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“Comfort off the beaten path” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Totoco Eco-Lodge

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Totoco Eco-Lodge
Ranked #1 of 5 Balgue B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Tulsa, Oklahoma
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Comfort off the beaten path”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 22, 2012

The views and cozy feeling you get from the lodge at Totoco are unlike any I have ever experienced in my travels. The difficulty in getting to the lodge, in my humble opinion, only adds to the charm of this hidden gym. The owner, Martijn, was nothing but helpful and constantly available for advice and anything else we needed. I arranged transport from Managua to Rivas through Totoco and, as is common in developing countries, things did not go quite as smoothly as possible. But the owner of Totoco was constantly calling the hotel in Managua that we were waiting at to make sure we knew he was doing everything in his power to resolve the situation. And once the taxi driver did show up, he could not have been more out going and was a true pleasure to share the hour or so ride with. My girlfriend and eye had an amazing experience and hope to return in the future. The only remotely bad thing I had to say was there was quite a few ants in our room, but seeing as though you are in the middle of the rain forest this was not a big deal and the mosquito nets kept all critters out. Would highly highly recommend.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank John A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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330 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (42)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Long Beach, California
Level Contributor
30 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 21, 2012

We were here for three days mid December 2012. Overall, I enjoyed the place and would recommend it for people who are ecologically-conscious, outdoorsy, adventurous, outside-the-box thinkers, and experienced travelers. If you go into this open minded knowing that you are staying on a volcanic island with a focus on sustainability, you'll probably have a great time! Rather than give a day by day, breakdown, i've decided to write my review in terms of "pluses" and "minuses", with the latter being pointed out simply as points for possible improvement. (*oddly enough, it seems that each plus has a minus counterpart. I didn't realize this until I started writing.)

+
1. You're on a volcanic island! it does take a while to get here (about an hour ferry ride plus another hour or so to get off the ferry and make your way to the lodge) but the scenery is beautiful. The landscape and the people look like something ripped from the pages of National Geographic Magazine.
2. The lodge is small (maybe half a dozen casitas) but our house was quite big! We had a fully functional kitchen as well as a sun porch. There was also a small pool on the rooftop.Oh, and the beds have great mosquito netting!
3. The meals served in the dining area were very good and made with quality ingredients. i believe that if you agree to eat all your meals on the premises, they offer a discount.
4. The staff (Martijn) was very helpful in recommending activities and even securing us some items we needed (like eggs!).
5. They keep a running tab and charge you at the end of your stay. You might want to keep a parallel tab if you are traveling with a large group and need to divide your expenses later.
6. Composting toilets. I'd never used one before and have to say that the idea is strangely fantastic! (they empty them 2x a day so don't worry!)
7. Howler monkeys!

-
1. Because you are on an island with not the best road conditions, it sometimes takes a long time to get from point A to point B. Try to enjoy the scenery!
2. While staff came to clean every morning, the cleaning was only superficial. There were parts of the house that were absolutely filthy. These were typically out of sight, but still, dirt accumulates. A deep cleaning every few months or so would probably be a good idea. Also, wear flip flops at all time. There are ants, but this is to be expected in the middle of the jungle!
3. While I specifically loved the breakfasts here, I have to say that I wish they also had a small menu with snacks for the early evening. One night, time got away from us and by 8pm the kitchen was closing. It would have been nice, for example, to have had some nuts or crackers with my mojito. No cooking required, just someone willing to serve them.
4. I have no counterpoint to my +4.
5. I am not a "take now, pay later" type of gal. I would MUCH rather pay as I go.Still, I have to say that they did a good job keeping tabs of everything!
6. There was only 1 bathroom for 4 adults and 2 children.
7. Howler monkeys! (at 4am). Happened only once, though. :)

i think that's about it in a nutshell. If you are considering Ometepe and Totoco, I would highly suggest you consider ferrying over your vehicle unless you have endless days to backpack/hitchhike across the island. Also, make sure you stock up with supplies before coming, as finding basic items can present a bit of a challenge. Overall, I think this can be a magnificent experience but you need to plan it right OR simply forget about sticking to any real type of budget, which shouldn't be too difficult as most things are relatively inexpensive by most standards anyway.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank BLG71
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 16, 2012

Great view and beautiful surroundings. Lush vegetation, wildlife, and great food make this a highly recommended spot to relax and soak in the scene. Stayed in Tonatiu, which has a wonderful king-sized bed and was very private, but the howler monkeys certainly made lots of noise at night. Nice to walk through the forest, see monkeys and visit the nearby coffee plantation. Activities/excursions are nice, but we'd recommend just staying put and relaxing in your hammock!

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank drbrewdog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stockholm, Sweden
Level Contributor
10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 27, 2012

First impressions of Totoco was good - facilities, food etc, but it was not long before that changed.
Staff and owner was helpful in recommending activities for us, but what they didn't tell us was that it was all on commission - and not a very small one either. It's clear that they have certain deals with certain operators, which is up to 25% more expensive than if you would ask around. And you definitely should, because it's a good selection and very easy to set up and book. It was very strange of the staff not to letting us know that there are other and much cheaper options that you can book on your own.

Another thing was prior to arriving at Ometepe. We called Totoco to as how much a taxi from the port to the lodge was, and their quote was 25% more than what we agreed when getting of the ferry. According to the staff at Totoco more or less all taxis was around the same price, but it was evident they have their own 'friends' - drivers that are on commission for the hotel.

