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“I Wish I Could Have Stayed Longer” 5 of 5 stars
Review of La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel

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La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel
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De la Cancha, 200 metros al sur, 50 al este | San Juan de la Concepcion, Masaya, Nicaragua   |  
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 6 Hotels in Masaya
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Top Contributor
76 reviews 76 reviews
33 hotel reviews
Reviews in 41 cities Reviews in 41 cities
126 helpful votes 126 helpful votes
“I Wish I Could Have Stayed Longer”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 5, 2013

I love this place... I carefully read La mariposa's website and the more I read the more I knew it would be the perfect place for me to start my visit to Nicaragua. My children are all attending university and my husband was too busy at work to travel with me so I was on my own.
La Mariposa is the perfect place for someone travelling on their own. I felt relieved the minute I saw Oscar outside the Managua airport late at night holding the La Mariposa sign and waiting to drive me to the school. All the staff were friendly and inviting. I enjoyed the diverse collection of animals that live at the school. They all love attention but they will also leave you alone if you are busy. I didn't find them to be very noisy and I think it was quieter at La Mariposa then a lot of other places I have travelled. The food was fresh, local and mostly vegetarian. It was delicious!
The school had a nice selection of optional activities during my visit. I signed up for everything as my time was limited. I went horseback riding, visited the Masaya Volcano at night, toured the some of the Pueblo Blancos and had dinner overlooking the Laguna Apoyo, joined a walk to different artisans in San Juan, drank beer at a neighborhood pub in La Concha, read stories to children at the reading corner, toured the community vegetable gardens and much more.
This was my third experience with spanish immersion classes as I have studied in Antigua Guatemala and Merida Mexico also. I felt that the school was well organised and that the teachers were professional yet friendly. The school does a very good job in determining your spanish level and then coming up with a plan to build on your knowledge. I learned a lot about the history of Nicaragua, the economy, education and health systems and had interesting discussions with my teachers about their experiences living in Nicaragua. I spent most of my time practising the subjunctive mood and I feel that my spanish is improving.
The wi-fi worked well. There were lots of workbooks, spanish books and english books to borrow in the student lounge area. Even thought the water is solar heated I had a nice warm shower every morning. There were very few bugs around when I visited and this was at the end of the rainy season. My ground floor room was a bit damp but that is to be expected when you are staying in the jungle in November.
Paulette is a friendly , approachable woman. What she has set up here amazes me. She has worked incredibly hard to ensure that La Mariposa adds to the community around it. I felt confident that the money I spent for my stay and on my outings into the community was spread around and that it benefitted many people.
One of the best things about this place were the people I met. The three interns (Amanda, Diede and Ruth) were very welcoming and helpful. The others travellers were interesting and engaging individuals as were the interns :) . I really enjoyed learning about them and their travels. I wish I could have stayed longer and I intend to return here in the near future. During the week I was there I met three people who had been at the school previously and returned for another stay. I think this says a lot about the quality of the experience here.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
paulettelamariposa, Owner at La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel, responded to this review, December 14, 2013
Thank you so much for this very comprehensive review. As you point out we get many return visitors who want to continue improving their Spanish and we certainly hope you will be one of them in the future!!
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289 reviews from our community

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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
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (65)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Minneapolis, Minnesota
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 27, 2013

I could not have properly prepared for the full immersion learning experience of language, social issues, and Nicaragua geography that is La Mariposa. The homestay and volunteer opportunities were equally if not more valuable than the custom-paced, fun Spanish lessons. The animal sanctuary, relaxing forest canopy, and delicious warm food at the hotel provide a comfortable space to reflect on your transition into a developing country. The staff are glad to help with travel ideas and encourage you to consider environmental and socially just decisions. I arrived to Nicaragua with very little Spanish skills and after two weeks I felt confident in my ability to live and communicate independently in a rural part of the country for four months. Unlike many expat businesses in Nicaragua, your money is well spent at La Mariposa. It visibly supports sustainable and just development in the surrounding communities.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
paulettelamariposa, Owner at La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel, responded to this review, December 14, 2013
I am so glad that your time at the Mariposa helped with your longer term stay in rural Nicaragua. Such adventures can, at least initially, be daunting! Thank you especially for your comment " The homestay and volunteer opportunities were equally if not more valuable than the custom-paced, fun Spanish lessons." There is no doubt that living out in the community with a family and volunteering is a great experience for further exploration of Nicaragua as well as of course helping enormously with Spanish!
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San Jose, Costa Rica
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 27, 2013

I am originally from the U.S. but presently living in Costa Rica. My spanish was extremely week(previous experience was High school and college 35+ years ago) and needs a lot of work. I stayed one month at the school and after a month I feel like I have an excellent base to start working from and feel much more confident using the language. Teachers and staff were excellent and extremely professional. The one on one approach was great for me because I could pick my pace and was able to work on the areas I felt were most beneficial. I met people from all over the world and the daily activities the school provided gave me an opportunity to see some of the country and experience the culture. In addition, I was introduced to a number projects taking place for the local community(building community centers, helping with schools, supporting and paying the workers at the local bakery, providing wheelchairs for handicapped children etc. etc.) Accomodations at the school were good and the food was excellent.
Bottom line is this was a great life experience and worth every penny !!!!!
Rich V

