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“Highly Recommended” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Pelican Eyes Resort and Spa

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Pelican Eyes Resort and Spa
4.0 of 5 Resort   |   De la Parroquia 1 1/2 cuadras al este, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua   |  
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25% off room rate
Ranked #10 of 21 Hotels in San Juan del Sur
Boston, Massachusetts
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Highly Recommended”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 25, 2013

My girlfriend and I stayed at Pelican Eyes for three nights in April and we absolutely loved it. If you want to stay in the actual town of San Juan Del Sur, you will not find a better hotel than Pelican Eyes. The views are breathtaking, the pools are gorgeous and the casitas are fantastic.

After extensive research on every hotel in the area, we chose Pelican Eyes because we did not rent a car and we wanted to stay in town. This ended up being a great choice, because you can walk to everything in San Juan Del Sur in five minutes. If you want to go surfing, you can get a ride to a surrounding beach, a lesson and a rental for $25-$30 for the day. Similarly, you can enjoy the restaraunts and beach bars of San Juan with only a short walk.

There are various complaints that show up on tripadvisor about Pelican Eyes (too many stairs, service not good enough, etc). After staying there, we simply laughed about these reviews. If you can't walk up a few stairs, this isn't the place for you. Yes, there are stairs, but it takes literally 3 minutes to walk from the upper most pool to reception. Also, if you want people waiting on you hand and foot, go to Cancun. We found the people to be super friendly, no issues with staff and everything was amazing.

Recommendations:
1) Pelican Eyes offers a sailing trip twice a day for $50/person, which includes drinks and food. We did the afternoon cruise (2pm - 6pm) and this was one of our favorite parts of the trip. The crew on the boat had a cold beer ready for you once you finished the one in hand. Plus they brought us delicious snacks like chips/guacamole and ceviche. The views from the water are unmatched and they bring you to a private, gorgeous beach to swim. Do not miss the sailing trip - worth every penny and more.
2) If you need transportation from Managua to San Juan Del Sur, we used Adelante Express and they were absolutely fantastic and reasonably priced. Our driver stopped so we could buy waters and beers and could not have been nicer.
3) You will find significantly better value for food in town than at the Pelican Eyes restaurant. For breakfast, go to El Gato Negro. We drank delicious iced coffee, smoothies and entrees for about $8/person. For dinner, try Colibri, a 2-minute walk from the Pelican Eyes entrance. You will eat delicious food in a nice courtyard setting.
4) Even the smaller casitas have mini fridges so stock up on beers and water to enjoy in your room. There are big bubblers in the room too so we just refilled our water bottles and chilled them in the fridge. Also, we bought a nice big bottle of Nicaraguan rum for $6.50 in town!
5) If you want to grab drinks near the beach, try Henry's Iguana beach bar. The beers are $1 and you can sit overlooking the ocean.
6) Do not feel pressured to exchange dollars for cordobas when you arrive in Nica. The exchange company at the airport tries to rip you off, and every single place we went to accepts dollars. Plus everyone will give you change in cordobas so you will have some in your pocket.
7) Watch the sunset from the upper pool. Can't be beat.
8) If you end up deciding to choose a cheaper option, remember you can pay a very small fee to use Pelican Eyes' pool. Best view of sunset in San Juan.

Highly recommend Pelican Eyes!

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pelican Eyes R, General Manager at Pelican Eyes Resort and Spa, responded to this review, February 21, 2014
Dear,

First of all thank you for your detailed review, I am positive that it will be a good guideline for future guests of San Juan del Sur. I am pleased to hear that you had such a wonderful experience at Pelican Eyes and that you decided for yourself to experience our services and accommodations. I appreciate your comments, especially those about the staff. I am happy that you enjoyed our sailing trip, we are really proud of this service. Thank you again for your contribution, we look forward being you of service again in the future.

Best regards,

Gabriel Holt
General Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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458 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (99)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 9, 2013

I'm going to keep this as brief as possible - which is difficult because it was probably the most polarizing place we've ever stayed - but I'll do so in a Pro/Con manner.

