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“Outback hostel”

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The Maderas Village
London, Canada
Level Contributor
14 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Outback hostel”
Reviewed 28 May 2014 via mobile

Maderas is located in the middle of no where which is a cool idea for a stay as you are able to relax and forget about stress from back home.

I really liked the idea of a yoga/surf haven but the rooms were more hostel/dorm style and it was almost impossible to sleep there as the walls are paper thin and many dogs were barking at night, as well as the howler monkeys sound very close and wake you up throughout the night. I found myself very drained by the end of my stay.

The staff was very helpful and pleasant... Everything did come at a cost however. I feel like it was one of my most expensive stays anywhere I've been with all the added costs.

The food is very good here. I loved their idea of family style dinners. Nice to get all the visitors together and get to know one another, especially nice for anyone who may be travelling alone. They do offer lots of activities so if you are travelling alone you can definitely have some fun group events.

They do keep the rooms and bathrooms clean and tidy... You do have to share a bathroom with others here...

Yoga classes were great and the beach is a five minute walk so if you are a surfer or want to relax it's a great spot. There are some pub like restaurants on the bar that also offer great food and are reasonably priced. Surf boards are cheap to rent also and they offer lessons, I did a lesson as I had never surfed before and the teachers were so good I was catching almost every wave by the end and they allow you to keep the board after to go solo once your lesson is complete. You do have to walk down quite a steep hill to reach the beach, so if you have any disability or aren't in shape this might not be a great location as it is a fairly difficult hike.

If you are a diver, there are a couple padi certified places in San Juan you can go to dive, the water clarity isn't the best I've seen but it was a cool apt to check out for a least a dive or two.

Overall, I would stay here again but I wouldn't stay there my entire trip I would just check it out for a few nights.


  • Stayed May 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank CanadianDB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Matt D, Owner at The Maderas Village, responded to this review, 30 May 2014
Hi DB, thanks for your review. Pleased to hear that you enjoyed the service, food, yoga, surf, proximity to the beach, cleanliness, and other guests so much.

Disappointed to hear that the room didn't live up to expectations and that you had to share a bathroom; next time I'd recommend booking into one of our Casitas, Cabanas, or any of our private rooms that have private washrooms rather than our shared privates that we have made available for travelers on a budget.

We were surprised to read about the added costs complaint. Could you to clarify what added costs you encountered, as we go out of our way to avoid any confusion on this. Are you referring to the meals or activities that you participated in while here? Unfortunately we have to charge for these things or our business model ceases to make sense (and while our food is not cheap, you did in fairness post a photo of sushi w. fresh octopus...this just isn't a cheap item to purchase). Perhaps it was the tax, which I'm sorry if you weren't expecting to pay, but we are a legitimate business in Nicaragua and believe that paying our fare share towards the Nicaraguan Governing system (rather than only accepting cash and not reporting revenue like most hotels/hostels operate) is part of being a responsible business owner here. Whatever these were, I apologize for the miscommunication and please email us directly with feedback on this, as we're always anxious to better communicate unexpected costs and better set expectations for everyone that stays with us.

I do apologize for the monkeys waking you up; we would love to do something about this, but every effort we make to silence them (read: poison) always raises eyebrows from PETA - apparently endangered species are kind of a thing these days.


Dickie
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English first
Toronto, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 May 2014

Beautiful place, great service and incredible surfing. Staff are very nice, but a few of the guys that work there definitely have the 'too cool for school' vibe. Other travelers who we have met in Leon and Grenada have said the same thing about the vibe of the staff during their stay. We are all in our twenties, and we all agree it still felt like we were in high school staying at Maderas. Food is very expensive, so instead we hiked down to the local restaurants by the beach for breakfast/lunch/supper. Be prepared to pay a heavy 'tax' on your bill when you check out. Myself and my friends have been traveling in Nicaragua for 5 weeks and have not yet to pay a ridiculously high 'tax' like this. Were assuming it goes toward tip/wages towards the kitchen. Overall a nice stay, but be prepared to pay more than expected; which may make you feel a little ripped off in the end :(

