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“Loved so much about it BUT...” 3 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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Hotel website
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 2 hotels in Playa Gigante
new york city
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
“Loved so much about it BUT...”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 9, 2012

this place is super cool...essentially you're staying in private treehouses and couldn't be more removed from society. you're surrounded by the sound of lapping waves, crazy loud howler monkeys and crickets--all of which i loved.

the food was great. all fresh ingredients, locally sourced. get the ceviche. but they were out of alot of items too much of the time. we wanted the fish curry so many nights and FINALLY on the last night they had it. it was worth the wait.

beach is very nice...some days the water was pretty rough...but great for sunbathing. and you're almost always alone. considering the place is so far removed, we kept wondering where everyone was?!

the BUT part of the review...some of which i'm willing to overlook because of its eco-stance:
- no electricity during the day; weird wine cooler in the room but no mini fridge (seemed so incongruous--who's storing 6 bottles of wine and what good is it if the electricity is turned off during the day??)
- it's a trek from the rooms to the restaurant and beach; be prepared for steep steps, and lots of them
- the yoga class was a joke; while i'm no yogi, it felt like an hour of mild stretching at best
- since the place is so small, you get to know the management (or were they owners?), yoga instructor, etc because they're hanging out like they're resort guests. i'm all for friendly service, but pulling up chairs and having drinks with guests seems like it's taking it too far. the impression we left with was they were enjoying the lifestyle of beach living more than managing a resort

if you're willing to overlook the nits i've outlined above, then it's a nice stay.

Room Tip: Request one closer to the restaurant/beach. I think climbing stairs is unavoidable since the place...
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with friends
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NYC_Trev, Owner at Aqua Wellness Resort, responded to this review, December 31, 2012
Dear ShanuzerNYC,

Cool that you understood what we’re doing at Aqua and we’re happy you enjoyed the stay – thanks for your constructive comments – if you could email anthony.mandela@aquanicaragua.com with specific details or a phone number he could get in touch with you about the management socializing – it’s a challenge to get that mixture of being friendly and interested but respecting guest privacy just right, but while every guest's desire is a little different, we want to make sure all our guests get either the attention or the privacy they seek – a quick call might help us with the nuances.

Thanks kindly,
Aqua Management.
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234 people have reviewed this hotel

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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 (96)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 7, 2012

I really struggled with this review. On one hand, Aqua is lovely. Its location in the canopy is unreal, and the villas are beautiful. The beach is pristine. The spa was outstanding (I was suprised by how much I enjoyed the spa after reading some of the reviews, actually).

On the other, it fell short of meeting our expectations. The overall attenton to detail and service level was lacking. We noticed this immediately upon arrival. The "welcome" at reception was very businesslike... not warm at all (in fact, we felt like we were interrupting the woman who checked us in, she seemed annoyed when we showed up). We did not recieve any explanation or map of the property (which is a bit confusing at first), and we did not receive any literature about the spa or activities (I wrongly assumed that they'd provide this in the rooms). They did not provide cushions on the wood slat deck furniture, so enjoying the beautiful deck and outstanding view proved to be very uncomfortable.

The beach furniture was similarily poor. The chase lounges didn't have cushions and were almost unbearably uncomfortable... and there were very few of them to begin with. Several hammocks had huge holes, making them impossible to use. And many of the other seats (made of rope) had holes or were frayed. I of course realize that Aqua is not a 5-star retreat in a developed nation, so I don't expect service that you'd get at a Aman Resort or a Four Seasons... but for the money we paid, I do expect furniture that is comfortable and usable.

As for the restaurant and bar, we thought it was good. We didn't experience poor service like other reviewers seemed to have. The restaurant and bar staff we had were fine and attentive. The food was also fine -- not outstanding but certainly not bad.

The bottom line is that we did enjoy our time at Aqua. It's a beautiful spot. But, we wouldn't recommend it to others unless some of the issues are addressed. Not to sound strange, but it felt like Aqua was missing a "soul" or is suffering from an identity crisis.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NYC_Trev, Owner at Aqua Wellness Resort, responded to this review, December 31, 2012
It’s wonderful you got to enjoy our award winning spa and beach, and had a good experience at the restaurant - and we’re also thankful for your comments on the checkin experience, which we’re looking to improve.
Nicaraguan culture is extremely friendly and welcoming, and we are committed to hiring locally, however it seems sometimes the language and cultural gap may lead to a transactional feeling that we’re constantly seeking to improve. If you have the time and desire we’d appreciate more details if we could follow up with you directly – if so please email Anthony.mandela@aquanicaragua.com.

