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“Great food, amazing setting” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Aqua Wellness Resort

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Aqua Wellness Resort
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   1 Redonda Bay, Playa Gigante, Nicaragua   |  
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Ranked #2 of 2 Hotels in Playa Gigante
Liberia, Costa Rica
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Great food, amazing setting”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 27, 2012

The beach side restaurant at Aqua represents something entirely different from all other restaurants that I have frequented either in Nicaragua or elsewhere. The beach side bar has waves lapping right up to the wooden platform and a few tables place you on top of the waves with a spectacular view of the bay. A rare and wonderful experience, especially at sun set. My friends and I enjoyed a very pleasant meal with genuinely friendly service. The Beef salad was a real hit, excellent organic salad greens with plenty of tender Nicaraguan beef. Another favourite of our group was the Green Thai Curry with fresh local fish swimming in freshly coconut cream. Ambience was excellent, food great, setting incredible. On the whole for overall experience this restaurant is certainly my favourite in Nicaragua.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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315 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (128)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Brantford, Ontario
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 23, 2012

I was in Nicaragua on a house building trip. Following the build me and 2 friends had decided to travel down to Aqua Nicaragua after only a brief introduction to the place. We were not disappointed. Far from it.
An absolutely breath taking location and facility. The view and privacy was amazing. The accommodation outstanding. The yoga was GREAT - thanks Mandy. The Spa was incredible, thanks to Natalia's hard work with the girls in the spa. The food was delicious. We really did not have a complaint. Waking up each morning to the spectacular view and setting. Drinking coffee on the deck with monkeys all around. Each morning we would go for a run on the next beach over - Gigante. Then off to yoga - loved that there were 2 classes a day and the times were perfect, 10:00 and 5:00. The staff was really accomodating and any time there was a language barrier they tried so very hard to still get an answer. Very, very sweet. It's not every day that you are greeted by your first name with the management. I love the size of this boutique resort, I have visited many and this is definitely one of the best. I can't wait to return with my husband. Thanks to all the wonderful staff who felt like family.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 21, 2012

Have seen varied reviews on the christmas season - but i want to say that I worked at aqua a year gor for several months and had to leave due to illness of my mother. My take on Aqua is that it is a rare place in this world. The natural ammenity of the location and rooms is unrivaled in this world. I am a man in his 60's and despite the fact tyheir are a lot of stairs, I left there in incredible condition and at a level of health that I had not achieved for years. The owners are great people and I think when you go there you have to sense the love the developers had for the place to build such a beatiful resort with such commitment to the environment. If you are not prepared to walk up and down stairs this may not be the place for you and that is fine. I highly recommend Nicaragua, a country I worked in for many years to absolutely everyone I meet. You can travel the globe and look for tranquility- Aqua defines that in spades. And there is more. The quiet fishing village of Gigante is a short walk or drive away and this is an experience that moves almost everyone that comes to the zone. Do not hesitate to make a decision on this place as there are few places you can go to that will reach your soul with such sincerity. i am sorry I had to leave but family needs intervened. Go!

Room Tip: decide if you want to walk up and down stairs- if exercise not your thing then book a room near the...
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  • Stayed February 2011, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 19, 2012

My girlfriend and I popped in to aqua on our way from Belize to costa rica. Everything about this place is superb; from the food, the yoga, the beach to the the suites. We did a horseback riding tour at sunset and it was beautiful. All the staff were friendly, spoke very good English and went the extra mile. Most importantly they were all very trust worthy. Aqua is a step up from all other stops we have made and we couldnt have asked for more, would come back in a heartbeat.

  • Stayed January 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dallas, Texas
2 reviews
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 18, 2012

I returned yesterday from spending 6 days and 5 nights at Aqua in the middle of January. It was after the Christmas/New Year rush which wound up being the perfect time to visit. I came to learn that many of the complaints listed below were the result of this new hotel reaching its highest capacity level since opening - so there were growing pains, but the staff has taken the comments seriously and has worked quickly to improve the overall experience. We had a wonderful time very different from those mentioned below.

This is truly a beautiful, secluded, and very private beach. I woke up one morning at sunrise and for over an hour had the beach entirely to myself. At its busiest, there might have been 5-6 other people on the beach...ever! You feel as though you own it and there isn't a single care in the world. Although there isn't beach service for drinks and refreshments, the walk to the bar and restaurant is not far. Surprisingly, the sun is not as intense here, so if you're seeking a tan you may not need as much sunscreen if any at all.

