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“Fun, fun, fun!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Empalme a Las Playas

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Empalme a Las Playas
1/2 c N. al Empalme a las Playas Maderas y Playa Marsella, San Juan del Sur 00011, Nicaragua   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #3 of 20 hotels in San Juan del Sur
Nelson, Canada
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Fun, fun, fun!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 21, 2012 via mobile

Before we got to Empalme a las Playas our children missed home. Now that we've left, they want to be back at Roy at Karen's. Delicious food, lots of laughs, and a beautiful and homey environment. The dogs deserve their own review; we absolutely adored them. Can't say enough about all of you - thanks for making us feel so special. LRQV

  • Stayed December 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
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140 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
    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 (14)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
London, United Kingdom
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 22, 2012

When we embarked upon our recent adventure to Nicaragua little did we know what we were about to experience and how it would shape our perception of personal dedication and hospitality defined.

We didn't have anything booked when we arrived so we sat down in a dusty bar, ordered a couple of Tonas and browsed through the pages with accommodation, anything from 5* hotels to filthy hostels, just to get an idea of what to expect as none of us had been to Nicaragua before and simply put we didn't have a clue!

The first place we called politely said that they were full and couldn't accommodate us.

This is my first thanks to all of you who booked that hotel, from the bottom of our little hearts, thank you. Really.

We continued to browse through page after page and suddenly my partners eyes closed in on this place called Empalme a Las Playas. We looked at each other and continued reading, I mean after all, the name itself does sound fairly exotic!

After having read a few lines we quickly decided to call them to see if they had any rooms available and Karen who answered said indeed they did so we reserved a 'cabana', gave our details and started our fairly dusty and bumpy taxi journey towards San Juan Del Sur and what would be one of our best holiday experiences ever.

We had no idea what was waiting for us......

We arrived slightly later than advised and we couldn't call and advise of late arrival as none of us had any network connectivity so we were slightly nervous that they’d be upset however it turned out it couldn’t be further from the truth. We were there and that was the main thing!

Karen, Roy, Lyca and Shadow (the latter two being the amazing family dogs) all came and greeted us as we crawled out of the boiling taxi after the fairly bumpy ride from San Juan out to were Empalme is located (yes the roads are bad but that is outside their control). The two beaches Maderas and Marsella are super close but the place is remote enough to give you a feeling of total and utter tranquillity and peace of mind.

The cabanas are super quirky and neatly decorated (one would assume by Karen!) with everything you need for your 'jungle' stay! The beds are very comfy and there are mosquito nets all around (yes there are mosquitos in Nicaragua) so no need to worry about anything more than having a great night’s sleep! Roy even made sure we had our very own howler monkey singing for us, now that you don't get ANYWHERE else trust me.

The place is so idyllic and if you want to kick back and relax in the swinging chair’s then that's what you do or you could get yourself activated down by the beach (great surfing!) or play one of the many games Karen and Roy have available (of which I am sure Roy has invented half of them).

The place is just brilliant BUT, the thing that really took us by surprise was Karen and Roy's attention to detail when it comes to customer service and hospitality. I have never (EVER) been treated this well anywhere in the world and I have spent many years travelling the globe.

Staying with K&R (and Lyca and Shadow) is not like staying at a resort, it's like staying with friends! It took about 24 minutes and 3 tonas and we felt like we'd known them forever!
What they did for us during our stay is nothing short of incredible and they made our entire stay in Nicaragua worthwhile. They don't offer hospitality, they ARE hospitality, defined.

Karen's cooking is out of this world (although Roy will try and take some of the credit for it) and their humour, warmth and friendliness makes you feel like time is standing still allowing you to fully enjoy every single second of your stay.

I don't think I would ever be forgiven if I didn't mention Roy's magical touch. He's the local magic man and although I did see through it no one else did (sorry Roy!)

So, with a great cabana, utterly amazing food, a fridge that supply endless amounts of Tona (of course you have to pay for them but at $1.25 you feel like you are stealing from them) magic, jokes and seriously crazy stories from Roy and Karen and cosy kisses from the dogs what more could anyone ever wish for? Nothing is the answer. If you want a soulless resort with snotty staff and drones of rowdy drunks please refer to the Cancun pages in the Mexico brochure.

