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“just as good the second time”

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The Secret Cove Inn
Sarasota, Florida
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
“just as good the second time”
Reviewed April 13, 2012

went there to meet my son who was already staying there and had just spoken to on their free line to usa. am amazed its not fully booked , evefrything good about it wifi, kitchen, breakfast, inexpensive,advice from an english speaking person, and just a good, home feeling.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank kyleeric
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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43 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (7)
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  • English first
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English first
London
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed January 23, 2012

After reading some of the reviews I wasn't sure about staying here, but I'm glad that I did. The B&B is on the edge of town. It's near everything, but far enough way from the noise of the bars along the seafront. The open plan kitchen, dining and lounge area are really cosy and welcoming. My room was spacious and I had a big fan to keep me cool. As a solo traveller I thought this was an excellent place to stay, as the living space is conducive to meeting the other guests. There have been some reviews about the bathrooms not being cleaned etc. All I can say is, if you think something needs doing or has been missed - just ask! Ray will help get it sorted. Each bathroom is shared by two bedrooms by interconnecting doors, but was fine for my 6 night stay there. The breakfasts are delicious - gallos pintos, eggs, toast and fruit. Remember, Sunday is pancake day! You can also make your own food there if you want and help yourself to free coffee. He even has a kettle for those of us who prefer a cuppa! I thought it was really good value, especially as some of the rooms in San Juan are double the price and more. I thought Ray was a fun guy to know and has a quirky sense of humour! Thanks for making the end of my trip to Nicaragua such fun.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank normski117
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miami, Florida
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed October 25, 2011

I stayed at The Secret Cove Inn in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua of October 2011 on my surfing trip and I must say, I felt at right home from the first time I met the colorful and witty owner, Ray Jackson. Centrally located to all the activities San Juan has to offer, it is only a short walking distance to the beautiful Pacific ocean. The Secret Cove Inn is a clean, quiet B&B with a friendly staff in a very secure location that boast's it"s own private 34' sailing yacht for those sunset cruise's. I would definetly recommend the Secret Cove Inn to anyone wanting to get off the beaten path....James H.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank james h
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed September 21, 2011

Wow, I can’t believe that it’s taken me so long to write a review about this place and share my experience with the rest of the travel community. My girlfriend and I stayed at the Secret Cove Inn, In San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua for the entire month of January 2011. The place is well... decent; it’s a small inn, with only 5 or so rooms. Aesthetically its very pleasant, nice colors, good decor, its small and cute, you get the picture. It’s owned by Ray, a retired lawyer/wanna be real estate developer from California , and his partner Donna.
So here is our story, we first arrive at the Secret Cove and are shown our room by one of the workers, the room included a queen size bed, shared bath, and last but not least a "security lock box" for valuables that was bolted into a night stand next to the bed. The room was decent by Nica standards (considering the price), we got the keys, put our stuff in the room, our valuables in the "security box" and then hit the town. The first few days were fine until we got the feeling that someone had been stealing money from the provided security box. Being owned by an American couple, perhaps we were a little naive to believe that this box and the inn itself was secure and safe to leave our money in. We had all of our cash in the box, and after a few days realized it seemed we were spending our money faster than we thought we were. About five days into our stay, we went to the ATM withdrew some US dollars, counted the money, kept the receipt, placed them in the "security box" then left for the evening. The following morning we opened the box counted the money and, surprise surprise, $60 was missing. Then it all started to make sense, what was happening was one of the people who worked at the inn had a duplicate key for the box and was stealing our money little by little when we were gone. We were shocked,and without accusing anyone in particular (they only had 3 employees), told both Donna and Ray that someone had been stealing from us out of our room. By this time we had done some accounting of cash withdrawn from the ATM vs. how much we typically spent in a day. Even using our lowest estimate, we figured that over $400 USD was stolen from us out of the "security box" in the room. Ray eventually filed a police report, but because we didn’t actually catch the person in the act of stealing there was little that could be done. Eventually other guests at the hotel came forward (remember there are only 5 or so rooms), saying that they too felt like money was being stolen from their rooms when they were gone. Ultimately one employee was let go, although we felt they had fired the wrong person (the work schedule made it near impossible for the person that was fired to steal from us). Donna was very sincere about the situation and assured us that she would compensate us for some of the money stolen with either cash or a discounted rate. Ray unfortunately didn’t handle the situation as well, and argued in typical lawyer fashion that although the money was locked in a security box provided by him that he was somehow not responsible for money being stolen. If anything, by providing us with a “security box” Ray just made it EASIER for employees to steal from the guests. Also, like I said, this happened only a week into our month long stay, but we had already PAID for the month and were kind of stuck. We decided to continue staying because Donna assured us that after the police report was finalized we would be compensated for our losses somehow. Unfortunately for us, shortly after the incident, Donna left to return to the United States, leaving only Ray in charge. A week before our stay was up we kept trying to talk to Ray about what was happening with our stolen money. He kept assuring us he was doing "something" about it, which ultimately amounted to him calling my girlfriend and I liars and doing anything about the situation. When I told him that Donna had given us her word that she would compensate us, he again called us liars then refused to give us a number or email to reach Donna back in the States.
All I can say is the place itself decent, but the vibe is weird, and the people running it even weirder. I can only liken it to renting a room in the home of your alcoholic grandparents. Like another reviewer posted before, the place really does make you feel like your intruding in someone’s private home. This was our first stop on our three months Nicaragua Trip, and because this was our first time in the country we initially felt more comfortable staying at an "American" run inn. This was a big mistake, when traveling in a country like Nicaragua, which I'll remind you all is still the second poorest country in the western hemisphere, its best to give your tourist dollars to the people who need it the most, the locals. We stayed in Nicaragua for an additional two months after leaving the Secret Cove and from then on only stayed in locally run inns and hotels, and we never had any problems. The local owners are much nicer people, the hotels are better, and they cost less.
Also the breakfast is ALWAYS gallo pinto with eggs and toast, which you can get literally anywhere in town for less than 1.50$ USD. P.P.S. don’t bother with Rays “Secret Cove Development”, the road to get to the development isn’t going to be finished anytime soon, and there’s a reason that 99% of Nica homes aren’t constructed from wood!