Due to our location and climate we do acknowledge that we fight a constant battle with the elements particularly in regards to our beachside furniture and lounge hammocks. We apologize that you found a hammock in disrepair. We do have maintenance staff to review our furniture needs on a continual basis in order to make repairs and replacements as necessary and they have taken action on your comment.

Your comment about “soul” doesn’t sound strange to us at all. Aqua is an exceptional location and experience – as we residents also notice and feel about the country of Nicaragua. When everything connects it’s an experience most of our guests have never had anywhere in the world, and we’re thrilled you are tuned into that. We look forward to welcoming you back as we continue to evolve.
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Boynton Beach, Florida
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 30, 2012

First of all, name is deceiving as this is no resort and pictures on their website paint a much nicer picture. After 4 nights in Granada we decided to spend 3 relaxing nights in Aqua. It was an adventure just getting there and not in a fun way. Half of the road from Granada to Aqua doesn't exist and we felt bad for our driver's car. Upon requesting a hair dryer on our first night, I was told that one of the other guests already has it and they can try and get it for me the next day. There is only 1 hairdryer in the whole "resort"!?! After I complained that I needed one now, not tomorrow, they were able to find me one somewhere. There is a wine cooler (?) instead of a little fridge in the room so you can't properly cool off anything in it except of course if you want wine but then again there are no wine glasses in the room. There is a coffee maker in the room but no coffee cups. Two of the lights (one in the room and one on the little balcony) were missing bulbs. It was pretty dark in the room and especially outside after the sunset so bring a flashlight. The food at the restaurant was tasty most of the time and portions were big but every day they were out of something on the menu (like white rice or salad!?!). Prices in the restaurant are high as you have no other options but to eat there. Service depended on who you get, most were nice, lacking in english though but some waiters seemed annoyed. We were prepared for the many steps and when I called to see where our room was located after booking thru expedia, they were unable to tell me on the phone, and of course we were put in one furthest from the beach (182 steps). The beach is beautiful and that was the highlight of our whole experience at Aqua. We are not planning on returning there again.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NYC_Trev, Owner at Aqua Wellness Resort, responded to this review, December 31, 2012
Aqua is an eco-resort and it seems not the experience you were looking for. We’re interested to learn how you heard of us in Granada and what expectations were set for you there – if you could email Anthony.mandela@aquanicaragua.com we’d really appreciate it. We’re requesting an update to the descriptions on Expedia to make sure they clearly inform guests of the experience we have at Aqua.

While the roads are still in progress, construction is slated to be complete in January and we’re very excited that progress is sweeping through the country – it bodes very well for Aqua and the pacific coastal beaches in our area. For guests looking to avoid the roads, there is helicopter service available directly from your flight connection in Managua – reservations can handle those requests directly.

Best wishes
Aqua
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Las Vegas, Nevada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2012

The tree house was in the canopy, monkeys had coffee with me each morning. The beach was one of the best I have ever been to. The spa was great. The yoga platform is the coolest in the world.
You can't drink the water. The power goes out every day or so. The hotel staff is annoyed that you are there. It is 2 and a half hours by mostly dirt road to get there from Managua.
I would go again.

Room Tip: Be ready to go up and down alot of stairs.
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled solo
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NYC_Trev, Owner at Aqua Wellness Resort, responded to this review, December 31, 2012
LVSherpa – we’re looking forward to seeing you back again – Anthony.Mandela@aquanicaragua.com can help you with planning your next trip. He’d also like to hear more about which staff left a less than positive impression – if you have time to email him directly we’d appreciate it – he’ll also try to guess your identity based on the guest data.
Thanks,
Aqua
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Bozeman, MT
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2012

The people of Nicaragua are wonderful and friendly, the country is charming and the land is full of adventure. Although Aqua had incredible rooms and adequate facilities, the service from all but a few employees was awful.

