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“Surf ranch/San Juan experiences”

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Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort
Ranked #22 of 27 Hotels in San Juan del Sur
Houston, Texas
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Surf ranch/San Juan experiences”
Reviewed 31 October 2013

Due to the high shuttle prices, we elected to rent a car. This is an adventure as there are no street signs in Nicaragua. We drove for 3 hours the first day and couldn't figure out how to make it there. Once we connected to google maps via another hotel wifi, the GPS tracked our way and it was relatively easy. And by easy I mean the road is constantly filled with people, livestock, and more cars than it was designed for. But it is a beautiful drive and we found that the locals were very friendly. Getting to the surf ranch is interesting as you have to cross a river/stream to get there. The depth of the water you cross depends on the amount of rain they've recently received. It was only about 6 inches deep and our little hatchback made back and forth a few times, but another couple told us they went across in an SUV a few years ago and weren't so lucky. If you look around online, you could probably find a shuttle cheaper. The peace of mind of not having to worry about floating your car across a river or hitting a stray cow or dog might be worth the price. If you do insist on renting a car, 4 wheel drive truck or suv is the only way to go. Many of the roads to the beaches in San Juan aren't even roads, just muddy paths.

Surf Ranch Nicaragua is a nice little resort in a developing country. Some people on here seemed to be so upset that there was no a/c or hot water. Guess what? About 95% of the country doesn't have it either. But some of the newer condos do have a/c and no water in Nicaragua is ever that cold so IMHO they just need to suck it up. Every meal we had there was good. The portions were a little small to me, but I'm also a 240lb man. The all inclusive menu is also structured. My biggest complaint would be that it was a set menu. You could order off the menu for a few bucks extra, but it would have been nice if we didn't have too. And when I say a couple bucks, I mean you can buy a whole meal for 3-4 bucks. Nothing really to complain about. Our villa had no a/c but had about 5 fans and it was enough for us every night. The staff was very nice and accommodating. They kept our drinks full all the time and endured our horrible Spanish and drunken American antics. The bar closes at 11, but since it gets dark about 6, so if you still need more to drink, then you're just not trying hard enough. Romanso (the free beach) was beautiful, with two great little snack bars and the best fish tacos (at Taco's) I've ever had. The waves ranged from flat to double over head the 3 days we were there. The other 2 beaches are about $15 pp for a round trip. The resort has one big van and they use it for everything and getting to these beaches is no small task. We didn't go but heard Hermosa beach is beautiful.

San Juan del Sur is the real gem of this trip. It's a beautiful beachside city that is just getting used to American tourism. You can find a lot of things to do or buy so cheaply you will literally feel guilty for it. $10 bottle service on the beach, $1 margaritas, $55 dollar fishing charter trips. There is a nice bohemian vibe there and everyone is out to have a good time. We never felt unsafe or harassed by any pushy salesmen or corrupt policeman. The locals seemed like they were genuinely appreciative of our business and company. I was surprised at the amount of English people spoke there as well. I would advise anyone to get there soon as like all tourist destinations, it may become overrun in a few years. You can get a cheap room in the city and rent boards and get a beach shuttle as well, but the ease and cheapness of doing it with the surf ranch is hard to beat.

In summary, Nicaragua itself is a diamond in the rough. But there is SOOOOO much to do there and the prices are so reasonable, we are already planning a trip back. I would definitely stay at the surf ranch again, if nothing else but for the value of the all inclusive plan. It's hard to beat and it was a pretty cool place.

Room Tip: As I said, don't assume any place in this country has hot water, cable tv, or AC. Ask specifica...
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Ggomez587
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
lukeboychuk, Owner at Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort, responded to this review, 11 November 2013
Ggomez587

Thank you for staying with us. Yes driving from Managua to San Juan Del Sur can be scary and unpredictable at times. If you bring your Iphone, download an app called "Waze", it will help in the drive and show you where all of the roadside cops and accidents are, it also acts really good as a GPS. We also offer reliable and comfortable airport shuttles.

We are really glad to hear that you enjoyed your vacation with us. You guys were great and we can't wait to have you back. See you soon.

