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“Peaceful end to adventurous week” 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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Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 2 Hotels in Playa Gigante
New York City, New York
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Peaceful end to adventurous week”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 31, 2012

My family of four (husband, myself, son age 14, daughter age 11) stayed here for two days after a week of climbing volcanoes and other adventures in Nicaragua. We immediately relaxed upon entering this beautiful resort, which consists of about 25 small wooden houses built on stilts and other scaffolding in the side of the mountain, overlooking a small cove bay. The restaurant and bar are at the very bottom, on the gorgeous, secluded, white sand beach, and the reception area is at the top. The bungalows traverse the hill, making for much climbing to get anywhere. The atmosphere is extremely tranquil, but you are indeed isolated from anything. The resort offers trips to numerous spots on the western side of the country, but most are at least a two hour drive each way. Best to do your touring from a different locale, and come here to just chill out, do,yoga, eat well, and enjoy the peace and quiet. The bungalows are really nice, well equipped, and extremely clean. The restaurant is good, and serves all locally grown food - everything was very very Fran, including the most flavorful greens I have ever had. You are provided with a local cell phone that is preprogrammed to call the reception and the spa, so you do not have to walk all the steps. Yoga on the beach is outstanding.

Room Tip: Beach from if you want to avoid all the stairs.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 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
    • 4 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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313 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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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 (127)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
New York City, New York
Top Contributor
106 reviews 106 reviews
28 hotel reviews
Reviews in 42 cities Reviews in 42 cities
57 helpful votes 57 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 29, 2012

Pros:
spacious villas
beautiful beach
kayaks and other water sport material available
comfy beds
clean

Cons:
Service- never once were we asked if there was anything they could do for us, when we asked to borrow a futon, they made a huge fuss saying that they had a lot of guests and they were too busy. Excuse me, we are your guests!
Check out- It was very slow and then they emailed me saying that there was a new additional charge that we never agreed on.
Food- Slow and horrible service, food was mediocre at best.
Walk to room- You were out of breath by the time you got to your room. I just sprained my ankle, and this was very tough for me.

I would not recommend for someone to stay here, but if they are in the area, they should check out the beach-it is simply wonderful! Great for swimming.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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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
Hi Curlsgirl, we do apologize about our inability to respond to your last minute futon request – the futons are custom made hard furniture pieces and we have a limited number on site and do not habitually move them from one unit to another – we do have futons available in certain units and if these are requested at time of booking, or if the number of guests requires a futon we are happy to place our guests in a room that has that upgrade.

The stairs are part of our experience, and we try to go to lengths to explain that our resort is draped over an amphitheater-like bay that encloses the beach we’re glad you enjoyed – because of the geography, there are stairs to traverse down to the beach, and at present we aren't appropriate for someone with walking injuries unless those guests are placed on the beachfront – we will look into adding this to our questioning at time of booking.

Regarding the additional charges and service, please email anthony.mandela@aquanicaragua.com and he will research this for you – we never intend to have any surprise charges so he can look into ensuring all charges you received were for services delivered.

Kind Regards, Anthony looks forward to hearing back from you.
Aqua Management.
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Clarkston, Washington
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 28, 2012

My husband and I got married at Aqua recently and had one of the most magical times of our lives. We were treated incredibly well by the resort staff, many of whom we were on a first name basis with soon after arriving. Like anywhere, your own attitude is reflected right back at you, so the nicer you are, the nicer you're treated.

Our penthouse was beautiful and the wood work and ambient lighting truly set the scene for romance. Our kingsized bed was high quality and very comfortable. We enjoyed swimming in the ocean and relaxing on Aqua's beautiful beach which started to feel like our "front yard" in an oasis completely untouched by the rat-race of Western living; this can be a bit of a shock, no doubt, but an important one in my opinion, as it is a reminder of how many luxuries so many of us take for granted in life.

