Mukul, Auberge Resorts Collection
Mukul, Auberge Resorts Collection, is a luxury boutique hotel and spa in Guacalito de la Isla - a $250-million, 1,670-acre low-density private beach community on Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast. The resort opened on February 1, 2013. “Mukul” is the Mayan word for “secret." The resort features 37 spacious accommodations, each with an ocean view, pool and private staff. Other resort amenities include Spa Mukul, with six private spa-treatment sanctuaries; a palapa covered lounge featuring dining areas and a swimming pool; and the 18-hole Guacalito Golf Course. Guests enjoy access to the property’s four miles of white-sand beach and rugged coastline, and seven miles of nature trails on which they can hike or bike to observe the four species of monkeys and other wildlife that reside in the lush coastal forest. Guests can also explore Nicaragua through customized experiences that introduce them to the nature, culture and people of this up-and-coming tourism destination, known as the “land of lakes and volcanoes.”
Mukul has won many accolades, including ranking in Conde Nast Traveler’s 2015 “Top 15 Resorts in Central & South America” and “Top 100 Hotels & Resorts in the World,” Travel + Leisure’s “It List,” Conde Nast Traveler’s “Hot List” and Robb Report’s “Best New Hotels” and “Top 100 Resorts.” Spa Mukul was named “Best Spa in the World” by Virtuoso, while Guacalito Golf Course was named one of the “Best Golf Courses” by Robb Report.
Mukul and Guacalito de la Isla are the vision of prominent Nicaraguan entrepreneur Don Carlos Pellas, whose family has roots in the country that date back to the 19th century. The Pellas family businesses include transportation, computers, sugar, ethanol, Flor de Caña Rum and the world-class Vivian Pellas Hospital. Pellas also founded the BAC Credomatic financial network in 1985, which he sold to GE Capital in 2011 in what was the largest business transaction in Central American history. With Mukul and Guacalito de la Isla, Pellas is establishing his family legacy – a pristine natural sanctuary where guests enjoy luxurious pampering while connecting to the land, culture and people of Nicaragua in authentic ways, and the surrounding community benefits from the resulting jobs, schools and improved infrastructure.
Pellas assembled a team of proven industry leaders to position Mukul among the most exclusive luxury boutique hotels in the world. The designers include Jeff Jensen, Principal Designer at HKS Hill Glazier Architects, in collaboration with Frank Butler and Song Chia of FAB Studio; SWA Landscape Architects; and Paul Duesing Partners Interior Designers. Their resort projects, among others, include Las Ventanas al Paraiso and Palmilla One & Only Hotel in Cabo San Lucas, and Rosewood Mayakoba and Tucker’s Point Club in Bermuda. The Guacalito Golf Course was designed by David McLay Kidd, named the “hottest architect in golf” by Golf World. The concept and treatments at Spa Mukul were created by Angel Vezina Stewart, who was the founding Spa Director at the Spa at Las Ventanas al Paraiso. 2 Interior designer Paul Duesing worked with Nicaraguan artisans to craft furnishings and decorations that reflect the traditions of the country, including patterned floor tiles, tables made of carved native teak, headboards made of Flor de Caña rum barrel staves, accent pieces made of sand-casted polished pewter and etched ceramic lamp bases made of clay from nearby Masaya Volcano.
Mukul was designed as a luxurious yet relaxed private estate by the ocean, with 37 accommodations designed in a style that combines modern elegance with traditional Nicaraguan roots to create a distinct sense of place. Guests can select from Beach Villas, Bohios or the stately Casona Don Carlos:
12 one- and two-bedroom Beach Villas, beginning in size at 881 square feet and boasting nine-foot ceilings and walls of glass, face the gently rolling surf of Playa Manzanillo. With stone walls and gardens providing privacy, the white-stucco, red-tileroofed Beach Villas exude the ambiance of luxurious vacation homes. Mukul’s “carefree luxury” philosophy is embodied by each Beach Villa’s spacious “barefoot chic” indooroutdoor setting, complete with swimming pool, wrap-around deck, outdoor-lounging palapa and secret garden with an outdoor shower. The impressive 500 square-foot bathroom suites, designed as true sanctuaries for the senses, include separate “his and hers” vanity areas and a “Liquid Temple” wet room with a soaking tub and monsoon shower. The two-bedroom villas are family compounds with their own private show kitchen, pantry and living room.
