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Morgan's Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge
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Reviewed June 22, 2006

My wife and I fished with Gabriel (for the 1st time) at Superfly Sportfishing in SJdS for 1 and 1/2 days a couple of weeks ago. We were there for our honeymoon.

Although we bagged a few different species, including a couple of large roosters, fishing was on the slow side for us as we had hoped to encounter sails. In contrast to the experience described in a recent Trip Advisor review, however, we had a great time fishing with Gabriel and his mate Parga. They worked hard, and made several stops, to find us a good bite. Gabriel was easygoing, patient and helpful without being intimidating (ask my wife), the antithesis of the stereotypical charter capt. HIs (made for fishing, not cruising) boat was in great shape. fast and offered plenty of walk around fishing space for 2. To top it off, Gabriel directed us to several excellent local dining spots, and even brought his own wasabi and soy sauce to adorn the "ahi" sashimi we caught and shared with him on our last night in town.

We've fished with a few guides, and would rate Gabriel highly. Although no sportfishing is cheap, I didn't feel cheated. We recommend him to anyone heading to SJdS to fish. Hopefully, we'll be back when the sails are thicker.

Stayed: June 2006
8  Thank NoCalDad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 2, 2006

Just spent 6 nights at MR and it surpassed our expecations - I think the reviews below sum it up. Excellent.

Now, for the warning. My husband and I wanted to go sport fishing, which was one of the activities advertised by MR. We were quoted $390 for a 4-hour trip, which was to include either off-shore fishing or a 10-mile run up the coast. MR sent us to Gabriel at Super Fly Fishing, and it was, in a word, terrible. The whole afternoon had the atmosphere of being on the boat of a spoiled kid who is a little irked that you're on board and would like to get rid of you as soon as possible.

On arrival at the boat we were given no welcome, no briefing (safety or otherwise), and no overview of what we were going to do or where we were going to go (as it turned out, that was probably because the answers were "not much" and "no where"). The boat had no shade and really only one seat. Our questions were answered with one word whenever possible, and we learned nothing about fish or fishing. We spent the entire afternoon within sight of MR. I could have seen the same things from my boogie board. And probably caught more fish (we caught one 5-pounder).

We complained, but he refused to come down on the price. An expensive lesson learned.

  • Stayed: May 2006
    • Value
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10  Thank lgnelson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 17, 2006

My wife and I spent four nights at Morgan's Rock in February, as part of a one-week visit to Nicaragua.

ROOMS

We are actually the other couple referred to in the March 23 review below, by the traveler from France (whom we enjoyed meeting, by the way!), and we are also thankful that we were able to move immediately to better accommodations. Unless mobility is an issue--in which case I would probably think twice before visiting Morgan's Rock anyway--definitely request a cabin other than 1 or 2, as there is no difference in price and the suspension bridge and the ocean views, especially at sunset, are memorable parts of the whole Morgan's Rock experience.

The cabins themselves are thoughtfully designed to blend into their surroundings while maintaining privacy. Although the neighboring cabin was quite close, we rarely heard any voices or other noise. The open walls, with screens to help keep bugs out, allow guests to enjoy the cooling breezes and the sounds of the crashing surf, and a ceiling fan keeps things comfortable during the warmest part of the day. The beds are extremely comfortable, as are the rocking seat/beds which hang on the private terraces.

I would note that, despite the screens, a variety of insects and lizards do visit the rooms from time to time. However, I did not find this to be a problem (nor did my wife, except for one particularly large spider which appeared briefly one night), and neither of us was bitten or stung by anything during our stay. I imagine that most people who plan a trip to Central America will not be bothered either, but if you need air conditioning, TVs and bug-free rooms (not that there's anything wrong with that--I like those things sometimes too!), then you might want to look elsewhere.

SERVICE

I can't emphasize enough how wonderful the staff was. They are young but enthusiastic and very eager to please. Two personal anecdotes sum up the reception we received there, and in Nicaragua generally.

The evening we arrived at Morgan's Rock, I was still feeling the effects of something that had "disagreed with me" (to put it delicately) the night before. At dinner, I had very little appetite and was mainly just thirsty, being somewhat dehydrated and worn out from the long, bumpy drive. I went over to the reception area, explained the situation and asked if they had anything suitable. A few minutes later, one of the ever-smiling women from the front desk came to our table with a tall glass of a homemade rehydration drink, which hit the spot. By the next morning I was fine again, but over the next day or so, whenever I passed the front desk, the staff continued to ask how I was feeling and seemed genuinely concerned for my well-being.

After four relaxing days, it was time for us to head home. I was carrying a large, round ceramic vase that we had bought earlier in our trip. It was wrapped in a thin layer of newspaper and a flimsy plastic shopping bag, which were adequate for driving around Nicaragua, but I was concerned about taking it through airport security and putting it in an overhead bin without better padding. As we were checking out, I asked if they had any packing materials that I could use. Moments later, the woman appeared with a perfectly sized cardboard box, bundles of newspaper and a roll of twine, and soon the vase was safely swaddled for the journey home to our apartment, where it is now prominently displayed and serves as a reminder of our wonderful trip.

These may seem like trivial incidents, but I have stayed at many of the "world's finest" (if you believe the magazines) hotels and resorts, and have encountered countless staff members at other places who would not have lifted a finger to help in either situation. So, when I receive attentive and thoughtful service like this, I do not take it for granted!

