Mukul in Nicaraguaaaaahhhhh (Nicaragua)- What More Can I Say?

My Husband and I sat at dinner on the third night of our stay at Mukul and tried to come up with a couple things that we would try to improve at the resort.  The biggest one was the fact that there could have been a couple more plug in our room for our various electronic gadgets and the other was that a bit more lighting in the bedroom would have been welcome.   That’s it….that was the entire list we came up with while sipping a margarita and watching an amazing sunset over the Pacific Ocean.  During a later conversation with the General Manager (who everyone will likely meet as he is very hands on and welcoming) we learned that the bedside table drawers each have a row of plugins for our electronic gear.  So now, our biggest complaint was the fact that know about the electrical sockets earlier!   The point is, the resort was extremely close to a perfect destination for our family getaway.  While I write my review from a perspective of a family getaway and the hotel does offer options for people traveling with families, I would like to also point out that this resort with only 37 rooms is an excellent couples (and romantic) destination where a couple would never feel like they were being over-run with children at a resort.Our room, called a Bohio (which is a stand-alone one cottage/tree house) has a very large bedroom with a huge shower and windows overlooking the ocean and our plunge pool.  The shower stall has two opposing sets of shower heads so you need not fight over who showers first.  The walk in closet was bigger than our home version and the mini bar was well stocked with everything needed.  One of the best aspects of our room was the huge deck with a small dining table and lounge seating with a panoramic Pacific Ocean view.   The hotel offers a “rooster” coffee service on your deck, which we chose to have at 6:00 am each day, to get you primed enough to make your way down to breakfast without caffeine withdrawal kicking in.   Breakfasts were amazing and if you get to Mukul I would encourage you to try all the local egg dishes, and if less adventurous everything you get at home is probably on offer.   We ate 12 meals and experienced the 3 restaurants with every meal being very good.  We are picky about what our child eats and there were nutritional yet tasty choices for children.  The staff could not have served us better and on more than one occasion went out of their way to create dishes that were not on the menu.  The Food at Mukul is excellent.  I can’t imagine many people being disappointed.  I thought it also important to mention that the Wi-Fi at the hotel (for the size and expanse of the property) was excellent, and free!While there I toured the resort and also saw the 1, 2, and 4 bedroom villas.  WOW.  These villas are ultra-high end, I guess that is one of the reasons the resort draws a celebrity crowd….the other being the fact that everything is so private.   The Bohio we stayed in is perched high on the cliff, in the trees overlooking the ocean.  The villas are on the beach each with walk out steps to private beach areas, full yards with hedges, lawns and gardens and pools of various sizes.  The décor is very tasteful with a Central American flair.  I am sure the web site more aptly communicates the elegance of the rooms.  The two bedroom villa was really a 3 bedroom as the downstairs in the second building had a huge seating area with 2 queen size Murphy beds.  The third room set up perfect for kids and or nannies with two fully appointed bedrooms in separate dwellings.   The two bedroom would be perfect for two families or a family with grandparents.The backdrop to the whole resort is a series of hills that are almost cliff like shaped in a huge C shape that forms around the roughly 1/2 mile long beach.  Mukul is considered a surf destination, probably more like a beginner surfer’s destination, as the ocean rolls in very consistent sets of wave after wave.  My 7 year old and husband boogie boarded for hours and never had to get into water deeper than 4 feet to catch good waves.  Often my son stayed in the near shore break in 2 feet of water.   The beach and the beach sunsets are likely the best we have experienced.    There is also a championship 18 whole golf course on the premises with full club rental and reasonable playing rates.  We played 18 holes one evening and thought the course was solid.  If you are a hard core golfer the course is slightly short at 6,660 yards but the layout is very undulating and the greens are great.  Although we didn’t play or see the courts tennis is also on offer.I would be remised if I did not mention the spa.  We had a tour of the 6 spa studios, each with different themes supporting different treatment techniques and philosophies.  Mukul may have one of the best Spas around.  Extremely private, ultra-relaxing, very professional and all in perfect surroundings.   Be sure to treat yourself to the spa.  While you are at the spa you can park your kid in the kids club or use the very available babysitting services they provide.  Our son was in heaven in the kids club and we had a hard time getting family time with him as I guess they kept him more entertained than we could.  The kids club offered 2 movie nights while we were there, which gave my husband and I a couple of “date nights” while at Mukul. If your kids are teenagers and not into surfing, golfing or lounging there may not be a ton of excitement for them at Mukul.  If that is the case, do not deprive yourself of a few days at Mukul but rather tie it in with a trip to the Four Seasons in Costa Rica where your teens can get their fill of teen life.  Saying that, there may be a host of local adventures that we did not explore as we were very happy on the hotel grounds.  The drive from Four Seasons Costa Rica to Mukul is 4 hours.  (Read my review on the Four Seasons for more on that).Mukul is "up there" a lot of places we have been. If you have been to Canouan or Jumby Bay I would rank the experience at Mukul as on par with those resorts albeit with a little more local flare, which we thought was a nice touch.  Staff could not have been more pleasant and accommodating and we can’t wait to go back with friends.

