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“Best Money Ever Spent”

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La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Masaya
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Calgary
Level Contributor
2 reviews
“Best Money Ever Spent”
Reviewed December 23, 2012

I was at Mariposa for 1 week and found it very well organized, good food, excellent teachers , friendly staff and lots of activities to do. Really enjoyed the hassel free trip to Leon and Granada.
The hike with a spanish teacher really made for a great spanish conversation enviroment.
The school has, very knowledgeable staff and are accommodating.
I can say, you won't be bored here with all the animals that are around, especially the monkeys, and interesting people who come to this school.

Room Tip: may need ear plugs for that rooster that goes off in the morning
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled solo
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Thank Mike H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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
Manchester, England, United Kingdom
1 review
Reviewed December 17, 2012

I spent 7 weeks at the Mariposa school, having extended by an extra week because I was enjoying it so much, thus managed to experience a great deal of what the place has to offer.

The Mariposa is so much more than a spanish school. Due to its strong ties and symbiotic relationship with the local towns San Juan and La Concha; just to begin with, it allows the students to become involved and experience readily an authentic Nicaraguan experience. I had the privilege to live with an amazing local family and through them took part in local festivals such as the Purisima, attended a local graduation and ate all my meals whilst conversing with the family about everything to do with Nicaragua.

Alongside the spanish classes which are conducted in classrooms al aire libre (outside) or fused with local walks, the school offers a great deal and is generally a great educational establishment. Monday night Charla discussions (following an evening meal with dessert !! in the school) ranged from migration issues to permaculture to human rights law. This takes place in an amazing and well stocked library with books of all types that makes you want to stay there and read forever. This reflects the school's owner Paulette, who is an erudite English lady with knowledge of a great range of things especially Nicaragua itself.

There are lots of activities such as volcanoe trips, long hill side walks, horse riding and the school is very accomodating in the requests of students to provide a very individual experience. Bergman is the head of the spanish school and conducts several of the trips. He is an absolute legend. Extremely affable, speaks clear Spanish and translates as necessary. Driving with Bergman through rolling green hills listening to songs of the Sandinista revolution having just visited a pineapple finca was a personal highlight.

Things that surprised me about the school. Despite being a seasoned meat eater I was more than happy with the school's amazing food which is in abundance, organic and heavily vegetarian. I was not a natural dog lover when I arrived, but was quickly and genuinely won over by the schools dogs. I was meant to leave and never come back...well this has changed and I am heading back out there early next year 2013.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank Craig D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
64 reviews
55 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 76 helpful votes
Reviewed November 30, 2012

This was my second trip to La Mariposa, the first 4 years ago. A few things have changed - the school is bigger, they've replaced the beat-up pickup with a beat-up van, and there are even more animals. But the spirit is the same - warm and friendly, with a great mix of students, really good teachers, lovely grounds and a certain something that makes it hard to leave. I only had a week, but most people stay for longer.

If you stay at the hotel, you get 4 hours of individual Spanish instruction a day, 3 meals a day (almost entirely vegetarian), a private room and several guided trips a week, all for a pretty low price. The hotel rooms aren't exactly deluxe, but they have private bathrooms and hot water.

Nicaragua is a really interesting country, and the expeditions (volcanoes, craft towns, beaches, development projects) are terrific. Though Nicaragua is generally pretty hot, the school is in the hills (maybe 1,500 feet) and significantly cooler.

Don't go to La Mariposa if you need meat with your meals, if you're uncomfortable around animals (though the 11 dogs are happy to leave you alone if you want) or don't want to get up early (the assorted parrots, roosters and other birds will see to it that you do). This is one of the best travel experiences I've ever had!

