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“Fabulous, luxurious surf club”

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Buena Vista Surf Club
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Playa Maderas
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Reviewed 20 February 2014

I am so in love with this little surf club and am already eagerly planning a trip back! I couldn't have chosen a better place to celebrate my 30th birthday (thanks again Carla for making such a fabulous chocolate birthday cake!)
The lodge is run by two volunteer couples, who work for free but get to stay at the lodge complimentary during their stay (jealous!). Jane, Sholto, Carla and Liam were so warm and easily made everyone feel immensely welcome while staying there. The owners seem to regularly pop in, and Mark spent several evenings chatting with us and getting to know everyone. The food was delicious and we had a good variety during our 3 night stay. I really enjoyed the family style sit-down dinners which allowed us to get to know the other guests.
The lodge is open-air which means all sorts of creatures tend to find their way in for a visit (cabanas only have three walls, with the fourth simply ‘curtained’). If bats, insects, toads or other wildlife make you squeamish, this is not the place for you! (we had two little bats living in our cabana who were very good, quiet houseguests!) I loved waking up to the sound of those mischievous howler monkeys and was thrilled that they ventured close enough for me to get a fabulous photo.
We had never been surfing before, but since I was determined to master it on my birthday, we decided to take lessons from the extremely patient Sholto. It was money well-spent and I highly recommend taking at least one lesson with him. The board rentals are more expensive than the ones from the little place down at the beach, but the boards are definitely of better quality at BVSC. The trek up and down the hill to the beach can be exhausting, especially after a full day of surfing and while lugging a surfboard, but the workout certainly allowed me to not feel guilty about having an extra helping at dinner!
BVSC also offers daily yoga sessions and if I hadn’t been so sore from surfing, I also would have gladly partaken in the morning sessions run by the lovely Jane.
I would highly, highly recommend this lodge!

Room Tip: Cabana 6 is currently the newest treehouse
See more room tips
  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled on business
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1  Thank Kate R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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82 - 88 of 323 reviews

Reviewed 19 February 2014

This place is awesome - just be prepared in advance so you're not surprised. The rooms are open-air. That means that there's no air conditioning. No hot water in the shower. Our room had two bats. Now, that being said - it's still awesome. There's a net over the bed to keep you safe from pests. The room is nice, just be aware of it being outdoorsy. BEST food ever. You won't need to go into town to eat - although you definitely can!

  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank delfinparis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 February 2014 via mobile

This is my third stay at BVSC. I am not sure what the 'Nickel & Dime' wants from a place in Nica but clearly the sheer volume of rave reviews cast the spotlight on her expectations rather than any shortcomings of Buena Vista. Here's the deal. If you want a bottle of water you pay for it ... No more than you would do in town at a little store. Same with beers and snacks and rum, all reasonably priced pay for what you want, don't pay higher nightly rates and cover someone else's needs. The boards cost more to rent at BVSC because they are better and they don't make money on renting you a badly repaired one and then charging you for it when it breaks.

Food was excellent as usual, the curry night was truly outstanding and that's coming from a curry fan. The guests were amazing on this trip, huge laughs at dinner and immensely friendly. All nationalities were joked about and all took it in their stride. The staff were superb (my wife and I wanted to take Carla home ... She is soooo sweet, speaks fluent Gypsy and sells gates). The owners were on form as usual, great sense of humour that wasn't lost on the many Americans enjoying their stay (hello to the Boston crew).

BVSC is relaxed and friendly. Grab your luggage, your sense of humour and head over there. If you are a bit of a misery and love freebies then go on vacation to Costco.

Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
3  Thank JayPeeWhy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BVSCNicaragua, Owner at Buena Vista Surf Club, responded to this reviewResponded 13 March 2014

Hola,

It was great to see you guys back!

Great company and love the great sense of English humor! Never a shortage of dinner topics!

Hopefully we can welcome you guys back many more times!

Hasta luego,
Marc & Marielle

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 February 2014

This place has the potential to be amazing, but the borderline rude owners and nickel and dime approach made us feel very unwelcome and annoyed. With the price being double what a average hotel costs in Nicaragua, we expected more.

Pros: Playa Madera is unbelievably beautiful and great for surfing at all levels. The view from the deck is gorgeous, definitely catch a sunset there. The breakfasts and dinners were delicious and the two couples working there were friendly and relatively helpful.

Cons:
To start with, they claim to be an eco lodge (no hot water, no electricity during daylight, one with nature: e.g. bugs in bed with you etc) but sell bottled water. Why not have a durable, Aguazul water jug for a water cooler instead? And really, potable water for drinking should be included in the nightly price. I shouldn’t have to pay for potable water at the hotel.