BOHIOS Like tree houses nestled in the lush canopy, Mukul’s 23 Bohios perch dramatically on a steep hillside 300 feet above Playa Manzanillo, offering breathtaking ocean views all the way to the horizon. Built of sustainable native teak and pine, each of the 621-squarefoot cliff houses features high ceilings and a wall of glass that opens onto a sweeping wooden deck with a private plunge pool. The spacious bathrooms are finished in Nicaraguan travertine marble and boast couples’ “showers-with-a-view.”
CASONA DON CARLOS
The jewel in the crown, embodying the essence of Mukul’s hospitality philosophy, is Casona Don Carlos, the Pellas’ private beach house. Located adjacent to the Beach Villas, the 20,000 square foot oceanfront compound features an expansive indooroutdoor living area with a soaring 80-foot-high palapa ceiling. The six bedroom suites are divided into two buildings – Casona Don Carlos with four suites and Suite Doña Vivian, named for the wife of Guacalito’s owner Don Carlos Pellas, with two suites. The suites have a wrap-around stone terrace and share a large private swimming pool. Suites within the compound may be booked by guests when the Pellas family is not in residence.
Suite Doña Vivian may be rented as a separate accommodation option from the Casona Dona Carlos building when the family is not in residence. The luxurious suite features 3 7,746 square foot of indoor/outdoor living spaces, two complete master bedroom suites, one with indoor and outdoor shower gardens and nearly 360 degree ocean views. On the lower level, reached by steps, the beachfront swimming pool is flanked by a bathroom featuring the only private sauna at Mukul. If guests choose to book the adjoining Casona Don Carlos building, the total space leads to a 20,000-square-foot, sixbedroom suite accommodation option with two swimming pools. SPA MUKUL: Spa Mukul consists of six spacious spa sanctuaries, each with its own
Spa Mukul consists of six spacious spa sanctuaries, each with its own décor, ambiance and signature spa ritual, each harnessing a different ancient healing tradition and offering guests a holistic spa experience. Guests of Spa Mukul are personally escorted by a spa concierge from their guest room at Mukul directly to the spa sanctuary of their choice, bypassing the check-in process and preparing the guest for their journey. Each of the six spa sanctuaries focuses on a different spa experience:
- Secret Garden: Water is the theme in this shadowy, womb-like spa sanctuary where guests float in a pool as a therapist administers a relaxing “Watsu” treatment that combines Shiatsu and stretching. Other treatments include moisturizing wraps and facials. Guests can relax on their own private “island.”
- Hammam: Moorish architecture and tiles create this homage to a traditional Turkish “sweat bath,” where the five-step detox and cleansing treatment includes steam, massage, exfoliation, soaping and relaxation.
- Rain Forest: Here guests immerse themselves in hydrotherapy that involves a salt water soaking pool, a Monsoon shower, a Vichy shower, scrubs, massage and moisturizing wraps.
- Crystal Temple: Quartz crystals and stones shimmer in the dim light of this twostory-high spa sanctuary where guests indulge in healing crystal, light and aromatherapy treatments that include baths and massages. The Crystal Temple boasts a beautiful ocean view.
- Healing Hut: East meets west in this mountain-view spa sanctuary where guests can enjoy a fusion of the best-known traditional Asian and international healing rituals including Indian Ayurveda, Thai and barefoot Indonesian massages and Chinese reflexology. •
- Ancient Sanctuary: Here guests enjoy treatments incorporating ancient indigenous healing practices and traditional Nicaraguan medicinal plants grown on property.
GUACALITO GOLF COURSE:
The 18 hole, par 72 golf course was designed by world-famous Scottish golf architect David McLay Kidd to embrace and preserve the natural landscape and offer golfers of all levels an enjoyable experience. Guacalito Golf Course features a clubhouse; putting green; driving range; state-of-the-art pro shop with rental clubs, shoes and complimentary bag storage; new golf carts; a Golf Academy where golfers can fine tune their skills; and SNAG golf-training games for children.
Set in and around a towering 85-ft.-wide palapa, the Mukul Beach Club is the heart of Mukul, a gathering place where guests can enjoy snacks by the pool, cocktails in the split-level bar and lounge furnished with sumptuous hand-crafted sofas and chairs, and breakfast, lunch and dinner
KUL KIDS CLUB
Family is at the core of Don Carlos Pellas’ values, the Mukul Beach Club features a separate area for children. The Kul Kids Club offers a pool, playground and activities specially geared to different age groups. Trained nannies are onsite to supervise children.
