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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
Reviewed 6 March 2011

The Good: The hotel is set up in a clever way and has lovely landscaping. I had several good caring teachers and as often mentioned in these reviews, the manager of the hotel/school Bergman is absolutely wonderful.

Some things to be aware of if thinking of coming here: This hotel is in the middle of nowhere, nothing much to do in the area. For some this could be a positive thing, others not so much. The mattresses are really horrible, metal coils poking into you all night long. For a place charging almost double what other schools are charging in the country this is just not acceptable. If you stay in a homestay, be prepared for really basic facilities. An outhouse latrine and a cold bucket shower with little privacy. Yes, this is the life of the local people and they are pleasant and try to make you comfortable but this is certainly something people need to be aware of. I have done homestays before and these are the most basic homestays I have ever seen anywhere. I was asked for money and gifts from the staff which was very uncomfortable and inappropriate.

The really bad: The owner of the hotel is an incredibly rude woman who has absolutely no concept of customer service at all. I can not even begin to describe the numerous instances of bad behavior by this person I personally witnessed.

Although there are some really good things about the school, I simply can not recommend it.

  • Stayed: December 2010
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6  Thank where_am_i_now_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
paulettelamariposa, Owner at La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 9 March 2011

I could only wish this reviewer had read the website before he came here! It makes it perfectly clear there is no "nightlife" as such - and there are several photos of the homestays we provide, some of them sent to us by very happy people who actually stayed in a homestay. There are also accurate descriptions of what to expect in terms of sanitation etc.

Of course we are the most expensive Spanish school in Nicaragua. We are the only one to provide, not only a room with private bathroom (and solar heated showers!), 3 healthy meals per day, but a planned activtity every afternoon and weekend. All included in the price - oh and the best Spanish classes in Nicaragua as well! We also employ approx 40 staff who clean, wash, cook, grow organic food, look after the animals, keep the garden beautiful - that all adds up to round about $350 per week per person. And whatever is left over goes into a whole range of community projects.

I have never actually had a complaint about the mattresses but we are in the process of upgrading them.

Now the personal attack on me. I am not, unlike some, a perfect human being and I do get tired, stressed and pissed off sometimes! And I definitely prefer open and honest communication which, in my experience at least, makes for a better working environment than the behind-the-back kind of whispered gossip clearly favoured by some. Suffice it to say that many of the staff have been with me since we opened ie nearly 5 years. And Bergman, wonderful teacher and manager (and personal friend to me) that he undoubedtly is, could certainly get work elsewhere. Why, I wonder, does he choose not to???

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