Room Tip: They say two of the rooms have AC, but when we were there they didnt work. Some rooms have a TV, but...
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  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
7 Thank doitjustin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RJesq, Owner at The Secret Cove Inn, responded to this review, October 5, 2011
Baffling. The purpose of the boxes was to store passports, tickets and other travel documents. None of our employees were discharged. The Natuonal poloice investigated the allegations at our request. Employee prints were not found inside the box. Room keys are required for entry into a room; they are kept under separate lock and key and the box keys are only available to guests. We have since discountinued use of the boxes without problems from guests. We had no way to determine what these guests placed in the boxes but they did stay an additional month after the incident for a discounted rate.

Happy news. The tourist road south to the Costa Rican border is under construction and the first 5 kilometers has been completed.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oak Island, North Carolina
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed August 26, 2011

I enjoyed my stay in San Juan del Sur mostly because the accommodations at this lovely B&B were excellent. Clean spacious rooms, and free use of internet and a landline USA phone line made staying in touch with home easy. The host, Ray Jackson, is a very knowledgeable help with travel arrangements and an all around good conversationalist. I can highly recommend this little place for long or short term visits. The large rooms share a bath and some are airconditioned. The casa is close to everything.

Room Tip: all rooms are clean and comfy
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank lori r
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Venice, Florida
Level Contributor
244 reviews
82 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 134 helpful votes
Reviewed January 22, 2011

We stayed 2 nights and really enjoyed ourselves. There are 4 rooms, 2 of which have A/C so make sure you specify what you want. A/C costs a bit more, but not significantly. Ray & Donna can provide info about the area and help with travel plans. The common areas are very comfortable and you feel like you're visiting a friend's house. Breakfast is included and in SJDS this place is good value. Overall, a good experience. Thanks Ray & Donna!

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Gary B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stockholm, Sweden
Level Contributor
13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed January 12, 2011

The place itself is nice, but its a bit too pricey for what you get (we paid 22 USD for a double room). The common area / kitchen is very clean. However, they did not clean either our room or the bathroom (that we shared with another room) for the whole time we stayed. The room was alright but the shared bathroom got a bit gross after 4 days..

Brakfast is included in the price, which is alright. They do not have any computer you can use. The staff (one in the day, and one in the night as a guard) were very friendly. They don't speak English but are doing their best in communicating. (they work about 12 hours a day and 6 days a week, dont forget to give them a tip :)

It was only one owner there when we stayed, American Ray who's in his 70s, he's in general a quite nice and very talkative man but we felt a bit uncomfortable around him unfortunately. When we had breakfast and he was there, we felt like we couldn't eat "too much" (and we're two girls that don't eat that much really). That could have been just a feeling in our minds, I really don't wanna be unfair to him. But then, if we watched a film or something on the tv in the common area in the evening, he could come to sit down and just change channel in the middle of our film, without saying anything! It felt like he wanted to show us that he was the owner and he decided what to watch on tv in his house. Very strange to me. (Well, we payed to stay there and there's no tv in the bed room. It felt like if you would stay with friends or relatives just a bit too long, that will say when it's a bit uncomfortable atmosphere) Well, the place is nice and staff friendly, but due to the price, the uncleaned bathroom, and the atmosphare we felt from the owner I would not really recommend this place and I'm really sorry to say that.

..And a highly personal oppinion - if I would go to San Juan again I would try to find a place with a local owner, they probably need your dollar the most. This was the first place we stayed in during our travelings in Nicaragua and we decided to go there due to the great reviews on tripadvisor, unfortunately we could not really agree this time.

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
5 Thank Myranm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Secret Cove Inn

Property: The Secret Cove Inn
Address: Av El Albanil, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Location: Nicaragua > Rivas Department > San Juan del Sur
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi )
Hotel Style:
Ranked #38 of 53 B&Bs / Inns in San Juan del Sur
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 5
Also Known As:
The Secret Cove Inn Nicaragua/San Juan Del Sur

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