PRO:
* The property is gorgeous and their Casas are large, well built and have great views
** The pools are amazing - great views and just enough shade to protect from the wonderfully endless Nicaraguan sun
*** It is a short walk into the unique and lively Village of San Juan del Sur

CONS:
* The service leaves MUCH to be desired. I'm purposely trying to not be critical of the actual people as I believe the training for the employees is extremely weak and they are doing their best. Despite my wife being proficient in Spanish, the ability to communicate confidently with almost any staff member was minimal, including the Front Desk where only one nice young lady spoke any English. I don't intend for this to be a predictable "American rant," rather, the Manager of the hotel said 75% of their guests are from the US or Canada; therefore, English should be made a top priority for all customer-facing guests.
** Although the actual pools are great, there is literally 1 chair for every 10 guests of the hotel - and the majority of them are broken. Since the staff can rarely be found, you're left to fend for yourself. This just shouldn't happen at a luxury property.
*** The food - regardless of the restaurant on property - became a game for us by day 3...You'd order chicken, you'd get steak. You'd order medium cooked, it would come rare. You'd order a beer, you'd get a margarita, two people would order the same thing, you'd get 2 different items. This wasn't one server or a particular time of the day, it was literally every meal and every single server. Again, it comes down to training and preparation of the staff.
**** Maybe the most difficult thing to deal with was the character that strut around the property - at all times drinking beer - announcing to anyone within ear shot that he was the the President of the property. We honestly found his aloofness comical - he cruised around the place a) like HE was on vacation b) his property operated with the seamless efficiency of a Ritz Carlton and c) he never once asked a customer how their stay was or what they could be helped with. After seeing this guy in action, the frustrating and polarizing experiences we had here made great sense. The property was being run by either incompetent or disinterested management/ownership. It's ironic that the best 2 things about the property - the views and construction/lay-out of the property - are not to be credited to current ownership (who bought it out of bankruptcy), rather all the things wrong with the place - service, food quality and guest experience - fall squarely at their feet.

In closing, by expecting and embracing the ultimate lack of service, but enjoying the natural beauty of the area and property, this is a good value but by no means should this be considered a luxury property.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pelican Eyes R, General Manager at Pelican Eyes Resort and Spa, responded to this review, February 21, 2014
Dear,

Thank you very much taking the time to write this detailed review. I am pleased hearing that you enjoyed our Casas and pools. Furthermore I would like to indicate that I am aware of the fact that there is still room for improvement in our services provided, that is also why I am grateful for your constructive criticism. Since your last visit there have been improvements; there will no longer occur problems regarding the pool chairs, we have started a new training method for the staff of Pelican Eyes, more trainings in customer attention, different initial trainings and language courses, amongst others.
Again I would like to thank you for your contribution, receiving feedback like yours is a great tool to keep on further improving ourselves. We look forward to seeing you again in the future to show you our improvements and to give you the service you deserve.

Best regards,

Gabriel Holt
General Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 7, 2013

Absolutely loved this hotel. The room was beautiful, French doors that opened up to a huge balcony with a view of the beach and the ocean. The room was spacious, the grounds are beautiful and the pools were lovely. My only reason for not giving 5 stars was that one night a wedding party was allowed to shoot fireworks right behind our room and the party booked one entire pool area for 2 days. The live music coupled with the fireworks and everyone was awake until 2 AM. I'm sure this was an exception, not the norm and I cannot say enough things about how lovely the rooms are in Pelican Eyes.

Room Tip: Book a room with a view, sitting on the balcony looking out at the water is amazing.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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.
Pelican Eyes R, General Manager at Pelican Eyes Resort and Spa, responded to this review, February 21, 2014
Dear,

First of all thank you for having taken the time to write this review. I am happy to hear that you had a pleasant stay at our resort and enjoyed our accommodations. I am sorry to hear that you had an inconvenient experience due to a wedding party. This is however, as you also mention an exception. We look forward being you of service again in the future (with a more tranquil atmosphere).

Best regards,

Gabriel Holt
General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 6, 2013

Apparently a visitor's opinion of Pelican Eyes is highly dependent on the particular unit you end up in and how much you pay for it. I had Cabina Jasmin, the frontmost bungalow on the property, so the least amount of steps. Just a few meters from the main pool and restaurant, yet completely private, with a huge private terrace and spectacular views. Add to that a fantastic bargain via Jetsetter, and it's hard to ask for much more. The only negative I could add would be the comically high prices in the restaurant - NYC prices in dirt cheap SJdS.

