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“VISIT THE SURF RANCH ASAP!”

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Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort
Ranked #23 of 27 Hotels in San Juan del Sur
Reviewed March 13, 2013

My 7 friends and I traveled down to the Surf Ranch for a week. To be honest I was not sure what to expect, and the information I was reading about the Surf Ranch was all review based. I have heard positive and negative reviews about traveling to Nicaragua so after having a phenomenal week I needed to write a review to set the record straight.

The week we spent at the Surf Ranch was my best vacation that I have even been on. There are a couple of things you must realize when traveling to the ranch and San Juan del Sur. First and foremost you are going to a third world country. The two and a half hour ride from Managua to the Surf Ranch will display homes without doors, windows, or electricity. You have nothing to fear about the trip from the airport to the ranch as the staff will set up a private shuttle, that is tinted with AC so you will travel comfortably. San Juan Del Sur is very touristry in comparison from what I saw in the rest of the country but it is still remote. They are in the process of building up the tourism in town so it is progressing yet do not expect all the luxuries. This vacation is meant for those who would like to see and try new things and not be sitting in a 5 star hotel room all day getting pampered.

The reason I said this vacation was my best ever is for three reasons. 1) The Staff at the Ranch 2) Daily Activities 3) Group of People I traveled with.

1) The staff at the Surf Ranch is 5 star across the board. Everyone is not only extremely helpful but they are genuinely friendly and good people. They do everything in their power to make sure you are having a phenomenal time. From helping me with my Spanish, making sure my drink was filled, setting up activities, and keeping our rooms cleaned. Based on the staff alone, I would go back to the Surf Ranch. I have numerous picture of us with the staff because they were what made this vacation perfect. THANK YOU AGAIN !

2) Luke who is in control of the activities sat down with us the first day. Luke is amazing. He knows Spanish fluently and grew up in the US and Nicaragua. So he was a great resource and could also help us when needed. We listed probably 10 things we wanted to do. After discussing we decided with paintball, surfing, sailing/booze cruise, and jungle zip lining. There were so many other things we wanted to do but this schedule worked out great for us. The first half day we drank and ate all day. The second day we woke up and played paintball and then hit the beach for surfing and beers. The owner Travis drove us to the beach and paddled out with us. After an hour or so of surfing we hit the beach bar, something that words cant describe. It was a small little hut serving up cold Tona's while you watched people surf. Following this we drank and went out in San Juan Del Sur and danced at the Iguana until the bar closed. The next morning our first hang over kicked in. We knew this was going to happen so we picked this day to hike up the statue of Jesus that over looks the harbor of San Juan. After sweating out all of the rum, we went on an afternoon bar crawl eating and drinking everything. I recommend getting the ceviche at El Timon, or any thing really on that menu including seafood. The third day we did zip lining which overlooks the whole town and bay. It seemed we were at least 200 feet high and cruising through the jungle. Our final day was spent on a catamaran with all you could drink rum and beer, paired with ceviche and guacamole. They brought us to a beach where we swam , drank, and enjoyed the sun before watching the sunset as we sailed back into the harbor. If you are going to do this trip and just want to sit by the pool, and get pampered this is not the right trip for you. For those adventure seekers who want to go see and try new things. Go to Nicaragua now.

3) The surf ranch is still under construction. If this bothers you than wait 10 years when the whole town/resort is built up and pay triple the prices. That being said going with such a large group was amazing. The resort can only accommodate what has been built and therefore it will not be a packed resort that you would expect in Cancun or Cabo. The group we had was ready for an adventure and expected the fact we were traveling to a third world country. I recommend you try bring a good size group with you, it helps you feel safer as well as everything is more fun when doing it with more people.


A couple side notes you should know.

1) The villas are made with cement and stone. They are foundationally strong but there are a couple cosmetic issues with the construction. IE the door frame isn't perfectly straight so you can see a gap of light, or one outlet may not work for power. In the early early morning before 7 am the water works very poorly. The electricity does dip in and out. Usually its just for a second. It was never an inconvenience.