The cuisine at Mukul is a fusion of foods from the Americas and authentic Nicaraguan flavors. Much of the produce is grown by local farmers; seafood is selected from the daily catch of local fishermen; steaks are grass-fed Nicaraguan beef, known for its juiciness and intense flavor. The resort’s “Cocina NiKul” cuisine includes some of owner Carlos Pellas’ favorite traditional Nicaraguan dishes. International specialties such as fresh-made pastas and beef, chicken and fresh fish cooked simply on the wood-fired grill; and contemporary take on Nicaraguan and other Latin specialties. Guests can enjoy “Cocina NiKul” at the following dining outlets on property:
Beach Terrace – outdoor dining on the terrace
Parrilla – dining on the beach
La Mesa – A luxurious dining room where the décor includes mementoes and photographs chronicling the 135-year history of the Pellas family in Nicaragua.
Guests can enjoy vintage rum tastings and Nicaraguan cigars in the intimate Flor de Caña Rum Cellar and walk-in humidor. Hanging from the 52.5 ft. tall ceiling of the palapa is a spectacular chandelier made of 152 baskets, some as large as 12 ft. in diameter.
NATURE AT MUKUL
A staff of Aventura Rangers familiar with the native flora and fauna is on hand to introduce Mukul guests to the rich nature found within Guacalito’s 1,670-acre reserve. Guests can learn about the resort’s Turtle Watch program, designed to preserve the native endangered Olive Ridley turtles. They are welcome to hike or ride mountain bikes with the rangers, or on their own, on the 12 kilometers of nature trails, home to wildlife including monkeys, sloths, iguanas and tropical birds.
SURFING AND SWIMMING
With seventeen impressive surf breaks within a forty-five minute drive, Mukul has positioned itself as a world-class surfing destination. The jewel in her crown is Manzanillo Point, a challenging left-point wave that lies directly in front of the resort’s private beach club. Without public road access, outside surfers may only visit by panga. For much of the day, the break often peels off empty except for the handful of fortunate resort guests. Beach breaks in front of the resort are excellent for novices and also peel playfully under the right conditions.
Tropicsurf, the pioneer of luxury surfing, offers full-time surfing guidance at Mukul. Services range from beginner lessons, coaching sessions to master the resort’s Manzanillo Point and guided half-day panga or 4WD surfaris along the coast. Guests can enjoy being taken to the best waves and secluded spots, or learn and step up a level under Tropicsurf’s unique ten-level coaching plan. Guests also have the option of viewing video or stills footage of themselves in action (subject to availability). Guests may select from Tropicsurf’s collection of Firewires, beginner boards and SUPs for rent.
South of Manzanillo Beach, where Mukul is located, the resort boasts four miles of coastline. Guests are encouraged to discover the pristine serenity of Guacalito Beach, a quiet cove where they can enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving around the tiny but rugged Anciana Island. At the southern end of the resort, Tamarindo Beach offers dramatic cliffs, a white-sand beach and a sense of utter privacy. In the near future, an ecosensitive marine dock will be the starting point for whale-watching and fishing excursions, underwater photography and other marine workshops.
Newly available to resort guests in 2015 are two tennis courts, located at the Verdemar Residences at Guacalito de la Isla. Guests can reserve courts through the concierge and complimentary racquets and balls are available upon request. Tennis instruction lessons are also available.
DEEP SEA FISHING
Mukul offers guests access to the “Spirit of Mukul” yacht, a fully-equipped 31-foot, double-engine Pursuit that proves ideal for both inshore and offshore fishing. The wide variety of fish available depends on the season and includes Spanish mackerel, Jack Crevalle, Mahi-Mahi, Red Snapper, Wahoo, Rooster Fish and much more. For the ambitious fishermen in search of big-game fishing, Marlin and Yellow-Fin Tuna are a regular occurrence offshore. Fishing tours are available every day and include gear, bait, radio, drinks, snacks, a certified capitan and mate. For a true ocean-to-table experience, Mukul’s chef is happy to cook up guests’ very own “Catch of the Day.”
Mukul guests have the opportunity to explore Nicaragua beyond the boundaries of the resort. The hotel’s concierge can arrange personalized guest experiences that introduce them to the sights and culture of the country and its people. These are not ordinary tourist outings. An excursion to the colorful Spanish Colonial city of Granada might include a visit to the studio of a ceramicist who works with clay from Masaya Volcano to create the custom lamp bases used at Mukul, followed by a private dinner – or even an overnight stay – at the Pellas family’s historic Granada mansion.
