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“1 week became 3” 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
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Gothenburg, Sweden
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“1 week became 3”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 16, 2014

Freaking awsome.
First of, this is a school, you here for the experience, not for a place to stay over the night. It's not really possible to rate the "service", "location" or the swimmingpool as TA wants me to do, haha.

I'm not keen on dogs, but even with all of them running around and barking this place was incredible. I really learned to know Nicaragua thanks to this place and quite a lot of spanish as well. And how to plant trees. And how to build concrete walls and floors. Stayed at homestay and the food there can always vary, but the lunches at the school were all vegetarian and really good.

Muy bien.

Room Tip: Homestay or hotel stay. Homestays are more fun (doesn't matter if you know any spanish you learn...
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Stayed October 2013, traveled solo
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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321 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    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 (74)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
New York, USA
Senior Contributor
46 reviews 46 reviews
30 hotel reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
43 helpful votes 43 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 7, 2014

Last December we spent 10 days at La Mariposa and had such a positive experience that we decided to travel there again this December. I don't know what it is about La Mariposa, but it seems to attract the most interesting people. This year we had wonderful conversations about photography, astronomy, wildlife, politics, sociology, food, and much more!

The staff/interns do such an incredible job juggling all of the wants/needs of the group, they really do try to cater to individual needs.

The good news? This year I could speak a bit more Spanish which was a great improvement from last December considering that I arrived with none--not even high school Spanish! The teachers, as usual, were patient and low-key, but very professional.

La Mariposa is a special place. We'll be back for another visit this year.

  • Stayed December 2013, 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
    • 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.
Mountain View, California
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 4, 2014

I was looking for a place that I can quickly review and learn some more spanish during my winter break. I only cared about spanish classes before I arrived, but the school also offered so much more than their wonderful spanish classes. The sense of community is very strong at the school and people (including fellow students, staffs and Paulette) are genuinely nice, helpful and passionate about nature and environment. I really do feel fortunate that I am able to be-friended with all these wonderful people. The food here is simple, but superb! You can really taste that all the food are with high quality and rich in taste. I am especially spoiled by the desserts they served after dinner every day. I later decided to document the meals I had at the school, and please see the photos that are attached to this review.

The classes here are all one-on-one tutoring. Each day in the morning, you will have two hours of grammar and two hours of conversation. The two-hour conversation class is a great way to get familiar with the grammar one just learned and also a great way to enrich one's vocabulary reservoir. The teachers here are fun, smart and highly qualified. Through the class, I not only picked up quite a bit of spanish during my 3-week stay, but also learned a lot about Nicaragua in many aspects. In the afternoon/weekend, the school also offer many optional activities, such as history classes, hiking, touring nearby cities, or visiting school's projects. I personally like the history classes the most, but that is just because I am a history junky myself.

Overall, I had a great time at La Mariposa and will definitely want to come back for more lessons in the future.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 3, 2014

I last visited La Mariposa 2 years ago, and on that occasion I stayed for 2 months and had arrived speaking very little spanish. By the time I left, I was speaking confidently and got to use my nw skills when I started working on a 4 month voluntary placement in Costa Rica and Nicaragua some 2 months later.

So when I decided to return to the school in November last year I was curious to see if the school would be able to provide me with as rich an experience as it had 2 years earlier.

Like many of the students who arrive at La Mariposa I was met and warmly greeted at Managua airport by Gonzalo, who remembered me from my previous visit, and his wife Miriam who had made the 60 minute trip from the school to welcome me back to Nicaragua and La Mariposa.

The drive from Managua out to the school in the trusty school minibus is an early highlight of the Mariposa experience, travelling through the various neighbourhoods that make up this part of the city, and then as you gradually climb out of the city you leave behind much of the noise and traffic but also the humidity and heat and the air becomes fresher the more you climb and the closer you get to La Mariposa.

Driving through the familiar gates and into the lush gardens of La Mariposa was a bit like returning home. And just as Gonzalo and Miriam had remembered me, this was a recurring experience over the next day or so as I would be greeted by hotel staff and teachers who'd treated me like a friend and family member before and welcomed me back in the same way.

