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“The best place we stayed in all of Central America”

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Empalme a Las Playas
Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Playa Marsella
Reviewed 14 October 2014

This place is absolutely awesome.

Pros:
- Great hosts (all 3 were so nice and are always checking on whether they can help you with anything. They're also great to talk to. Ask Roy to tell you some stories from his old days as an undertaker. Hilarious!)
- Fantastic location (a 5 min walk to either Playa and if you're too lazy, Marty'll give you a lift)
- Amazing rooms (we didn't see any other rooms decked out like this throughout the entire region. Books, rocking chairs, numerous fans all in a rustic yet so so comfortable style)
- Tasty Breakfast (breakfast burritos were the best we had)

Cons:
- None.

Room Tip: I think they're all pretty good but just ask what's available.
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  • Stayed: September 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
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Thank dandeut
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
nicachick, Owner at Empalme a Las Playas, responded to this reviewResponded 9 January 2015

Hey! Better late than never... right? Thank you so much for taking your time to share your experience with future TripAdvisor users and potential guests!
It is always a pleasant experience when the users are friendly and easy going - you fit the ticket!
If you ever get the chance to travel Central America again, please look us up. The area is going through a lot of growing pains right now and it will never be the same again. We are glad you got to experience it before it all blows up! Best Wishes for awesome vacations in off the beaten path places.

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25 - 29 of 166 reviews

Reviewed 20 July 2014

We had a very mixed experience at Empalme de las Playas. We booked 5 nights here prior to arriving in Nica, largely based on the strength of the Trip Advisor reviews. There were many things we enjoyed about Emplame but I would not recommend these accommodations to friends traveling to coastal Nicaragua.

Pros
*1 km from fantastic surfing at Playa Maderas
*Rides to/from the playa from owners
*Being away from the hordes of travelers in their 20's who stay in SJDS
*Decent breakfast
*The hammock chairs are the best.

Cons
*Although Marty was very kind (his parents were on vacation in the states during our visit) he is not the best conversationalist. He seemed completely uninterested in us but yet wanted to chat all the time. It was a bit odd.
*So so so hot and humid it was very difficult to sleep with only the fans running.
*Not the safest place for a toddler. High balconies, not secure railings and the wood of the decks were not very strong (we stepped through part of a board on the deck).
*We were charged a service fee for using our credit card to reserve the room prior to arrival but were not informed of said fee. Marty did refund this when I complained but if you are going to require a credit card, the least you can do is let people know that you are going to charge 5.5% extra.

Overall, it was a nice place. It might be more enjoyable if there are other guests or if you go with a lot of friends. But the lack of AC made sleeping very hard. We woke each morning in a puddle of our own dirty sweat. Do stay out at the beach but maybe find somewhere other than Emplame de las Playas.

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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5  Thank Surfista44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
nicachick, Owner at Empalme a Las Playas, responded to this reviewResponded 9 January 2015

I would first like to say thank you for posting a review for the world to see, followed by sorry for not following up in a more timely manner and you getting 3 helpful votes before both sides were revealed for all to see. We are glad you enjoyed the area that we call home.

While we do appreciate you taking your time to share your experience I would like to let the world know that you were advised of most of your CONS in the correspondence well before you arrived.

Your reservations were made 4 months prior to your arrival and before any money transaction took place, by correspondence, it was noted that there are fans in the room (good clue to no A/C).
Also on the reservation information sent before you made a deposit it is noted that there is a 5.5% fee for credit card processing (bank and local tax fees) which was also demonstrated when we sent the email confirming your stay. It seems there was a lack of communication between the one making the arrangements and the one paying for the stay. You basically badgered Marty into eating the bank fees and taxes which would not have worked had I been here as it was fully disclosed and agreed to.
Your lodging was chosen by us to facilitate your toddler. It was the ground level cabin with a 2 foot off the ground balcony versus one of the larger ones that sit 20 feet in the air. You were also not charged an additional fee for your wee one. Now, if he was allowed to wander into dangerous territory, I am hopeful you were with him at all times.
As for the conversationalist that Marty is or isn't, perhaps it is the things that were at hand to talk about? I always taught my kids if they didn't have anything nice to say, be silent. It is not pleasant to have to disinfect the common area (or any area) from the possibility of Hep A, C or any other fecal borne disease. Maybe free spirits let their offspring run naked in public places and I am ok with that, but possibly after potty training is a better ideal for all concerned.
We also find that it is pleasant and works better when there is more than one set of guests at any given time. They have a chance to talk amongst themselves, tell travel stories, surf spots or nursing habits if they share the same lifestyles. I Hope your next travels better fit your needs and your stories are more balanced. - Karen - co-owner at Empalme a Las Playas

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Reviewed 30 April 2014

The rooms are basically made out of Bamboo but we were positively surprised entering the rooms. Very big, very nicely equipped, just perfect. And not to forget about the owners Roy, Karen and Marty, these are really nice people and from the beginning we felt like friends or even family. They cooked us delicious breakfasts and an incredible dinner. The location is also perfect, just a short walk to Playa Marsella and a little longer walk to Playa Maderas, just two really lovely beaches.