Highly recommended.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
    • 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pelican Eyes R, General Manager at Pelican Eyes Resort and Spa, responded to this review, February 21, 2014
Dear,

Thank you for having taken the time to write this review. I am happy to hear that you had a pleasant stay at in accommodation Jasmin and at our resort. Thank you for your contribution. We look forward being you of service again in the future.

Best regards,

Gabriel Holt
General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Asheville, North Carolina
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 4, 2013

Pelican Eyes is great. We loved our time there. We stayed 5 days and enjoyed every one. Downtown SJDS is a lot of fun too. Great Pizza, fun fishing, and the weather is outstanding. Enjoyed the wonderful spa during our stay, spent a little time in the canopy tour. Will definitely stay there again if in the area.

Room Tip: Bungalow on the top of the hill. Heres the "tip" being on top of the ridge, gets the eas...
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  • Stayed April 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pelican Eyes R, General Manager at Pelican Eyes Resort and Spa, responded to this review, February 21, 2014
Dear,

Firstly thank you for having taken the time to write this review. I am pleased hearing that you enjoyed the 5 days you stayed at our resort. We look forward being you of service again in the future.

Best regards,

Gabriel Holt
General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Parker, Colorado
Top Contributor
94 reviews 94 reviews
70 hotel reviews
Reviews in 61 cities Reviews in 61 cities
102 helpful votes 102 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 2, 2013

After spending a week working at a medical mission outside Managua, my wife and I took our 5 month old daughter and headed South to do some sightseeing. Our mission guide had recommended Pelican Eyes in San Juan del Sur and said it was the nicest resort in the country. She helped me make reservations and I was surprised that the rooms there were $260 per night. We ewre going to stay several nights, but only booked one night to see if it was worth the cost. The resort is high on a hill overlooking the bay and there are some stunning views. There are two areas with infinity pools that are quite nice. We ate dinner at one restaurant and it was quite good and not too overpriced. We had breakfast (which was included) at the restaurant by the lobby. It was a small breakfast buffet and was good.

A big problem with this place for us was accessibility. It looks like a large condo complex set across the hilltop. You can't easily walk from place to place and it was impossible to get around with a stroller. You had to call for a car to pick you up to take you to the pool, the lobby, or the town. We didn't feel like we were staying in a resort because everything was difficult to get to. There are rooms by the pool areas and I think those would have been much better. The room was beautiful with large windows and great views. The bed was comfortable. We asked for a crib for my daughter and got a 20 year old pack and play that smelled so strongly of urine that we didn't use it. The bathroom was beautiful and there was a large closet area. It was nice to have a mini-fridge and even a microwave in the room.

Our building was flanked by two identical half-built buildings that look like they were aborted years ago. Most of the grounds look nice, but there are places where the walkway railings end and rebar is sticking out. We did see a crew painting the walls and most of the place was kept up well.

Don't get me wrong, this place is nice, and if you get a room where you can walk to the pool area, it might feel like a resort. But, for a country that has really nice accomodations for a third of the price, it is not worth it. We walked around San Juan del Sur and weren't impressed with the town. The beach was so dirty and trash-strewn that we would never consider going into the water. Unless you are a surfer or going on excursions, I didn't think the town had much to offer. We left after one night and headed to Ometepe (which I would highly recommend).

Room Tip: Choose a room by the large pool area
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pelican Eyes R, General Manager at Pelican Eyes Resort and Spa, responded to this review, February 21, 2014
Dear,

First of all thank you for having taken the time to write this detailed review. I am happy to hear that you enjoyed the accommodations, and I can only say that how unfortunately it is that you did encounter inconveniences. The resort was built in such a way that it least altered the flora and the fauna. This gives us on one hand gorgeous views, but also comes along with the inconvenience of many stairs. I understand how this was an issue for you and your family. I would like to thank you again for your contribution, I appreciate your comments. We look forward being you of service again in the future.

