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“Coolest resort in San Juan Del Sur!!!!!”

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Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort
Ranked #23 of 27 Hotels in San Juan del Sur
Houston, Texas
1 review
“Coolest resort in San Juan Del Sur!!!!!”
Reviewed June 7, 2013

My friend and I had a amazing time at the surf ranch the staff were awesome the food was amazing and the fun was incredible! We are already planning a trip back with more friends
for next year. Thanks guys for a wonderful stay we had so much fun!!

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Shayne B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Seattle
Level 1 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed June 6, 2013

The Surf Ranch has a great staff and some potential but immediate improvements are needed. We booked the Zozi 5 day package and got what we paid for but I could not imagine paying more as this is a "resort" in the loosest sense.

ROOMS - My buddy and I stayed in Villa #1, which must have been completed quite recently as there's still a sizeable pile of construction debris directly behind the building.... not a very impressive view when looking out the window. The villas are poorly designed, with flat roofs and no rooftop palapas for shade. Due to the poor design, the Villas heat up all day and are ridiculously hot all evening. The staff gave us floor fans for each bedroom since the Villa didn't even have a ceiling fan in the bedroom.... just wires sticking out of the ceiling where a fan will (hopefully) be someday. While the evening temps outside were quite comfortable, the interior of the Villa was like a sauna... even at night. I ended up sleeping on a chaise lounge poolside 2 of the 5 nights I stayed there. In addition, other than a bed in the bedroom and a few chairs in the living room, there's no furniture in the villa. No nightstand, no closets, no shelves in the bathroom, no tables in the living room and no luggage stand to put your suitcase or backpack. It definitely does not feel like "resort living" when all of your belongings are on the floor for 5 days. Be careful. When packing up to go I picked my backpack up off the floor and a scorpion fell out onto the bed!

ON SITE - The Airpad was deflated and out of commission my entire stay, which was a major bummer. I asked a staff member about it and they told me it's been broken "for some time". Also, the pool is shaped like their "longhorn" logo so it's impossible to swim more than 3 strokes before hitting a wall. That is just plain poor design. At an "action sports resort" that caters to surfers, you would think that the pool would be large enough for guests to swim a few laps every morning and/or evening but the pool is only good for a quick dunk and for standing around and drinking. The ongoing construction of new villas made for constant noise and dust and on two evenings the workers were mixing and pouring cement until 11pm. Sorry, but that is not "resort living".

FOOD/DRINK - Overall, the food was quite good although we ended up only eating one meal a day there since we spent most of our time at the beach or in town. The rum drinks and beer flowed for almost 24 hours/day which made for a few loud, drunken guests. While humorous the first night or two, listening to drunken BS every night gets old quickly.

LOCATION - The "resort" is well outside of town so getting to and from can be a hassle. During our stay their shuttle bus was broken so they hired a guy with a truck to shuttle people to and from town and the various beaches and activities. David did a great job juggling all of the guests timelines and needs but overall the system needs improvement, including a midnight shuttle for people who want to stay in town past 9:30pm. If staying at The Surf Ranch for a short time I would suggest renting a car so you're not wasting valuable vacation time "stranded" at the resort waiting for the shuttle.

ACTIVITIES - We did the surfing, rappelling, catamaran day sail and zip lining and all were great! The prices charged at the resort are a minimum of $5 more than you would pay if you booked direct but the Zozi package had a $30 credit per day per activity. The activities were definitely a highlight of the stay, although the Zozi package mandates that you can only do 1 discounted activity per day so we couldn't use all of our activities.

I've backpacked all over the world and have been to San Juan Del Sur numerous times so I was certainly not expecting the Surf Ranch to be a 5 star resort. That said, the Zozi package was fairly misleading because it never said, "You are getting this price because the resort is still under construction", which is what the owner states in his response to past negative reviews. If that's the case, fine, but be upfront about it.

I sincerely hope the Surf Ranch improves as it matures. The concept is great and there's certainly a niche for an activity based "resort hostel" in San Juan Del Sur. But the most important element of any hotel or resort is pleasant and comfortable accommodations... and the villas at the Surf Resort are certainly not there yet.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank John O
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, June 18, 2013
John

I am glad you came and stayed with us and that you had an awesome time. However in this review, you have exaggerated quite a few things, which is not a problem, but it will mislead future guests, so I would like to take this time just to clear a few things up with the correct info.