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Thank mraeby
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
nicachick, Owner at Empalme a Las Playas, responded to this reviewResponded 9 January 2015

Thank you for sharing your experience with future TripAdvisor users and potential guests. We are fortunate to be out of the rapidly changing town of San Juan del Sur and close to the pristine northern beaches. We always appreciate having visitors that live in country, that are doing their visa runs or just out to have a relaxing time at the beach. Come back if you get the chance!! Best Wishes.

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Reviewed 2 April 2014

Roy, Karen and Marty made us feel comfortable and made us feel like family. Their cabanas are clean, the breakfasts wonderful and plentiful. They helped us find surf boards to rent, get transfers to the airport, find guides to take us to other places in Nicaragua and pointed in all the right directions. My girlfriend Sarah had stayed with them 3 years ago and her stay at the Empalme a Las Playas was a big reason why we returned to SJDS. Their location is outside of town and close to all the great beaches. Don't hesitate. Get a unique stay and enjoy their hospitality. Great vacation.

Room Tip: The cabana we stayed in was large enough for a family of four.
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  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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1  Thank Mark B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
nicachick, Owner at Empalme a Las Playas, responded to this reviewResponded 9 January 2015

It is always nice to have return visitors and even better when they bring their friends!! Thank you for sharing your experience with future TripAdvisor users and please keep us in mind if your return with your family!!! Thanks for taking the time to post! We are waiting for pics of the newbie!

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Reviewed 31 March 2014

We had such a great time with Karen, Marty and Roy. I was traveling with my husband and 3 year old son to Nicaragua. I was unsure whether we'd find enough to occupy us while there but we were "busy" from our arrival to even past our stay at Empalme (we returned for a BBQ). Upon arrival, Roy took us on a tour of his land, 'howler monkey viewing here, giant fallen tree there, beach path over there and now turn around, toucan!', etc. My son took to the Empalme crew and their dogs (Badger being his favorite) immediately. The next morning, he walked out of our cabin on his own and decided to check out Roy's quad bike in his garage then proceeded to walk to breakfast. We all basically acted like we were staying with family. Moreover, we were really spoiled as everyone (including our fellow guests) were incredibly accommodating with entertaining and putting up with our non-stop, curiosity abound son. He was never bored at Empalme while playing with bugs, looking at birds, feeding sticks to the equally accommodating dogs, hammering nails on a piece of wood. He also made himself comfortable in literally every corner of Empalme.

Our accommodations were fine and our hosts, very thoughtfully, placed us where we wouldn't have to worry about balcony height for our son. It was warm and the cold water showers were refreshing. Fans were provided for sleeping comfort. We were a bit warm in our cabin during the day but we were hardly there, it wasn't noticeable. Also, it made us feel like we were staying in a place that was conscious of it surroundings.

Karen's meals were incredible. Lunch aside, we ate out only once during our 4 day stay at Empalme. There totally should be an 'Empalme Cookbook'!

Away from Empalme, we fit in trips to Playa Masaya every morning/some afternoons and made it to Playa Maderas once. There are local restaurants at both beaches. Also, a good horse back riding stable is close by, (we met the guide and his horses but didn't go due to the kid) . The best part of Empalme, aside from the people, was the relaxation, I spent minimum an hour daily on those hammock chairs doing nothing. The concept was a total surprise. For a born and bred big city girl, it's nothing short of luxury.

Room Tip: Give all your concerns, especially if you have children, to Karen. She'll just take care of you.
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  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank WendyLauWong
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
nicachick, Owner at Empalme a Las Playas, responded to this reviewResponded 9 January 2015

Thank you for posting your experience with us in this forum for TripAdvisor users!!!
We were happy to have you and your small child as guests and glad you could appreciate the time to unwind and unplug!! We try to fit our facilities according to our guests needs and glad the ground level unit worked out for you and toddler!! He was a busy little guy, but caused no problems :) and it is refreshing here and there to see the world through the eyes of a child!
As our area develops and there are now 5 restaurants within walking distance, we are getting further and further away from offering evening meals!! We find people on short stays in the country do not mind eating simple, fried food for their short time around. We still try to eat lots of fresh veg, spices, imports and treats that you just don't get "out there"!!
May all of your travels be fun and relaxing!!

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Additional Information about Empalme a Las Playas

Address: 1/2 c N. al Empalme a las Playas Maderas y Playa Marsella | Left Before the Road Splits to Playas Marsella and Maderas, Playa Marsella, San Juan del Sur 00011, Nicaragua
Region: Nicaragua > Rivas Department > San Juan del Sur > Playa Marsella
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Playa Marsella
Price Range: €53 - €69 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A true nature lover and beach goer treat. Spacious and quiet bamboo cabanas sitting in the jungle canopy above the river showcasing howler monkeys and many varieties of birds and wildlife. Within walking distance of Playa Marsella and Playa Maderas, said to be one of the best surf breaks in Nicaragua. A great place to relax, surf, trek and enjoy the natural beauty that is Nicaragua. We are as close to a nature reserve/eco lodge as can be without going through all the legalities to get the "stamp" of approval. Enjoy personal service and feel like you are at your home away from home. Offering personal service and satisfaction! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Empalme a Las Playas Hotel San Juan Del Sur

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