Let's start with the good. It's a pleasant house located right on a very pretty and clean west-facing (sunsets!) beach . You walk right out onto the beach. The beach has dark, somewhat clayey volcanic sand, and is calm--it is safe to go quite a bit into the water without worrying about depth, rip tides, or things like that. That's it for the good. Oh, the air-conditioner ($10 extra charge) works very well and the room was very spacious.
The beach is not a private beach as stated, in the sense that it is not exclusive, as there are half a dozen other adjacent properties with access to the same beach, and there were a dozen or so other people on the beach (off season, but sunset time). Having said that, it's certainly a pretty secluded beach, and there will be times when you could have it all to yourself. It's small, bordered by cliffs on each side.
The owners were not there when we reserved the room or when we stayed. Apparently, this happens with some frequency, from the other reviews. This is not in and of itself a problem, but the caretaker Gonzalez is about the least qualified person to be receiving guests that one could imagine. He was indifferent and bored at best, and rude and uncaring about the guests at his worst (and we were just there for 18 hours!). He would visibly sigh and roll his eyes at simple requests, like it was a grand imposition.
There was also no hot water at the property (which is advertised as having hot water). When we mentioned this to Gonzalez he just shrugged and said, "Oh, a wire came loose(!) and since I don't know how to fix these things, I didn't touch it." He apparently also doesn't know how to call an electrician or the owners either, since it appeared that this was not something that had just happened. His attitude was one of "Deal with it." No mention of this lack of hot water when we made the reservation the day before, nor when we called earlier in the day to confirm our arrival time, nor when we checked in. When we left, I suggested that he not charge the $10 A/C surcharge as a compensation for the hot water and his exact words (translated from Spanish) were, "Well, it's not MY fault that the hot water didn't work," and with a boatload of bad attitude to match. (He decided to give us a $2 "break" but only because he didn't have $8 worth of change and gave us a $10 bill instead.) Any experienced traveller knows that running into unexpected problems and inconvenience is part of travelling; what sets places apart is not that everything be perfect, but how problems are handled when they occur. It is incredible that the owners continue to let this caretaker ruin the reputation of their place (or that they chose him in the first place).
There was also a "security guard" who came later in the evening. We found this out since someone was playing the TV (a game show with lots of screaming) VERY loudly just outside out bedroom door. I went out and discovered the security guard closely guarding the TV set at high volume (to scare away thieves?). I asked him to turn it off as it was disturbing us, which he didn't know how to do (he tried all the buttons on the wrong remote control until I finally pressed the On/Off switch for him on the TV set). When we came in at about 11 pm that night (he said he'd be there to open the gate for us and accompany us inside), the gate was wide open, and we drove in and walked right up to our room with nary a security guard in sight. It seems that when the cat is away the rats really are at play.
Breakfast was scrambled eggs, toast/butter/jam, coffee and "refried gallo pinto (rice and beans)." While the refried gallo pinto was hard and inedible, the rest was fine and perfect for the light breakfast we usually have, so while it could be on the light side for some, it was not a negative for us.
As another reviewer suggested, we'd probably have had a better experience, at least in terms of not having to deal with the unpleasantness of Gonzalez and being made to feel that we were an imposition, had the owners been there, or the much-heralded Luisa in other reviews, but really I can't see that improving my rating by more than one notch (hard to say, if one is treated well, everything else seems better ...). There were other basic problems with the place that were not a function of bad electrical wiring or (superbly) bad choice of caretaker: (1) There were no blankets on the bed or in the room or closets, just a sheet, nor hangers in the closet (we didn't need hangars for one day but come on, an air-conditioned room with no blankets??). (2) The pool was dirty and not maintained (why anyone would want to use a pool here with the ocean steps away is beyond me, but nonetheless it added to the general uncared-for feel of the place). (3) Most importantly, the only double-room that there is (with a king bed) is at street level with very little privacy: On one side is the kitchen and TV room, where you can easily hear the staff talking (which they started doing at 5:45 am) or someone watching TV, and they and others in the TV room can presumably hear everything you're saying or doing as well. Another wall faces the street and is just a few feet away from it--while there is fortunately very little traffic at this remote location, ANY motorcycle or truck that passes by at night or early morning WILL wake you up. A third wall faces the inner garden and pool and while it's a pleasant view, it's right where other guests (there weren't any when we were there) would congregate.