Aqua's setting is spectacular as it overlooks el pie del gigante and a private beach which is both safe for families and intimate enough for couples. Its treehouses are scattered throughout the forest like no other resort we've visited and it is clear that a great deal of workmanship, quality and design went into the resort creating a very relaxed environment. Its unfortunate that their management assumes that these qualities alone will make for an unforgettable trip. With the exception of Emer (excellent tour guide), Ernesto (surfing) and a few of the other employees (including a gardener who took time to fix a flat tire), the overall service in key areas of the resort was very poor. Reception was nowhere near 'receptive', meals took literally hours to serve in the restaurant and even those who owned timeshares in the resort were complaining regularly about the service.

The developers of the 'resort' stayed near us for the last three days entertaining business colleagues. Upon their arrival, the service just got worse as the limited staff spent their time tending to the needs of their owner. To their credit, management is apparently turning over, but other locals suggested that the issue isn't management, its the owners commitment to developing a memorable resort.

To top it all off - not once in 6 nights and 7 days at Aqua did anyone ask us if we were enjoying our stay. Not the signature of a place we will return to anytime soon.

Room Tip: Beachfront is essential if you don't like stairs.
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NYC_Trev, Owner at Aqua Wellness Resort, responded to this review, December 31, 2012
BrockAnderson, thanks for calling out some of our employees who delivered exceptional service, and your comments about reception and restaurant wait do not fall on deaf ears -- we are rolling out POS systems this week to streamline workflow and reduce wait maximum wait times.

Anthony.mandela@aquanicaragua.com would like to follow up with you directly if you are able to email him.

Aqua Management
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Boca de Nosara, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2012

spend your travel dollars elsewhere - you can get so much more of all Nicaragua has to offer, for a lot less!!

this place looks real nice from the website and touts themselves as a luxury resort - they are not!

more like a gild facade of a co op with appealing rental cabins attempting to be a hotel with no hospitality experience... a nice location for one or two nights but still way overpriced for what you get and what is readily available in Nicaragua

I came for a retreat that ended up being more work that I imagined it could be,
with 30+ other guests on the property you would think that management of a fancy resort would be thrilled and well prepared to fulfill every guests need...

when arrived, I was injured - this was not taken into account nor any effort made to change our accommodations to the cabinas closer to the beach (besides supplying, upon request, some tape and gauze for my injured foot)

we where housed in one of the top cabins, on the property line close to this cabina there was paved road with fancy houses just above it, and even though we had an inroom safe but we still became somewhat concerned of our safety and belongings as no windows were secured and there was regular traffic on this road beside our cabina - later in the week some guests had to deal with an attempted robbery while walking a trail back to Aqua

reception offered no map and no guide to our room, we wandered around and got lost twice, then went back to reception in order to take a photo of the framed architectual drawings of the property, to use as our map - the cabina was nice, lots of wood and good appliances

there are an immense lot of stairs
and no golf cart to take you down/up the hill - which would be classified as an upscale resort item
- Costa Rica has been using carts in resorts on hills for 20+ years
so if you are taking a retreat or training and you are staying in the upper cabins you will be quite quickly exahusted

they give you a cell phone because there are no phones in the rooms, but no numbers to contact the other members of your group or other cabins, only reception and the restaurant - the cell quickly ran out of minutes after calling these two locations and of course you have to walk down stairs and a ways back to reception in order to get the phone refilled and then they only give you a few more minutes

when we arrived to our cabina there was only one king sized bed, which I found a bit shocking
Aqua made the assumption that my sister and would enjoy sleeping together for 6 nights
we were not notified of any sleeping arrangements like this prior to arrival
when I requested sofa to be made up as a bed, even after 3 times, it didn't happen
even in the cheapest hostel, you get your own bed!
then we find out later in the week, that other people were in the same situation, some who were strangers! huge indiscretion from a real hotel business viewpoint

there was a lot of construction work happening on the same property, more cabinas being built while we were in meditation and yoga practice - hammers, saws, power tools, vehicles - I saw 3 men hand mixing cement (which is illegal in most countries as it burns the skin) knowing workers are often paid less than $2 per hour, this reeked of slave labour - the fact that construction was not paused while a such large group of guests are onsite shows the greed factor of a fraudulent 'wellness' charade

the food quality offered to 'retreat' guests was very poor and repetitive
but when ordering off the menu of the ' restaurant ' which shared the same kitchen
the difference was astoundingly better but overpriced

we paid additional $200 for food on top of the listed week fee of an outrageous $1595

the bathrooms below yoga deck we always locked, so one had to either pee in the bushes and risk being seen by other guests, or walk a ways back to the restaurant to use the toilets there, taking you away from precious practice time with the teacher,
after 5 days these toilets began to reek of back up sewage