The Four Seasons Costa Rica- Something For Everyone

Over the past ten years I have sent numerous couples and families to the Four Seasons Costa Rica and have had always received great feedback, now I can see why.  There are many room categories from which to choose, the dining options and amenities are diverse and the staff are very accommodating.The resort is situated on the Papagayo Peninsula and is an easy 45 minute drive from the Liberia airport.   In true Four Seasons style the resort has nailed every aspect of customer service.  With a staff to guest ratio of approximately 1:1 there is always someone to carry your bag, get you a margarita, cart you to your room, push your chair in as you are being seated etc, etc.  The locals could not be nicer and you never feel like you are putting them out with your requests.  Service is visible throughout the resort.We stayed in a Canopy Suite which was a one bedroom suite with a living room and huge outdoor patio with dinning and lounging area with a hammock that overlooked the ocean.  Lots of closet and bathroom space included.  The entry level rooms are located in low rise buildings along the water.  While many of the rooms are just a few yards from the water depending on the time of year you travel depends on if you can see the water due to the fauna.  These are pretty much entry level size rooms with either one king or two double beds.  However, each room has an enormous size balcony with day bed and sitting area which added a lot to the overall feel of the room.   Almost all of these rooms offer interconnecting which is great for families traveling together.We ate at the bar one night which was busy with good energy. There were lots of good food choices including sushi, steaks, burgers, fish and a number of other more casual dining options. The second night we ate at their Italian restaurant and were very happy with the food and wine selections.   Lunches around the pool were probably the best meals with some very tasty and healthy (and organic) options.  The large salads are definitely hungry man meal worthy with a lot of local food to try as well as Pizza, burgers and other standard American menu options.The hotel has two very large family pools and one Adult Only pool.  The hotel has two significant beaches, one on a more sheltered bay area and the other with more direct waves off the Pacific.   Additionally the Four Seasons shares a beach club with the Andaz Hotel and Exclusive Resorts that has an additional 2 pools (one lap only) and an expansive beach that has a selection of water sports.  If you are a beach oriented person, there are lots of options at the Four Seasons.   We played the golf course one afternoon taking advantage of the twilight deal and were able to play about 13 holes.  The course is very well maintained, has lots of elevation change, a great layout and is well maintained.   If you don’t take your own gear the pro-shop has it all.  Oh ya, you are likely to see 20 or 30 monkeys and a host of other wildlife while on course and in and around the hotel.  The concierge desk had a pretty extensive list of activities to get involved in both on and off the property.  If you are looking for an active vacation refer to their web site and/or reach out to their concierge desk for a list of nearby activities.   The area is well regarded for eco-tourism.You could find quiet beach spots that are very uncontested or busier areas with more actives for families.  One afternoon my husband and I along with our 7 year old son hiked in the lava rocks on the oceans edge to a remote beach.   The property is large (but not too big) and has a lot to offer for everyone.

Andaz Costa Rica- A Bit of Adventure and a Good Value To Boot

I recently spent 2 nights at the Andaz (a Hyatt property) on the Papagayo Peninsula of Costa Rica with my husband and 7 year old son.  The resort is about 40 minutes from the Liberia Airport and shares some of the amenities and is in close proximity to the Four Seasons on the same Peninsula.  The overall esthetic is “modern nature” with a sense of the local architecture blended into modern architecture. All of the rooms are set on a steep hillside set in the trees and overlooking the ocean.  The rooms were very nicely finished with great linens, toiletries and amazing showers with doors that that opened up onto the trees and ocean.    Every room also has a very nice balcony with day bed where you can see and hear the wildlife right outside your door, many monkeys and fantastic bird watching.The pool is very attractive infinity like pool, although a tad busy during a school break week and I found that the sun goes down behind the hotel therefore limiting the amount of sun the pool area gets toward the end of the day.   The hotel does offer the option of using a nearby beach club which is also used by the Four Seasons and Exclusive Resorts guests.   The beach club  has an amazing beach, pool and casual dining/bar.  The ride to the beach club is roughly 15 minutes with free shuttles leaving on the hour and returning on the half hour.   The beach club also offered a host of water sports which we did not take advantage of.    While the location of the hotel may not be the best for late afternoon sunshine it was the perfect location for the most amazing sunrises and moon rises.  We happened to be at the hotel during a full moon and WOW!   The view of the moon rise from the hotel is spectacular.We were very pleased with  the food at Andaz…..breakfasts were amazing.  The hotels has 3 restaurant options including their main restaurant (casual and family oriented) with a diverse  menu and great quality.  Their Tapas restaurant was a great experience and allowed us to sip drinks (great bartenders here) and pick away at a half dozen small plates of food.  We did not get to the more elegant restaurant as we were only there 2 nights but heard good things from other guests.   We found the food prices very reasonable for a resort type of hotel of this caliber.   No sticker shock here….which is a nice change for a resort destination vacation.There is zip lining nearby which, at $85 per person, represented great value for money with a great combination of thrills and an opportunity to see the flora and fauna up close. Our 7 year old loved it and he did most of the zip lines on his own.  The surrounding area has a ton of eco touring available and we saw many families coming and going from what sounded like adventure filled days.  If you are adventurous and inclined to be active this could be a great family or couples getaway.  The resort is layed out well, has  a good gym and spa and leaves you feeling like you did not spend a $million on a vacation.  The Andaz is surely great value.I would not recommend this resort for the elderly or individuals not prepared to walk up and down steep hills and stairways.  Nor would I recommend this property for anyone seeking a “beach” destination as I would not recommend the beach at the hotel (however the beach at the beach club is very good).  The Four Season Golf Course is also a 10 minute drive and accessible to Andaz guests.