The staff has limited English skills but the resort is helping them learn and eventually we always figured out what the other was saying. I found it even made the experience a bit more interesting and authentic having to learn and speak a bit of Spanish. I do agree that the kitchen service is very, very slow - so if you're rushed to get to the yoga class, let them know you're in a hurry or eat a snack that you've packed and brought with you to the resort. It's not unusual for your fruit drink to arrive as dessert rather than before your meal, even though you ordered it early. So tell them if you want it before the meal. I also wouldn't recommend sitting down at the table by the beach bar. The one time we tried that it took 1 1/2 hours to get our dinner. You're better off eating at the main restaurant area if you're hungry and don't want to risk being out-of-sight-out-of-mind. As for the quality of food, it is all extremely fresh, locally grown, mostly all organic. The quality of preparation and taste could vary and it was a bit pricey, but it was still enjoyable. Because it is so fresh, you never know from meal to meal if what you are ordering is available. We went nearly 4 days before there was fish because they had not been able to catch any during the day. That said, there curry dishes are very good, and the pineapple in Nicaragua is phenomenal! It's white instead of yellow and very sweet. One day all I had for a meal was a plate of pineapple because I just couldn't get enough of it. I'm also not a coffee drinker, but their coffee is so fresh and organic that I found myself enjoying coffee for the first time in my life. I wasn't even going to try it but my friends kept raving about it. Once I tried it I was sad I hadn't tasted it earlier. As a non-coffee drinker, I loved it because it doesn't have a bitter taste and there really is a freshness to it that's hard to describe.

As for the prices, the cost of meals and meal plans varied. We booked through Jetsetter and were told we could buy a meal plan for $100pp/day once we got to the resort. You won't spend this much unless you drink a lot. Breakfast was about $10pp, lunch about $10-15pp, and dinner about $20-25pp (all USD). Some people that booked directly with the resort had breakfast included in their price.

Mandy was the visiting yoga instructor during my visit. I tried to go twice a day when I could. She taught a relaxing, therapeutic yoga which was perfect for the occasion. She, like the rest of the staff, was so engaging that we loved visiting with her and always invited her to join us if we ever saw her during meal time. And Kelli from reception knows everything about everything and is patient enough to answer all your questions - whatever they may be! I also opted to get the "After-Yoga Massage" one afternoon. It is a medium pressure, relaxing massage and was well worth the $50. I have never had good experiences with massages I have received overseas until this one. I debated going a second time before my trip ended.

As one of the previous writers mentioned, the attire for the resort is very casual. Had we understood this before, we would have brought a fraction of what we packed. You do not need anything dressy. Leave it all behind. Just bring your swimsuit, cover up, something for yoga, and some shorts and you'll be fine. You might also want to bring a pair of sneakers in addition to flip flops only because it can make navigating the stairs a bit easier. Bug spray and hand sanitizer are also recommended.

As mentioned, there are a lot of stairs so you will get a workout even if you weren't planning on it. Don't let this discourage you unless you have bad knees...in which case this probably is not the resort for you. The tree villas go in alphabetical order starting with Aracari which is at the top of the hill next to reception (and our villa during our visit). So the lower the starting letter of your villa the closer to the beach and the fewer steps you will have to climb. To give you an idea, there are over 100 steps from the beach to the gong referenced below which takes you to the bridge that runs throughout the property. For those of us residing in Aracari, it was 220 steps from the beach up to the bedroom of the villa. Although it was a workout, the view and the experience was well worth it and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay in the Aracari penthouse. It had a queen sized futon and bathroom downstairs, a king-sized bed upstairs with a beautiful wooden shower and large bathroom area, a nice sized deck and an amazing kitchen. I learned toward the end of the trip that had we let the reception desk know that we wanted to cook our own meals that they would have worked with us to get us the groceries needed.

You can use American dollars everywhere so you don't have to worry about exchanging currency, and the outlets are American style as well for your electronic devices. Do bring a flashlight. The sun goes down about 5:30pm and it gets very dark after that. The resort keeps the beach dark to protect and attract nesting turtles. We did not have a flashlight and tried to use the light from our phones to navigate our way back to our rooms at night.