I had an upstairs room with views over the front gardens, a very comfortable double bed and en suite bathroom with a very effective solar shower. The rooms are spacious by any standards, simply and comfortably furnished and spotlessly clean. A nice touch are the ornaments in the rooms which are made by local artisans. There are mosquito nets fitted above the beds in all the rooms but I never used mine, left the windows open at night and never had a problem.

Vegetarians and meat eaters alike will love the food that's prepared here using fresh produce, much of which comes from the school's own gardens with the remainder sourced from local producers. I'd forgotten just how delicious the meals are...starting with fresh fruit and cooked breakfast in the morning, great and varied lunches and superb evening meals. Meals are typically Nicaraguan but often with a twist and always skilfully prepared by the lovely kitchen staff and served with freshly made fruit juice. If you're a meat eater you'll love the mainly vegetarian food on offer but just to keep everyone happy, chicken or fish is served at least once a week for those who want it. I'm a meat eater but would happily eat the vegetarian food on offer every day of the week and definitely not feel as though I'm missing out on anything.

Spanish classes in the school are what most people arriving at La Mariposa will be interested in and having now experienced spanish language schools in Spain, Costa Rica and Peru, I can say that the style of teaching and the professionalism of the teachers is excellent and much better than I experienced elsewhere. Students have 4 hours of classes a day, made up of 2 hours of conversation and 2 hours of grammar. All the lessons are on a 1:1 basis, are tailored to the individual and take place in outdoor classrooms around the beautiful grounds of the school. I had 2 great teachers, Jenny and Eliza, and they were happy to work with me on areas of spanish that I needed to revise and practice, and like all the teachers at the school they seemed to have endless patience and made learning a language a lot of fun.

La Mariposa is keen that students better understand the culture and history of Nicaragua as well as experience the beauty that the country has to offer. And so it has a superb programme of activities that take place every day, including weekends, the cost of which are included in the amount you pay for classes and accommodation. These range from guided trips to places like Granada, Leon and Managua, visiting the various projects that the school supports, visiting a local pineapple farmer or learning about the history of Nicaragua and much, much more. And on Sundays you can take a guided hike or horse ride in the beautiful countryside in the Masaya area.

If all that sounds energetic, there's plenty of opportunity to relax in a hammock in the lush, almost jungle-like grounds that the school is situated in, look at the many animals that have been rescued by the school, take a gentle walk to see stunning views of the nearby Masaya volcano or simply stroll into the local community to buy an ice cream.

Alongside the teaching staff and the people who make your stay the wonderful experience it is - by looking after the grounds, making delicious food and maintaining and cleaning the school - the whole operation is professionally run by 3 interns, Amanda, Ruth and Diede, who work tirelessly to ensure that students have a great time. All of this is overseen and directed by the owner, Paulette, who has put her life and soul into the school and her love of Nicaragua, all of which translates into an ethically sound business and a real labour of love. You know that if you come to the school every dollar you pay stays in the country and supports the various projects that La Mariposa sponsors, provides great employment to local people and supports the local economy.

Finally, in addition to all the other great things I've already mentioned, the thing that I think completes the package are the students who arrive here from all over the world, who come from different backgrounds and with varying experience of travel and spanish speaking and yet somehow seem to self-select into the nicest body of people that you could wish to spend time with.

So if you're looking to learn or improve your spanish, would like to visit a superb country with the friendliest, kindest people, are keen to be a tourist leaving as small an environmental footprint as possible AND have a great experience, look no further. I love this place and know that I'll return again, hopefully not too far into the future.

Room Tip: The rooms in the hotel, as opposed to the cabins, are all pretty similar although I preferred the on...
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  • Stayed November 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leon, Nicaragua
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2014

I visited the mariposa this winter for three weeks, to learn spanish and immerse myself in the culture of Nicaragua. I am so happy I selected this business to support and spend time at, Paulette has created such a fantastic place! The Mariposa is a place where students learn, make friendships, and grow. During my time volunteering with the animals, and also in the kitchen, I made close connections with some amazing Nicaraguan people, and practiced my spanish. The community that centres around, and flocks to, the mariposa is such a group of fantastic people. It was a pleasure to spend time there, I wish I had longer to stay! The food was amazing, the library of books was a treat to explore, and living in the cabaña was a very fun experience. I can't recommend this business enough. Learning spanish in a smaller town in Nicaragua was such an immersive and fantastic experience. It's also amazing knowing that your money is going to support a community, as the mariposa is the largest employer in San Juan. Thank you Paulette, see you again some day! xx

