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“Absolutely Unforgettable- Can't wait to return”

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La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Masaya
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Absolutely Unforgettable- Can't wait to return”
Reviewed May 22, 2011

Far beyond my expectations, I would HIGHLY recommend this school to anyone interested in learning Spanish AND experiencing the Nicaragua’s wonderful culture.

After 2 weeks at this remarkable place and found it very hard to leave, which seems to be a common experience. I have been to several excellent Spanish schools in Mexico, and this one easily tops them all, offering great teaching as well as a very full, complete and real experience.

Paulette (owner) and Bergman (school director) are truly remarkable; a real pleasure. Through their dedication and love of Nicaragua, have managed to create a place that is truly unique. They have created a fabulous environment that is super conducive to learning and to falling in love with Nicaragua.

Mariposa is an impressive model of sustainability, amazing that such an operation as this can be run on solar—nice to see so much care and thought go into the creation of this place, a manifest vision.

My classes were excellent, the teachers extremely skilled, it was exciting to realize a daily progress in my ability to communicate, and to understand more. I was thrilled to get the one on one instruction, which could sort out my particular needs and areas of interest; it made learning easy and fun. The outdoor classrooms were great, such a beautiful environment to learn in. The ecolodge is comfortable and nicely designed. I enjoyed the variety of trees, flowers there, and the all rescued animals too- dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, capuchin monkeys! (VERY entertaining).

Another important aspect of the school is its dedication to supporting the community, offering not only good steady employment to the locals, but support to a great variety of local development projects. There are great opportunities to plug into some of these projects if you have a bit of time and are so inclined.

The variety of activities organized by the school were a huge highlight, they were well planned and added a lot to understanding the culture. They were also an excellent Spanish learning opportunity. (*tip: any trips out with Bergman or Paulette should not be missed!). Especially enjoyed the trip to the Chocoyero Reserve, the horseback rides and the opportunities to visit people inside their homes, and learn more about their lives, their history and their work. Also enjoyed a trip to Leon to see a good art museum and revolution history museum, and the discussions about energy, resources, and history. There were some wonderful little processions and celebrations for Semana Santa, and without all the crowds. I appreciated the school’s location, it was also easy and comfortable to venture out on my own and explore the small pueblos nearby, and fun to practice my new Spanish skills with the locals. Fascinating place, wonderful people.

Though I eventually did travel to see the some other areas of the country (also wonderful), the school time remains a highlight. You may want to leave room in your schedule to stay longer than expected…

I will definitely be planning to return—as soon as I possibly can.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank sedora
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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438 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (104)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Ottawa, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed May 17, 2011

I was there for two weeks in April. It was a fantastic experience in every way. The teachers , activities, food and all the great times. I learned a lot about Nicaragua and picked up a remarkable amount of Spanish considering I knew zero when I arrived. Thanks Paulette , I hope to be back !!!

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank deniz_berkin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
57 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed May 2, 2011

I went with my dad, stepmom and brother. The people at La Mariposa were so helpful to us during check-in and arranging transport and activities. We also studied some Spanish and the instructor was great. The food was traditional and so good -- organic (freshly laid eggs), healthy, and tasty! The school premises make you feel like you're in the wilderness, but also very well taken care of. I loved the hammocks everywhere!

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Debbie M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Merion, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
36 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed April 25, 2011

My daughter (12) and I spent nine days at La Mariposa. I second the rare reviews of the vast majority of others who have spent any time at La Mariposa, but I'll give you some concrete details.

After a long trip, we arrived at the Managua airport knowing little Spanish. I looked out at the mass of people crowded against a glass window on the other side of security and felt overwhelmed but only for a moment while my brain slowly translated "escuela" to "school" on a prominent sign reading "La Mariposa Escuela Espana Eco-Hotel" held by a smiling worker who pointed towards the parking lot, into which he disappeared only momentarily arriving in a colorful van with the school's name clearly marked.