Stayed November 2012, traveled solo
Helpful?
1 Thank Apple66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
paulettelamariposa, Owner at La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel, responded to this review, December 1, 2012
What a great review, great description. Just one small factual error....we haven't replaced our beat up pick up with a beat up van. We now have both....a beat up van AND a beat up pick up!! We are definitely at our dog limit, I agree, though it is surprising how well they do get on in general both with each other and the students, but it is SO hard to say no when someone (often a guest) turns up with a sad sickly puppy in their arms. Good news is we are now recruiting staff members, such as Rosa the mariposa accountant who now looks after two rescued dogs. And we help her with the food. That is the future I think. Do come back, the dogs have promised to behave!!!
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1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed November 4, 2012

My boyfriend and I had a great time. We loved the setting, the nature, the monkeys, the toucans, very friendly and professional staff, the learning atmosphere, fun activities to volcan masaya, pueblos blancos, volunteering in gardens, visiting community projects such as panama school and the delicious food. oh and the excellent collection of books and select films that really added to the pleasure of our stay.

we stayed in the hotel only which was luxurious compared to our prior hostels, lovely decoration, hot showers! organic soap and shampoo provided. the only bad thing was the mattress which was too soft and you could feel the springs, but we've had worse and wasn't worth complaining about!

The highlights of the extra activities were volcan masaya, mombacho, masatepe and catarina and panama school. Make sure to read the info on different activities that is provided on a notice board as not all trips are worth doing in a group excursion in my opinion, but that's because i like to discover things for myself. there's no pressure to do all activities and its up to you whether to do them or go exploring by yourself and it's great that there's the opportunity to be taken to such places when you don't have much time for example, but also good to get on the microbuses and figure it out for yourself! the transport it a great experience in itself! Other activities that are offered at the hotel for example history lessons, salsa lessons,documentary screenings, evening discussion are an asset to the school in my opinion as it helps people understand the culture and history of Nicaragua which is very important.

the food was consistently excellent and staying at the hotel we ate dinner there as well with a delectable pudding every night, such a treat!

It's also a great place to connect with fellow travellers as you spend a lot of time together, so if like us you've been travelling for a long time it was lovely to make new friends to keep in touch with. That said if you're looking for more immersion then homestay would be the way to go as less spanish spoken at the hotel in the evenings for example, but that was partly to do with out lack of discipline of speaking spanish with other english speakers!

Outside the school, in walking distance you can visit san juan or la concha, we didn't explore that much but really enjoyed watching the local baseball match on sunday morning and chatting with our teachers in the local bar on friday nights. It is easily possible to explore these towns more to set up your own intercambios, make local friends etc. It's just very easy to stay at the hotel studying, reading and watching films!

overall, a really good experience, it was sad saying goodbye to our lovely time at the hotel and to new friends.

  • Stayed October 2012
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Helpful?
1 Thank laurenandphil
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
paulettelamariposa, Owner at La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel, responded to this review, November 24, 2012
"the only bad thing was the mattress which was too soft and you could feel the springs, but we've had worse and wasn't worth complaining about!". A plea to our guests...please tell us (not just tripadvisor) so that we can at least attempt to put the problem right!! Though our mattresses are pretty new and we have not had any complaints thus far....
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Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
198 reviews
46 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 142 helpful votes
Reviewed November 2, 2012

Although my 3 weeks at Mariposa were back in Feb-March 2010, (the Trip review will not allow me to enter the date), my review did not seem to make it on this website so here goes once again. As underlined by the Mariposa School website, it is not to be viewed primarily as a hotel but rather a learning experience that goes far beyond the excellent teachers and classes. So it is not a destination for lounging in bed until noon, ordering room service and dancing the night away at the bar. Nor is it simply a residence attached to a school. Rather Mariposa brings to the interested student of all ages a broad range of exposure to life in Nicaragua which includes a great introduction to local food and customs. (Plus the fact that one enjoys an extremely healthy diet, something enjoyed and practiced by only a minority of North Americans these days). I had the benefit of one of the rooms off the upper terrace but as well switching temporarily to the two floor thatched roof building in the garden with its large balcony. The teachers and staff all were so patient and pleasant, even for slow learners like myself. And I can say nothing but praise for the great kitchen staff who would kindly give in to my poor Spanish pleas for some toast on a day when they had whipped up a special local breakfast understanding that I was someone trained over many years to not face my day without a slice of toast and coffee but yes I soon learned what a pleasure it was to have fresh fruit. A great feature I must add is the fact that guests not only came from around the world but represented all ages brought together in a common learning experience. I think it was absolutely fantastic to have students well over 70 sharing their living and learning experience with kids old enough to be their grandchildren. A stimulating part of the overall learning experience were the various excursions organized in the afternoons as well as the opportunities for discussions on the local political and economic scene. I certainly do hope to return.

