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“Nickle and Dimed” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Buena Vista Surf Club

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Buena Vista Surf Club
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Playa Maderas | San Juan Del Sur, Playa Maderas, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Playa Maderas
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Nickle and Dimed”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 6, 2014

This place has the potential to be amazing, but the borderline rude owners and nickel and dime approach made us feel very unwelcome and annoyed. With the price being double what a average hotel costs in Nicaragua, we expected more.

Pros: Playa Madera is unbelievably beautiful and great for surfing at all levels. The view from the deck is gorgeous, definitely catch a sunset there. The breakfasts and dinners were delicious and the two couples working there were friendly and relatively helpful.

Cons:
To start with, they claim to be an eco lodge (no hot water, no electricity during daylight, one with nature: e.g. bugs in bed with you etc) but sell bottled water. Why not have a durable, Aguazul water jug for a water cooler instead? And really, potable water for drinking should be included in the nightly price. I shouldn’t have to pay for potable water at the hotel.

At our first group dinner, the owner started off on a rant about how Americans are ruining the Nicaraguan culture since all the Nicaraguans see are a bunch of rich, white, Americans lounging around on vacation. HELLO!! What does she think the Nicaraguans see in her?! A rich, white, European that has two couples that run the hotel (for free, the owners don’t pay them, they just get to stay there for free in exchange for their services) while she plays at the beach with her kids. AND half of their rich, white, guests were Europeans, NOT Americans!!! I found this discussion beyond offensive but did not want to rock the boat too much since it was our first night there.

My other issue with the BVSC is that you are nickeled and dimed for EVERYTHING. I don’t mind paying for beer/soda/snacks, but I do mind paying for potable water. Also, if you want to surf, you have to rent a surf board for $15 a day and then carry it up and down the side of a mountain to get to the beach (5-7 min walk up or down a very steep hill). We decided to rent surfboards at the beach for $10 a day and carry it 50 feet to the water instead. They have SURF CLUB in their name. You’re really going to charge for surf board rentals? A surf lesson I can understand paying for, but not the board rental. And in case you were wondering, the quality and selection of the surf boards at the beach are great for beginners and intermediates. Don’t pay BVSC an extra $5 a day to carry a surf board up and down the steep hill.

I guess that we expected more for the price. If they want to charge luxury prices, they should provide a luxury experience. Oh, and don’t offend your guests.

  • Stayed December 2013, 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BVSCNicaragua, Owner at Buena Vista Surf Club, responded to this review, March 13, 2014
Hi,

Thank you for staying with us and for taking the time to review us.

We always appreciate input, positive or negative and always look for ways to improve our place and/or ourselves. We try to offer a good value for money and try to be better and different than the average hotel in Nicaragua. We're sorry to hear that we didn't meet your expectations and that your stay was not as you had expected it to be.

We're always open for suggestions and tried to find your suggested Aqua Azul water bottles on the internet, but couldn't find them. Maybe they're only available in the States?

We always try to make sure everybody has a great time. It seems like the story Marielle told wasn't understood the way she meant it... It's definitely not our intention to offend our guests and we're sorry if you felt that way.

Sorry again and we hope you still enjoyed Nicaragua,

Marc & Marielle
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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260 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (32)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
New York City, New York
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 30, 2014

My husband and I had the greatest time at Buena Vista Surf Club. The property itself is no frills, but clean and beautiful. It is eco-friendly -- so no hot water and no electricity until after 5 pm, but we did not miss those things. The food was home cooked and phenomenal, the rooms were comfortable and really quite cute. They are tree houses overlooking the forest. We stayed 3 nights and would definitely go back. The best thing about this place are the people that run it. Mark, the owner, and his wife Marielle are super nice and wonderful hosts. They make sure to hire couples that are friendly, informative, and just overall amazing. Kathleen & Jordan (who I now call friends) and Alex and Yen were amazing. The morning yoga was a great way to start the day and the surf lessons were really fun. (Turns out Playa Maderas has a pretty big break -- so really good surfers and beginners can have fun). There is a small hike to the beach -- which is uphill and a bit of a trek on the way back up -- but it is well worth it. What a great vacation!

