Family Hotel Review: Pacaya Lodge & Spa, Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua
A luxury boutique hotel and spa, with spectacular views of Lake Apoyo and Volcano Mombacho.
Best For: Soaking up the view; kids of all ages are welcome.
Reviewed by: Victoria Westmacott
Why You’ll Love Pacaya Lodge
There are lots of luxury resorts in Nicaragua’s beach destinations but few in locations that are unique to Nicaragua, namely its lakes and volcanoes. Pacaya Lodge is the first and only five-star resort at Laguna de Apoyo, a volcanic crater lake wedged between Masaya and Granada. It’s new, so new that we were among the first guests having visited only two weeks after it opened, and holds a truly beautiful spot.
All 26 of the hotel’s bedrooms enjoy fabulous views of Lake Apoyo, and Granada in the far distance. On clear days you may even spot Lake Nicaragua beyond the capital! The rooms are comfortable and decorated with traditional Nicaraguan artisanal work, much of which is available to buy including tables, chairs, tableware and paintings. Even the fire extinguisher and exit signs have been handmade! Every Saturday local artisans are invited to the hotel to sell their crafts, representing the best of the Pueblos Blancos, the string of villages known for their arts and handicrafts where Pacaya Lodge is located. Here’s a head’s up, these villages are not actually white!
The restaurant is run by Nicaraguan chef Bismarck Hernandez, who trained in Europe and Central America (including a Michelin-starred restaurant in the south of Spain) and the lodge prides itself on first class cuisine. We were only home for breakfast as we were out exploring most days but from what we enjoyed I can vouch that the food is good!
In addition to being a beautiful spot, Pacaya Lodge is a great base from which to explore some of Nicaragua’s key sites. From here you are within easy reach of Granada; Masaya, where the volcano and artisan’s market is; and Mombacho Volcano, where you can go hiking and zip lining.
Why The Kids Will Love Pacaya Lodge
One of the things that we all loved about Pacaya Lodge has to be the ‘Rooster Breakfast’. Our two children usually start complaining of hunger before they have even fully opened their eyes in the morning (usually around 6am!) and the Rooster Breakfast bought us at least an extra 30 minutes in bed. The way it works is this; the night before you pre-order a basket of food to be delivered to your room first thing in the morning and before your kids have even had the chance to say “I’m hungry!”, a morning snack is waiting for them. Whoever came up with this genius idea has to be a parent!
In addition to their special delivery breakfast, my kids loved the split-level infinity pool. Although the swimming pool is a little on the small side for doing laps, it works perfectly as a splash pool for children. We found that most guests ventured down to the lakefront during the day so the pool was left empty.
When we joined everyone at the lakefront we discovered many activities on offer; swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding and more. There are a number of lakeside restaurants where you can base yourself for the day for a small fee. Pacaya Lodge is affiliated to the Laguna Beach Club and runs a shuttle bus service to and from the hotel to the lake. We had a wonderful day here, it really is such a beautiful spot, and the kids had a blast splashing about in the lagoon, talking to parrots and drinking bucket-size maracuja smoothies (check our video to find out what these are!)
Pacaya Lodge has just bought a lakeside plot and plans on opening their own exclusive lake restaurant and scuba diving tours – watch this space!
*Disclosure: We were offered a discount for our stay, however all opinions are, as always, entirely my own and I would happily recommend Pacaya Lodge & Spa to anyone.
Often hotel brochures and websites will talk of ‘spectacular views’ from all the rooms (and you arrive only to discover you overlook a parking lot). But here at Pacaya Lodge & Spa, all 26 bedrooms face the lake and enjoy decent vistas. In particular, we fell in love with rooms 9 and 8 (the ‘Deluxe King’ rooms) and their uninterrupted views over Lake Apoyo.
The rooms are spread over eight, two-storey casitas and across the main building. Each casita is named after a local bird and the colours of the flowers in the surrounding flowerbeds are designed to match the colours of the birds they are named after. The furniture, art and decor have all been created by local artists and artisans.
Two rooms can accommodate wheelchairs.
The 26 rooms are divided into the following four categories:
King: The 15 King rooms are located in the eight casitas on the property (there are two king rooms per casita). The furniture, fixtures, and art in each casita has been carefully sourced from local artisans. Every king room offers en suite bathroom, air conditioning, ceiling fans, private balcony and stunning view of the crater lake. Roll-away beds are available to accommodate families with children. King rooms are available on either the first floor or second floor.
There are two ‘Deluxe King’ rooms (rooms 8 & 9) which benefit from uninterrupted views over Lake Apoyo (the best views in Pacaya Lodge – see video!)
Double: The six double rooms are located in the main lodge building. Each room offers a spacious en suite bathroom and a private balcony with spectacular views of the crater lake.
Junior Suite: The two Junior Suites are also located in the main lodge and enjoy a separate bedroom in a loft located on the second floor. Junior suites can accommodate additional guests / kids in a double sofa bed. Each suite has a private balcony with lake view. There is also one suite all on one level (see our video). In addition to the double fold out bed, suites can also fit an additional extra bed. The maximum number of occupants in these rooms are two adults, three children and one infant.
Rooms enjoy the following facilities: A/C, fan and WiFi. TVs are only available for suites. None of the rooms have minibars.
