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“Island Paradise”
Review of Totoco Eco-Lodge

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Totoco Eco-Lodge
Ranked #1 of 5 Balgue B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Charlotte, North Carolina
1 review
“Island Paradise”
Reviewed September 2, 2010

Totoco is an incredible place! Amazing views and very cool wildlife make Totoco a great place to stay. The staff is extremely helpful and courteous and the food is delightful. It takes a while to get there but when you do...there's an amazing view!

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank RayRay2010_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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342 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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  • Sleep Quality
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (43)
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English first
North Andover, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
34 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed August 25, 2010

This place is expensive and not for everyone, but all I can say is that it is one of the most magical places I have ever been, and a model for sustainable, off the grid eco tourism. The owners (Roslyn, Jonathan, and Martijn) are amazing people, and their commitments to sustainable eco tourism and development are admirable. The grounds are lush and beyond beautiful, the cabins and lodge are extraordinary, and the views of Volcan Concepcion are breathtaking. Here's the caveat though; this place is rural and off the grid. To that end, there's a fixed menu (your only choices are vegetarian or meat - we paid $20/person/day in advance for breakfast + 3 course dinner with meat), you're reliant on alternative, sustainable technologies (composting toilets, solar power, and even amazingly hot water generated from compost), and when you're there, you are one with nature...it's not like boa constrictors are crawling into the cabins, but if you can't deal with a spider on your mosquito net or the off hand chance that there might be a scorpion in your shoe, then Totoco might not be the place for you. The food was wonderful; creative and fresh, and the menu changed daily. The staff couldn't have been friendlier or more accommodating, and when we weren't relaxing or eating, there was plenty to do. We took a tour of Totoco (don't miss it), we went kayaking on the lake and Rio Istian, we rode horses through town and on the beach, and we took a walking tour of Finca Magdalena (shade grown organic coffee) and the petroglyphs. I will never forget Totoco and I'd go back there a hundred times over.

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Mojua
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed August 7, 2010

We loved this place. It is a bit tough to get to but from the moment we arrived the service, the views, the staff were all fantastic. They greeted us with ice cold fresh juice and an amazing view of the volcano. Our room was beautiful, clean, and also had a great porch with views of both volcanoes, (depending on which way you chose to lay in the hammock). The only cons are its a little far from things on the island and a taxi is required to get off the property. However, this is true of almost all of the hotels that are not in the port town. Plus, the views from the place more than made up from it. Also get the meal plan, my wife is quite possibly the pickiest eater in the world (she's a vegetarian that doesn't like most vegetables) but absolutely LOVED the food here.....it was some, if not the best, food she has ever had...and it was chocked full of veggies. I wanted to take the cook home with me. If we ever make it back to Ometepe we're staying here. Oh and if it's the green season email them because they gave us a deal on the price.

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank mwasco
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boulder, Colorado
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed July 6, 2010

I traveled with 11 family members to Totoco Eco-Lodge so we experienced the whole lodge from the dormitories to the largest lodge. Everyone was very pleased. Our accommodations were clean and spacious and we loved the porches with hammocks and chairs to view the lake, Mt. Concepcion, the beautiful flowers and myriad of butterflies. Our hosts, Roslyn, Jonathon and Martin were very helpful and very eager to talk about their projects. Their excitement was infectious and it was easy to see their dedication to the ideals of Totoco Lodge. The staff which are from the local community were also very professional and everyone was more than happy to assist in any way. We were given many options for activities and were pleased with every activity we did. Totoco will arrange transport and guides. We felt very well taken care of and the meals were wonderful. We stayed 3 nights and loved sitting on the large outdoor area before dinner watching the sunset, listening to the sounds of the jungle, talking about the day and drinking a cerveza. I want to go back......

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank rojammer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Managua, Nicaragua
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviewed May 17, 2010

This place was recommended to me by a few people. It's really up the mountain (if you don't have a car) and therefore far away from everything. I just stayed one night because the hotel is kind of pricy, but it's mandatory if you come to this side of the island to enjoy the view of the isthmus and Volcan Concepcion.

