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“Get Amazing Vacation Experience At Surf Ranch Action Sports Resort”

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Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort
Ranked #22 of 27 Hotels in San Juan del Sur
united kingdom
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Get Amazing Vacation Experience At Surf Ranch Action Sports Resort”
Reviewed April 1, 2013

This place is heaven! A resort with a skatepark and a thousand things to do! I have been to san juan del sur before and stayed in horrible hostels and hotels, and must say although not right in town (you dont want to be in town anyways), that this is the best bang for your buck in Nicaragua.

Everything from Andy and Reynaldo, the bartenders to Tyla the manager and buddy the resort dog! The staff are there to make your vacation the best ever, and they definitely succeeded.

Through the Surf Ranch, I went on the Catamaran sail tour with captain zach, ziplining, and surfing. A great trip overall and this resort will only get better with time.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank manhuntUnitedKingdom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Chicago, Illinois
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed March 30, 2013

I'm giving it a poor because it's called a resort. If they were calling themselves a hostile I'd give them a very good. The local Nicaraguan staff at the resort had varying levels of English but were all genuinely great people who wanted you to enjoy yourself. Love them all. It seemed like most of the other English speaking staff working at the resort were travelers, passing between destinations and making some money. It's like a work hostel. Most of them were really cool, but because everyone was so new there was confusion about how things worked between them and the local staff members

What I found troubling was the difference between what the resort was advertised as. A friend of mine was told by the Climb, who I booked through, that the resort construction was complete. Not the case. There was a huge pile of construction garbage next to the stairs leading to the upper condos. 3 of the 6 upper floor condos were unfinished. No doors, nothing. The condos back up to another piece of property with rosters who start in around 5 every morning. There's a family of howler monkeys that start in shortly afterwards. I wasn't too into the roosters but the monkeys were pretty cool I have to say. If you're a light sleeper bring some earplugs or use the free booze to your advantage.

I read another review where someone complained that there was no hot water. I personally didn't care at all, it was so hot outside that I would have set the water temp the way it was anyway. There was no other furniture in the rooms besides the beds, a couch and 2 oscillating fans in addition to a ceiling fan. No tables or anything else to put your clothes or drinks on. I didn't spend much time in my room anyway so it was annoying but not terrible.


In the description of the skate park on the website it says "There is also a skateboard shop on site in which you can buy anything you need." No shop yet. The park itself was small but fun. The downside was all the transition cracks that got bigger by the day and there was a big pile of construction garbage on part of the deck. Sketchy for how many kids were there skating.

On the website it says "From the surf ranch we drive you to the best waves of the day, which may include Ramanso, Hermosa, Yankee, or Maderas beach." What they don't say is they charge you between $10 and $20 per person, per trip, to take you to 3 of those 4 beaches. They will take you to Ramanso for free in the surf ranch shuttle. I was told they don't go to the other 3 beaches because the roads were so bad they didn't want to ruin their truck. After going to a few I understood, the roads were horrendous. I wouldn't want to take my vehicle on them either. Understandable but potentially expensive if you plan on surfing every day. Should be more clear on the website, not a good surprise traveling from abroad.

The bar is nice. The local beer and rum was free and good. The bartenders were happy to get you as drunk as you wanted, which lots of the guests took full advantage of. Water, Gatorade, and sodas were not free or available before 7:30 in the morning. You can buy it the night before but it's basically hot by the morning time. The meal plan was good and the food was fantastic.

If you're a college age twenty something who wants to go someplace cheap with free booze and a nice pool and try out some surfing it's cool. If you're a family travelling from another country, it's very isolated and not nearly complete like advertised. Think again. Maybe in a few years but not just yet.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank espwave
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 review, March 31, 2013
I would like to thank you for coming out to our resort. Yes, it is still under construction, and the things you mentioned are at the top of our list and first priority in being fixed. We are brand new and there are a 1000 of things to do, which do not worry, are being tended too.

I am glad you enjoyed your stay.