***You don't drink out of the faucet regardless and if your up that early like I was, than go drink and stop wasting time. You will not have hot water while you are there. If this bothers you in the 85 degree sun than I don't know what to tell you. Even if there was hot water, I doubt I would have used it even once while I was there.

2) The plumbing in the whole country is suspect. You will be asked not to flush you TP down the drain. The staff empties your trash everyday so you'll be fine. Quick suggestion bring wet wipes, and I had 0 issues.

3) The food provided with the all inclusive resort was great. It was the healthiest I have eaten in a while. Three square meals a day. Just get used to having either plantains or rice and beans with every meal. If you want more food you can order off the menu which I did a couple times. The food was all perfect and cheap. When you are sick of rum or beer. They have vodka and tequila and once again very cheap.


Overall 5 star time down in Nicaragua. We will go back to the resort and I will bring more people. The most important thing is you set your expectations, and get ready to consume more rum than you thought possible. Thanks again to the staff at the Surf Ranch. We can't wait to come back and party with all of you again.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank ahorns15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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235 - 241 of 293 reviews

Reviewed March 4, 2013

You may have noticed that I left early . No one asked why I was leaving early.


I left for several reasons


the place is still under construction,, what has been built is incomplete or falling apart, for example the sidewalk to the "condos"

no hot water

no water in the morning

no furniture in the room

no mirror in the bathroom

a lot of hair in the shower

construction garbage

no stools at pool bar just posts

poorly hung curtains

sad ceiling fan, with out A/C and having to closes the doors and one little bathroom window , makes for a damn hot room

other guests partying outside our door at 4 am in the morning

beat up pool table and sticks


I laughed about many of these things, until we found out there was no hot water, that was the last straw

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with friends
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5  Thank roy m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
lukeboychuk, Owner at Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort, responded to this reviewResponded March 5, 2013

As the owner of the Surf Ranch, I am all for negative reviews as it helps us make changes and grow as a company, but I must say that I am very dissapointed in this users review, as everything mentioned is either untrue or highly exaggerated.

Also, since you left without paying, and yelled at our receptionist on your way out, instead of speaking with us to fix any problems you had. I have reason to believe, you made this review up to gain a free stay at our resort.

I would like to follow up on your comments.

Hot water - Yes there is no hot water. We will have it in our new condo units in 2 months. We do not mention anywhere that we have hot water.

No water in the morning - There is always water at the resort.

No mirror in bathroom - They all have mirrors.

Hair in Shower - I am not sure what you mean by this? Our maids can clean your hair from your unit everyday, as well as everything else.

Construction garbage? Yes there is a construction section (new condos), finished in 2 months.

No stools - There are stools at the bar.

Curtains - Poorly hung? I am not sure how to comment on this.

AC - No units have AC, there is a ceiling fan, and ground fans upon request. The AC units will be finished in 2 months, as of today, March 2013.

Guests partying at 4am - This is not usually the case. But our guests are here to have an amazing time in Nicaragua.

Pool Table - Pool table and sticks are fine.

I do understand that far and in between, there are customers like yourself, who do not pay, run out, and yell at our staff, and frankly, there is nothing we can do to make you happy.

I would like Trip Advisor to remove this post as it does not represent our resort in the slightest.

Thank you.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 4, 2013

I came down with my family, husband and 3 kids. The kids loved the pool and food. This is not a party hostel filled with hippies, which is awesome for a family vacation.
I noticed the clientele here are surfers, couples, and traveler looking for adventure, and they also cater to families which we loved. We booked out
a villa with their all inclusive packages and was worth every penny. Their shuttles drove us to and from town, and even to the beaches. We brought the kids on the catamaran sail tour and they had a blast.
Thanks Surf Ranch!