Room Tip: Downstairs rooms are a bit more damp but I visited during the end of the rainy season where overall...
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  • Stayed November 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 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
    • 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.
paulettelamariposa, Owner at La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel, responded to this review, December 14, 2013
Rich...thank you SO much for this review. It means a lot to us to know that you learnt so much during your time with us! Stay in touch and let us know how it goes in Costa Rica, maybe see you again some day when you are up this way.
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Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 15, 2013

La Mariposa is a lesson full of possibilities about living with respect to the inter-connectivity of all life. The eco-built hotel is nothing less than perfection in co existing. The website is a 100% accurate portrayal of what you get when you go to La Mariposa. What they do not advertise is the soul cleansing that comes with each breath you take while surrounded in comfortable bliss of love manifested! I can not say enough good things about La Mariposa. I have plans of visiting every year even if after I become fluent in Spanish!

Room Tip: I stayed in the cabin and loved every minute of it!
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
paulettelamariposa, Owner at La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel, responded to this review, December 14, 2013
This made us smile a lot, Alex...thank you! A web of life indeed it is!! And thank you again for sending us the parcel of goodies. Hope you come back some day!
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Managua, Nicaragua
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 11, 2013

I found the school and hotel to be beautiful and well kept. The food is local and organic with a perfect mix of traditional Nicaraguan recipes and healthy fruits and vegetables. You will be surrounded by a large staff of Nicaraguans who make you feel right at home and help you improve your Spanish. They are working to protect the environment and collaborate with the surrounding community. If you visit you will spend your days with warm and friendly people who are serious about their commitment to sustainability. I will take my family here and would recommend this place to anyone who wants to know the real Nicaragua. You can step just outside your comfort zone without ever feeling unsafe. Go and see!

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 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.
paulettelamariposa, Owner at La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel, responded to this review, December 14, 2013
Thank you for this review, and especially for the photos of the views from the study centre. Love the pink zinnia!! You are of course more then welcome any time with your family and we hope to hear from you again!!
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Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 10, 2013

This review is long overdue, as I visited in April/May of this year. It was fantastic. I spent 5 weeks with La Mariposa/ in San Juan de la Concepcion.

For those looking for a brief review - I went on my own, volunteered, took Spanish & lived with a homestay family. It was fun, rewarding & exciting, I felt safe the whole time and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Very memorable and I cannot recommend La Mariposa enough for anyone looking to experience Nicaragua & its culture.

For those looking for more detail, here goes.

The first few days I took Spanish classes and enjoyed some of the activities, and stayed in one of the rooms at the school. Staying there is like being in the jungle - lots of jungle noises - but a great experience, and the rooms were clean, the food was tasty & the staff was great. The activities were interesting - I visited some of the local pueblos, tried some new foods, saw some beautiful views, etc.

The next few weeks I spent living in a homestay and volunteering in the morning at la Escuelita Ruben Dario, reading with the children (grades 1-3ish are there in the morning) and working with the librarian who is employed by La Mariposa (and much needed at this school to improve the literacy of some of the students). I had a fantastic time with the kids. I took the local microbus 5 minutes down the road to the school (you get used to waving it down from the side of the road and cramming in with about 20 other people who are on their commute). Everyone at the school was welcoming and it was so rewarding.

For a few days I also volunteered at the organic farm run by La Mariposa. This was very different - I worked with 5 guys doing physical labour helping to build a farmhouse or watering the crops. It was really interesting to see the type of construction there and the guys were a lot of fun, happy to help me practice my Spanish and show me what I needed to do if I was unsure.

The Spanish lessons themselves were great. I took them in the afternoons after I finished volunteering. I finished my trip vastly improved and the teachers were always patient and worked well with me.

The highlight, however, may have been my homestay. My family was incredible and made me feel so welcome (I hope to visit them again!). They taught me how to make some of the food and drinks common in Nicaragua and I really felt like part of the family as well as part of the community while I was there. I highly recommend staying with a homestay family as part of your experience at La Mariposa, you will not regret it.

Finally - I want to make a note of how heartwarming it was to see how everyone at La Mariposa came together to help with a crisis. There was a forest fire in the protected Masaya National Park and Paulette, along with everyone else, rallied together to send volunteers and supplies to help fight the fire and try to save as much as possible of the Conservation area. It was a devastating event for the area, but I was happy to see an organization with so much passion for the local area and doing what is right for the community.

So - go visit La Mariposa! It is as simple as emailing them, saying you want to come, and they will respond right away and help you sort everything out. If you are flying into Managua, I recommend having them get you from the airport (definitely worth the little extra $$, and even thought I know how to taxi & bus there now, I would still do their airport transfer.) Bussing is definitely an option though, like if you are coming up from Costa Rica, and most of the drivers on the route know exactly where La Mariposa is and will be sure to drop you right in front.