Room Tip: If one is not an early riser, then aim to stay on site since classes begin at 8am and if one has to...
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank Donald R M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
paulettelamariposa, Owner at La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel, responded to this review, November 24, 2012
What can I say??? You clearly did not forget us, thank you so much!!! Hope to see you again when you are travelling in these parts.
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Level Contributor
42 reviews
34 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
Reviewed October 4, 2012 via mobile

I had intended to go to la Mariposa for 3 weeks and stayed 6 - my only regret is that i couldnt stay longer! I stayed in the hotel for the whole time (i like hot showers) and loved it ! The downside of staying at hotel is that you dont learn as much spanish as you do staying in a homestay!
At the hotel the students do speak english with eachother but that is really up to the indiviuals there - we tried spanish days but quickly ran out of things to say to eachother!
San Juan is a great little town to be based it - a really friendly comminity feel about where people know each other! There is only basics in the town (but great icecream!) so bring stuff you cant live without!
The spanish lessons are great but exhausting! The nights at the hotel were fairly quiet - cards, study or a beer - it may not be to place to come if you are looking for a wild time!
Read the do come and dont come page - cause yes there are dogs there (although they are always quiet at night) and heaps of bugs (bring long pants and bug spray)!
As others have said the activites are great and varied and the food is AMAZING!

  • Stayed September 2012
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Helpful?
Thank Wilp33
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
paulettelamariposa, Owner at La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel, responded to this review, November 24, 2012
I will tell the local ice cream parlours to restock for your return!! I am glad you liked the food in general....take care of yourself.
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Brookline, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed September 15, 2012

My goals for my trip were to live in a homestay, practice my Spanish in the real world, and volunteer with a local organization. The Mariposa was great at facilitating this. As a 16-yr-old traveling alone, I couldn't do most volunteer-type programs that care about age. Paulette was excited to have me and helped me set up my volunteer work.
I loved staying with my family- each one is a unique experience, mixed-bag, but fun to make the most of! It was great experiencing the culture firsthand, and having neighbors and an extended family around all the time. I spent most evenings playing Escondidas or Estop (Tag) with my sisters and cousins. My family was accommodating about foods I liked, portions, etc. The bathroom was basic, cold shower, but no problem whatsoever. I felt very safe in the San Juan area, but didn't walk out by myself at night (just like I wouldn't at home...)
The Mariposa also runs great cultural activities like salsa classes, Nicaraguan history, and local trips, most led by the all-knowing and awesome Bergman. I loved the activities because they allowed me to get to know the area without the hassle of traveling on my own. I feel so much more knowledgeable about Nicaragua and the Masaya area now. I also learned a ton of new vocabulary in Spanish. I only took conversation classes because I had finished grammar topics before I arrived. My teachers were great at reviewing/ strengthening what I was weak at, and building my confidence conversing. I only wish the guests practiced Spanish more at meals and afternoons. That aspect made the experience less immersive than I would have liked. Of course, that can be helped by hanging out with las cocineras or other Mariposa workers, all of whom are locals. The volunteering was rewarding and impactful- especially with a longer stay (5+ weeks). Highly recommend staying or working with the Mariposa!!

Room Tip: Ask for a homestay family with kids, thats NOT by the highway- you'll have more fun and get bett...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank Meredyo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
paulettelamariposa, Owner at La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel, responded to this review, November 24, 2012
Yes you are the proof that age is not the defining factor!! It was great to have you here and you helped out a great deal. Thank you.
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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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