On the recommendation of our daughter and good friends, as well as positive reviews on Tripadvisor, we stayed at Monty's Beach Lodge June 21-25, 2013. Unfortunately our visit failed to live up to expectations. In retrospect we should have left after the second day, but stayed on mainly because of the enjoyable company of the other guests and the general lack of nearby, suitable alternate accommodation.
So, on the positive side, we loved the guests and staff, we were fine with our room (except for the brackish, saltwater shower) and loved the location of the camp. We learned on the third or fourth day of the relatively fresh water in the showers of the newer cabanas by the pool and rinsed off there.
However, on the negative side, where oh where to begin. Two big issues were food quality and, more worrisome, hygienic practices in the food preparation and service areas. Every dinner we were served the same salad or cole slaw, rice, beans and overcooked, salty chicken or pork. Breakfasts were similarly uninspiring with the same two fruits, watermelon and pineapple, served with scrambled eggs each day. Disconcerting too was the fact that portion controls seemed to be in place. Normally that would be a big problem for us, but the quality of the food put us off our appetites. A number of the young men, if they weren't sick, were more than happy to accept our uneaten food to supplement their meager portions after a long day of hiking or working. Based on our firsthand reports, written reviews and a location on the Pacific coast, we assumed seafood would be a big part of the meals. Unfortunately it appeared once only as a complimentary dish served to a couple who arrived from Maine to check out a possible partnership with their charity. Despite the somewhat impressive meal, I think they passed on an agreement. They seemed embarrassed to eat as they watched the rest of us with our dry, salty pork. It was obvious things had changed drastically since our friends visited a couple of years ago and even in the short period of time since our daughter was at Monty's for Semana Santa.
Now to hygiene issues. If food safe practices are in place the staff has either forgotten the rules or is not bothering to adhere to them; there appeared to be no oversight in this important area. Flies abounded in the kitchen with no apparent attempt to control them, ie screens or fly traps. Every day prepared food sat in serving dishes far too long and were kept neither hot enough nor cold enough....perfect conditions for bacteria to thrive. From what I could tell, condiments were never refrigerated. I know that drinking glasses, and I suspect the rest of the dishes and cutlery, were rinsed in the brackish, unpotable well water, again a contamination issue. I have no proof but I strongly suspect that these sloppy hygiene practices led to a large majority of guests ( a quick poll suggested at least a third ), including the three of us, suffering with diarrhea and stomach ailments, most probably as a result of food poisoning.
On a slightly more minor note, we had no problems with the GIVE kids arriving late night/early morning. The problem was the LOUD music that greeted them and woke us abruptly at 1am and went on until 3am! Gerry laughed it off the next morning.
Ratty surfboards, filthy yoga mats and dog poop scattered around the lawn round out some of the other issues. The whole camp suffered from a lack of leadership and direction.
I emphasize we were not expecting a 4 or 5 star resort, but expected much more in terms of food quality/quantity and hygiene. Both were abysmal. Like our daughter we will not be recommending Monty's to anyone.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Monty's Beach Lodge invites you to a rustic hide-away on Nicaragua's gorgeous north Pacific coast. Our Palm-thatch lodge and restaurant sits on a breathtaking sandy surf beach, just on the edge of the traditional fishing village of Jiquilillo. You will relax on our wide open beach, play in the warm surf, and kick back with fresh food and good friends. At Monty's, stay and play, and experience all the warmth of Nicaragua at your place. ... more less