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
11 Thank S_Traveller435
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Matt D, Owner at The Maderas Village, responded to this review, 30 May 2014
Thanks for taking the time to post your review. We do genuinely apologize that the tax was a surprise. We are a legitimate business that reports our revenue and is strictly governed by the Nicaraguan department of taxation and labour. Most hostels or Nicaraguan owned establishments operate on a cash-basis and do not pay tax, and thus, do not charge it. We believe in being honest business owners and giving back the required amount towards a system that needs help from foreign tourists so much (in addition to the microfinance fund that we operate in order to support our staff, their families, and Maderas locals). Unfortunately, tax is a reality throughout the world and the 17% tax levied here on tourism establishments is not much different than that levied in Canada, so I'm a little surprised at your shock at this. We also note this in all of our communication material that we send out prior to making a reservation. If you were not informed about this during the reservation process, or did not receive the pre-arrival guide, or did not see the check-in brochure in your room I apologize - we are constantly working to make our communication clearer. In the event this is the case, please email me directly and I'd be happy to arrange for a free upgrade if you're ever in the area again. Had you mentioned this at check-out we would have been more than happy to compensate you in some way to make up for the confusion.

For clarity, the 17% was for tax only as you were told at check-out (which is why next to the amount it said "Tax") and does not go towards tip for the staff, who were pretty disappointed that you left nothing for a 4 day stay.

I fully admit that our food prices are not cheap. The majority of our clients are not backpackers, and as such demand high quality meals. While eggs, rice, and beans are cheap here, organic lettuce, imported cheese, olive oil, ice and even water are all more expensive here than back home. We serve only 7 year rum and use either Sail Fish or Mahi Mahi when we serve fish. These are all expensive ingredients, but result in a delicious assortment of food and drinks that we deem to be aligned with the Maderas experience. I'm glad you were able to find cheaper alternatives at the beach, but we maintain higher standards as our clientele is different, and as such cannot price things at the same levels or we'd lose money. Again, I apologize if this wasn't properly communicated to you prior to your arrival. We'll try to do a better job of this.

I can't really speak to the 'too cool for school' comment, and I genuinely apologize that you had this experience. We are all by nature very friendly people (although I'm obviously biased). At the same time, we and most of our guests are in our late 20's or early 30's and tend to get pretty tangental in philosophical discussions and have been known to have some pretty intense debates that could alienate people that are not interested in sharing their thoughts on interesting subject matters. I would like to think that if you had taken the opportunity to sit down next to any of us during breakfast, lunch, or dinner and strike up a conversation you would have left with a different opinion, but ultimately we all have less than quiet personalities that don't jive with everyone. I'm not sure how we can do a better job at being ourselves, but I will ask Bennett to stop being so damn cool.

I am sorry you left having experienced anything short of an amazing time and we will continue to work on more clearly communicating the issues you brought up.

Dickie
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 May 2014

Like some of the previous reviewers, I too was hesitant about what this experience would entail but it was nothing short of life changing. The village is like one big family. There ex-pat types that live there, locals that live and work there, regulars that seem to come back every few months and then the first time visitor like my companion and I. We were welcomed into the family the first night when we arrived via pickup truck at around 11pm. Everyday there was something going on. On Friday they took us out on a catamaran all day. Saturday was Disc Golf and Lobster. Beach and Surfing everyday. I'd never surfed before but for $10 I was able to rent a great board for the entire day. $15 for an hour worth of surfing lessons (which is all you need.) The people make you forget about NYC. The rooms were absolutely gorgeous. The food was mind blowing. This place is like the best vacation you've ever had 10x. I'm already booking my next trip. Just go. Just embrace the jungle and the howler monkeys and the outgoing atmosphere of the regulars, who, yeah, can be clique-y, but if you embrace it you're one of the family. Yes, there are fans in the rooms. No you won't get eaten alive by bugs in your room. Yes there are flushing toilets in each room (they have an awesome eco-septic system) which means Toilet paper Okay! The showers are rad. Just everything. Did I mention the food? The yoga. The views. The waves. Yes, they have wi-fi which can be spotty but definitely good enough to knock out a few emails and tell off your boss before you hit the beach.