Luke Boychuk
Surf Ranch Resort
Director of Operations
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English first
Denver, Colorado
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 October 2013

My sister and I recently stayed at the Surf Ranch and had an enjoyable time. We loved surfing and the access to the beach provided by the shuttles at the Surf Ranch. The free beach selection was limited to one, however, for a large extra cost you can shuttle to other beaches as well. The food was good, simple and limited, but very good. The facilities were great; we loved our room and the pool area. The bartenders were wonderful and were always willing to help us with our Spanish! There's an adorable dog, Buddy, that the resort has adopted and taken care of. We mentioned on one occasion that he looked like he needed antibiotics for a sore on his leg and the next day, Travis, one of the owners, took him to town and had it taken care of right away. We were very happy with that.

We were satisfied, for the most part, with our stay until we went to check out. Upon check out there were 2 extraneous charges on our account totalling $125 USD. When we questioned them we were informed they were for damages we inflicted on a surf board. The surf boards are used by multiple guests each day and neither my sister, nor I, caused damage to the boards. We spoke with the owner, Travis, and he agreed to remove the charges from our account. Upon arriving home we found that the charges had been applied to our credit card (despite the fact that we hadn't signed a receipt agreeing to the same). We have initiated communication with Travis and the Surf Ranch multiple times since arriving home and despite various emails and explanations, they have refused to reverse the charges applied (unlawfully) to our card.

Unfortunately, because of the deceitful business practices employed by the owners of the Surf Ranch and their questionable morals, I would not recommend this as a resort to visit if you plan on staying in San Juan Del Sur.

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
7 Thank Cassie D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
lukeboychuk, Owner at Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort, responded to this review, 31 October 2013
Cassie

Thank you for the positive review, and we are really glad that you enjoyed everything we offer here at the Surf Ranch Resort.

However, at all resorts and hotels around the world, there are guidelines and rules in place, and one of ours is that guests must pay for damages occurred to surfboards. Upon checking in, our receptionists go over this with you, and you also sign, acknowledging this information.

It is exactly like when you rent a car, if you cause damage, you must pay for it. I have personally done that before and caused damage to the car, and returned and told the car rental agency that I did not do it, and I was mad, until I realized I was not kidding anyone and should take responsibility for my actions while the car was under my responsibility, even though someone else did the damage while I was parked. I understand that you are upset, but it is just human nature, not to want to take the blame, so that is why I understand where you are coming from.

At the Surf Ranch Resort, just like a car rental company, we go over the surf board with you, showing you all previous damages, which are also circled on our diagrams. After the day of surfing, you came back and ran up to the reception right away, yelling that the leash broke and you did not do it, and also there was a huge hole in the board. Cassie, I am sorry, but you need to take responsibility for your own actions.

These are not deceitful business practices, they are clear and thorough business practices. Travis and Nesthor did not say they would remove the charges from your account. They said that they would look into the situation, then told you that it would not be possible.

Cassie, you clearly had a great time, but wrote this review, because you did not get your way in the end, which again, is human nature, but we have a business to run, and the respect and relationship of a business and client, goes both ways.

We are really happy that you had a great time, and we hope to see you soon.

Thank you.

Luke Boychuk
Director of Operations
Surf Ranch Resort
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Travellers are raving about these San Juan del Sur hotels

Bozeman, Montana
1 review
Reviewed 25 October 2013

Great, simple resort for a bunch of friends who wanted a place to stay together. Surf ranch took great care of us and made shuttles and surf boards to the beach super easy every day. We had a blast partying in the pool, the meals were basic but good and the rooms have everything you could need. Thanks Surf Ranch!

Stayed October 2013, travelled with friends
Helpful?
Thank Tate H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
lukeboychuk, Owner at Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort, responded to this review, 11 November 2013
Tate H

Thanks for coming to stay with us on your vacation at the Surf Ranch Resort, your group was awesome and we would be honored to have all of you back.

