Owner: While Alvaro comes across as arrogant, he is mostly harmless. If you don't want to be subjected to tales of his benevolence towards the island and surrounding community, then don't plan on spending much time in the common area. As the owner's family lives directly off the common area, the cries of his newborn and 3-year-old can be a detriment to your relaxation. On one particular night, his 3-year-old threw a tantrum in the common area involving persistant door slamming and scream-crying. While I'm not critiquing their parenting skills, and you certainly can't blame the 3-year-old, it was a bit distressing that nothing was done and that she was left to carry on in this manner for nearly an hour and a half.
Staff: The local staff, including the main desk attendant, Darwin, are pleasant, professional, and eager to help. I did, however, get the impression that the owner views his staff as his own personal help (he neglects to thank them when they bring him his daily meals).
Value: If you intend to stay for a few days and really plan on using your time to adventure, it may be worth your while to pay the 15 USD cost for a bike/kayak (which allows you access to these amenities for the duration of your trip). Otherwise, opt for some of the cheaper options located near by (although anything "near by" is still a bit of a walk in this secluded part of the island). We thought the price of the quad/dorm room we stayed in was fine, and we did not have to share with any other travelers during our stay. Personally, I think the high cost of some of the amenities is an effort on the owner's part to recoup the cost of some of his more expensive investments (expensive and imported bike components, kayaks, and a 16,000 USD sail-boat that no longer works).
Sleep Quality: Unfortunately we did not get much sleep during our stay. The beds were clean and relatively comfortable, but the corrugated plastic skylight served as a drum for the nightly thunder showers. The mosquito nets do not actually wrap completely around the lower bunks and did have a few holes, though they seem to fix them as they become aware of them. Unfortunately, my girlfriend became a feast for the mosquitos, though I was luckily unbitten. Power outages at night meant no fans which made the rooms pretty steamy, though not unbareable (see conclusion for thoughts on this).
Conclusion: Ultimately, I would recommend this place if you're working with a bigger-than-backpacker budget, though you will likely find better rates elsewhere on the island. I would not recommend this place, however, if you are inflexible as a traveler. If you're the type to get bent out of shape over a power or internet outage, then you probably shouldn't be traveling in the third world. ;-)
Cheers, and safe travels to all!
- Also Known As:
- Hacienda Merida Hotel
- Hacienda Merida Hotel Isla De Ometepe