One gets the feeling that the owners started this as a hobby and got tired of running it or dealing with guests and left it in the not-very-capable hands of others. Nonetheless, the poor choice of staff and lack of attention to other important details ultimately reflects on the bad judgement of the owners as well. The irony is that we decided to rent here based on the recommendation of the owner/staff of the fantastic Casa Xanadu in Granada (see my 5-star review for that property--it would have been 6 stars if that were possible!). Some of the negative reviews of La Veranera gave us pause, but we decide to proceed based on the ultimately misleading large number of positive reviews. It's hard to understand why the Casa Xanadu people recommend this--they are worlds apart. The owners of La Veranera should spend a night or two with their friends at Casa Xanadu to see what it takes to be a 5-star property and what a huge difference it makes to have the kind of staff that Casa Xanadu has. I rated Veranera 2 stars--really our experience was 1-star, but I decided to bump it up one for the nice view/beach and also to be generous on the assumption that the owners and Luisa are there more often. For this price in Nicaragua ($82 off-season), one expects royal treatment and immaculate facilities and we didn't come close to getting either.
Nonetheless, even aside from our experience with this property, I would not recommend staying at Playa de Coco. Even with a car, it felt remote (without a car you'd be miserable unless you really like vegging out for days on end on the beach). There is nothing to do here except be on the (small) beach. You're much better off staying in San Juan del Sur where you can either rent a car or have the option of taking a taxi to the beach here (or any of the other small remote beaches) if you want to spend a quiet day at the beach, while having your choice of any number of other activities, restaurants, etc., the rest of the time, and the infrastructure to arrange it. The only small-but-worth-mentioning benefit of the location is that it's close (10 minutes, if you have a car) to the turtle beach, to which we went at 10 pm and indeed saw turtles--if we were in San Juan del Sur we may have felt too lazy to make the longer 40 minute drive and we'd have missed out.
Double room next to kitchen has poor privacy. Did not see any of the other rooms.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dear Tango Lovers,
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thank you very much for your review. Like you stated yourself, it is always good to get feedback how the house is being run, especially with us not being present.
Gonzalo has been with us for almost 3 years now. However, this was the first time, he was running the house for a longer period himself. To his defense, you are the first one ever to refer to him as unfriendly and incompetent. He is usually referred to as very friendly, accommodating and helpful. Also, we have tried our very best to train him to maintain a western house like ours. You have to know he lives in the surroundings of Playa El Coco, which is Nicaraguan countryside. To summarize the situation there: little school education, lots of hard work in the fields, no electricity, no running water, no paved roads. That might not excuse, but maybe explain, his short answer to your hot shower issue. I will make sure though, he understands better how the shower works, as it only takes a little twist of the shower handle and a little bit of patience to get to hot water.
The air-conditioning charge is meant as an offer to guests that do not use the A/C, of which we have many. It is not so much a cost issue, but an environmental one, due to the greenhouse gases related to A/C use. Being in a beautiful, natural place we like to run the guesthouse as environmentally friendly as possible. And, we really DO NOT promote A/C use to the extend that blankets are needed in a tropical climate.
I can’t say much about your privacy concern, being that you had the whole house to yourself. However, the beach is not a private beach and it was never praised as such. Very rarely it gets overrun, like the San Juan del Sur beach, which you obviously prefer. That is a matter of taste and choice.
The guard watching TV and not being around is of major concern. I will definitely address that and make sure, that never happens again. Thank you very much for letting us know!
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.