Luke Boychuk
Director of Operations
Surf Ranch Resort
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Doha, Qatar
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 October 2013

My wife and I spent 5 nights at the Surf Ranch. When we arrived via shuttle from Managua, we were promptly greeted and guided to check in. Our overall first impression was positive. The grounds were acceptably maintained, all of the staff spoke english well, and our room was clean and spacious. We understood that there would not be A/C, but we were however not prepared for the fact that there was no hot water. Outside of these minor setbacks the trip was quite enjoyable. The menu was exciting and varied. The drinks were tasty and all service was prompt and courteous. The activities offered by the resort were plentiful and varied. The surf instructor was helpful and the guarantee of being able to stand up on a wave the first day was consistently delivered upon. All equipment available for use was well maintained. When you travel, bring your bug spray and sun tan lotion. Although the resort is outside of town by 8-10 minutes, the free shuttles run often and are extremely reliable. The guidance of the staff will always ensure that your needs are met, both in terms of lodging as well as entertainment. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the Surf Ranch Resort is the community atmosphere that is fostered there. By the time we left we knew all of the guests names and looked forward to hanging out with all of our new friends every day. This is a special experience that my wife and I had never before taken part in. If you walk away from your trip to Surf Ranch Resort in San Juan Del Sur with a sour taste in your mouth I will be extremely surprised.

Room Tip: The new villas that are under construction and scheduled to be finished within the month will have A...
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank deepseasmitty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level 6 Contributor
110 reviews
34 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 October 2013

I had read other TripAdvisor reviews before my trip, and I had The Clymb deal, so I went into the stay prepared for some bumps along the way but willing to work with them since I hadn't paid much.

We ran into trouble when we checked in and were placed in a room that didn't match what was described in the upgrade text, but once we sorted that out and were moved to a villa, all was well.

We thought the staff--from the bar, to the kitchen, to the shuttle drivers and surf instructors-- was wonderful and had a nice time getting to know them.

The owners definitely need to figure out what to do with the creek-turned-river in the rainy season since it was a bummer that we were afraid to go into town at night after one scary crossing-by-foot in the dark (the truck couldn't drive through the rushing water).

So I guess I'd say my recommendation depends on how much you're going to pay. Our room was clean (and cleaned every day), the food was fine, and our beer and rum were included in our package. I also appreciated the filtered water. It's not luxury, and it's not walkable to any beach, but it's a relaxed (at least during the slow season), nice place to stay.

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank mram28
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
lukeboychuk, Owner at Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort, responded to this review, 11 October 2013
mram28

Thank you for staying with us.

It is refreshing to see an honest review, that is not blown out of proportion, and I thank you for that.

It is great to hear that the receptionists fixed the issue and upgraded you to a villa.

As far as the creek goes, September and October are the only months we need to worry about it. It fills up where you can't cross it about 6 times during these 2 months, but calms down within 4 hours, enough so you can cross it. Hopefully in the near future, we can build a bridge, but there is a lot of red tape with the local city hall on doing so, and we are trying our best to push the construction of a bridge. By the next Sept and Oct rainy season, we will have a bridge, or at least a foot bridge built by us. From Nov 15 - August, this is not a problem at all.

As for walking distance...many people walk to town, but we do have free shuttles going to and from town all day from 8am - 11pm.

Again, thank you for staying with us, and I appreciate your honest review.

Thank you.

Luke Boychuk
Director of Operations
Surf Ranch Resort
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 October 2013

Stayed here back in February and was just reminiscing with a friend and decided to check out trip advisor to see if things have changed. Doesn't seem like it. Owners are rude and need to learn customer service. Here's a tip....if you have an unhappy customer, LISTEN to what they say. You clearly just get defensive. Here should be your new response: "We are so glad you stayed with us. We are working in every way to improve." Luke, your lists trying to disprove customer reviews only makes you look worse and immature.

I can't take the time to go through everything that was wrong here but the bottom line was that the place was advertised as 'luxury resort' when obviously was not.

Can't flush toilet paper?
Circuit in "villa" blowing constantly?
No AC?
Makeshift curtain over shower window?
No light in bathroom? Literally showering at night with light of our cell phones.
No hot water?
No kitchenette as advertised.
No furniture on private roof deck.
The airpad as deflated and pump broken for entire 6 days we were there.
Under major construction with no mention on website.

......and yes, we made all of these issues known to the resort when we arrived.

Unmmmmm luxury????? We totally understand that it's Nicaragua but don't false advertise and call yourself luxury. In speaking with other business owners in town the brothers do not have a good reputation and are not well received.

