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“A wonderful week!”

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La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Masaya
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Reviewed 27 March 2011

A week was much too short for everything The Mariposa had to offer and I would certainly make a repeat visit. The individual Spanish language teaching which took place in the gardens was excellent and there were an variety of interesting excursions on offer for the afternoons and weekends. One of my best days was when I went on a guided hike around the local area. The views were spectacular and I learned a lot about the local geography and way of life. I would also recommend the talk about Nicaragua's history and politics. Paulette and her staff were extremely helpful. The food was excellent with tasty fresh fruit and vegetables. I met some friendly, interesting and like-minded people there and soon felt at home. The whole ethos of the Mariposa is commendable and it benefits the local community enormously.

  • Stayed: February 2011, travelled solo
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Thank MargEvan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 24 March 2011

I found the Mariposa on the internet, but I couldn't have been luckier to find the perfect place for me. , If I was doing it over, I would do exactly the same trip. I was with the school for 5 weeks, and noticed many repeat guests/students. There were so many wonderful things about the Mariposa which I'll list below. Unlike most travelers to Nicaragua, I was an inexperienced traveler. The Mariposa has such a well thought out program, that it suits the needs of both the experienced adventurers and the nervous neophytes. I planned my trip to stay in the homestay for the majority of the trip, and the eco-hotel for a smaller part of the trip, so I can comment on both.

Terrific things about the Mariposa:
1. Professionally run excellent Spanish classes, almost always one-on-one.
2. The entire staff (which consists of many people!) from the teachers, to the cooks and gardeners, are very friendly and helpful, and provide additional opportunities to speak in Spanish.
3. The school has interesting things to do every day. We went to Leon, Granada and Masaya. I spent two relaxing days swimming and kayaking at Lake Apoyo with the school. We visited many home workshops, as well as schools. There were discussion groups and a dance class. We went to a pizza parlor run by former street kids. The list goes on....
4. The hotel is beautiful with wonderful gardens. It is a sanctuary of sorts, with chickens, turkeys, monkeys, parrots and other beautiful birds, and horses.
5. The food was delicious with homemade fruit drinks at almost every meal. It is mostly vegetarian.
6. The school fit both the needs of the adventurous and those who needed more support, like myself. I had reliable pick up and drop off at the airport. My conversation teachers, and other staff accompanied me on my first walks in the towns, and answered my many cultural questions like "should I say hi to people on the road?" "Are the vehicles honking because you are pretty?" (No, they were just being polite to let us know they were behind us.)
7. I had plenty of opportunity to mingle with local people, and get to know Nicaragua.
8. The school is very well respected and well liked in the community and supports many local projects.
9. Volunteer opportunities were varied. The staff tries to match activities to the interests of the students who wish to volunteer. I taught English one-on-one to local adults, which was perfect for me. (I had just received my teaching certificate.) I had a chance to meet many wonderful Nicaraguans.

Advantages of the homestay:
Homestays gives you a chance to understand the culture and lives of regular families in Nicaragua. Living in the homestays mean speaking more Spanish! I felt very comfortable, and safe in my homestay (as well as at the hotel). The family took excellent care of me and I gained invaluable knowledge of Nicaraguan customs and family life. Also, the homestay option is more economical.

Advantages of the hotel:
More opportunity to meet wonderful travelers of all ages from many different countries. (However, in the homestay, you still get to socialize with everyone during break times, lunch and school outings.) Wonderful food. And I loved my room and its view of the gardens with its trees and flowers.

My goals were to improve my Spanish, learn to travel and be more comfortable in Central America, get to know the people and something more of what their lives are like, make friends, have fun, and contribute something with my trip. The Mariposa was perfect for all of these things. - Christine

  • Stayed: February 2011, travelled solo
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Thank chanceyears
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 March 2011

Most of what has been said in other reviews tallies with my experience of three weeks at the Mariposa. It is a great place, but do heed the advice on their website, I can well understand why someone looking for nightlife, luxurious accommodation and and animal-free environment might be disappointed.

But if you're resilient, curious, like good food, enjoy meeting intelligent new people and are open to learning about another country, then you'd find it difficult to do better.

I didn't compare prices with other places, but felt that I got good value for money. It was comfortable enough and the food was fine. For me the best thing about the experience was the programme of activities after the Spanish lessons. These were varied and always interesting. For example, I doubt that I would have got anything like as much out of a visit to Managua had I gone alone. As it was I came away with a feel for both the geography and history of the town. And even the salsa dancing helped to improve my very rudimentary Spanish. I finally got "derecha" and "izquierda" fixed in my head during that session!

And the second best thing were the other students/guests. A varied bunch ranging from around eight to eighty-plus, all with insights and experiences to share.