The third disappointment was when we tried to book a canoe-trip. We are spanish-speaking and had got a phone number in San Jorge for an operator in Ometepe that was supposed to be good. When we were about to call them and make reservations for the following morning, the staff at Totoco offered to make the call instead. We accepted it gladly and was impressed by their sense of service towards their guests. What they didn't tell us was that just by having them make the reservation, it was going to cost us another 20USD per person. Extremely poor information towards the guests and we were obviously annoyed with this, and in the end we cancelled the canoe-trip due to feeling cheated by the hotel.

A third example of their inconsequence was when we asked if it was possible to rent a motorbike or scooter for one day. They said that there was only one type of motorcycle available on the island, so we declined and went for a bicycle tour instead. After we had been biking around for a bit we discovered several places where motorcycles and scooters of different types were being rent out. My idea is that they didn't want us to go to another place, which would mean the hotel would miss out on commission.

Hotel itself can be recommended, clean and very beautiful, but make sure to book your activities yourself, because the hotel will try to make money off of you without even bothering to inform you.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
8 Thank fortee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TOTOCO_Management, General Manager at Totoco Eco-Lodge, responded to this review, November 28, 2012
Dear fortee,

Our transport & activity providers are selected by us with care so that we are confident of the quality and reliability of the service they provide our guests. Our prices are always transparently communicated, reasonable and similar to what other hotels on the island will charge. Guests are always completely free to arrange their own transport & activities but we can only ever recommend providers whom we are confident will offer a safe and quality service. The fact that we earn a commission from providing guests with the service of arranging reliable and quality transport & activities is a standard practice for most hotels and should not come as a surprise. Seeing as you clearly appreciated the quality of our accommodation & food it is disappointing and misleading that you should choose to rate us so poorly.

Sincerely,
Martijn Priester
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
granada
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 18, 2012

If you go for incredible beauty, great people, comfortable accommodation, and can deal with a high end compost toilet :) -- this is an amazing place not to miss. Any first-time visitor to Nicaragua should include Ometepe/Totoco on their itinerary. If you want to be seriously catered to as in a resort, don't bother.

Definitely worth reserving the private cabins for amazing views, privacy, and comfort.

Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank granadajon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hatfield, UK
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 10, 2012

Pros -
1) service - Erik and Maria are extremely helpfull and made our stay as comfortable and stress free as possible.
2) the food is amazing... Simple breakfast and dinner options but tasted good.
3) location - the views are just to die for.. Something you will remember for the rest of your life.

Cons -
1) the rooms - even as an Eco-lodge I expect the basics - clean and comfort.. Neither were met... At first glance the room looks good... It's only once you start using it do you realise it's pitfalls.. The composting toilet - great idea but it stinks... If I wanted to be camping I could of gone to a campsite...
The bed- mattress was completely set in, told the owner after the first night he said thanks and would look into it, nothing was done... Mosquito net- had so many holes in it... We are in the forest, even the locals have proper ones... I got 27 bites in one night... My wife got more..
Room cleaning - lets just say the bed is made for you... Floors are not even sweeped and wiped and bathroom is not even washed down.

Conclusion - great location and service by the staff and greAt food. But in terms of a basic accommodation, many hostels would be better nigh sleep...

My personal conclusion is that the owner has the right concept in an Eco lodge, but that doesn't mean he can call it top end accommodation, and provide below the bare minimum just because its an 'Eco-lodge'. Basics of hygiene, descent mattress and insect protection are not to much to ask for.

Would not recommend this place at the currents rates.

  • Stayed November 2012
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Frank_Tank_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TOTOCO_Management, General Manager at Totoco Eco-Lodge, responded to this review, November 21, 2012
Dear Frank_Tank_10, I'm very sorry to hear that the room didn't live up to your expectations. I assure you I had the mattress replaced by a new one the same day you mentioned that it was set in! I'm sorry if I didn't let you know. Also, our staff should be sweeping and wiping down the the entire lodge on a daily basis so I will be discussing your feedback internally.

Our compost toilet system is an essential aspect of our commitment to responsible and ecologically sustainable practices and although it can still be improved it is clean, hygienic and virtually odourless when working properly. I'm also surprised to hear you suffered bug bites during the night which hasn't ever happened before seeing as the lodges are fully gazed and the mosquito nets are very effective despite the small tears that inevitably develop.

Suffice it to say we will take your comments on board as we seek to continually improve our quality. Sincerely, Martijn Priester
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
41 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 8, 2012

I was completely wowed by Totoco - from the staff, to the authentic and amazing food, the seriously charming room we had - every tiny thing exceeded my expectations. The toilet system might take a little getting used to - it's a mulch system (or at least it was when I was there) but truly that's about the only thing I can muster to even mention that isn't 100% glowing.

Also worth mentioning - bring back as much of the coffee that grows on the slopes of Maderas Volcano as you can. I was so sad when I ran out.

One word of warning: if you're planning to scale Maderas volanco - heed the warnings. If you're not in good shape, it's a monster of a trip - I've run 10k's and half marathons and it was tough. Not for everyone.

Hope to be back sometime! If I'm ever near Nicaragua again, Ometepe and Totoco Eco Lodge are on my list for sure.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank DWW_Toronto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Totoco Eco-Lodge

Property: Totoco Eco-Lodge
Address: Maderas Volcano, El callejon publico la palmera, Balgue, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua
Location: Nicaragua > Rivas Department > Isla de Ometepe > Balgue
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 B&Bs / Inns in Balgue
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located on the edge of a pristine biosphere nature reserve with an abundance of wildlife and a cloud forest above you, the Totoco experience is pure comfort in pure nature. Guests can stay in one of our custom designed private lodges all made using local materials and labour. Each lodge enjoys a private garden setting and offers spectacular views of Lake Nicaragua and active Concepcion Volcano. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Totoco Eco Hotel Balgue
Totoco Eco-Lodge Nicaragua/Isla De Ometepe - Balgue

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