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Victoria_H_91
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 1, 2013

We booked a 5 night all inclusive vacation to the Surf Ranch through The Clymb and I admit we were a bit skeptical at first after reading some of the reviews, but the place is really fantastic. Yes, it is still under construction, yes there is no hot water, but the workers were pretty quiet and done well before dinner and it is 90 degrees out all day. A cool shower feels pretty good. When they are done, this place is going to be even better than it is now and some of the rooms will have hot water and AC for those that want it. The villa we stayed in was very simple, but neat and clean, and it had everything we needed, including very fast wifi (that was a surprise). The food was great, and the rum drinks were just amazing. Ronaldo, one of the bartenders, makes a mean rum punch, with fresh pineapple and watermelon to order. A tall one (or two or three)of these in the pool after a day of surfing is heaven. My wife and I went to surf, so we didn't try any of the other activities except the yoga (fantastic) but Lucas, the activities director, is great. He just makes things happen for you and makes sure you get where you want to go. The shuttle runs back and forth to town all day so it never feels like you are stuck there, just hop in the truck and you are in town in a few minutes. We did get to talk to the owners as well. The story of these two young guys is really amazing and their dog Buddy makes the place complete.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank sailordennis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 15, 2013

The staff was great; definitely made the difference of helping us forget that the advertising of this place is not exactly what you get ( mostly because it is still a work in progress with a lot of construction going on ). That said, the place is definitely off the beaten track with a unique character.Pros: Owner went out of his way to get the paintball going for us as well as explain his vision towards the future; the food was awesome; they will try to specialize any request you put forward ( must ask for the individual breakfast buffet!!). Plenty of drinks ( make sure you understand which drinks are included in the " all inclusive ); plenty of things to do and Playa hermosa ( great surfing for all levels ) was really easy to get to with a low riding rental car. ( having a rental car I would say made everything so much easier as the place is really in the middle of nowhere; too far to walk to anything. I would also expect that during rainy season this place would be very hard to get to as you drive over several dry river beds). The all inclusive deal was really a great deal for what you get. The catamaran tour with Zach is worth the 50 bucks ( 60 if you book it with the surf ranch staff ) however its questionable if he will continnue in business as he seems not to have necessarry permits to keep operating; Locals could not be friendlier; Zipline ( offsite ) was nice. Cons: Lots of construction going on ( as of feb 1, 2013 ); Location; very far away from the really nice beach town; missed the horseback riding tour due to some sort of misunderstanding , Very windy; food would literally fly off your plate as their is no sheltered place to ead ( for now ). NO medical facilities located nearby in case of real emergency.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank ElPasoMaker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 28, 2013

We were able to connect with Tyla, the front manager who saved our skin after another accommodation gave away our reservation and totally let us down. In came Tyla, who set us up with these awesome Kelowna brothers, and here we were at the Surf Ranch.

Location: Pretty darn good. Either you need a car or a ride to town, but trust me you don't want to be any closer to town. It was super quiet up where Surf Ranch is. There were some mosquitoes and I got bitten but its somewhat to be expected in that area. I would recommend providing mosquito coils to guests in their rooms and at the bar, they are cheap and burn 8 hours long.

Price: At only $35 a night its a steal. Food was also well priced.

Food & drinks: Stiff drinks, good food. Depending on the day and time of day, they may not have all the ingredients to make some things off the menu but they do their hardest to accommodate your needs. I really enjoyed the jalapeno chicken.

Owners: As mentioned, they are great. Be sure to have a drink with them if you can and get the story of how this place came to be. Its pretty inspiring. We spoke with many locals around the region, all seemed to know and like these guys. The common theme was "I really hope this place does well for them, they deserve it". When locals say that with affection, you know you are in the hands of some standup folk. Buddy the dog is a sweetie pie too.

Facilities: Gorgeous pools and bar, and the rooms/condos had just the minimum as needed. This entire place still needs to be finished and it shows, but it is very comfortable and fun. Construction workers did their thing quietly. We enjoyed 'rescuing' the toads from the pools at night.