The only thing that almost ruined my stay was that Roy beat me at darts the last night and I still haven’t been able to drop this so I have to come back next year and get a re-match.

There are a thousand more things I could say but I won’t because part of the adventure is to experience it yourself so with these words I really, truly and utterly hope that you give Karen, Roy, Lyca and Shadow and chance to show you what Team Empalme is all about. Excellence.

Cheers.

  • Stayed November 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Jose, Costa Rica
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 18, 2012

I agree with the glowing recommendations of Empalme a Las Playas. Great place for our family of four to relax and experience coastal Nicaragua. Roy and Karen are great hosts, and really know how to cater to the kids. Great food, and beautiful undeveloped beach a short walk away.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Albany, Mississippi
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 16, 2012

I was planning a trip with some friends who had never been to Central America before and came across this place here on TripAdvisor. While the reviews were great, I had no idea what a treat it would be to visit here.

The cabinas are our of this world...beautifully designed out of bamboo with rich furnishings and nice airy space. They each have porches that overlook a jungle populated with monkeys (while we didn't see any, we did hear them). And they're just a short walk from two wonderful beaches and several restaurants.

While the trip in can be a bit grueling in terms of the road conditions...it's not an uncommon experience in Central America...it's all part of the adventure.

And then there are your hosts, Roy and Karen, who are delightful...and ready to help out with logistics and short rides to the beach...and Karen's omlettes with avocado are incredible. Oh, and be sure and have Roy show you some magic tricks; he's very entertaining. As one person posted, it really is like you're there visiting with old friends....and the cost feels that way, too...it is a great value for your money and all your friends will be jealous when you show them the pics.

Anyway, it looks like someone had a bad review of the place...but they didn't even stay there! They should have taken them up on the offer of a pick up....they would not have been disappointed.

The bottom line...if you're looking for a low key, laid back and beautiful place to experience some beautiful Nicaraguan beaches this is the place. We had a blast and will definitely return.

Room Tip: Any one of the bamboo huts/cabins is what you want...they are so peaceful.
See more room tips
  • Stayed October 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
oregon city
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 25, 2012

The road is barely passable via a two wheel drive car and SUPER BAD with wash-outs not filled in and huge holes. In a hard rain, you will be stranded on this road in a car. We spent an hour in a cab trying to find it (albiet after dark) as they have NO SIGNS INDICATING THE RESORT LOCATION. Our local cab driver called both numbers (multiple times) they have listed.....no answer....We had to pay the taxi $40.00 american to take us all the way back into San Juan del Sur to get another room. Keep in mind this is in an area where that $40.00 I pissed away on a cab buys you an ocean front room in San Juan. I emailed the business that night and got a nice reply and offering to pick us up....but no refund...mmmm...

Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
nicachick, Owner at Empalme a Las Playas, responded to this review, October 5, 2012
First we would like to thank the reviewer for taking the time to post a review!

To address the road - yes, it is horrible and out of our control. We try to minimize the times we travel it ourselves and advise guests if they are going to rent a vehicle that they get a 4X4 during the rainy season. Unless we arrange transport for our guests we often times do not know when or how they will come aside from the date of arrival. As the roads ARE bad, the taxis in San Juan del Sur normally charge $15 for a 8KM ride and $20 at night, but honestly they should not have charged this couple $20 for the return trip they were making anyway - also out of our hands.

We had sent, in our communications, an area map showing where we are located and explicit driving directions (in case they chose to rent a car) stating there was no sign at the drive and described the immediate area very well, as well as our cell phone numbers in case they had any problems.

This particular couple arrived a day early of their reservation without any communication. As it happened we decided to share one of our favorite local restaurants with our current guests for dinner that night (out of cell phone range - we are remote, and there are dead areas for reception) This couple was not even to arrive here until the following day or we would not have been out to dinner before they arrived.