FOOD

Once my stomach had recovered (see above), I was able to fully appreciate the quality of the food at Morgan's Rock. The nacatamales and "gallo pinto" (the classic Nicaraguan breakfast of red beans and rice) were a tasty way to start each day, along with good Nicaraguan coffee and exotic juices (guava, passion fruit, tamarind, etc.). At lunch there was a nice selection of sandwiches and salads. For dinner there were just a couple of choices of appetizers and main courses, and orders were taken at breakfast that day, but everything was delicious. There is no room service, but this is actually a good thing, as food would only attract insects to the rooms, and besides, the dining area is a beautiful place to enjoy a meal.

We also enjoyed the informal cocktail gathering which tended to form in the bar area each evening before dinner. Guests chatted and mingled (though there was no pressure to do so, as I have found at some other places of this type) over local beers and snacks, such as fried plantains, served at the bar. It was all very congenial and low-key--no cheesy live music or smarmy resort manager forcing people into conversation--which my wife and I appreciated.

ACTIVITIES

Morgan's Rock offers a variety of nature-oriented tours and activities, including guided walks, kayaking in the estuary, and visits to the farm on the property, although my wife and I spent much of our time lounging by the pool and enjoying the hammocks in the cabanas down on the beach. We also enjoyed watching families of howler monkeys swing through the trees by the suspension bridge and pool. We did take the "Miradores" tour, which involved a short drive across the property followed by a hike to the highest point, offering spectacular views of the ocean on one side and Lake Cocibolca, including the twin volcanic peaks of Ometepe island, on the other.

If we had one complaint about Morgan's Rock, it was that they seemed to "nickel and dime" guests a bit when it came to the organized activities. Overall I thought Morgan's Rock was an excellent value compared to other resorts and ecolodges in peak season, but charging $30-40 per person for 2-hour tours on the property seemed unnecessary. We would have been more likely to participate in these activities if there was no extra charge, and this would have been more in keeping with the ecolodge philosophy of encouraging guests to learn about and appreciate the natural environment around them.

OTHER NOTES

If you are planning a trip in February, be aware that the weather is typically dry and sunny, but also quite windy. We didn't see a drop of rain during our trip, but the wind was blowing almost constantly. For the most part this kept the temperature comfortable despite the hot sun, and was not a problem, but occasionally it became unpleasant to walk along the beach due to the blowing sand, and of course it was even more noticeable at higher elevations (e.g., on top of Mombacho volcano and on the Miradores tour mentioned above), when it was probably gusting to at least 40-50 mph. This would not deter me from visiting again in February--I would gladly take a bit of wind over clouds and rain--but is something to be aware of, especially if you are a serious "beach person".

Finally, although I realize that most people face time constraints when planning a trip, I think it would be somewhat of a shame to visit Morgan's Rock and not see any other parts of Nicaragua. We spent three nights in Granada, at the wonderful La Gran Francia, which I thought was a good amount of time to see some of the many attractions in that area: Masaya and Mombacho volcanoes, craft markets, Apoyo lagoon (beautiful, but VERY windy!), a boat tour of the "Isletas" on Lake Cocibolca, and enjoying the charming historical town of Granada itself. Some people simply include Morgan's Rock as an add-on to a tour of ecolodges in Costa Rica, which is fine, but keep in mind that Nicaragua has a lot to offer and Morgan's Rock is a bit too isolated to serve as a good base for excursions.

If you are a traveler who likes to go off the beaten path a bit, but also appreciates luxurious touches, good service and good food, I strongly suggest that you consider Morgan's Rock. It is an extremely well managed ecolodge in a beautiful natural setting.

  • Stayed: February 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
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23  Thank AlexNewYorkNY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 26, 2006

This is by far the best hotel in the San Juan del Sur, the extra cost is well worth it. Very quiet, safe, beautiful srroundings. If you have kids, this beach is much cleaner than San Juan del Sur where raw sewage seeps into the beach. Plenty of things to do, or just relax in your spacious, elegant cabin. I liked the food and the rustic but elegant design that compliments the natural surroundings. You can take a day trip to San Juan del Sur town by jumping on the hotels own boat which is 10 minutes from town. The hotels in San Juan del Sur are all noisy, in 15 years I've stayed at all of them, the only hotel I will return to is Morgan's Rock hands down.

  • Stayed: March 2006
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8  Thank tcwilliam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 22, 2006

My 14 year old daughter and I had a wonderful 4-night stay at Morgan's Rock in February and I can highly recommend the lodge for people with active teenagers (even though my daughter was the only "kid" there when we stayed there). We spent lots of time boogie-boarding -- the waves are perfect for that, and the beach is fantastic, especially the little cabanas with hammocks where you can get away from the sun. We also enjoyed the night hike and the beautiful sunset estuary kayak trip. The cabins are lovely but be sure to ask NOT to be in cabins 1 or 2 (unless you have problems walking), because these are the only cabins next to the main lodge (instead of across a suspension bridge and up a hill), and they had several problems: surrounded by vegetation (thus, no view), no sound of the crashing surf as described on the web site, and, worst of all, lots of noise from the kitchen staff in the lodge's restaurant nearby (not because the staff was loud, but the cabins are open on 3 sides facing the back of the restaurant). We were first given cabin 2, and I immediately asked to be moved; so did the couple who arrived the same time we did and were given cabin 1. We were all moved that same day to fabulous cabins high on a hill with great views (a hike in the heat, but if you're moderately in shape, it's not a problem). We were there at the height of the dry season but thought the vegetation was lovely, like a combination of autumn (many bare tree limbs and brown leaves) and spring (many trees flowering). It sounds odd but it was beautiful in its own way. Also, the bareness makes it easier to spot monkeys and birds. Food was great, too, esp the nacatamales and the fresh fish. Morgan's Rock supports a local school and staff are happy to take donations for that school, one way to give back to Nicaragua, such a great country.

  • Stayed: February 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
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9  Thank Emily49
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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