Wow, I can’t believe that it’s taken me so long to write a review about this place and share my experience with the rest of the travel community. My girlfriend and I stayed at the Secret Cove Inn, In San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua for the entire month of January 2011. The place is well... decent; it’s a small inn, with only 5 or so rooms. Aesthetically its very pleasant, nice colors, good decor, its small and cute, you get the picture. It’s owned by Ray, a retired lawyer/wanna be real estate developer from California , and his partner Donna.
So here is our story, we first arrive at the Secret Cove and are shown our room by one of the workers, the room included a queen size bed, shared bath, and last but not least a "security lock box" for valuables that was bolted into a night stand next to the bed. The room was decent by Nica standards (considering the price), we got the keys, put our stuff in the room, our valuables in the "security box" and then hit the town. The first few days were fine until we got the feeling that someone had been stealing money from the provided security box. Being owned by an American couple, perhaps we were a little naive to believe that this box and the inn itself was secure and safe to leave our money in. We had all of our cash in the box, and after a few days realized it seemed we were spending our money faster than we thought we were. About five days into our stay, we went to the ATM withdrew some US dollars, counted the money, kept the receipt, placed them in the "security box" then left for the evening. The following morning we opened the box counted the money and, surprise surprise, $60 was missing. Then it all started to make sense, what was happening was one of the people who worked at the inn had a duplicate key for the box and was stealing our money little by little when we were gone. We were shocked,and without accusing anyone in particular (they only had 3 employees), told both Donna and Ray that someone had been stealing from us out of our room. By this time we had done some accounting of cash withdrawn from the ATM vs. how much we typically spent in a day. Even using our lowest estimate, we figured that over $400 USD was stolen from us out of the "security box" in the room. Ray eventually filed a police report, but because we didn’t actually catch the person in the act of stealing there was little that could be done. Eventually other guests at the hotel came forward (remember there are only 5 or so rooms), saying that they too felt like money was being stolen from their rooms when they were gone. Ultimately one employee was let go, although we felt they had fired the wrong person (the work schedule made it near impossible for the person that was fired to steal from us). Donna was very sincere about the situation and assured us that she would compensate us for some of the money stolen with either cash or a discounted rate. Ray unfortunately didn’t handle the situation as well, and argued in typical lawyer fashion that although the money was locked in a security box provided by him that he was somehow not responsible for money being stolen. If anything, by providing us with a “security box” Ray just made it EASIER for employees to steal from the guests. Also, like I said, this happened only a week into our month long stay, but we had already PAID for the month and were kind of stuck. We decided to continue staying because Donna assured us that after the police report was finalized we would be compensated for our losses somehow. Unfortunately for us, shortly after the incident, Donna left to return to the United States, leaving only Ray in charge. A week before our stay was up we kept trying to talk to Ray about what was happening with our stolen money. He kept assuring us he was doing "something" about it, which ultimately amounted to him calling my girlfriend and I liars and doing anything about the situation. When I told him that Donna had given us her word that she would compensate us, he again called us liars then refused to give us a number or email to reach Donna back in the States.
All I can say is the place itself decent, but the vibe is weird, and the people running it even weirder. I can only liken it to renting a room in the home of your alcoholic grandparents. Like another reviewer posted before, the place really does make you feel like your intruding in someone’s private home. This was our first stop on our three months Nicaragua Trip, and because this was our first time in the country we initially felt more comfortable staying at an "American" run inn. This was a big mistake, when traveling in a country like Nicaragua, which I'll remind you all is still the second poorest country in the western hemisphere, its best to give your tourist dollars to the people who need it the most, the locals. We stayed in Nicaragua for an additional two months after leaving the Secret Cove and from then on only stayed in locally run inns and hotels, and we never had any problems. The local owners are much nicer people, the hotels are better, and they cost less.
Also the breakfast is ALWAYS gallo pinto with eggs and toast, which you can get literally anywhere in town for less than 1.50$ USD. P.P.S. don’t bother with Rays “Secret Cove Development”, the road to get to the development isn’t going to be finished anytime soon, and there’s a reason that 99% of Nica homes aren’t constructed from wood!
They say two of the rooms have AC, but when we were there they didnt work. Some rooms have a TV, but...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.