By now, it’s clear that Nicaragua is one of the hottest destinations of 2015;
Glossy travel magazines, travel writers and travel professionals around the world are all raving about, and sending travelers to, this up and coming Central American destination.
Travelers are flocking to Nicaragua for authentic cultural interactions, to experience the extreme biodiversity across the country, and to realize excellent value for money, particularly for luxury travel experiences.
As the tourism industry in Nicaragua gains strength, we've seen hoteliers and other suppliers draw from successful examples of eco-tourism around the world. Nicaragua has a unique opportunity to embrace the spotlight and set itself up for long-term benefit from tourism. We can expect to see several exciting new products launch this year focused on quality, sustainability and conservation.
Here are a few examples of how Nicaragua is leading eco-tourism product development trends in 2015.
Mukul Acts as Cornerstone for High-Value/Low-Volume Ecotourism Development
Mukul, a luxury resort in Nicaragua built by one of the richest people in Central America, opened to great fanfare last year.
This property was built from the ground up to be one of the most luxurious in all of Central America. Guests enjoy private butlers, can arrange private helicopter transfers and indulge in gourmet meals while on site. However, most of the staff is from the local area.
Additionally, some 90% of the art and decorative objects on display around the property were made in Nicaragua. The designer spent two months traveling the country and uncovering these treasures.
Guests of this new property are immersed in Nicaraguan culture, food and leave with a unique appreciation for this beautiful destination. Mukul was developed, as per the owner of the property, to act as a catalyst for Nicaraguan tourism. It sets the stage for continued development of high-end, sustainable travel experiences.
Mario Salinas, Nicaragua's Minister of Tourism recently said, “We need people who are going to come and spend money. We can't wait 20 years" The destination is eager to welcome high-value/low-volume ecotourism projects like Mukul.
Off the Beaten Path Trumps Clustered Development
Savvy travelers today don’t want to go where everybody else has been already. They look for small developments where they can count on personalized service and special attention by management that is often harder to achieve in bigger hotels and mass-market destinations.
The idea of visiting a raw and untouched destination is in fact part of Nicaragua’s current charm. The tourism industry understands this and is working to maintain this allure, shunning mass tourism development at the moment.
While Nicaragua’s remote Ometepe Island (above) has seen significant development in recent years, we’ve even been hearing rumors that an airport will soon be built on the island, the island has retained it’s off-the-beaten-path charm. Here, eco-hotels like Xalli are gaining strength.
Xalli, located in a serene spot on the beach of Lake Nicaragua, offers only seven rooms and is dedicated to a high quality of service. Small projects like this in remote areas are popping up across Nicaragua, again indicating the high-value, low-volume model is working for this up-and-coming destination and mass tourism development is being shunned.
Nicaragua is Embracing Family Travelers who Appreciate and Understand Ecotourism
With the launch of the Family Travel Association last year, and the growing buzz in the travel industry about the evolving needs and demands of the lucrative family traveler, it’s clear family travelers can be an important, driving force in ecotourism around the world, particularly in Nicaragua.
And interestingly, grandparents, more so than parents, are often footing the bill on these international travel adventures. Multi-generational travel is growing exponentially, and we have seen hotels across Nicaragua actively work to attract these groups.
For example, the Cayuga Collection, who run Jicaro Lodge on Lake Nicaragua, are currently running a contest where families are being asked to help create the greatest green and sustainable family vacations. Soliciting feedback and advice from family travelers is perhaps the best way to further refine a sustainable travel experience the whole family will enjoy.
This is a guest post by Sheridan Samano, co-founder of Reefs to Rockies, a boutique tour operator specializing in designing and guiding customized sustainable travel itineraries to the Americas and Africa.