Best regards,

Gabriel Holt
General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 1, 2013

Had a very good stay at Pelican Eyes. Probably one of the better hotels in the town and sits up on a hill protected from sleepy/yet chaotic downtown. I suspect the town is typically more sleepy but we stayed during Easter week and things were a bit crazy. The hotel has plenty of security, but once again I'm not sure if that was due to the influx of people in for the holiday. Tons of hostiles and surfers which was a fun vibe.

We stayed in a beautiful room with a breathtaking view, although from speaking to other hotel guests, all of the views are excellent with a spacious bathroom and living area. The bathroom had two shower heads which was fun and unique :) Make sure you bring your own shampoo, ect if you are picky about hotel toiletries. It can get rather windy that high up on the mountain and the windows/doors kind of jiggle around at night, but a very tropical feel to it.

What everyone says about the stairs are absolutely true, however, we actually enjoyed climbing them after all of the eating and drinking we had done all day.

They do let people in from outside of hotel to use the pool which isn't ideal, but didn't ruin our day. They also need more pool chairs, seems to be a shortage, however when we asked reception for more, they brought two right over.

The food at the hotel was delicious, everything we ate was prepared well and tasted fantastic. We ate breakfast in town a few days which was half the price and provided some local feel, but the reality is the hotel had a much better breakfast which always included a plate of fresh fruit and bread.

Nothing in the town is too expensive but our favorite meal was at El Colibri. Seriously an amazing meal-go there!

Beaches are great but a bit tricky to get to bc the beach downtown is not relaxing and you need to head out of town. You can take the taxi through hotel or town but a bit pricey, we took the surfer shuttle with Casa Oro which is safe and more fun which was 5-10 dollars, round trip. Take a surf lesson! No beach chairs or umbrellas to rent at any beach, consider buying some in town or be comfortable with only towels.

This seems like a country/town on the verge of something big and I would recommend getting there before the masses. My one thought maybe do SJDL for 4-5 days, we were there for a week and it was plenty.

Last and most important tip, go on the Pelican Eyes sailboat!!!! Best part and you get to see beautiful beaches and step outside of the bustling country with a reliable and experienced boat Captain.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pelican Eyes R, General Manager at Pelican Eyes Resort and Spa, responded to this review, February 21, 2014
Dear,

Thank you for having taken the time to write this review. I appreciate your comments and I am happy to hear that you had such a pleasant stay at our resort. And also I am pleased hearing you had such a great experience at our sail boat, it is an activity we are proud to offer. We look forward being you of service again in the future.

Best regards,

Gabriel Holt
General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Pelican Eyes Resort and Spa

Address: De la Parroquia 1 1/2 cuadras al este, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Phone Number:
Location: Nicaragua > Rivas Department > San Juan del Sur
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#3 Spa Hotel in San Juan del Sur
#6 Romantic Hotel in San Juan del Sur
#8 On the Beach Hotel in San Juan del Sur
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Pelican Eyes Resort and Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 65
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Pelican Eyes Resort & Spa offers a stunning hillside location and panoramic views of San Juan del Sur and the ocean beyond. Our infinity pools, spacious accommodations, romantically lush gardens, wonderful restaurants, open air bars, and one-of-a-kind San Juan Del Sur coastline sailing adventure are a unique experience.A visit to our Tranquila Day Spa is an experience of sheer indulgence. We offer a menu of massage and body treatments to ensure that you truly relax on your romantic Nicaraguan getaway. Experience more of Nicaragua with day trips to Granada or the artisan markets in Masaya. Here at the resort, open air yoga classes, water aerobics, and active local excursions (arranged by our concierge) help keep you fit while visiting paradise. Even our brick stairs—winding up the hillside — contribute to the cause!Our San Juan del Sur hotel’s mission is to provide a unique and memorable Nicaragua vacation experience in every aspect of your stay. Our friendly staff endeavors to fulfill every possible need or special request (and to predict those wishes perhaps not yet even realized!)No request is too big or too small. Let us know what we can do to enhance your stay in paradise. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Pelican Eyes Hotel San Juan Del Sur
Hotel Pelican Eyes
Resort Pelican Eyes
Pelican Eyes Resort And Spa Nicaragua/San Juan Del Sur

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