Gigante is the neighboring fishing village which has about 400 residents or so. It is one of the best experiences of the trip, so don't miss it. The residents are comprised of ex-pats primarily from Canada and a number of other international visitors who work half the year in their home countries and then come spend the rest of the year on this magical beach. The best surfing in Nica is in this area. Everyone is friendly and welcoming and you will make fast friends. I have been told the phosphorous swimming at night here is not to be missed, although I did not have the opportunity to experience it myself. The CroBar is the first bar you will come to when you walk from Aqua. It is also known as Pili's or the Hostile. The salads are great here as is the crowd and the drinks. Palmados (sp?) is owned by an American and serves hamburgers, delicious fish tacos, fabulous french fries, and even has ice cream for those desperate for dessert. The food in Gigante is a fraction of the price of Aqua. You can also get very fresh, very cheap lobster tail in many of the restaurants. Talk to the locals and they'll tell you exactly where to go. As mentioned, the resort can drop you off and pick you up for $10 each way if you go at night. The resort gives you a cell phone when you check in so that you can easily communicate with guest services and reception. This comes in handy when you're hanging out in Gigante and need to get hold of the driver, too!

I participated in two private tours during my stay at Aqua. We left around 8am and were back around 5pm for the full-day experience. To take a tour you need at least 2 people to go and there is an entire book of possible tours at the reception desk that you can select from depending upon what you want to see. The first trip I took was to Grenada, the crater lake, the Masaya volcano, and the markets. Octavia was our guide and he and the driver were such a delight and made the trip a wonderful and very personal experience. My friend was initially reluctant to go because she does not like organized tours, but even she had a wonderful experience and was glad that she went along. The second tour I took was at the resort itself and was called the Sustainable Systems tour. Chris Shanks, the American born COO of Aqua and landscape architect, spent 1.5 hours showing me the organic, sustainable gardens they are building and explaining the thought and planning that went into building Aqua so that it has as minimal of an environmental impact as possible while also supporting the local community. It was quite interesting and something I would recommend for those interested in such subjects.

Finally, be sure and bring your camera because the sunsets are amazing here! I had a harder time capturing the sunrise because it would often be overcast and a little rainy in the mornings. The wind can also be rather strong in the mornings but greatly diminishes as the day goes on. You should also know that this is a deciduous rainforest, which means it is dry and not like Costa Rica. It is beautiful in its own way - with cactus and grasses sprinkled among the trees. As the weather gets hotter, I was told the trees will lose their leaves, so keep this in mind if you're expecting a tropical rain forest experience.

Also be prepared for a trek in from the airport as it really does take 2 1/2 hours to get to the resort and the last part is on unpaved roads. You will find it is well worth it, though, and the drive is enjoyable in its own right because you get to see parts of rural Nicaragua. What others have written is true in that it does feel as though it is one of the last remaining undiscovered gems of the world. Aqua is the first and only major development right now, but the wealthiest family in Nica is building a huge 5 star resort next door. They will soon be paving the roads, creating a marina, and eventually making it possible for private planes to come in. If you want to experience this in its still somewhat raw and incredibly unique and special state, book your trip ASAP! It's a unique experience that blends an incredibly fine wellness resort on a pristine and exceptionally private beach with a remote, rural fishing village. I promise it will be unlike any other vacation you have ever taken but will be well worth it. You will return home rested and recharged with the loveliest of memories and experiences to share.

Room Tip: Rooms are alphabetical with A being at the top of the hill and over 200 steps up from the beach belo...
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Annapolis, Maryland
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 18, 2012