Villa 1 - Yes when you came the villa was just finished, with the excess building materials piled up behind the villa, the materials have since been removed and the area landscaped.
Rooftop shade and lounges are coming soon.

Each villa has ceiling fans and or a fan. If you did not have a ceiling fan when you stayed, it would have been under repairs and replaced immediately. Most villas have furniture, but villa 1 now has furniture and we will continue adding new things to the villa.

Airbag - The airbag works perfectly fine. The staff have been telling people it does not work as they were not updated with the correct info. I have since trained them all on how to do it. You will need to request the airbag to be blown up at the reception, as we do not inflate it without interest.

Construction - The construction is currently being finished up on the new luxury condos, skate/surf shop, rock climbing wall, and public bathrooms.

Food/Drinks - The bar is open from 7am - 10:30pm, not 24 hours as you mentioned.

Shuttle - Our shuttle is working perfectly fine and goes back and forth all day and it is free for you, if for any reason it breaks down, we immediately use another shuttle.

Activities - The activities you mentioned, are actually the same price as booking directly through the company, you can compare all prices on our website to theirs. You may be confused on the zip lining, as they charge $30 and we charge $35, but that is only if we have to drive you their and back.

The Surf Ranch is continually improving everyday, and if you came now, you would see vast improvements, and almost a different resort. We are brand new and still upgrading all the time to become the best resort in Nicaragua. Your suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Thanks Jon
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level 5 Contributor
91 reviews
38 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
Reviewed June 5, 2013

We bought our package trough Zozi and it was a great deal. Nicaragua is amazing, but if you are looking for power or AC go somewhere else.

The people at Sur Ranch were great. They're in the process of building / completing the property. So, the good part is it's brand new, but there is construction going on. Also, if you're vegetarian and doing the all inclusive, the meals are limited.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Helpful?
Thank nicole h
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, June 18, 2013
Nicole

Thank you for coming to the Surf Ranch. I see you had a great time :)

We do have power at the resort. I think you are referring to the frequent power outages during the rainy season in the whole country of Nicaragua. That is how it is here in Nicaragua. But we are taking steps and will be buying a generator. Also the new 6 luxury condos will all have A/C.

For vegetarians, our chef can custom make you any meal you wish.

Thanks Nicole, I hope to see you again.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Calgary, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed June 3, 2013

I found my stay at the Surf Ranch to live up to its reputation. Definitely the nicest place to stay in San Juan del Sur, especially for those with the adventurous mindset. There's one other high end resort called Pelican Eyes, but is very expensive and doesn't offer the fun atmosphere that the Surf Ranch has, from what I was told.

The shuttle was operating at convenient times for trips into town, which is handy for day trips as well as to and from the night life. If you miss the shuttle and don't want to wait for the next one, a small 3$ cab ride is all that is required to get into town or back to the resort. The town is pretty hectic during the day and night, so I liked how the Surf Ranch was a little bit further out of town and not in the middle of the chaos. I like to party, but enjoy the home life to be laid back and less hectic. Great location.

The food at the Surf Ranch restaurant is amazing, you can definitely taste a difference compared to the food back home. Try something new on the menu each meal, you'll never be let down. The cooks tend to make meals somewhat different each time, but I think that will change as they adapt to the "Western" way of life. The cooks did not speak English, which gave me a cool feeling of knowing I'm eating Western meals with an authentic Nicaraguan twist.

The staff were all very helpful and awesome while I was there, I wanted to propose to Tyla (the manager) but did not think that I deserved a saint. Whether it was getting my room cleaned, setting up activities, using the air bag, borrowing a skateboard, getting a floor fan, or ordering food/drinks, the Surf Ranch staff were always willing to go the extra mile to keep me satisfied during my stay. A terrible staff can definitely ruin a resort, and I think they chose well on who they allow to represent their company.

My room was a little hot, but I remembered that I chose against an all inclusive trip to Alaska for a reason. I went to Nicaragua to be in the heat, and to experience a glimpse of the Nicaraguan lifestyle, which includes being in the hot sun! If I wanted to feel like a Canadian while on vacation, I would have gone to Mexico. Nicaragua is a poor country, and as a result is very hard to get ahold of expensive equipment, such as AC. I was more than excited to have a "cold" shower, as it's refreshing after being in the heat. I say "cold" because the water is fairly warm, as the water container is on the roof of a 2 story condo building and is heated by the sun all day.

