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“Novel experience--and a great one”

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La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Masaya
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Reviewed 17 August 2017

The worst part of my time at La Mariposa was that I was only able to stay a week, which was only long enough to get a taste. Two weeks or more would have been better, especially since my goal was to learn more Spanish. I learned a lot--the teacher and the language partner (each morning was split between the two) were great about working with me at my level (very beginner) while still mostly speaking Spanish so that I could learn better.

I split my stay between an eco-cabin and an eco-hotel room. Having the attached bathroom was a nice feature of the hotel, but the cabin was very comfortable and a little cooler at night. The food was all local and mostly authentic (some dishes seemed adapted a bit for American palates)--and it was all very good. The hospitality was excellent. La Mariposa employs a lot of locals, so one meets many people, all of whom are very friendly.

It's not only the staff, however, but the guests who help make La Mariposa special. People of all ages from all over the world who end up eating meals and having other experiences together. It's not a resort, so bear that in mind. On the other hand, it's a comfortable, secure, affordable way to enjoy the beauty of the area and be immersed in its language and culture. I'd go again in a heartbeat.

Room Tip: Cabins are rustic but comfortable. Eco hotel is more typical lodging. Second floor catches more bree...
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  • Stayed: July 2017, travelled solo
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Thank Nebtraveler817
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 15 August 2017 via mobile

I chose mariposa because they were able to accommodate all the different needs of our family. My 13 year old daughter, having taken 1 year is Spanish, stayed with a family near the school, my 10 year old was a complete beginner, my husband needed medical Spanish and I'm fluent. The one to one instruction allows for customizing. Also, I loved that my daughter could live with a family at such a young age, but I was also close by. I highly recommend the school for families who want their kids to see a whole different way of life. My daughter gained a new appreciation for modern conveniences we take for granted (indoor plumbing), but she was also incredibly moved by the generosity and friendliness of the Nicaraguan people. The excursions with the school were fun and interesting, and the food was tasty and healthy. Overall a wonderful time for all.

Stayed: August 2017, travelled with family
Thank Shana W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 August 2017

I will never be able to say enough good things about La Mariposa! I am impressed by La Mariposa as an eco-hotel, a Spanish school, an employment project, an animal rescue/rehabilitation center and a biodiversity reserve. It is really all of those things! And more! I stayed for 9 weeks, and I only became more impressed by the school as I learned more about it. As I familiarized myself with the projects (children's projects in the surrounding communities, reforestation/biodiversity conservation) I felt really lucky to be able to experience all of the things that the school is doing and support the organization.

The best part of the school is getting to know all of the people who work there! The professors are energetic and excited to teach and get to know their students; the classes are personal, comfortable, and not boring. I learned so much Spanish!! The people who work in administration are friendly and helpful; I made a bunch of changes to my itinerary and they were happy to be flexible! The gardeners/maintenance workers, the cooks, the animal caretakers, the night guards, the conductors, the people who run the projects and the tour guides are all incredibly hardworking and never shy to converse and share stories (regardless of your Spanish abilities!).

An awesome part of La Mariposa is that it can accommodate all different types of visitors. I stayed in a homestay, which was one of the best parts of my experience, as I was able to practice Spanish, learn more about Nicaragua, and hang out with a family that I now love very much. I found the homestay perfectly comfortable, the food was delicious, and I liked expanding my experience beyond the hotel. But for people who prefer the hotel or the cabins, the beauty is in the options! The same goes for the choice to volunteer or do activities, as different people are looking for different experiences. It was really fun to have people of all ages (even a few babies!) and from different places all together, which was only made possible because people were able to choose what worked best for them.

I really appreciated the eco-friendly accommodations, such as the latrines, the vegetarian food, the overflowing forest, and the reminder notes to try to use less water and toilet paper. I felt much more comfortable existing in a place that is working to minimize the impact of its guests and spread environmental consciousness, rather than ignoring human impacts (as most hotels do). Additionally, I worked at La Reserva, the nature reserve, and we spent a lot of time planting trees which will later be used for reforestation. These efforts are just a small example of how the school is thorough in it's environmental objectives and claims.

Thank you to everyone at La Mariposa! I am grateful for the time that I was able to spend at the school; I learned a ton of Spanish, a ton about Nicaragua (and other parts of the world through talking with other guests) and I made a ton of friends! I wish I could stay forever!

  • Stayed: July 2017, travelled solo
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Thank Jenny B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 June 2017

I travelled as one of two leaders of a group of 8 college students, spending one week at the Group Study Center portion of La Mariposa Eco-Hotel. As a leader, one has the option to stay on the grounds of the study center or at a local homestay. I stayed at the study center itself in a small concrete house with 3 bedrooms and an outdoor salon, and use of latrines and showers just steps from the house itself. Spanish lessons and lunch occurred at the study center. My Spanish instructors were very invested in our learning. Pre-tests were given to indicate the appropriate level of Spanish for the week’s lessons. La Mariposa provided transport to the various volunteer sites each day. I engaged in equine therapy, aqua-therapy and assisted teachers at a school to help children learn their lessons. Because there is no WIFI access at the study center, transport was provided daily to an Internet café.

The study center includes a large classroom and a covered patio with plenty hammocks with a gorgeous view where I could meet with my students each day. There was 24/7 security at the center and I always had access to Mariposa personnel if I needed anything. Chester provided an amazing 90-minute documentary on Nicaraguan history that provided a context to understand much of why Nicaragua is like it is today. I was also able to schedule with Mariposa an excursion to Volcan Masaya and Lake Apoyo for my group and I.

This was an amazing experience! While there, I learned how typical Nicaraguans live and work, historical and cultural nuances, and gained significant confidence to functionally utilize Spanish language skills. As a leader, this was the perfect opportunity to prepare myself for on-going travel and volunteer work in Nicaragua. I highly recommend to any group leader of educational or volunteer endeavors to consider spending some time at La Mariposa. This is the second group I have brought to La Mariposa with grand success!

Room Tip: Rooms at the study center come with rural community sounds at night: honking ducks, roosters, barkin...
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  • Stayed: June 2017, travelled with friends
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Thank BoggisT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 June 2017

After reading all the positive reviews, I came to the Mariposa with high expectations and all I can say is that it was even better than expected.
It really feels like you are part of a community there, all teachers and staff make everything possible to make you feel welcome, and the other students all had great stories to tell.
My 2 teachers (conversation and grammar) were great (Alba and Ricardo, thank you so much!).
I enjoyed the different activities (Don't miss the night trip to the Masaya Volcano!).
The food was really good and fresh and perfect for me since I'm not a meat lover.

In addition to all of that, the school helps financing many projects in San Juan, the work they have down over there is incredible.

If you are looking for a simple place to learn Spanish and make new friends in a quiet setting, go, go, GO!

If you are looking for a place to party late and want to feel like in a resort, it is definitely not the right place for you.

A few additional info and tips:
- there are mosquitoes around but it was not as bad as I was expected. Bring some good repelant and you will be fine.
- I was there during the wet season and the air was so humid that it took forever to dry clothes. Bring several pairs of everything if you don't want to wear wet ones...
- Noise: i read some review before coming that it was a loud place and I was a bit worried since I'm a light sleeper. It is really not that bad. Everybody goes to bed early and yes you can hear birds and roasters, but I slept like a baby.

  • Stayed: June 2017, travelled solo
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2  Thank juliancarax31
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
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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