Day one, we were introduced to our own personal teachers, who very sensitively helped us both share what we could in our limited Spanish. The entire time, my 12-year old daughter had not only educational but fun classes with her tutors, who seemed ideally fitted to her personality. They not only permitted but encouraged her participation in the structure of the experience, allowing her to teach the teacher a card trick, which he proudly learned, to playing Spanish scrabble, using the grounds and the animals to learn new words, and, when another girl close in age arrived and provided good companionship, they were placed together for part of each day. In the late afternoon we went to a local restaurant frequented by people from the town and started out by visiting the kitchen to see a method of preparing the meat over an open fire and simmering it all day, a common Nicaraguan cuisine for special occasions.

Day 2 was a weekend day, and we took a daytrip to a nearby city which started with a visit to the church in the center of town and included a climb to the bell tower and a walk around the rooftop so we could see and photograph the whole town. On a visit to a local historical museum, we coincidentallymet one of the revolutionary fighters whose picture was portrayed there and saw some of the weapons used in Nicaragua's many conflicts. The modern art museum in that town, Leon, could have given even an amateur art-lover a thrill for a day.

On the second day of the weekend,. we took a three-hour horseback ride, carefully managed by two local men familiar who take care of the horses, and trotted to the nearby volcano (Volcan Masaya) which is a backdrop for many sights near the hotel. Breath-taking!

The next day, my teacher had me talk about myself more and brought in a sheet of vocabulary words pertinent to my profession of, and I had a much-needed review of basic grammar topics using a board and some pre-prepared sheets the teacher brought in. We walked to three homes in the immediate area of the hotel, met some families, and saw some crafts that they manufacture in their homes to make a living. (The hotel has a shelf of some of these products which they allow people to purchase on an honor system. The prices are unquestionably fair.)

The next day we drove to Granada and took a boat to the Semana Santa celebration in the islands nearby. A priest and small brass band on one boat rotate around the islands to alters of flowers created by families who reside on the islands. People from the area decorate the boats and dress up in costume re-enacting Christ on the cross amidst strings of flowers and colorful balloons. Then a stop at a restaurant on one of the islands (were we in heaven?) and a visit to an island where we could see monkeys swinging through the trees and beckoning us to come closer to visit and throw nuts.

I could tell you even more, but I've given enough of a picure for one to suspect that there would have to be someone truly inside Nicaragua navigating, and indeed, Pauline, the hotel's founder has given her life to Nicaragua and her interesting Nicaraguan orphan/daughter for over 25 years, and her staff is an outstanding crew from gardeners to drivers to kitchen workers to teachers. Many of our experiences, including a detailed discussion of customs of Holy Week as practiced in almost all Nicaraguan Catholic homes, were guided by Bergman, the head of the school program, and a man who is
multi-talented. In the US, he would likely be a tenured university professor! Although a fluent English-speaker, he maintained conversation mostly in Spanish using enough gestures and clues for even a limited speaker to follow.

And also deserving of mention is the community of people, a number of whom are repeat visitors, who create an atmosphere comfortably inclusive of all guests. We had such interesting fun together!

I ate healthfully all week, ate less, and focused much less on food. I enjoyed so much the sounds of the country and the birds and animals, recording some of them to help take me back there when I am back at home. It was fun to hear the rooster at unusal times (he does not have a watch), and there was ample opportunity for napping, which seemed less common than the early-to-bed, early-to-rise pattern which made for less
difficulty re-entering the workweek at home. I also became aware of daily habits which
contribute to pollution, and my daughter turned the tables by occasionally correcting me when I left lights on unnecessarily.

The hotel very much appreciates guests bringing clothes, school supplies, sports equipment, etc for use in some of the its community programs, and we made a project of this before the trip, which was good for both of us as well as La Mariposa.