Everything you mentioned will be fixed by Mid April, 2013.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers are raving about these San Juan del Sur hotels

Chicago, Illinois
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed March 30, 2013

It's really hard to write this review because it is complicated. I want to help out fellow travelers and the place has potential, but there is a lot on the website and on the deal we bought that is not there (it is off site), not there yet (it is under construction), and/or it costs more (even though your package is "all-inclusive")

The positives are the staff (who are so nice and trying so hard that I want to help them get business); the FOOD (is awesome!! even on the "meal plan" - more about that below); the skate park ON SITE so you can skate whenever you want - awesome; the pool is clean and cool and wonderful. You will see (and hear!) monkeys every day. Pretty amazing. Andy and John are terrific. Also, the ranch is super safe. We left our room open most of the time when we were there (to try to keep cool) because there are guards around and you can see your room from everywhere. The other guests were wonderful. This place attracts great folks and we enjoyed getting to know them.

But there are things you need to know if you have already booked or are thinking of booking:

First: It is not finished as of 3/30/2013. Meaning -- there is active construction including piles of rubble, lumber, etc. Some condos just need interior work but there is another building being built very close to the pool, so you are looking at cinder block and rebar. And, the piles of rubble are dangerously close to/on the skate park. There is no roof deck on the condos and the roof decks on the villas have no furniture - not even a chair - to enjoy your deck.

Second, there is no air conditioning anywhere on the ranch. The owners say air conditioning is a priority, but there is no way (I can see) for the condos can get a/c. There is no duct work for central and the windows of most of the condos could not accommodate any window unit I've ever seen. So, I don't think a/c is coming anytime soon.

As others have said, there is no hot water -- we actually did not care because it was so hot, but the water pressure is low, low, low. Hard to wash your hair. And, we were without water for a couple hours one day -- no big deal (though the staff should have been bucket flushing - we did our own), but the staff said it happens from time to time due to the condition of the water system in the country. So, it is a developing country and you can't blame the resort for that, but be ready - it could happen.

Food - AWESOME and cheap (Francisco deserves a raise!!). We bought a package that included 4 meals per day "from the menu" but when we go there, they said it was "too confusing" so they had moved to the meal plan where pre-paid, all-inclusive guests get the meal plan. So that is not what we bought but luckily it was good. EVERYTHING on the menu was also wonderful. The fruit bowl is delicious and a deal -- get it as a supplement to every meal plan.

Water, gatorade, and soda all cost $$ but very reasonable (under $1 US) but you will go through lots and you probably don't want to drink from the tap. No water without paying for it seems odd (especially in the heat!) but hey, they have to pay for it so you do too.

Things you think might be included in your "all inclusive" that are not: water of any sort; shuttle to many of the surfing beaches (they will take you free to one beach; the other beaches cost about $10 per person per trip); yoga (there was no yoga at the ranch -- some off site, but no studio or mats at the ranch).

There is NO SHOPPING at the ranch or close -- you should arrive with your skate supplies, shampoo (oh yeah, no shampoo either), sunblock, toothpaste, etc. San Juan del Sur has all this stuff, but it is a shuttle ride away (and sometimes the shuttle is busy doing something else like construction and the trip gets scrapped). The cab drivers are sure to tell you that the ranch is NOT in San Juan del Sur. You cannot walk there easily (2km).

The room - had no furniture other than a bed and couch. No nightstand, no table, no chest of drawers, no closet, no curtains. Your suitcases sit on the floor. Had to ask for towels. Ceiling fan and oscillating fans were provided and worked (thank God).

Check out is cash only.

None of this would have changed my mind about booking (maybe a/c), but to find it out on the spot left me feeling unprepared. So I write to help others who have already booked arrive prepared (OH! double check your reservation! especially if it is through hostel booking - we saw them turn away many folks with reservations).

I wish Surf Ranch all the best as they work out the kinks. We could very possibly go back depending on what other reviewers say about how the place grows.

Room Tip: if condo, ask for an end unit (1, 7, 8, or 13) because they have 2 windows instead of one.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank lbn23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed March 29, 2013

The Surf Ranch is a very clean and safe place to stay. Also there are some great people working there- John & Reynaldo the bar tenders were amazing! A few things you should now before you go- The place is still under construction, many things are not finished. My biggest problem was the way it is mis-advertised online. None of the activities are there, everything is booked through local businesses. This can be convenient, however many things were not available. There was no yoga, wake boarding and a few other things were unavailable. Also, the air paid was broken. So of the activities can only be done if a certain number of people sign up. Lastly, The guy that was left in charge while the owners were gone was fairly rude. Anytime you asked him anything he made it seem as if it was a huge inconvenience. Lastly, they did not have our reservation when we got there-call first!