Tips:
-Just go.

-Don't overpack. You won't be wearing anything but a bathing suit. A backpack is all you need for a 5 day stay. Maybe an extra water resistant bag for taking a few things to the beach or out on the cat.

-You really don't even need cordobas. Everyone is accepting dollars now and many places prefer the dollar. If you decide to exchange your money, do it at the Managua Airport (not in the US!) where they don't charge you commission.

-You'll need more than just sandals to walk up and down the the hill. I wore Toms the whole time. I was envious of those with Tevas or strapped sandals. Those would have been great.

-A better camera than an iPhone. My biggest regret was not having a real camera or a Go Pro because the iphone does not do it justice.

-Introduce yourself to everyone you meet in the village. Everyone is in media, advertising, tech. Cool people. Everyone is really inclusive and has a great story to tell. You don't end up in this village without a cool story. So if you don't have one, make it up bro! Just kidding. Don't worry about it. Don't worry about anything.

-If you go in the rainy season bring bug spray. I didn't need any because it hadn't started raining yet but I'm told it's pretty much a necessity in the rainy season.

-Trust Miguel. It's okay. He'll get you there in one piece.

-Trust Dickie. It may not sound awesome when he says it, but he'll never steer you wrong. You'll understand when you get there.

-Bring a cool dog toy and a handful of treats for cats and dogs. It will be REAL easy to make friends with the local pets.

Okay. I think I'm done.

Room Tip: The casitas are more expensive but private. There are dorm/hostel-style rooms where you might share...
See more room tips
  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Paul G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SF
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 March 2014

The last time I was at Playa Maderas I stayed at the Buena Vista Surf Club which was AMAZING. The service was phenomenal. When they were sold out, I ended up at "The Village" which was pretty comparable in price. I wasn't sure what to expect as the website is not that great.
It is almost like a playhouse for the 25-25 North American "I am SOOOO awesome crowd". You don't really know who is "staff" and who are the guests, as I think the staff just get free room and board to help out. So there is no one really giving you a tour of the facilities or helping you to make the most of your time there. (Nor do people quote you consistent prices for activities). So you kind of learn from your fellow guests how it works and who is who.
It feels like this is a place for friends and family of the owners to hang with their besties. There is no respect for local culture or the environment. I felt like an outsider the whole time in a place that is designed like a hostel to create community.
Bottom line, decent place--room was fine, food was fine, but the service and the vibe are not my scene and might not be yours either.

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
11 Thank cgirlSF
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Matt D, Owner at The Maderas Village, responded to this review, 30 May 2014
Thanks for taking the time to post your review and apologies for the delayed response. We agree BVSC is absolutely amazing. They are both neighbours of ours and good friends, so fully agree with you there.

We also agree that we have a different vibe from them. We tend to attract creative professionals, free-wheeling travelers, and/or entrepreneurial and socially-minded guests from around the world. Few of these guests have small personalities, many are doing interesting things, and most can come across as intimidating until you sit down and talk with them. I'm sorry you didn't get the chance to connect with anyone while you were here, as that tends to be something that we position the Maderas experience around. The vibe was obviously not clearly enough communicated to you, and for this we apologize.