The food at Bromelia, Aqua's restaurant, was unique and delicious. Once you try purely grass-fed beef, fresh caught fish, and all organic vegetables, you'll realize what you've been missing. The fresh fruit smoothies and omelets are incredible, and if you're in the mood for something stronger, try the freshly scooped passionfruit juice mixed with rum or vodka (the best cocktail I've ever had). Once you get acclimated to the environment, you'll realize that time, materialism, and perfection don't hold much weight in the larger picture of things. Aqua really helped me to be mindful of myself and my surroundings, to surrender my usual worries and focus on more important things like love, peace, and well-being.

After my husband and I got married, we needed to file the legal paperwork prepared by our lawyer in the nearby town of Tola to apply for and receive our marriage certificate. This was when the staff at Aqua went above and beyond any resort service we have ever received. Our Aqua driver escorted us into the agency, found out who we needed to speak with, and used his spanish to guide us through what would have been an impossible process without him. His compassion and willingness to help was absolutely amazing.

Some of the charm and magic of Aqua is that you're in for an adventure, and forced just enough outside of your comfort zone to take new risks and grow. At the same time, you're treated to things that are only offered in such a secluded and undeveloped tropical paradise; you're not bombarded by the common tourist-trap setting and learn to appreciate natural beauty. On our wedding night we were surprised to find that our bedroom had been transformed into a true honeymoon suite that only hand-crafted detail could create; this personal touch made our night extra special. I definitely recommend visiting Nicaragua and staying at Aqua. Take it slow, allow yourself to absorb the relaxed pace, and enjoy the rare opportunity to be on what we referred to as "Nica-time."

  • Stayed December 2012, 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
folsom, california
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 23, 2012

We arrived at Aqua intending for this to be the peaceful and tranquil end to our two week vacation in Nicaragua. When we arrived, we were impressed with the layout of the resort and how the units are built into the hillside. I had requested a beach unit since I was aware of the many stairs and wanted to avoid the climb multiple times a day. About a week before we arrived, we received an email from our travel agent letting me know that Aqua was offering to upgrade us to a penthouse unit on the hill. When I asked WHY are they offering this, the travel agent did not respond to my question ( I don't know if he didn't ever ask?). I refused the upgrade since I wanted to be close to the beach. After a few minutes in our room, we heard a brawl/fight break out on the private beach with the most vulgar language shouted. Two young men in their 20's were in a fight. We quickly realized that we had stepped into a destination wedding in which we were one of the few guests at the resort who were not part of the wedding. They had a drunken bachelor party the night before, hence the day after, hungover, frat boy behavior. At first, my husband and I thought maybe it would be OK, but we quickly saw how the place was over-run with the wedding and the wedding guests who had taken over the bar, the restaurant, all the beach chairs, etc. By four in the afternoon, they were setting up their electric guitars, drums, amplifiers, microphones at the restaurant/bar and giant bonfire for the beach! I was like..uh...this is NOT what we expected or imagined for our peaceful "wellness" vacation. I went to management and told them I thought they had an obligation to inform us that there would be a destination wedding on the four days we were there. The management agreed that this was a problem between them and the reservation system (??), and asked us what we would like them to do. I asked that they compensate us for the night, that they refund us for the remainder of our pre-paid stay, and that we would like them to help us find an alternate resort of equal quality. The manager talked to our travel agent, and we were moved the next morning to Morgan's Rock. I also complained that we would be unable to have dinner in the restaurant since it was taken over by the rehearsal dinner party and band. The manager offered us a private meal on her deck at the manager's residence. It was lovely and far from the beach noise, but when we returned to our unit, even with the doors and windows closed, we could hear all the loud rock/reggae music and the walls were thumping. It was like being in the middle of a club. UGH. It all worked out very well in the end, because Morgan's Rock was lovely, we were the only ones there, the room was MUCH bigger and MUCH nicer, the beach was larger, the atmosphere more private, and the restaurant meals were included rather than the very expensive meals offered at Aqua. (We had lunch and dinner there on the day we stayed, and the total cost was about $100 for the food and 4 beers- the quality was good, the quantity was generous, but the price is high for Nicaragua). Although I appreciated that the management handled the situation, I would probably not return after comparing it to Morgan's Rock, which I think is overall a better value. I learned a lesson in this: ask if there is a destination wedding at a resort before you agree to go there. Oh, and I asked Morgan's Rock whether they have destination weddings, and they said they do, but they require that the wedding book all the rooms and they close the resort to anyone not included in the wedding. That seems like a reasonable policy, but at the very least, one should be informed of a wedding since the experience is totally different when you step into a noisy, private party. Some small details at Aqua we noticed: the safe in the room was difficult to use, lights were burnt out, and the room is very small. We also shared a deck with a penthouse unit that had a small pool, but the pool was not for our use. If our neighbors had kids splashing about in the pool, it would have definitely impinged on our privacy. The deck in our unit was so small, you could not fit two chairs and walk around them.