I stayed at the Aqua resort from 12/25 to 12/31 this year and had a fantastic holiday of relaxation and retreat.
I am surprised to read some of the reviews that are posted in reference to the overall experience as I am already planning to return to the resort for a second trip sometime later this year.
We were traveling with two other couples and occupied a new villa that was steps away from the beach. We had a main villa with a kitchen as well as two other bedroom villas on each side. The layout worked well for the privacy factor of a small group of couples and the common space was a great gathering spot for us in the evenings after dinner.
We also had a wonderful plunge pool that was terrific after a day at the beach. Great view while taking an evening swim.
I did notice that they had some growing pains with the speed of delivering the meals but honestly, we were having such a good time with our friends, the conversation, and the beautiful surroundings, it hardly mattered to the overall experience. The staff were clearly trying their best and anytime that it took a bit longer than they thought it should they adjusted the bill accordingly to make up for any inconvienence.
The rooms were stunning and just as the photos on the web site detailed. We spent most of our days relaxing and enjoying the beautiful private beach. I started everyday with a yoga class that started promptly at 10am (Highly recommend signing up for this every day) with a beautiful view of the Pacific ocean from the platform. Just spectacular! Grace is a fantastic teacher and I decided to take two of her food classes later in the week.
The chocolate class was much fun and I also would recommend trying at least one food class while you are at the resort. I also took her raw vegan class and really enjoyed the new recipes and have started to incorporate them into my cooking at home. Lots of fun, informative and inexpensive!!
The food itself was enjoyable and the ingredients in everything were fresh and healthy! Especially the salad greens. They were just getting their new outside bread/pizza oven seasoned the week I was there and I can only imagine how nice that will be when I return later this year.
One of the things I enjoyed the most was the daily fruit concoction drinks I enjoyed while lounging on the beach. They have a wide variety of all fresh local fruit drink smoothies. Very refreshing, no sugar concoctions with all fresh local fruits. Very nice part of my day and stay.
I also spent an afternoon at the newly openened spa. I tried the cacao body scrub and facial. Very different from what I have had done in the spa enviroment at home. My skin felt terrific and I really did smell like chocolate for the rest of the evening. The prices were so inexpensive it was hard not to at least try it out once during my stay.
We also booked a day of deep sea fishing off the coast which you can arrange easily at the resort. The boat captain picked us up right at the cove and the drive down the coast was so perfect in the late afternoon. We caught several Yellow Jack Tuna and had a really great time with the trip.
We did eat at Gigante one evening at a place on the beach and enjoyed that as a change as well. You can walk to the villiage in about 20 minutes or if you would prefer a lift the hotel folks will drop you off and pick you up if you ask.
Gigante is a cute little fishing villiage and worth treking to for at least one of your days or evenings while at the resort. Lots of expats and backpackers wandering around in the villiage.
If you are not as fit as you like you may want to consider staying below the gong to make the terrain a bit easier. the resort has nice trails but it is on the side of a cliff so when you need to climb it can be a bit of a workout.
Pack light....no need for anything too fancy. I packed flat sandals, sneakers, bikinis and coverups. You won't need anything more for your trip. (Maybe a few yoga things)
The beauty of this place is that all the details are designed to force you to relax, recharge and unplug. I came home feeling rested and recharged.
I also really liked that this was a great arrangement to travel with a few other couples and still have a tremendous degree of privacy. Definitely a great group vacation spot.
I would not only recommend but can't wait to go back for another week later this year in the fall.
Sandra Elwood

Room Tip: If you enjoy a bit of exercise and like seeing the monkeys a bit more in the AM then book above the...
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  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Frederick, Maryland
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 17, 2012

Id have to disagree with the below critiaims about Aqua, it seems they have been working quite hard to improve their service and food accommodatons and have been SUCCESSFUL. I recetly visited with my family and did not find any of the previous complaints to serve as my own. Even if you and your partner, friends, and/or family are unable to spend a few days at Aqua, I highly reccomend taking an afternoon visit for lunch (as my family and I did) or
dinner. The restaurant at Aqua, Bromelia, offers a wonderful menu of foods, many ingredients are from near-by Isla Ometepe grown on Finca Bona Fide part of Project Bona Fide's permaculture and ecological agriculture programs. We were a group of 5, and all of us loved our new of choice. The breads, especially the Ciabiatta, are out of this world good! Made in the restaurant's incredible outdoor bread oven. The service was welcoming, professional, and embodied an overall delightful presence. The views from where ever you sit to eat are exquisite and the facilities impeccable.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Aqua Wellness Resort

Address: 1 Redonda Bay, Playa Gigante, Nicaragua
Phone Number:
Location: Nicaragua > Rivas Department > Playa Gigante
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 2 Hotels in Playa Gigante
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Aqua Wellness Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 50
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Aqua is a luxurious eco- and wellness resort with a private white-sand beach on Nicaragua's picturesque Emerald Coast. Guest accommodations are set in beautifully crafted Tree Houses on a wooded hillside overlooking the ocean. All have decks; some have full kitchens and outdoor plunge pools. Guests enjoy yoga classes, spa treatments and hiking, and water activities including stand-up paddle boarding, snorkeling, kayaking, surfing and fishing. Our guides take guests for excursions to nearby colonial cities, parks and volcanoes. Aqua's open-air bar/lounge and restaurant, with its wood-burning pizza oven and menu of healthy international cuisine made with local ingredients, are directly adjacent to the beach. The lush forest that envelops Aqua is alive with spider and howler monkeys, and a wide variety of colorful tropical birds. Aqua is the perfect spot for a destination wedding, a honeymoon, an active family vacation -- or a serene getaway where you can enjoy nature and one of the most idyllic beaches in Nicaragua. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Aqua Wellness Hotel Playa Gigante
Aqua Wellness Resort Nicaragua/Playa Gigante

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