Another excursion curated exclusively for Mukul guests might be a helicopter ride over Nicaragua’s spectacular coastline to Ingenio San Antonio, the Pellas family’s legendary Sugar Mill and Sugar Cane Plantation, for a private tour of the Destilería, where the world famous Flor de Caña rum is produced. They might enjoy a personalized bottle of Flor de Caña aged rum with lunch in the Pellas’ plantation house. Fishing enthusiasts can enjoy deep-sea fishing in the Pacific from Don Carlos Pellas’ yacht, the “Little Sugar,” 6 or on overnight stay at his private fishing lodge on the Rio San Juan, where the catch (and release) might be a 150-pound tarpon. Excursions for adventure seekers include a short helicopter flight to Cerro Negro Volcano, where they can experience the thrill of speeding down from the summit on an “ash board.” Guests interested in native art can travel by seaplane to the remote Solentiname Islands in Lake Nicaragua, to visit an artists’ community known for its primitivist oil paintings and wood carvings.
The Pellas family is committed to responsible travel principles and improving the lives of the people in the community surrounding Mukul, many of whom have been trained for jobs at the resort and provide it with goods and services. Guests are welcome to visit the neighboring fishing village of Gigante, where a number of local beach-side restaurants and small businesses have benefitted from grants and micro loans through the “Don Carlos Pellas Fund for Tourism Excellence” program. In Gigante, guests can enjoy a truly authentic Nicaraguan experience while promoting the wellbeing of the local community. This could include a fishing excursion with one of the local fishermen who provide the resort with its “daily catch.” Interested guests might also enjoy a visit to a local farm where vegetables are grown for the resort. The visit could include a typical Nica breakfast with the farmer’s family.
At Mukul, Auberge Resorts Collection, the commitment to sustainability runs deep. The hotel was built with the use of rainwater catchments, regional materials, timber from sustainable forests, non-toxic paints and energy-efficient windows. The implementation of a gray-water program is ongoing. Environmental disturbance was minimal; builders replanted more than 1,500 trees – including a one-million pound, 150-year-old Guanacaste rather than cut them down to make room for construction.
Mukul’s commitment to sustainability is evident not just in the way it deals with the natural environment, but in the way it deals with the surrounding community. When Carlos Pellas decided to build his dream resort in this remote spot, he chose to hire locals rather than bring in trained staff from elsewhere, so that the hotel would not just be there for the guests’ enjoyment, but for the betterment of the community.
Funded by the owners of Mukul and Guacalito de la Isla, Costa Esmeralda Airport – the first Pacific Coast Airport in Nicaragua – began service for international private jets and commercial flights from Managua’s Augusto C. Sandino International Airport and Costa Rica’s Liberia International Airport in November 2015, offering easier access to Guacalito de la Isla and Mukul and the surrounding areas. The single terminal airport was built on a new site five miles north of Guacalito de la Isla in the department of Rivas – an approximate 10-minute drive from the resort. The 5,000-foot runway will accommodate ATR-42/72, Gulfstream V jets and most turboprop planes. Costa Esmeralda Airport will house a Customs Department and a duty-free shop.
Start at $550 per double per night, including breakfast for two at La Terraza restaurant.
KM 10 Carretera Tola-Las Salinas, Guacalito de la Isla, Nicaragua
About Mukul, Auberge Resorts Collection
Mukul, Auberge Resorts Collection is the first luxury beach resort in Nicaragua, set in Guacalito de la Isla, a 1,670-acre, $250-million low-density, private beach community on Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast. The resort was developed by Pellas Development Group, a Luxury Resort and Community Investment, Development and Operating Company founded by Nicaraguan entrepreneur/philanthropist Don Carlos Pellas. Mukul features 37 spacious, beautifully appointed accommodations including 12 one- and two-bedroom Beach Villas and 23 cliff-side Bohios, each with an ocean view, pool and butler. Additional resort amenities include Spa Mukul, with six private spa-treatment sanctuaries; Mukul Beach Club featuring lounge and dining areas, a walk-in cigar humidor, a Flor de Caña tasting room, a swimming pool and the Kul Kids Club; and the 18-hole Guacalito Golf Course designed by renowned golf-course architect David McLay Kidd. Guests enjoy customized activities and experiences that introduce them to the country’s sights, culture and people. When the Pellas family is not in residence, guests may book suites within Casona Don Carlos, the Pellas’ 20,000 sq. ft. six-bedroom beach compound at Mukul. Rates at Mukul start at $550 per double per night, including breakfast for two at La Terraza restaurant. Mukul is a member of Virtuoso, the Signature Travel Network and Preferred Hotels & Resorts, the world's largest global collection of independent luxury hotels.
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