Room Tip: I stayed in the cabaña and loved it, for a rustic experience.
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 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.
OR
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 31, 2013

What a fabulous way to learn about the culture, people, beautiful natural wonders, and language of Nicaragua. Although I chose to stay with a local non-English speaking family (arranged by La Mariposa), between the meals, language classes and activities, I spent a great deal of time at the hotel. The one-on-one language classes are terrific; obviously tailored to each student's specific needs, extremely professional, friendly, proficient teachers, beautiful outdoor classrooms tucked away in "hiding places" in the shady, tropical property of La Mariposa. As a volunteer with one of the many local projects, I was able to use my Spanish throughout the day, AND learn about organic gardening. From the employees who tend to the many rescued animals, to those that I worked with on the farm, to the drivers who transport students to activities, to the gracious and accomodating kitchen staff, to the owner, Paulette, and her dtr, everyone at this place goes out of their way to make you feel welcomed. Such a relaxing and inviting atmosphere, out of this world food, and warm, kind people. What is there not to like about this place? (Oh, and you get to meet some pretty cool students and fellow-travelers, as well).

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled solo
    • 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
    • 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.
Leipzig, Germany
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 26, 2013

I have been at La Mariposa two times - in 2010 alone, mostly to improve my Spanish skills and in 2013 again with a group of 15 geography students from Leipzig.
I’m sure anyone who has been here once will probably forever remember La Mariposa. Right in the moment you arrive you can feel that this place is exactly the one to discover Nicaragua that in general offers a great travel experience and carries a lot of positive energy. The owner Paulette impresses with all the work she has done and still plans to do in the future and all the stuff around her and the interns are really passionate and lovely, too and try to give deep insights into their work whenever it is possible, so that you can understand the mentality and things that happen in the country a lot better.
The mostly “one by one” Spanish classes are excellent and apart from that you will always find an opportunity to practice and get in touch more, if you like to. Especially through all the options of volunteering you can become a true little part of Nicaragua and improve your skills apart from learning just a language.
For groups to stay at the new “Study Center” is a perfect option. Up to 16 people can be accommodated, including a full-day care by volunteers with an individually knitted program, suitable to the focus of the group. You can educate yourself/your group in history and actual political problems of the country or learn more about agriculture practices and medical plants, help out with teaching kids, in the community garden (…) and – as I think the most important thing – you will get the chance to understand a little more about how the world is connected, about what is going wrong and what real concerns exist. You get the chance to see yourself or your nation from another point of view and to start thinking your everyday “business as usual” through…. Well… and after you have finished a day full of (super well organized!) trips and work experience, you can enjoy the unique view on the Masaya volcano from the Study Center and relax, while the impressions of the day pass on by.
Only a few minutes’ walk from the Study Center you can find a small family-run kiosk, in case you need something - but you won’t need much, because the kitchen is incredibly good and you can enjoy wonderful, mostly vegetarian meals three times a day. At this point – also in the name of my group – I would like to say a big, big THANK YOU for the great service provided during our stay. Everything went on just perfectly and especially our “personal intern” Ruth did a really great job!
To relax on a Sunday morning the best is to join a wonderful ride on one of the horses that have been rescued. Apart from that a bunch of happy dogs will always be around you and even former wild animals, like little white-face monkeys receive their charity here…
And the VERY, VERY BEST of the whole La Mariposa Concept is that not only visitors, but ESPECIALLY THE LOCALS benefit from this comprehensive project through jobs, environmental education and, and, and…..
In the end, no matter whether you travel alone, with a friend or a study-group, for sure you can’t do anything wrong while visiting La Mariposa! It is a great mixture of learning, experience and enjoying! I wish Paulette and everybody who gives energy for this unique project all the best for the future… hasta la vista* Jessica

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 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.
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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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