While I appreciate the rest of your criticisms, I feel an obligation to clarify a couple of items;

1. Staff - we typically have 6-8 residents that live here. Our Art Director, Financial controller, two guest service reps who sit in the lobby from 7.30am - 4pm and handle all bookings, logistics, and activities, and myself and my partner who are the owners. When you were around, we also likely would have had a resident photographer and two Sisters that run a philanthropic organization helping the poorest of Nicaraguans dig wells, install roofs, and build infrastructure (who we sponsor to stay & eat here for free in an effort to support their cause). This is more than just our place of work, it's our home. We absolutely lounge around the couches, hammocks, and tables well into the night, but that's the charm. When you come to Maderas, you're coming to hang out with us, not just stay in a room. If we segregate the residents, we would segregate the personality of the Village.

2. Culture - between Maderas Village and Maderas Collective we employ 39 Nicaraguans, and we pay between 20%-30% above market wages because we believe in paying fairly for labour. Additionally, we have a microfinance fund that loans out money to our staff, their families, and local members of the Maderas community whenever needed. Finally, we always support the local surfers when they travel to Costa Rica for surf competitions, or need additional funding for local competitions. We support and actively celebrate Nicaraguan Culture on an ongoing basis.

3. Environment - we built the entire Village with either naturally felled trees, or plantation wood. Both of these options increased our construction costs by 40% - 50%. We built all the cottages, cabanas, and casitas with thatched roofing because it regrows in 3 months. We made a considerable investment installing an eco-septic system that captures and filters every drop of water that is used on the property and produces between 2,500 - 3,000 liters of grey water daily for use on landscaping during the dry season. Finally, we have a 500 Sf composting pit with three sections that facilitates the composting of all organic waste that we produce. Given the above-noted initiatives we've undertaken to mitigate our impact on the environment and actively protect it, I don't really know how I can respond to your claim.

I am sorry your experience was not everything it could have been and we will try to do a better job of communicating vibe, activity pricing & being more active about touring people around all the facilities in the future.

Dickie.
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Antwerp, Belgium
Level Contributor
33 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 March 2014 via mobile


We had high expectations of the place after seeing the pics online, thought we would be staying in a well run place and would get to know the people we saw on the facebook and instagram pictures. We expected to have a cosy room, good food and do lots of yoga.

The good thing is the food was pretty good. Healthy and tasty. Great if you're careful about what you eat or are on a diet.The restaurant service is really slow, but then again, you get used to this in Nicaragua. The room was fine, spacious, big bed and bathroom. Yoga center was also very good. People staying were nice, but I don't think Maderas can take any credit for this.

There are 3 big downsides which would not make us go back again.

1. No service mindset. You are not treated like a paying customer, more like you should be happy you can enjoy their presence. You must realize you are not entering a boutique hotel, but a boutique (read expensive) hostel that is part of a growing company (wood, clothes, design objects, ...) which all seem to have a higher priority for the owners. The hospitality bit seems only important to bring alive the "lifestyle" and branding on instagram so the other products will sell. When we arrived and finally found someone of the staff, we got told to wait for an hour or two till the room was done. No welcome drink, no tour of the property, no explanation at all. Not a great way to make people feel at ease and welcome. If you need something you need to first find staff and then get their attention. I had the feeling I was always interrupting them and they had better things to do like pose for photoshoots at the beach or post facebook pictures #maderas #maderaslife #junglelife ###. All about the image. So fake. The owners I barely saw except out surfing. I think they had "more important" things to do.

2. No place to chill out. View not great. The only place to really hang out is the small central area where everybody eats. There are 2 couches but as there are +10 people staff they already occupy a lot of space. We had difficulty finding peace.

3. Too much people hanging around "working" in the paying customers space. The dinner is "family-style". However they always sit together. Don't make conversation. It's like they are constantly "talking business" or "on a teambuilding". Fine, but not at my table when I'm the only one actually paying for the food. Weird vibe! Nobody of the guests I talked to really knew what all the "hosts" were there for (designer, 2 photographers, a model, social media experts, finance guy, ...). I counted at least 13 of which 2 for hospitality?!! From my perspective they were all there to make it look like a cool and fun place on social media, instead of making sure it actually was in real life!!