At our first group dinner, the owner started off on a rant about how Americans are ruining the Nicaraguan culture since all the Nicaraguans see are a bunch of rich, white, Americans lounging around on vacation. HELLO!! What does she think the Nicaraguans see in her?! A rich, white, European that has two couples that run the hotel (for free, the owners don’t pay them, they just get to stay there for free in exchange for their services) while she plays at the beach with her kids. AND half of their rich, white, guests were Europeans, NOT Americans!!! I found this discussion beyond offensive but did not want to rock the boat too much since it was our first night there.

My other issue with the BVSC is that you are nickeled and dimed for EVERYTHING. I don’t mind paying for beer/soda/snacks, but I do mind paying for potable water. Also, if you want to surf, you have to rent a surf board for $15 a day and then carry it up and down the side of a mountain to get to the beach (5-7 min walk up or down a very steep hill). We decided to rent surfboards at the beach for $10 a day and carry it 50 feet to the water instead. They have SURF CLUB in their name. You’re really going to charge for surf board rentals? A surf lesson I can understand paying for, but not the board rental. And in case you were wondering, the quality and selection of the surf boards at the beach are great for beginners and intermediates. Don’t pay BVSC an extra $5 a day to carry a surf board up and down the steep hill.

I guess that we expected more for the price. If they want to charge luxury prices, they should provide a luxury experience. Oh, and don’t offend your guests.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank JaneS595
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BVSCNicaragua, Owner at Buena Vista Surf Club, responded to this reviewResponded 13 March 2014

Hi,

Thank you for staying with us and for taking the time to review us.

We always appreciate input, positive or negative and always look for ways to improve our place and/or ourselves. We try to offer a good value for money and try to be better and different than the average hotel in Nicaragua. We're sorry to hear that we didn't meet your expectations and that your stay was not as you had expected it to be.

We're always open for suggestions and tried to find your suggested Aqua Azul water bottles on the internet, but couldn't find them. Maybe they're only available in the States?

We always try to make sure everybody has a great time. It seems like the story Marielle told wasn't understood the way she meant it... It's definitely not our intention to offend our guests and we're sorry if you felt that way.

Sorry again and we hope you still enjoyed Nicaragua,

Marc & Marielle

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Reviewed 30 January 2014

My husband and I had the greatest time at Buena Vista Surf Club. The property itself is no frills, but clean and beautiful. It is eco-friendly -- so no hot water and no electricity until after 5 pm, but we did not miss those things. The food was home cooked and phenomenal, the rooms were comfortable and really quite cute. They are tree houses overlooking the forest. We stayed 3 nights and would definitely go back. The best thing about this place are the people that run it. Mark, the owner, and his wife Marielle are super nice and wonderful hosts. They make sure to hire couples that are friendly, informative, and just overall amazing. Kathleen & Jordan (who I now call friends) and Alex and Yen were amazing. The morning yoga was a great way to start the day and the surf lessons were really fun. (Turns out Playa Maderas has a pretty big break -- so really good surfers and beginners can have fun). There is a small hike to the beach -- which is uphill and a bit of a trek on the way back up -- but it is well worth it. What a great vacation!

  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Laura H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 January 2014

It is hosted by volunteers, who are very welcoming and helpful. They serve breakfast (9am) and dinner (7pm) family style in the common area, this is included in the cost per night. They have surf boards for rent. The tree-house bungalows are amazing and really invite you to be apart of the beautiful jungle here. It is a 5 min walk to play Maderas. We would highly recommend this wonderful spot again and again.

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank alihastings
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 January 2014

One has to give up a few taken for granted comforts like hot water showers, WIFI and electricity between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., but the rewards are many -- the breakfasts and dinners are delicious, served family style with the volunteers that cooked them, the Howler monkeys are freely swinging in the trees above the cabanas (which are on stilts in the treetops), the gorgeous sunsets seen from the yoga platform, and the roar of the ocean through the night. Playa Maderas was a fantastic place to swim and learn to surf if you so choose.

Stayed: January 2014, travelled with friends
Thank abcady
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Buena Vista Surf Club

Address: Playa Maderas | San Juan Del Sur, Playa Maderas, San Juan del Sur 0000, Nicaragua
Region: Nicaragua > Rivas Department > San Juan del Sur > Playa Maderas
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free Parking
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Playa Maderas
Price Range: £67 - £97 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Buena Vista Surf Club is an intimate design eco-lodge at Playa Maderas, San Juan Del Sur. A unique place for both surfers and non-surfers! Surf or learn how to surf or just enjoy the amazing beaches. Enjoy great home cooked, family style dinners with new friends, do yoga or relax at the 'infinity' sundeck and watch the wildlife from your ‘treehouse’! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Buena Vista Surf Club Hotel Playa Maderas
Buena Vista Surf Hotel
Hotel Buena Vista Surf
Buena Vista Surf Club Nicaragua/Playa Maderas, San Juan Del Sur

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