Aqua Wellness Resort
Seclusion and tranquility are the new forms of luxury in a world that is so accessible and plugged in. Aqua Wellness Resort successfully marries contemporary luxury accommodations with serene surroundings, providing a memorable and rejuvenating experience for travelers. Accessible by a two-and-a-half-hour drive or 40-minute helicopter ride from Nicaragua’s international airport in Managua, Aqua offers peace and privacy so that you can enjoy the beautifully wild landscape of Nicaragua’s Pacific “Emerald Coast.” 24 Tree Houses accommodating 50 luxurious villas and suites dot Aqua’s forested hillside, which overlooks a private, white sandy beach. Some of the Tree House accommodations feature kitchens, and incredible plunge pools that make it difficult to even consider leaving the deck. Wellness services such as spa treatments, yoga, and meditation, coupled with fresh and tasty international and Nicaraguan fare served in an open-air beachside restaurant, create an enjoyable “barefoot luxury” experience for guests. Eco-friendly practices are well ingrained in the Aqua experience, and for those who appreciate and support sustainable, environmentally friendly travel, this is where you want to book. Aqua surpasses the standards and services of other luxury resorts while operating in an environmentally responsible manner. The staff is accommodating and friendly. Upon check-in, a cell phone is provided for you to use during your stay, so you’re always just a phone call away—whether you want to reach the front desk, the spa, or friends who are staying at Aqua too. While Aqua’s peaceful seclusion is perfect for an off-the-grid escape, the resort offers adventure as well: You can hike a 300-foot cliff and rappel down, or learn to surf on neighboring Playa Gigante, both within walking distance of Aqua. Should you want to venture out for a day, the front desk can arrange for a boat excursion to one of Nicaragua’s best surf breaks for surfing, or to its deep-sea waters for fishing. They’ll send you off with a guide in a private car to explore Nicaragua’s famous lakes and volcanoes, or its colorful colonial city of Granada, just an hour and a half away. When you return to the resort just in time to enjoy a spectacular ocean sunset, you’ll discover why Aqua is the perfect jumping off point for a vacation in Nicaragua -- and the best place to return.
Aqua Wellness Resort Villas and Suites
Nestled in the lush tree canopy, Aqua’s Tree House Villas and Luxury Suites are havens in which to enjoy the natural landscape. Many have wraparound decks, views that are breathtaking—especially at sunset—as well as kitchens, plunge pools, and outdoor showers. All rooms are designed in a beautiful contemporary style. The furniture was handcrafted by local Nicaraguan craftsmen, who used native hardwoods with sustainability practices in mind. The Tree Houses were sited on the wooded hillside to create the lowest environmental impact, a top priority for Aqua Wellness. Resident wildlife is therefore integrated into the experience—it’s not unusual to see a colorful tropical bird swoop by, or monkeys scamper across the canopy of trees while you’re enjoying time on your deck. While the amenities feel luxurious, the peace and tranquility that each Tree House Villa and Luxury Suite provides is the greatest luxury of all.
Yoga Retreats: Aqua Wellness Resort, Nicaragua
A two-hour drive from Granada, in the village of Gigante, 24 sustainably built treehouses with plunge pools and outdoor showers await guests. Classes are held on a huge beachfront platform. Every stay includes one wellness class (meditation, yoga, or a raw foods consultation). Throughout the year, visiting yoga gurus lead retreats. Seven-night yoga retreats from $1,850, including meals, activities, and workshops. (509) 456-7737, aquanicaragua.com.
This story appeared in the January/February 2012 issue.
This story appeared in the January/February 2012 issue.
By Jen Murphy, AFAR Contributor
Aqua is situated on Redonda Bay, a serene cove on the otherwise rugged Pacific “Emerald Coast” of Nicaragua. The resort is within walking distance of Playa Gigante, a fishing village just north of the cove that has become a surfer hot spot, and a little over an hour’s drive from the popular beach town of San Juan del Sur, to the south. Whether it is to bask in the sun on lounge chairs, take a dip in the emerald waters, or kayak or stand-up paddle board around the cove, the seclusion and privacy provided by the bay and rocky outcrops at Aqua leave guests feeling like they are in on a magical secret. The water is ideal for swimming, with gentle waves and tidal shifts and warm temperatures. Up for adventure? You can hike to the top of “Pie de Gigante,” the 300 foot-hight cliff at the north end of the cove, and rappel down!