We changed to Buena Vista Surf Club, next door. This I would highly recommend. The exact opposite of Maderas Village. Highly exceeds online expectations. Better service, great seaview, cosy and warm vibes, better rooms and even much better food. Staff "hangs" in a seperate area. Loved it.

Stayed March 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
31 Thank Manolito16
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 February 2014

Maderas village is very pleasing to the eye. The rooms are beautiful and clean but there are howler monkeys outside your room that wake you up every morning around 5am. We were picked up from the airport with a shuttle provided by the hotel which was convenient. It was also $100. If you take the "chicken bus", it probably would have been about $3 (but it also would have taken longer). The vibe we got from this place is that we were annoying the owners. We had a few questions about the area, since we had just arrived, but felt unwelcome to approach them. It is run by a few (rude) Canadians who are more interested in their lap top and wifi than having a conversation with you. Meals and drinks were ok, but more expensive than other places. The yoga studio is awesome. That gets a big thumbs up. All in all, if you want to spend a lot of money for a room that is a 10 min walk to the beach (up and down a crazy steep hill), then this is your place. There are zero amenities close by. You have to walk to the beach and take a shuttle to town. My opinion, stay somewhere else.

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
16 Thank Tristaturgeon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
victoria, canada
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 February 2014

We booked Maderas Village for a few "splurge" nights on our trip; $90+14% tax is a lot for Nicaragua.
While the kind bed was a nice treat,the room had a basement-ey feel to it. It was in a house type building, but the top 2 floors were for a common area and massage loft. 1 little window at head height (looking out at the ground) was far from the hammocks-on-a-balcony that in my mind should come with such a high price tag. The room is the least of my complaints though.
The food was the terrible and expensive. Dinner is a set menu,no choices and the quality was THE WORST I had in all of Nicaragua. For example' plain white fish, rice, and a few veggies for $12.50. A typical dinner, even in touristy areas is about $5, everywhere else.
One night everyone went down the rd to Pizza in the Jungle. $15/person. Seems like a fair price, until you get to the restaurant and see that the most expensive pizza is $8 and that Maderas Village has only ordered plain cheese and a few pepperoni for everyone. Added shock at checkout when we see an additional charge for the ride to pizza, about 5 mins away.
Lastly and most significantly Is the place has a weird vibe. While the prices are that of a upscale hotel, the attitude of the staff is that of a hostel: lounging around on common area furniture and such. For example, one night after dinner we went back to our 'casa'(common area upstairs, bedroom in the basement) with the idea of enjoying the open air common area, but some friends of staff (not guests) had made themselves comfortable and were noisly doing acrobatic yoga in the area. No room for us to read.
If you want a nice place to stay near Playa Maderas, stay at Maderas Ecolodge. A few minutes further from the beach,but the dinner we had there 1 night was incredible (no more expensive than Maderas Village), and the employees were lovely, professional Nicaraguans.
Travelled a lot, high and low end, but never felt compelled enough to write a Trip Advisor review... until my 2 nights there.

  • Stayed January 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
17 Thank black_julia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Maderas Village

Property: The Maderas Village
Address: Maderas Beach, San Juan del Sur 230492, Nicaragua
Region: Nicaragua > Rivas Department > San Juan del Sur
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #23 of 74 Speciality Lodging in San Juan del Sur
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We are located at Maderas Beach, about 20 minutes outside of San Juan del Sur. We offer a three daily meals, either a la carte or as part of a pre-fixe menu. We are like a boutique hotel, but less pretentious. We love people who want a place to surf, read, debate, and do yoga daily; who want to lose themselves in a place, and find themselves in the people. We offer tailored packages for short-term guests and very reasonably priced rates for people planning to stay longer than 3 weeks. We are not in Lonely Planet or other guidebooks; we like having to be found. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
The Maderas Village Hotel San Juan Del Sur

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