It was cool having a few beers, on the house, with Travis and Luke (the owners). They shared their story and were pretty open about the struggles and triumphs they've had in the last 4 years, in regards to building the resort. Much respect and props to them for what they've achieved to own/operate this place at such a young age. They weren't always around, as they were busy keeping the clients happy and continuing with construction, so it was nice when they were there to share.

I read a few reviews before hand and noticed a few people complaining about the quality of the locks, faucets, etc. at the resort. I thought they all worked great, and wouldn't really expect the most amazing gear anyway. I understood I was going to a poor country, and couldn't bring my Canadian expectations with me. While shopping all over Nicaragua, i noticed how scarce it is to find popular brands from back home that make great products. There is a different way of life, and a different world all together, in places like Nicaragua. I knew not to hold Nicaragua to the same standards as Canada and as a result, was throroughly impressed with how great their standards are, especially for being in the country that it is.

It was awesome having the skate park, pool, swim up bar, air bag, paintball course, etc. right in the resort. I found the home life of hanging out at the resort to be really fun. The pool table was a rare commodity in Nicaragua, so I felt spoiled to have one there. It made for good drinking games, as well as entertainment during the hockey games, which the 2 Canadian owners happily ordered! They cater to an adventurous group of people, so the other guests make the experience fun as well.

I will be definitely be returning to San Juan del Sur in the future, and hope that the Surf Ranch will be available, considering they seem to be booking up fast.

Room Tip: If you're with a large group, get Condo #5 (I think) as it has a lot of single beds. Each condo...
See more room tips
  • Stayed April 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Micah H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed June 2, 2013

A group of 12 of us went at the end of April/beginning May. The resort opened up in December so there was still some construction going on. It was almost done by the time we got there. We used the all inclusive deal from clymb.com.

Food -- The food at the resort was really good and freshly cooked. We also had a chance to try food in the local town which was delicious as well.

Condo -- The condos were nice and our stuff was safe. There is no AC in the room which wasn't ideal for the heat/humidity in May.

Activities -- There are tons of things to do here. There is a pool at the resort and a pool table. They also had the NBA playoffs on their TV!!! There are shuttles that take you to different beaches and the town. You have to coordinate with the front desk and at times you have to bug them a little bit more than desired. However, I feel these kinks will be fixed over time on their end. Besides surfing, there are hikes, horseback riding, boating, scuba diving, snorkeling and other things available.

The resort also had unlimited beer and rum for the all inclusive deal. We brought our own vodka/tequila and the bar kindly made us delicious drinks off our alcohol as well!

Staff-- The staff was very friendly and awesome! The bartenders were fun to hang out with. The cooks happily prepared the fish that we caught at no extra charge. There is also a resort dog!

Overall I had a great time. There are things that they can improve -- such as coordinating the shuttles with the guests. I felt like this was more due to the fact that they were only open for 6 months. In another few months once the resort is full up and running, I would highly recommend this place.

Room Tip: You aren't going to be spending much time in the rooms so it doesn't really matter where you...
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Rajat S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chattanooga, Tennessee
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed June 1, 2013

My husband and I had a great time at the Surf Ranch. We went in May 2013, the ranch was still very new and they were still completing the property but it was worth the visit. At the time the rock climbing wall was not completed (this was a little disappointing because we brought our shoes and chalk!) but the purpose of our visit was surfing-which was awesome! The service was great, all the employees were very accommodating and friendly. We stayed in a villa, they were very nice, but very HOT! The skate park was sweet and the surfing experience (our 1st!) was great. We met a lot of people with the same interests as us (outdoor/adventure sports) and it made for a fun vacation. I would recommend The Surf Ranch to anybody looking for an adventure driven vacation. We hope to return!

Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Helpful?
1 Thank Stacy D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York, New York, United States
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed May 31, 2013

Great resort even though owners were really non-existent on the property. Most of our fun was with John, Michael, Juan Carlos and Juan Francisco at the pool bar! Food was good, shuttle ride into town was always an adventure. Unlimited beer and rum drinks were a highlight, as was Buddy the pit bull. John had great recommendations for restaurants in town, and we even treated him to a dinner with us and he surprised our daughter with a birthday cake/candle at the end.

Front desk folks seemed to be aloof and not really eager to go out of their way to help!
Vacationed at the start of the rainy season and we had NO RAIN during the day ~ sunny and warm. Fans in the villas and condos helped. Lack of hot water was really not an issue.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Sam B
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 #23 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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