Don't order airport shuttle service through them. We used same company but called and booked ourselves on return trip and paid $40 less.

Is the place decent for Nicaragua? Sure. Luxury resort? Uhhh no. Just know what you're getting into.

Purchased through zozi. I submitted pics of resort and room to zozi upon return and was given full refund. That says enough.

Food and service staff were awesome!

  • Stayed February 2013
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank Lollybitz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
lukeboychuk, Owner at Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort, responded to this review, 5 October 2013
Lollybitz

We are so glad you stayed with us, we are working on every way to improve :)

However, I would like to clear up a few issues here:

You stayed with us in February!!! and are just posting now. February is when we opened and had a lot of of things to fix. Everything has since been fixed, please see below:

1. Luxury Resort. We are not advertised as a "luxury" resort. (show me where it says this)
2. Toilet Paper - Yes you can flush it if you want, but we advise against it as the plumbing in Nicaragua is not the same standard as in the 1st world.
3. We now have A/C in the new units.
4. There are lights in the bathrooms.
5. We have hot water in the new units.
6. We do not advertise a kitchenette. (show me where it says this)
7. Furniture on the rooftop decks is coming this month.
8. The airbag is deflated, and only inflated when someone wants to jump on it. You need to sign up at the reception.
9. Airport shuttle - You are right, our prices are higher, but they get you here safe and comfortable and do not hassle you for more money or for a tip when you arrive. I am working on getting the prices down lower.

You say you spoke with a few other owners in town and they say we do not have a good reputation? We have one of the best reputations in town. We have created over 30 jobs and donate to the local hospital and schools, as well as we get a long with everyone. We built this resort from scratch at the ages of 19 and 21. Now that it is finished and successful, there are envious people, but this is natural and nothing that we are concerned of.

This is the first time I heard from you. We are very good with customer service, and had you brought these issues up to me at the time in February, I would of happily provided you your money back and personally found you another place to stay.

Again, I am very happy you came and we have improved the things on your list.

I am glad I had a chance to clear these things up for you and hope you get a chance to come back and experience the new Surf Ranch!

Thank you, and have a wonderful day.

Luke Boychuk
Director of Operations
Surf Ranch Resort
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Salt Lake City, Utah
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 September 2013

We had an amazing time at the Surf Ranch. Luke and Travis run a fantastic establishment with extremely helpful and friendly staff. We ate at least two meals a day at the ranch and the food is consistently good. The pool was relaxing after a long day of adventure. The rooms do not have AC or a TV, but I didn't travel 3000 miles to sit in a hotel room, which I think is the kind of crowd they are trying to attract; People who will hang out at the bar, socialize with the other gringos who shop on TheClymb.com and who are there for the activities, not the thread count of the bed linen.

Be leery of the guy who may offer to take you on a "sloth tour." It was a fun walk in the woods, but it definitely wasn't worth the $40 he asked for after the fact.

Construction was indeed happening, but usually after we were already up for the day.

The surfing at Remanso beach was perfect for beginners. Everyone told us to take the shuttle to Hermosa beach, which is apparently the best in the area. You have to pay for a shuttle to this beach but apparently it's worth it.

I would definitely visit the surf ranch again. Particularly after November when their climbing wall will be up and running!

Room Tip: The condos have sliding glass doors which appear to be a mirror, which prevents people from seeing i...
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank mountainbelle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort

Property: Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort
Address: Empalme de El Valle, 991.5 m al Este, San Juan del Sur 47008, Nicaragua (Formerly Surf Ranch Action Sports Resort)
Region: Nicaragua > Rivas Department > San Juan del Sur
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #22 of 27 Hotels in San Juan del Sur
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:3 star — Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 26
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Surf Ranch in San Juan Del Sur, features Nicaragua's largest skateboard park, rock climbing wall, private gym, jungle paintball, volleyball court, world class restaurant & bar, swimming pool & swim up bar, poolside cabanas, standard rooms, villas, and deluxe condos. The Surf Ranch offers many extreme sports and activities such as surfing, skateboarding, paintball, sailing, fishing, yoga, rock climbing and more. ... more   less 
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