  • Stayed March 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Shrimpy-D
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 review, March 31, 2013
The activities that we offer here at the resort, are paintball, tower drop to airbag, volleyball and the skateboard park. All other activities are through other companies.

The airpad is not broken, our staff was misinformed, it works perfectly fine.

I am proud to say our staff is the best in town, we recently hired some new staff, so please mention who you had trouble with, so I can take care of the issue.

I thank you for your feedback, as it helps us grow, thank you.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed March 28, 2013

First things first. If you take on the task of renting a car on your own (which is moderately cheaper than the $150/each way shuttle from the airport), cross the dried up river-bed when you get to it. Its that way, trust me. We didn't believe it, didn't want to believe it. But its over there.

Second, the resort's website doesn't mention air-conditioning (even though it is in Central America where the sun is pure fuego), so do not expect to hide out in your room during the day. When you check in, make sure you ask about what method of payment you can make when you check out. We had to run 15 minutes into town to an ATM to pull out some cash for them after check out. They had our passports, or otherwise we would have dipped. Probably not.

Okay, into the room we go. We stayed in a condo, in case you are considering. We opened the mirrored sliding door and it's just a bed with two very small pillows and a nice painting on the wall. No table or chair to set our bags off the ground (scorpions). No night stand by the bed. No windows or any type of ventilation (except in the bathroom). I immediately searched for the AC, because the room was boiling. I mean boiling. We ended up sleeping with the door open our entire stay (which was pretty bold as we were at floor level). Pure stuffy, regardless if the door was open. We literally woke up at 7 am everyday due to the heat. There is a bathroom in each condo (i think), and they are actually pretty legit. Nice sink, toilet, big shower. Good stuff. And the room doesn't get cleaned until you leave, heads up. So keep it clean.

OK, to the bar we go. This is the best part of the resort. THE FOOD IS AMAZING and the bartenders will get you DRUNK (watch out for John/Joan/Gene, think its Joan). The all-inclusive package was well worth putting up with some of the other things. Some.

THE POOL is gorgeous. But, the owners decided it would be a great idea to let the locals flock in with a ton of their kids for 5 Córdobas a head. Its loud, its crowded. And the pool is filthy by the end of the day. Not what we, or any of the guests had in mind. It gets extremely annoying when non-guests cannonball into the pool 6 inches from your face. Or when there are no chairs/loungers to sit in. But there is plenty of free booze.

They blew up the big air blob once for the local kids to jump on, which I thought was nice of them.

Andy, the activities coordinator, was extremely helpful. He would bust his back to get everybody set up for what they would want to do for the day. He also ran around and fixed the place up, when needed. He also hooked us up with an osculating fan for our room. That helped a ton.

The place is also pretty secure, as a guard man and dog patrol the grounds.

I don't know if I could ever do this place again. The box with a mattress in the middle of the scorching jungle/desert is not an ideal place to relax at night. I grew up going to a public pool, but I don't like to go to one when I'm on vacation. But I don't know. I guess the two Canadian brother-owners could start to figure it out a bit more and it could develop into a nicer place. But I'd give it a few years.

Room Tip: I don't know. They are all scorching hot. But I think the villas have some furniture like a tabl...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Bryan R
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 review, March 31, 2013
Bryan, first off I would like to thank the both of you for coming out, you were a nice couple with no complaints...until now, which is why I am surprised. I wish you told me about this before so I could either fix the problem or inform you with the correct facts.

1. Rental Car - A rental car is definitely the way to go if you want freedom, but along with renting a car comes a high risk of things, such as breaking down, not knowing where to go, hitting someone (cops throw you in jail until proven innocent), crashing and paying for the damages.
Our shuttles start at $120 for 2 people, 1 way and are the safest way to travel, however the choice is yours.

2. AC, we do not mention AC, because we do not have it. They will be installed soon in our new units. But again with that, the price of your room will be higher.

3. Cash - I can understand how getting to a new place, you are excited and the last thing you want to do is listen to the list of info that the receptionists give you upon checking in. They do mention to you that we only accept cash or PayPal at this point in time. Whether you chose to listen or not, is up to you.