Sustainability + Wildlife
Aqua puts environmental impact and sustainability practices top of mind, as shown through its design, execution, and services. Natural habitat preservation and use of local and natural building materials have been priorities from day one. Wildlife are easily spotted throughout the grounds, as all structures were built with animal habitats and migration routes carefully considered. It is not unusual to see monkeys, birds, lizards, and iguanas as you wander the grounds or sit on your deck, proof that their habitat is still rich and plentiful. Depending on the season and phase of the moon, you may spot just-hatched turtles wind-milling their way from the beach into the ocean. Instead of dominating the environment, Aqua truly feels like a shared space for guests and wildlife alike. To keep it that way, Aqua has partnered with conservation group Paso Pacifico to protect the resort’s Howler and Squirrel Monkeys, Yellow-naped Amazon Parrots, four species of sea turtles, and dry tropical forest.
With an open-air palapa-shaded restaurant overlooking the beach, Aqua gives new meaning to “dining with a view.” The bar is steps from the waves and a perfect spot to enjoy a cold glass of Toña, Nicaragua’s national beer, a cocktail made with the country’s famous Flor de Caña rum, or exotic tropical juices like passion fruit or guanabaya served fresh-squeezed over ice, or whipped with other tasty fresh ingredients into a smoothie. (Try the “Funky Monkey” smoothie made with coconut milk, cashews, banana, and Nicaraguan cacao nibs!) Head down for dinner at sunset to take in the view while ordering your fresh seafood caught by local fishermen. Try mahi-mahi grilled with spicy pineapple salsa, gallo pinto, and grilled plantains, or steamed in coconut milk on coconut rice pilaf. Native and local ingredients are sourced to ensure the freshest of meals. On some nights, the chefs make pizzas to order in the outdoor wood-burning hearth oven. Any night, you can arrange to have a romantic dinner on the beach.
Aqua’s spa offers an array of beauty and wellness services. Whether it’s a massage, body wrap, or mani-pedi, the spa treatments utilize organic and often local ingredients and are sure to still your mind and relax your body. Enjoy them solo, or as a couple, and make an appointment at least a day in advance to ensure the time slot you wish. Spa suites include showers and open-air views to complement the luxurious services, leaving you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. We recommend one of Aqua’s signature spa treatments like the Organic Cacoa Body Polish, or the Mombacho Massage, named for one of Nicaragua’s mightiest volcanoes.
Yoga + Wellness
Aqua Wellness Resort lives up to its name by offering an array of services that cater to the body, mind, and soul. Complimentary yoga and meditation classes are offered twice a day. The open-air yoga platform, perched in a quiet area above the sea, is particularly soothing and an ideal space to harness energy and healing. Guests can also arrange for private yoga sessions.
While Aqua’s private beach is the perfect spot for a swim, kayaking, snorkeling, or stand-up paddle boarding, you may want to ride the waves, as Nicaragua has world-class surfing. Aqua just happens to be located within a 20-minute boat ride of the country’s best surf breaks. We can arrange for a top Nicaraguan surfing guide to take you surfing in his best boat – which is equipped not only with snacks and drinks, but fishing poles should you want to try your luck on the trip back to Aqua. Never surfed, but want to learn? We’ll set you up with surfing lessons on Playa Gigante, a beach perfect for beginners that’s a 20-minute walk from Aqua. Photo by Marianna Jamadi.
Yoga and Beyond
Either relax high in the tree's watching monkeys from you verandah or swing your day away in a hammock by the surf. Agua is a true gem and one of the nicest places I stayed while in Nicaragua. The treehouse resort sits high above it's own private cove but is walking distance to the tiny village of Gigante. It's extremely relaxing and private in the low season and I understand it can be quite lively and fun during the high. The treehouse and villas are stunning, and are the sustainable structures are connected by wood bridge's and narrow stone path's The restaurant and bar sit down on the private beach and yoga is practiced high on a platform above the sea.
By Tara Guertin, AFAR Staff
1 Redonda Bay, Tola, Nicaragua
Sun - Sat 7am - 8pm