  • Stayed May 2013, 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Jose, California
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 30, 2014

It is hosted by volunteers, who are very welcoming and helpful. They serve breakfast (9am) and dinner (7pm) family style in the common area, this is included in the cost per night. They have surf boards for rent. The tree-house bungalows are amazing and really invite you to be apart of the beautiful jungle here. It is a 5 min walk to play Maderas. We would highly recommend this wonderful spot again and again.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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.
Millis, Massachusetts
Top Contributor
103 reviews 103 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 61 cities Reviews in 61 cities
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 27, 2014

One has to give up a few taken for granted comforts like hot water showers, WIFI and electricity between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., but the rewards are many -- the breakfasts and dinners are delicious, served family style with the volunteers that cooked them, the Howler monkeys are freely swinging in the trees above the cabanas (which are on stilts in the treetops), the gorgeous sunsets seen from the yoga platform, and the roar of the ocean through the night. Playa Maderas was a fantastic place to swim and learn to surf if you so choose.

Stayed January 2014, traveled with friends
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 25, 2014

Like some of the other reviewers I'm sort of at a loss for words right now. I could say "I had the best time ever" or "It was fantastic" but that doesn't seem to do it justice. This little spot up on the hill is so magical. We stayed in cabana #1 (there's 6 total) and while it was lovely and comfortable I also think it has the best view. We stayed for a week and felt at home almost immediately. Mark, Marielle, Jane, Sholto, Carla, and Liam were impeccable. They treat you as friends, and take care of you with such ease and kindness. They were able to see us coming and know exactly what we needed before we could even get the words out. I initially was skeptical about the breakfast AND dinner being included because I always like to get out and try new things but found myself wanting nothing more than to stay every night and be at the table with the gang (it helped the food was absolutely delicious too!!!) We did surf lessons, yoga, and got massages here and we'd recommend them all. The beach at Playa Maderas was one of the nicest we've ever been to as well. Soft sand, clean waves, and a really nice, mellow mixture of travelers and locals made it really enjoyable. I'm already daydreaming about when we can go back (and we got home last night :) The biggest bonus for us were the sweet dogs that greet you upon arrival, Hustle & Flow. If I could've put them in my suitcase they'd be with me right now.

  • Stayed January 2014, 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 24, 2014 via mobile

We stayed two nights in the cabanas and two nights in the Oleada Beach House with non-surfer, non-yoga comfort-class ladies. I can't wait to go back!

Of course there may be creatures (didn't notice any in the cabin though) but there are also breathtaking sunsets, magical moments on the deck looking up at the stars, Howler monkey families crossing overhead, chill music in the lounge, ample breakfasts and dinners and super kind staff members. The woodwork and design are also exceptional and amazing to think it was all done by one local man.

Cold water showers were refreshing, especially after the walk up from the beach, which although steep, quite short and really necessary for a bit of exercise after a day of lounging.

If you want some comfort, some adventure and lots of magical moments, BVSC is the place!

Thanks Marc, Marielle, Jane, Shoalto, Liam and Carla! (Sorry, just realized I don't know how to spell the guys' names! O=) Hope to see you all in LA or Essaouira some day.

Stayed January 2014, traveled with friends
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 19, 2014

I have stayed at quite a few places along the coast (and inwards) in Nicaragua, and BVSC definitely tops most of them. You get a nicely executed mix of rustic luxury, with great food, friendly volunteer staff, beautiful views, yoga, and a chance to meet fellow travelers during the meals you all have together. There are games, laughs, relaxed vibes...definitely a place with a personality, and top choice if you are open to meeting other people, but also if you are seeking peae and quiet.

The owners also stopped by for a few meals with the guests and were open to sharing their stories about this amazing place, they were also very accomodative to any problems/requests guests have had...they made my stay fuss free, and were always looking at the easiest solution to any issues for their guests, along with the amazing volunteer hosts.
Oh and the deck. The amazing deck.

There is a short walk to the bach (and back) via a steep hill, but that did not bother most people, it was a great way to warm up.

I have stayed at a few other places in this price bracket (and above) with similar style, and you definitely get more value at BVSC in terms of unbeatable service, food, and lodging...by a very large margin! If you are still thinking where to stay, dont. Book it. Have fun.

Room Tip: room 5 is very private.
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  • Stayed January 2014, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Buena Vista Surf Club

Address: Playa Maderas | San Juan Del Sur, Playa Maderas, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Location: Nicaragua > Rivas Department > San Juan del Sur > Playa Maderas
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free Parking
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Playa Maderas
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Buena Vista Surf Club is an intimate design eco-lodge at Playa Maderas, San Juan Del Sur. A unique place for both surfers and non-surfers! Surf or learn how to surf or just enjoy the amazing beaches. Enjoy great home cooked, family style dinners with new friends, do yoga or relax at the 'infinity' sundeck and watch the wildlife from your ‘treehouse’! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Buena Vista Surf Club Hotel Playa Maderas
Buena Vista Surf Hotel
Hotel Buena Vista Surf
Buena Vista Surf Club Nicaragua/Playa Maderas, San Juan Del Sur

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