Best Rooms For Families: We took at Double Room that came with two double beds and this worked really well for our family of four. If you have more than two children, or would like more space, then the Junior Suite is a good option.
The open-air restaurant, El Guardabarranco, is named after Nicaragua’s national bird and enjoys views of the lake. The chef, Bismarck Hernandez, trained in Europe (including a Michelin-starred restaurant in the South of Spain) and Central America, and is now in charge of dining at Pacaya Lodge. The food is a gourmet fusion of Nicaraguan and International cuisine and what we enjoyed was very good.
Rooster Breakfast: A highlight for all of us was the early morning breakfast basket delivered to our room at our chosen time. It includes home made bread, fresh fruit and coffee or tea. A full breakfast is also served (but not included in the rates) in the restaurant.
Breakfast: 7am – 10.30am
Lunch: 12pm – 3pm
Dinner: 6pm – 10.30pm
There is also Bar Macua (open daily from 8am – 10.30pm) that serves brunch (10.30am – 12pm) and afternoon tea (3pm – 5pm). You must try the bar’s signature drink, ‘El Macua’, a mix of run, guava juice, lemon juice and sugar.
For Kids: There is no kids menu but plenty of child-friendly options. We spent a lot of our time by the lake front in their affiliated restaurant, Laguna Beach Club.
Activities for the Family
- It’s all about the view! Read a book, or take a dip in the infinity pool overlooking Lake Apoyo
- Enjoy yoga on the deck or head to the spa
- Visit Granada; a complimentary 40-minute shuttle bus service runs to Granada (departs hotel 9am, departs Granada 4:30pm).
- Take a trip to El Chocoyero National Reserve (40 mins), known for it’s incredible birdlife, especially it’s ‘chocoyos’ (parakeets)
- The hotel offers many half-day and full-day tours, including trips to Granada, Leon, Isla de Ometepe, Volcan Masaya, Managua, Lake Nicaragua, and Pueblos Blancos,
- Enjoy stand up paddle boarding or kayaking through Las Isletas, horse riding in countryside, a Mombacho volcano trek or zipline tour. You can also go volcano surfing at El Cerro Negro (2 hours)
- Take the plunge and go scuba diving! Padi certification courses are now possible in the Lake.
- Swim in the infinity pool.
- Head to the lakefront! There’s a complimentary shuttle bus service running between the hotel and Laguna de Apoyo that departs the hotel at 9am and leaves from the lake at 4.55pm. The journey takes approx. 15 minutes.
- Pacaya Lodge offers children mini-chef cooking lessons!
Babysitting (available on request), common rooms, cots, doctors & hospitals (there is a good hospital in Managua, about 30 minutes drive), extra beds, highchairs, kids’ activities, swimming pool, laundry service, shop, spa, swimming pool, travel desk, wheelchair access WiFi, eco-friendly.
Environmental Measures & Social Responsibility:
Pacaya Lodge supports Emprendedora, a local technical high school that is operated by Opportunity International, a micro-financing organisation. The school specialises in tourism and agriculture, Nicaragua’s two leading industries. In addition to financial contributions, Pacaya Lodge also offers internships to the schools’ students.
Pacaya Lodge also supports local artisans in the area. Every item of furniture and décor in the hotel is made locally and is for sale, and every week the hotel invites artisans to sell their handicrafts to guests at the hotel.
Rates start at $160 per room per night and vary according to room type, extra bed requests and date of travel. Please contact the hotel directly for an exact quote based on your family’s requirements.
When to go:
Nicaragua is warm all year round with temperatures around 31-35C. It has two distinct seasons: dry and rainy.
Dry Season: The dry season runs from November to April, with temperatures and humidity levels gradually ascending in March/April. With sunny days, a light breeze and blue skies, this tends to be the most popular period to visit with peak season falling over the Christmas, New Year and Easter breaks.
Rainy season: The rainy season runs from May to October and sees fewer tourists. The rains transform the dry landscape into a lush green environment, and many believe this season is when Nicaragua looks its best. Showers do not tend to last long on the Pacific side but there can be quite a lot of cloud coverage during this season. The Caribbean coast sees heavier showers with higher humidity.
For more information on weather in Nicaragua, including the best times to surf and see turtles, take a look at our Family Destination Guide to Nicaragua.
Location & Travel:
Pacaya Lodge is located near the village of Catarina, about 20 minutes from Granada and 45 minutes from Managua.
Pacaya Lodge & Spa offers a private transfer from Augusto C. Sandino International Airport in Managua or from Granada. You can request a transfer when you book your stay.
Take a video tour of Pacaya Lodge Resort & Spa, Lake Apoyo, Nicaragua
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Contact The HotelFor more information or to make a booking enquiry, visit the hotel’s own website by following the link below:
Reviewer’s Top Tips!
- Although there aren’t any abrupt drop-offs, parents should keep a close eye on curious toddlers beyond the pool area.
- To make the most of the lake, arrive early as it starts to get busy around 10.30am, especially on national holiday weekends.
- For $15 a day, you can treat your family to the VIP area in Laguna Beach Club. This shady spot includes a four poster bed, a table and upgraded (ie. quicker!) service! Definitely worth doing on national holiday weekends when the restaurant and garden area fill up quickly.
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