Room Tip: The rooms are simple; current compatible with US
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  • Stayed April 2011, traveled on business
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank DrDoriaol
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bangor, Maine
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 23, 2011

La Mariposa is not your average, ordinary hotel. If you don't want to learn--about Nicaragua, the world, or the Spanish language--then do not stay here. Read the website and know that what the site says is absolutely what you can expect. The advice on who should not visit should be headed! What Paulette and her staff have done with La Mariposa is amazing and if you are willing to be open-minded, you will learn much.

The experiences available at/through La Mariposa are deep and unique. The Spanish lessons are extremely helpful; I learned more Spanish in the few days of my stay than I had in traditional classes. The staff is friendly and willing to talk with you and help you improve your Spanish. The eco-experience draws attention to the importance of sustainable living, in Nicaragua and around the world.

Since I stayed as a group and we had activities planned for us, I can say that the organization of our trip was amazing. We saw and did so much in our time in Nicaragua and this would not have been possible without La Mariposa.

My first few nights I stayed in the hotel before moving to the cabin. I have to say that I slept so much better in the cabin. It was beautiful and I felt like I was camping. When I visit again, I will be sure to request the cabin.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled on business
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank sarah_h08
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
West Sussex ,England
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed April 22, 2011

I have found a little piece of heaven at La Mariposa Language School and after initially planning to stay 2 weeks, 4 weeks later I’m still here and finding it difficult to leave. I am currently staying in the cabin, nestled away in beautiful grounds with rescue monkeys, toucans and parrots as my neighbours. The accommodation is clean and comfortable, I sleep soundly (on a brand new mattress) and I’m woken every morning by bird song and playful monkeys, ahhh what a great way to start the day, it certainly beats an alarm clock!

The standard of teaching at La Mariposa is very high, as a beginner it’s been a real luxury to have 2 hours of conversation classes a day with fun, incredibly patient teachers that really seem to understand my learning needs. Furthermore the quiet, peaceful grounds provide an ideal environment for studying.

Paulette and her daughter have opened up their home and couldn’t be more welcoming to guests of all nationalities. The entire staff makes La Mariposa a very special place, creating a warm positive atmosphere that’s truly infectious. As a female traveling alone in Central America I’ve been made to feel so welcome at this school, I’ve met some wonderful people from all walks of life and learnt so much about the country, its people and its fascinating yet tragic history. La Mariposa is so much more than a language school, it provides an opportunity to ‘get to know’ Nicaragua and some of the wonderful people that live here. If you care about sustainable development and want your time in Nicaragua to have a positive impact on the community then I can thoroughly recommend La Mariposa.

What’s more the food is divine and cold beer and good company is plentiful. I was disappointed to read a disparaging review from someone who “claimed” to have been here during my stay. I only hope readers will take into account the overwhelmingly positive reviews posted by guests as it would be a real shame for anyone to miss out on a wonderful experience because of one ‘bad apple’.

Stayed March 2011, traveled solo
Helpful?
Thank CandG10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chatham, New York
Level Contributor
18 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed April 16, 2011

Read on to other reviews that do well to describe the exceptional aspects of the language school and the remarkably good meals… this is about the other people who work at La Mariposa to make it more than just a school and eco-lodge.

This was my sixth stay since January 2010 when I worked as a volunteer with the lead farmer, Franklin, in the first planting at the finca. The finca was later moved to a better location where Franklin continues to produce quality vegetables for the kitchen while teaching students about organic gardening in the tropics. For those who enjoy growing food and getting into the dirt, I highly recommend volunteering on the finca.

Many of us have also enjoyed practicing Spanish while working with the lead groundskeeper/gardener, Santos, who has skillfully integrated many tropical plants and flowers into the natural setting that surrounds the eco-lodge. Manuel, like Santos, is always enthusiastic about leading walks around the property and on to a scenic overlook while pointing out birds, animals, and unique tropical plants.