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank mayumba
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
2 reviews
Reviewed April 23, 2010

This lodge is wonderful. The cabins were clean and had the most incredible views - watching the sun set over a volcano is awesome. The staff and owners there were great - they looked after you as much or a little as you wanted. The food was good and the list of activities was excellent - we kayaked, went horseriding to a lagoon and had a guided trek to petroglyphs (ancient stone carvings). The local guides could not have been nicer and more enthusiastic. The ethos of the place is sincere but not in your face and I wish I had done the tour of the place that was on offer. We only stayed two nights but would have stayed longer if we had known how much there was to do and how beautiful and welcoming it was.You do need a torch at night to get back to your cabin. It is very expensive for Nicaragua - but worth it. I put the sleep quality lower just because we happened to stay at a very windy time and the wind rushed through the cabin. I would recommend saving money on other parts of trip, if you need to, so that you can stay at this place.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Scout2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed April 22, 2010

We went to Totoco recently and were disappointed. We were not expecting five star luxury and were expecting some degree of compromise for an eco experience and something that was off the beaten track, but the hotel (actually just a collection of a few rooms and some dormitories rather than a full resort) lacks critical mass and is still work in progress to some extent.

The hotel positions itself as a more upmarket option in Ometepe, with prices comparable to the top hotels in Granada (i.e. 2-3x the average price in Ometepe) and a very slick website which suggested high quality accomodation (rooms described as luxury, which was not the case in reality), many activities (limited by the location of the hotel) and things like massages etc. However, when we stayed there, we felt it was very expensive for what it was and that the website exaggerated the place.

Firstly, the rooms, which are few few, are not luxury by any means even though some of them are described as such. None of them have fans, even though the temperature was in the region of 35 degrees celcius. This is a basic amenity and not a luxury. The toilets are basically holes in the ground that get composted rather than normal western toilets. I appreciate that this is in sync with the eco aim, but other eco hotels manage to have normal toilets where the sewage is separately drained and treated and at this price for a room, that is what we expected. The sink (made of stone and not ceramic), did not have the mirror above it, making it hard to shave.

As for the location, it is on the far side of the island. Although this makes it off the beatn track, which could allow one to relax, the transport connections are terrible which limits what you can do there. The tarred road stops near the isthimus on the Volcan Concepcion side of the island and there is then a long and very bumpy dirt track across half the island to the hotel (whole journey from Moyalgapa is 1.2 hours). The hotel does not have any of its own cars and uses local taxis. Again, while this is helping the community, but when local taxis are on average 20 years old and can barely negotiate the dirt roads, this needs re thinking. Also, other hotels are able to offer connections to some speedboat services that come closer to the other side of the island and this hotel does not. What this means in practice is that it is hard to get to the resort and once you are there, it is hard to get around the island to do other activities.

They are trying to start a vegetable or fruit garden, but that is still very much in its infancy. Therefore, most of the food is likely to be locally sourced rather than grown at the resort and the quality of food is ok, but not great given the prices charged for the meal plan v the cost of an average meal in the country.

On the positive side, the owners are to be commended for their commitment to the environment and trying to help the local community and the view of Volcan Concepcion, particularly at sunset is stunning. But at the end of the day, at the price they are charging, the basics of what one would expect are missing. I wish the owners well and this place does have potential to be a nice place as it is located on the side of a dormant volcano and has great views, but it is still work in progress to get there.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank JJBNKS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ometepetl, Manager at Totoco Eco-Lodge, responded to this review, June 9, 2010
Dear JJBNKS,

All of us here at TOTOCO apologize that your stay with us didn't live-up to your expectations. Managing expectations is so important and we have made a concerted effort to give very detailed information on our website about the realities of our location as well as the amenities that the lodge offers.

The website does mention the day-change composting toilets which we opted for precisely because we are determined to minimize our water consumption and choose not to drain the humanure away but to collect it and use it on our organic Farm. Admittedly it is an uncommon system but it is clean, odorless, and comfortable. The fact that you spent a night without a fan is very regrettable since we do offer these when our guests ask for them. As for the missing mirror above the sink, that was our design. We do listen to our clients feedback and act when needed.

As you mention in your review, we are promoting the economic development of the local community by using local providers for all peripheral services including taxis, masseuses, guides, horse rental and more. We are continually encouraging and supporting our partners to improve their services but we recognize that there remains plenty of room for improvement. Another 10kms of the dirt road will be paved this year which will make us a lot more accessible.

As a small-scale eco-lodge we are indeed still in the process of expanding and improving and maybe we need to be even more clear to all that we are not nor will we ever be a 'resort'. We are adding a small natural swimming pool this year and hope to expand to a maximum of 9 lodges (we have 4 so far) by the end of 2011 / 2012.

Suffice it to say that your review is going to make us look hard at how we can improve in order to meet all of our guests expectations in the future!

Kindest regards from all of us here at TOTOCO Ecolodge,
TOTOCO Management
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative 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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