no where were there any signs not to place toilet paper or hygienic products down the tubes,
another common notice and practice in Costa Rican businesses for many years

one of the new managers, Natalia, was very beautiful, energetic and bubbly but that too seemed to be an act as she was only available the first and last day of the 'retreat' - I left messages trying to contact her as well as emailed through this service - TripAdvisor - to talk with Trevor (on day 3 of the retreat I was already dissatisfied with the food and sleeping arrangements) I was contacted by someone I didn't know and my emails just got shuffled around, there was some discussion with Natalia and yoga retreat facilitators on the last day, but we only heard excuses, passing of blame, attempted manipulation and lack on knowledge,
there was no offering of resolution nor taking responsibility for the dissatisfaction of myself and sister for this all inclusive 'retreat' package

I notified Aqua of my needs and hopes of enjoyment in staying there weeks prior to attending, also that I would be passing my birthday there, sadly no attempt from the hotel, whatsoever, was made to ensure my week stay there was extra special - these people need a reality check - I wouldn't ever go back

Room Tip: stay in the cabinas close to the beach, yoga deck, restaurant and bar which are at the bottom of a s...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled on business
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NYC_Trev, Owner at Aqua Wellness Resort, responded to this review, December 31, 2012
Anthony.mandela@aquanicaragua.com will be contacting your instructor regarding this retreat – however we wanted to comment on one thing particularly with this review that may be of general interest to tripadvisor readers.

With few exceptions Aqua guests marvel at the handiwork, craftsmanship, ingenuity and situation of the resort on our pristine Redonda bay.

It’s worth noting that while the designs and vision have had North American input, and over three years were spent in collaborative training with our local craftsman in the construction and finish techniques (which do use North American standards - some foreign to Nicaragua), the actual build execution of the resort is 100% Nicaraguan, and proudly so.

The core team that created our treehouses over the last 7 years are all local and live within a 20 km radius of the resort, and for us represent a success story for collaboration between North American vision and Nicaraguan culture.

This quality of workmanship is not something that can be forced from above, but something that comes out of pride from within, and you need only speak to any of our crew team (if your Spanish allows and they are onsite – or the maintenance staff also all came from the construction crews and speak English well) in order to see that spark of ownership they take an a job exceptionally well done. Our workers are all well paid in the local market, and we are happy to continue to work together to develop the skills of our team to create more opportunities for the families who are part of the Aqua team and increase their standing in the rapidly evolving Nicaragua they now compete (strongly) in.

Regarding the specifics of your stay, Anthony and your instructor will need to be in touch about the details, however it does seem you are looking for a "5 star" "yoga resort" experience on a serious "budget", comparing the experience to that of a country that has roughly 20 years head start on Nicaragua -- I’m not sure such an experience exists, but certainly we aim to please so if the communication and arrangements for your retreat were not clear, that is something we certainly can take responsibility for improving.

Aqua Management
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Atlanta, Georgia
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 8, 2012

I just returned from a visit to Nicaragua with my sister. We stayed at a surf camp for several days and then decided to go somewhere that had a spa. This place was so nice! We had great massages, cocktails, and did some paddle boarding. The food is pretty good- overpriced for Nicaragua but you get that at resorts like this. I will also mention that when called to book the hotel the coordinator told us that the lowest price room was $170, however when booking through expedia we found it for $113 a night. When we mentioned this to her she said that wasn't valid anymore so we just booked online for the lower price.. The room was very nice and had hot water which is a treat down there. The rooms aren't very sound proof though- as we heard everything from the room above us. But overall it was a great vacation. Cute monkeys in the trees to greet you every morning. The yoga platform and class was probably my favorite part about this place. The staff was also very nice and helpful. Looking forward to visiting again!!

Room Tip: Ask to be on the top floor if your treehouse is double stacked. Also- if you're lazy and going...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 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 4
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 Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 2 hotels in Playa Gigante
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Aqua Wellness Resort 4*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We are a luxury eco-resort with a focus on wellness. The yoga platform overlooks our private beach in protected Redonda bay. Accommodations are well appointed luxury treetop villas built with a dramatic vantage over the bay, full kitchens, private plunge pools, teak + Balinese showers and wraparound decks. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Aqua Wellness Hotel Playa Gigante
Aqua Wellness Resort Nicaragua/Playa Gigante

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