Other guests were a pleasure to hang out with. It was a good time. Thanks guys for your hospitality and thanks for taking us in. We are reserving five stars for our next trip there- when you are fully finished up! I'd say best of luck on your venture, but you definitely don't need it! Congratulations seem more appropriate.

Room Tip: We stayed in condo #1, it had a good bed, very nice bathroom and couple of small tables to get your...
  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank WhereItsWarmer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 15, 2013 via mobile

We loved San Juan and Nicaragua, but the resort did not meet the expectations that are on the website.

Positives-
Drinks were plentiful and delicious.
Bar staff was very helpful, attentive and we had great conversation with them.
Quiet and definitely off the beaten path.
Everyone was so incredibly nice.
Food, drink, souvenirs very inexpensive.
Awesome guard dog buddy on the resort.
Catamaran ride with Zack was awesome (watch out for personal belongings! Camera was missing after this excursion)

Negatives:
No one answered phone at resort, had to book via email.
No yoga
Paintball unavailable
Air pad not blown up
No hot water
Promised surf board rental for 5 days, didn't even get to have lessons
Lots of construction around
Cash only upon checkout
No shuttle(resort staff told us they would reimburse cabs which didn't happen)
We booked two excursions that both didn't work out because of communication issues with the resort staff. (Front desk needs to be on top of this stuff if they want the guests to not be stressed out on vacation!)

Overall the website and the deal we bought were deceiving and we hope that this place gets into better alignment with what it advertises because it has potential to be a really great place.

  • Stayed: January 2013
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3  Thank Worldtravelerdpt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
lukeboychuk, Owner at Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort, responded to this reviewResponded January 17, 2013

First off, I would like to say thank you for staying with us at the Surf Ranch in our early stages of opening. You are right, the resort is not completely finished, but we are working everyday, to have it completely finished in 2 months. These are our early stages, thus the $500 that we gave you off of your All Inclusive Package.

I would just like to comment on a few things that you mentioned.

Catamaran Sailing - I am sorry you lost your camera, but we are not responsible for this, the catamaran sailing is through another company, and we can not be responsible for where you set your camera down.

Paintball - It will be open again by the end of January. The guns are under repairs.

Yoga - We do it through another company in town and not at the resort. We do arrange yoga for customers, did you ask at the reception about it?

Air Pad - The blower has failed us, new ones on their way.

Hot Water - Yes there is no hot water, and we do not say that anywhere on our website.

Surfboard Rentals - I have just been told that you did not want to go surfing, until the last day, which we organized last minute, and the surf shop in town with your boards said no as it was too late in the day.

Cash - Credit Card machine installed soon. You can pay via PayPal as well.

Shuttle - Ready next week. This is the first that I have heard about the reception not reimbursing you. Send me your PayPal email and I will reimburse you right away.

Excursions booked - I am sorry these didn't work out, and we will be looking into the issue as why the other company did not follow through.

This is all great feedback, and as an owner of the Surf Ranch, it is my #1 priority to listen to your feedback and fix everything that you have mentioned. Thank you.

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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 Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort

Address: Empalme de El Valle, 991.5 m al Este, San Juan del Sur 47008, Nicaragua (Formerly Surf Ranch Action Sports Resort)
Location: Nicaragua > Rivas Department > San Juan del Sur
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #23 of 27 Hotels in San Juan del Sur
Price Range: $41 - $174 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 26
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Surf Ranch in San Juan Del Sur, features Nicaragua's largest skateboard park, rock climbing wall, private gym, jungle paintball, volleyball court, world class restaurant & bar, swimming pool & swim up bar, poolside cabanas, standard rooms, villas, and deluxe condos. The Surf Ranch offers many extreme sports and activities such as surfing, skateboarding, paintball, sailing, fishing, yoga, rock climbing and more. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort Nicaragua/San Juan Del Sur

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