In short, I had a good time and I learned a lot.

  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled solo
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Thank Wallace165
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 March 2011

Our week in Mariposa exceeded all our expectations. We had a large airy room with views of the hotel's beautiful garden. The food was good and plentiful. The Spanish tuition was excellent and the afternoon trips and activities greatly expanded our knowledge of Nicaragua, it's culture, past struggles and successes and current issues. But more than that we were privileged to share the very special atmosphere which has been created here by Paulette, the founder, her staff and the guests. It is a place to share views and experiences, debate issues and learn from one another. The projects supported by the hotel are really making a difference in the local community and we welcomed the opportunity to become involved.

  • Stayed: February 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank HaleSurrey_England
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 March 2011

A truely wonderful, not for profit organisation with a concientious attitude to the nicraguan community. Every aspect of the hotel is designed to improve the life of the people in the local area and because of this being a guest there is an incredible experience. Excellent and well organised teaching and amazing home grown organic meals all take place in a tropical garden setting buzzing with well loved rescued parrots, toucans, monkeys, dogs and cats.
Of so many organisations that claim to be "eco-tourism", this one really is.

  • Stayed: February 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank BristolUkAnna
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel

Address: De la Cancha, 200 metros al sur, 50 al este | San Juan de la Concepcion, Masaya, Nicaragua
Region: Nicaragua > Masaya Department > Masaya
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Masaya
Price Range: €16 - €29 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 16
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
La Mariposa is a small, friendly non-profit Spanish school and eco-hotel, just outside the small town of La Concepcion, Nicaragua. Only an hour from Nicaragua's major attractions - Granada, the Pacific Coast, the Laguna de Apoyo, Masaya volcano - and 45 minutes from Managua airport, La Mariposa is surrounded by organic coffee, banana trees and flower gardens. Our cool, green climate (we are 500 meters above sea level - makes a real difference to the temperature) is ideal for studying Spanish! Our conservation efforts - though small scale - have vastly increased our bird population, butterflies and even frogs! We offer intensive Spanish classes in our purpose built classrooms or in outdoor classrooms in our delightful grounds, full of tropical plants and rescued animals. Classes are mostly one on one (max 2 or 3 in a class) and we cater for all levels form beginner to advanced, including specially designed classes for children. We have an extensive library with Spanish study materials and a selection of books in English on Nicaraguan history, development issues etc. We organize a full week (that includes weekends) of activities, including cooking and salsa classes, classes on the history of Nicaragua and a weekly update of what is happening in the Nicaraguan news. These are delivered in Spanish to help with progress in Spanish and with English translation if necessary. On 3 afternoons and Saturdays we offer trips out to local places of interest as well as the Masaya volcano by night, the Masaya markets and artesanias, Granada, Leon, the Laguna de Apoyo, the Pacific beach, Managua, Catarina, the Pueblos Blancos and more! The trips are rotated on a monthly schedule. There are various accomodation options - Students can stay in the eco-hotel (ensuite rooms) or our eco rooms (cheaper). There is a also a large (en suite) family room. Situated about 5 mins from the main school/hotel is our nature reserve. There are now 2 cabins in the reserve, each with two bedrooms, seating area, shower and compostable latrine, private terrace and garden, small kitchen (though you can of course eat all meals at the main hotel) - these are ideal for families with kids who like a bit more space to run around! There are of course a few friendly rescued dogs to keep the kids happy!! We use solar power - for heated water in all of the showers as well as to provide electricity, conserve rainwater,have a number of recycling schemes and have started our own successful organic farm which provides some of the eggs, veggies, coffee consumed at the Mariposa. And much more. We use our income to maximise the employment of local people (currently employing 80 teachers, maintenance and kitchen staff) and undertake a number of projects in the local community. You can opt to volunteer at one of our community or environmental projects, living in a homestay with a local family. Amongst other projects, we are currently offering volunteer placements in the nature reserve, in local schools, with a day care project or with disabled children. You are also welcome to help out the Mariposa workers - whether feeding our rescued animals or cooking up our healthy meals. All of which is a great way to improve that Spanish! We have also recently opened, on another but close by site, a study centre specifically designed to cater for groups of students. We offer an individualized curriculum which can include Spanish classes, activities and classes on the history, culture and environment of Nicaragua. We can also arrange community service work for groups. Accommodation is in two eco built dormitories, each of which has 10 beds (bunk style). The eating/meeting hall is a lovely structure built of straw bales and thatched roofing. Classrooms face a terrace with great views of the Masaya volcano. Meals are always freshly cooked, often using organic veggies from our farm. And of course there are solar heated showers and solar powered electricity. ... more   less 

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