistol shooting of targets and clays with shotguns. There is hiking, where you may end up on a tree bridge where what awaits you is a rum tasting of the delicious 12, 18, and 25 year Flor de Caña in the tree house. There is the incredible program of saving abused animals, rehabilitating them, and releasing them into the nature preserve which is part of the property. We saw both a sloth and ant-eater released, and it was incredibly emotional, and got to talk to the veterinarian who is in charge of the program. There are collections of iguanas and bunnies, and extic birds, and monkeys (including the very cute Panchito who will climb all over you).
The first night, all the guests (there are only 8 accommodations, and it was mostly families when we went, but it was during spring break), we were invited to a "picnic" with Don Alfredo. Picnic is in quotes because we were ATV'd to a gorgeous clearing in the woods with hanging lanterns, a bar making fantastic drinks with passionfruit, noni fruit, whatever your heart wanted, set tables, a band playing Nicaraguan music, and amazing food. Don Alfredo made sure to talk to everyone. He is a very gracious, but very low key. You would never know he is a big big deal in Nicaragua.
We stayed in the two master suites of the Residencia, with unbelievable views, our own pool and decks. The decor is modern and beautiful. The bed was a dream. Again, everything perfect.
But wait, it gets better. Each accommodation is assigned its own ranger, so we had two rangers, Fernando and Carlos as we had two rooms. The rangers plan itineraries for you, they drive you everywhere, but they go so far beyond that. They really get to know your family and want everything to be great for you. Our best day there was a trip with Carlos and Fernando to Mombacho volcano for a short hike, then ziplining down, then lunch by the lake, then a boat trip around the isletas (the little islands) and then a trip to Masaya volcano to see the lava lake. And then on the way home we took turn picking songs on spotify and singing. We had such a great time with these two terrific human beings. The last night, my husband and Fernando planned a romantic dinner for two in the treehouse, and took our kids to dinner. When we got back to the room, unbeknownst to my husband, Fernando had arranged for a trail of candles leading to a bath filled with rose petals and candles around the bath. I mean, damn, they are good!
Then, you are assigned your own waiter. Cesar went above and beyond when he saw how much we enjoyed food bringing us new things to try every day, making sure our favorites were always at breakfast, making cocktails- whatever we wanted, it seemed to happen. By the way, the french toast is crack - SO good!
Carlos Plata is the manager, and he is also a sweetheart, and runs an incredible team. Here is the thing - It may seem weird to have these ranger/butlers, and I hate sycophantic service, but this is super-warm and friendly and down-to-earth. You can go in shorts to dinner. Nekupe is over-the-top in what it offers, but it is not pretentious at all, which we loved.
Yes, this review was long. But this place warrants it. And yes, it is expensive, and you may have to sell a kidney to go. But it is really worth it. It is one of the top five places I have stayed in my life (the Namhai in Hoi An, Fogo Island, and Awasi in the Atacama desert are 3 others that come to mind). I am not easily impressed, and I only write reviews of places I love because that is what I want to put out there, the super-positive. And an acknowledgment of the wonderful people who work at these amazing places and make travel so memorable. Thank you to everyone there, especially Cesar, Fernando, and Carlos for giving us an unforgettable family experience.