However, my primary interest is the “gardening project” within a nearby community (check out the La Mariposa blog) which is providing twenty-six families with the infrastructure to have vegetable gardens. This project would not be possible without Ismael, who for lack of an adequate job description, is "the go-to guy”. If you want a glimpse of what it takes to keep things moving – no matter the problem – just follow Ismael for a day or two.

I am already planning my next stay at La Mariposa!!!!

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank LaborConsultant
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel

Property: La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel
Address: De la Cancha, 200 metros al sur, 50 al este | San Juan de la Concepcion, Masaya, Nicaragua
Location: Nicaragua > Masaya Department > Masaya
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Masaya
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 16
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
La Mariposa is a small, friendly non-profit Spanish school and eco-hotel, just outside the small town of La Concepcion, Nicaragua. Only an hour from Nicaragua's major attractions - Granada, the Pacific Coast, the Laguna de Apoyo, Masaya volcano - and 45 minutes from Managua airport, La Mariposa is surrounded by organic coffee, banana trees and flower gardens. Our cool, green climate (we are 500 meters above sea level - makes a real difference to the temperature) is ideal for studying Spanish! Our conservation efforts - though small scale - have vastly increased our bird population, butterflies and even frogs! We offer intensive Spanish classes in our purpose built classrooms or in outdoor classrooms in our delightful grounds, full of tropical plants and rescued animals. Classes are mostly one on one (max 2 or 3 in a class) and we cater for all levels form beginner to advanced, including specially designed classes for children. We have an extensive library with Spanish study materials and a selection of books in English on Nicaraguan history, development issues etc. We organize a full week (that includes weekends) of activities, including cooking and salsa classes, classes on the history of Nicaragua and a weekly update of what is happening in the Nicaraguan news. These are delivered in Spanish to help with progress in Spanish and with English translation if necessary. On 3 afternoons and Saturdays we offer trips out to local places of interest as well as the Masaya volcano by night, the Masaya markets and artesanias, Granada, Leon, the Laguna de Apoyo, the Pacific beach, Managua, Catarina, the Pueblos Blancos and more! The trips are rotated on a monthly schedule. There are various accomodation options - Students can stay in the eco-hotel (ensuite rooms) or our eco rooms (cheaper). There is a also a large (en suite) family room. Situated about 5 mins from the main school/hotel is our nature reserve. There are now 2 cabins in the reserve, each with two bedrooms, seating area, shower and compostable latrine, private terrace and garden, small kitchen (though you can of course eat all meals at the main hotel) - these are ideal for families with kids who like a bit more space to run around! There are of course a few friendly rescued dogs to keep the kids happy!! We use solar power - for heated water in all of the showers as well as to provide electricity, conserve rainwater,have a number of recycling schemes and have started our own successful organic farm which provides some of the eggs, veggies, coffee consumed at the Mariposa. And much more. We use our income to maximise the employment of local people (currently employing 80 teachers, maintenance and kitchen staff) and undertake a number of projects in the local community. You can opt to volunteer at one of our community or environmental projects, living in a homestay with a local family. Amongst other projects, we are currently offering volunteer placements in the nature reserve, in local schools, with a day care project or with disabled children. You are also welcome to help out the Mariposa workers - whether feeding our rescued animals or cooking up our healthy meals. All of which is a great way to improve that Spanish! We have also recently opened, on another but close by site, a study centre specifically designed to cater for groups of students. We offer an individualized curriculum which can include Spanish classes, activities and classes on the history, culture and environment of Nicaragua. We can also arrange community service work for groups. Accommodation is in two eco built dormitories, each of which has 10 beds (bunk style). The eating/meeting hall is a lovely structure built of straw bales and thatched roofing. Classrooms face a terrace with great views of the Masaya volcano. Meals are always freshly cooked, often using organic veggies from our farm. And of course there are solar heated showers and solar powered electricity. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
La Mariposa Spanish School And Eco Hotel Nicaragua/Masaya

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