Room Tip: Ask for a room close to the beach. There are a LOT of stairs to climb.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 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
    • 4 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.
Management_AQUA, Manager at Aqua Wellness Resort, responded to this review, December 29, 2012
Dear Joanmar,

Thanks so much for taking the time to leave this review. We understand your frustration, are glad that we were able to make things right for you during your stay, and agree that it was not an ideal situation for you and your husband. We did have a small party destination wedding during your time with us which happened to be the reason why you were offered a penthouse upgrade away from the hubbub. It is an unfortunate coincidence that your travel agent did not give you the reason for the upgrade and we do apologize for the inconvenience that this mis-communication caused. Additionally, our reservation system is undergoing a complete overhaul which will prevent issues like this in the future.

In regards to the room comments: AQUA has a variety of room types available to our guests to select from based on location (Beachfront, Ocean View, Forest View) and the size of the guest suite (Penthouse, Junior Penthouse, and Treehouse). You and your guest were staying in one of our beachfront treehouse sized units which afford guests the opportunity to have the AQUA villa experience at a more cost effective rate. Treehouse units are much smaller than our penthouses (1 room) and include a queen size bed, bathroom, drink/wine chiller, and in some cases a small deck. These units are also clearly listed as not having access to a plunge pool. We encourage all of our guests to check out the descriptions of each of our rooms at www.aquanicaragua.com and please don’t hesitate to ask one of our reservation experts if you have any questions regarding any of the rooms or locations.

Thanks again for your constructive comments and we hope to welcome you back in the future under different circumstances so that you are able to more fully appreciate the tranquility, beauty, and atmosphere of our one-of-a-kind resort in Redonda Bay.

Best Regards,
AQUA Management
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Seattle, Washington
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 18, 2012

We stayed at Aqua with our family. My parents bucked up and got a beach front place and we saved our money and stayed up the hill. We are athletic and the stairs up and down were still a bit of a challenge. I am home now, and feel like I am in better shape than when I left. The resort does not have a gym, so it is kind of nice that you can get a sufficient cardio workout on the stairs. Also, all of the stairs in the resort make for amazing views from every villa.

The beach front def has perks though. My parents had a kitchen in their villa and would take cocktail breaks easily with only a few stairs to their kitchen from the beach.

The food at the resort is good, but the service is slower than I would prefer. I recomend taking a book, or playing cards if you have lunch by the beach bar. The view from the bar is amazing, so just relax instead of letting the slow service get to you.

I cannot think of a better place to do yoga than at Aqua, the view is amazing from the yoga platform. The yoga itself is taught for many levels, so do not be scared to try it out even if you have never done yoga before.

Do not leave without venturing out of the resort to Playa Gigante. The walk is not difficult and it takes only about 20 minutes. You will be able to experience Nicaraguan cuisine and see the culture in this nearby fishing village. Also, the store over there has almost everything that you could possibly need. From Playa Gigante there are two more walkable beaches, that are worth visiting if you have the energy. On the last beach, called Colorado, you can get water and have a snack at the Iguana private beach club. Don't be scared of it being called private, they served us a few times without any questions asked.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 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
    • 4 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.
new york city
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
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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Washington DC, District of Columbia
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
32 helpful votes 32 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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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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