We did get an email at 1AM that night that explained their terrible experience. We responded by telling them we would do the transportation at no cost for the time they were to be here, they chose not to email us back thus forfeiting the deposit as we had purchased goods and hired staff in preparation for their next day arrival... They chose not to come on the day they said they would and had a bad experience. We were all forward to meeting them as they were a topic of discussion with our other guests at dinner the night the happened in.

Thank You,
Team Empalme
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tucson, Arizona
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 21, 2012

My husband and I stayed here about 3 years ago during xmas. We stumbled upon Empalme a las Playas while taking a very long, bumpy cab ride to Marsailles beach to find some surf. We saw a sign that said "Frisbee Golf" and immediately had our driver pull in to see what it was all about. Long story short, we ended up staying here for 3 nights (even though we already had a hotel booked in San Jauan del Sur....which we couldn't get a refund on!!) and having one of the best traveling experiences that we've ever had! Disc golf, surfing, amazing food and exceptional hosts. Roy and Karen showed us the real Nicaragua. I would HIGHLY recommend staying here!!

  • 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
    • 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.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2012

We had no plan when we arrived to San Juan del Sur after traveling in Nicaragua for a week and were planning on only staying a day or two. We found Empalme a Las Playas on Trip Advisor and figured we'd give it a shot, after staying in San Juan for the night (at La Dolce Vita) and called them up from town to reserve a cabin. We stayed for four days! We were lucky enough to have the whole place to ourselves. Without question, the experience of staying here is made special because of Karen and Roy. Yes, the cabins are lovely and well-appointed, (and definitely on the rustic side - and by rustic I mean that there is not hot water, but the water isn't ice cold, so I actually enjoyed how refreshing the shower was after a hot day at the beach. And yes, some bugs come in, but surprisingly very, very few and there is no TV, but what the heck would you want a TV for there, anyway? Trust me on that. And if you're curious, the cabins are extremely clean). But Karen and Roy are such a dynamic duo, who truly welcome you as if you are friends, and you are certainly friends when you leave. K&R are very decent, honest people who have a tremendous amount of respect for the local people and the culture there. You feel at home, but you will never lose sight of the fact that you are in Nicaragua. We laughed like little kids and ate like kings, in between lots and lots of relaxing on the beach. The grounds are beautiful, wild and jungle-y, but tamed a little by Karen's green thumb and charmed even more by the dogs, Shadow and Lyka, who are characters unto themselves. There is really something for everyone at EalP. I left there wanting to bring everyone I knew here. The breakfast is FANTASTIC, an unbelievable deal, really. And when you go, have Karen make your dinner at least one night. We had two fantastic dinner meals there. It is remote for sure, but there is really no need to go to town while you're there. K&R can probably pick up something for you on their run to town anyway. There is food and drink there at EalP and close by at the beaches. Ask K&R to give you a ride (or to go with you) to Maria's, which had amazing food. So fresh.

So many of these reviews (including ours) sound a lot like little love stories to Karen and Roy, but I think that’s just a testament to what they have created through hard work, obvious love for eachother, and open hearts: a home for themselves which they are willing to share with all of us on our respective journeys. And if that sounds hokey, so be it. It’s a really, really nice and warm place to land.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Empalme a Las Playas

Address: 1/2 c N. al Empalme a las Playas Maderas y Playa Marsella, San Juan del Sur 00011, Nicaragua
Location: Nicaragua > Rivas Department > San Juan del Sur
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
#2 On the Beach Hotel in San Juan del Sur
#2 Family Hotel in San Juan del Sur
#4 Romantic Hotel in San Juan del Sur
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A true nature lover and beach goer treat. Spacious and quiet bamboo cabanas sitting in the jungle canopy above the river showcasing howler monkeys and many varieties of birds and wildlife. Within walking distance of Playa Marsella and Playa Maderas, said to be one of the best surf breaks in Nicaragua. A great place to relax, surf, trek and enjoy the natural beauty that is Nicaragua. We are as close to a nature reserve/eco lodge as can be without going through all the legalities to get the "stamp" of approval. Enjoy personal service and feel like you are at your home away from home. Offering personal service and satisfaction! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Empalme a Las Playas Hotel San Juan Del Sur
Empalme a Las Playas Nicaragua/San Juan Del Sur

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