Thanks La Mariposa for a great experience! xo

  • Stayed April 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
    • 5 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.
paulettelamariposa, Owner at La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel, responded to this review, December 14, 2013
Hey Michelle, what a lovely review, thank you. I am really glad you so enjoyed your time at the school, working with kids here is indeed super rewarding! Yes the fire in the Masaya National Park was certainly a big one and we were pleased to be able to help. We are all praying that we do not get another like it in the next dry season. Hope we see you again some day!
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Frederick, Maryland
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 11, 2013

If there were an OUTSTANDING rating, I would give it to La Mariposa! I spent two weeks there this summer (21 June - 5 July), invited by a friend who wanted company. While reading the website, I immediately knew that it was the kind of place I had been looking for without realizing it. As others have said - read the website thoroughly! The dogs bark, the roosters crow, the music (from the town) plays, the monkeys howl, the food is vegetarian and deliciously simple, and "eco" means "eco".... it's all wonderful.
My friend and I stayed in the Cabin-"Treehouse" and enjoyed the feeling of camping out, with roof and walls and windows to open to the lovely treetop breezes, and the honestly "eco" latrine and outdoor shower & sink. I miss it!
The people we met (other guests and those who work there) were wonderfully friendly & interesting, engaged in the world around them, passionate about making the world better, and just a lot of fun to be with. The communal meals were wonderful times to share life stories, struggles with Spanish, the work projects/activities everyone participated in that day... and laughs!
My Spanish teahers were excellent. It was my first time studying the language
and I was uncertain how I would like the one-on-one classes ~ they were the best language instruction I have had. My teachers were patient, skilled, interesting to talk to, and very supportive - I AM still studying, Marvin & Richard!!
La Mariposa is a very special place... if there were more like it around the world, we would all be better off.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with friends
    • 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel

Address: De la Cancha, 200 metros al sur, 50 al este | San Juan de la Concepcion, Masaya, Nicaragua
Location: Nicaragua > Masaya Department > Masaya
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 6 Hotels in Masaya
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 11
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
La Mariposa is a small, friendly non-profit Spanish school and eco-hotel, just outside the small town of La Concepcion, Nicaragua. Only an hour from Nicaragua's major attractions - Granada, the Pacific Coast, the Laguna de Apoyo, Masaya volcano - and 45 minutes from Managua airport, La Mariposa is surrounded by organic coffee, banana trees and flower gardens. Our cool, green climate (we are 500 meters above sea level - makes a real difference to the temperature) is ideal for studying Spanish! Our conservation efforts - though small scale - have vastly increased our bird population, butterflies and even frogs! We offer intensive Spanish classes in our purpose built classrooms or in outdoor classrooms in our delightful grounds, full of tropical plants and rescued animals. Classes are mostly one on one (max 2 or 3 in a class) and we cater for all levels form beginner to advanced, including specially designed classes for children. We have an extensive library with Spanish study materials and a selection of books in English on Nicaraguan history, development issues etc. We organize a full week (that includes weekends) of activities, including cooking and salsa classes, classes on the history of Nicaragua and a weekly update of what is happening in the Nicaraguan news. These are delivered in Spanish to help with progress in Spanish and with English translation if necessary. On 3 afternoons and Saturdays we offer trips out to local places of interest as well as the Masaya volcano by night, the Masaya markets and artesanias, Granada, Leon, the Laguna de Apoyo, the Pacific beach, Managua, Catarina, the Pueblos Blancos and more! The trips are rotated on a monthly schedule. Students can stay in the eco-hotel or our cabin. We use solar power - for heated water in your shower as well as electricity, conserve rainwater,have a number of recycling schemes and have started our own successful organic farm which provides some of the eggs, veggies, coffee consumed at the Mariposa. And much more. We use our income to maximise the employment of local people (currently employing 45 teachers, maintenance and kitchen staff) and undertake a number of projects in the local community. You can opt to volunteer at one of our community or environmental projects, living in a homestay with a local family. Amongst other projects, we are currently offering volunteer placements on our small organic farm, on a community garden scheme, in local schools, with a day care project. You are also welcome to help out the Mariposa workers - whether feeding our rescued animals or cooking up our healthy meals. All of which is a great way to improve that Spanish! We have also recently opened, on another but close by site, a study centre specifically designed to cater for groups of students. We offer an individualized curriculum which can include Spanish classes, activities and classes on the history, culture and environment of Nicaragua. We can also arrange community service work for groups. Accommodation is in two eco built dormitories, each of which has 8 beds (bunk style). The eating/meeting hall is a lovely structure built of straw bales and thatched roofing. Classrooms face a terrace with great views of the Masaya volcano. Meals are always freshly cooked, often using organic veggies from our farm. And of course there are solar heated showers and solar powered electricity. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
La Mariposa Spanish School And Eco Hotel Nicaragua/Masaya

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