4. Rooms - Table and chairs, and all other furnishings are currently being made, remember, we are new, thus the discounted rates. They will be fully furnished very soon.

5. Locals - Our pool and restaurant is open for guests and locals, but it is not true that they only pay 5 cordobas to get in. They are allowed to use the pool if they purchase food and drinks. It is very important for us to provide service to the locals as this is their country.

I really appreciate your feedback, some of it is being fixed, but the other stuff, is untrue and I wish you could of talked with us first to get the right facts. I really hope to see you guys again as you were awesome, thank you.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Massachusetts
Level 4 Contributor
35 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed March 24, 2013

I went to Surf Ranch through a Zozi deal last month, and it was a great time. I'll get the cons out of the way: It is still under construction, so there were workers around all the time (including 3 feet outside my window at 7:30am...a little creepy.) The bar is cool but there were no stools/chairs if you wanted to chat with the staff (they had blown away and were in the process of installing new ones- they are probably done by now.) There were some issues with the shuttle at the beginning of our stay so we went to and from town in one of the employee's cars, which was not ideal but fine. Finally- they NEED to get it together with early morning airport transfers- I speak Spanish & have some connections in SJDS so I wound up bailing out a couple at 3:40am because their shuttle (arranged by Surf Ranch) never came for a 7:30 flight and there is no staff around, no phone number to call, no nothing. If you have a really early or really late flight, just stay in Managua and worry about the transfer in the daylight.

Pros: I had a 6 person villa to myself, so there was plenty of space. There is no hot water, but it's so hot down there that you kind of look forward to a cold shower. The food was amazing- I tried almost everything on the menu and liked it all. Drinks were sooo good, and all of the bartenders/servers are incredible and will literally run to and from the kitchen if you need something. Activities were all awesome- surfing, zip-lining, rappelling, catamaran, and Wednesday night yoga with Spanish guitar and wine and chocolate afterwards (seriously, life does not get better than that) thanks to Luke, the activities guy. Pool is great, and Buddy the puppy was so adorable and around all the time. Tyla and Carla at the front desk were so sweet and accommodating.

Both of the owners were around often but Travis was the only one who seemed to make an effort and be interested in the guests' experiences. Overall- great week- it will be great once Surf Ranch's growing pains pass.

Stayed February 2013, traveled solo
Helpful?
Thank y0adrienne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed March 23, 2013

This was my first trip to San Juan Del Sur and it was an amazing experience. There are endless activities both in town and the surrounding area; a week was nowhere near enough time. The ranch is situated outside town a few miles so walking to town is not really an option, but the staff organizes frequent shuttles to get you back and forth. Also, we used the local taxis with no problem, just make sure you know what a reasonable rate is. Being a newly opened resort, there is still construction on site, but the workers are all respectful and aren't loud early morning or disruptive. We didn't spend much time on the resort, except to eat or have a few drinks before going out at night. Andy was a lot of fun to hang out with at the bar and the entire bar staff does an awesome job of keeping your drink full. If you got an all inclusive package, be sure to fully understand what is and is not included. The rooms are all nice, no AC or hot water really was not an issue, it cooled off at night and the fans did a good job circulating air in the room.

As far as activities, Luke works extremely hard to make sure to set everything up; our trip wouldn't have been the same without him. We spent a good portion of our trip surfing; Baldo was a great instructor. The dirt bike rentals are a fun way to check out some of the northern beaches and the Jesus statue. If you can set up disc golf at Marsella I would definitely recommend it, we went with Luke, Baldo and a few other guests and had a great time drinking and playing. We went to Zen yoga a few mornings, it is an awesome studio and a great way to start the day. Our last day we went on the catamaran cruise and had an awesome time. Zak and his crew work really hard and made for a really fun day on the water.

Nightlife in San Juan was great, we went to town with other people from the ranch a few nights and had a lot of fun. I would def recommend pachamama Tuesdays for open mic, black whale and iguana were a good time every time we went out as well. The ranch took care of getting us to town at night then we used local taxis to get home late night.

Overall, my experience at the ranch was incredible, I can't wait to get back and see it when it's fully built. Luke and Travis are doing a great job and I think it will only get better with experience and time. Thank you again to all of the staff at the ranch for making for an incredible trip!

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Matt J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort

Property: 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 #22 of 27 Hotels in San Juan del Sur
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
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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