Mukul Resort, Guacalito de la Isla, Nicaragua
Guacalito de la Isla rolls off the tongue as smoothly as the taste of an 18 year old Flor de Caña rum or a Padrón 1964 Anniversary cigar. The new 1,670-acre low-density, private beach community is a sustainable development on Nicaragua's southern Pacific Emerald Coast. It is home to Mukul, a recently opened luxury boutique hotel and resort on Manzanillo Beach that offers an exotic destination, delicious rum and cigars .
The resort's centrally located beachside palapa exemplifies the essence of Guacalito de la Isla. The enchanting, open-sided oval structure is 85-feet long, 67-feet wide and 52-feet high. Ten, 25-foot tall post-hurricane harvested Nanciton trees support the palm leaf covered eucalyptus rafters. The tastefully designed area provides shade, captures cooling breezes that temper the sultry heat and creates a charming ambiance. Suspended from the rafters are 108 lighted, locally made round baskets artfully arranged to softly illuminate the palapa.
Joan Salavador Barrios Ramirez, resident cigar sommelier, rum connoisseur and certified tequila ambassador, is gatekeeper at two spaces at Mukul, both under the main palapa. The cigar room/humidor showcases an array of quality smokes. Some are Nicaraguan: Padrón Family Reserve 44, 45, 46 Years and also the 1964 Anniversary Series; Oliva Serie V Belicoso; Flor de las Antillas Toro (Cigar Aficionado's 2012 Cigar of the Year); and Cuban Cohiba Behike 52 and 54. A total of 50 different cigars including Joya de Nicaragua, Plasencia and other Padróns, Olivas and Cohibas are available from $8 to $80 USD.
Joan will assist in choosing, cutting and firing up a cigar to your liking. He also presents tasting sessions in the adjacent rum room that's well-stocked with 4 to 18 year old Flor de Caña rums and a single bottle of 25-year-old Don Alfredo. It is the last of only 200 produced to commemorate the birthday of family patriarch Alfredo Pellas Chamarro, who turned 96 in 2012. A select group of top shelf tequilas, vodkas, whiskies, single malts, blends and Cognacs are also displayed there.
Estelí, one of the most important cigar producing areas in the world, is located in northern Nicaragua where the surrounding land and conditions are ideal for growing. The region attracted many Cuban cigarmakers after the 1959 Revolution on the island. Nicaraguans take great pride in the award-winning cigars from the region. Estelí is far from the resort but many of the cigars available at Mukul were produced there.
Guacalito de la Isla is the passion and vision of entrepreneur and philanthropist Don Carlos Pellas Chamorro. Grupo Pellas' holdings include Flor de Caña rum, a family business founded in 1937. Don Carlos and wife, Vivian, have created Mukul (Mayan word for secret) to celebrate the people, culture and country of Nicaragua. The secret is out and travelers who spend time at this enchanting, tropical destination will find a secluded place to rest, explore and restore.
Options for enjoyment abound at Mukul, whether it be on a stretch of the 4.8 miles of beach, on 15 miles of trails through upland jungle, at one of six exclusively designed spa casitas, surrounded by comfort and elegance of custom-made furniture and interiors created by locals, alfresco dining beachside, on the fairways of the David McLay Kidd designed golf course or at your private villa or bohio.
Bellowing howler monkeys, colorful birds, breaching whales, cooling winds and indigenous flora serve up a stimulating sensory experience. Local Nicaraguan employees offer cheerful and engaging interactions throughout the resort where a glass of rum and good cigar are always at hand.
Thirty-five spacious and stylish, high-ceiling detached guest units are offered at the resort. Twelve are beachfront villas with sweeping ocean views, each with its own pool and 24-hour butler service. Twenty-three fashionably designed bohios accented by a plunge pool and wrap around teak deck are set hillside, 300-feet above the beach in the forest canopy providing an expansive view of the Pacific below.
The $250 million sustainable sanctuary, hotel and residential community designed as the Pellas family legacy incorporates every aspect of environmental concern. Practices and programs that preserve and protect plants and animals, conserve and recycle soil and water are prevalent and ongoing. The director of social responsibility works with neighboring villagers to provide fresh water, other basic needs and a grant program for startup businesses.
"We must not look at the world as an inheritance from our parents but rather as a loan from our children," said Don Carlos Pellas. Guacalito de la Isla validates that he means what he says.
Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa
KM 10 Carretera Tola-Las Salinas Rivas, Nicaragua
011 (505) 2563-7100
Freelancer Bill Nestor explores globally to write about travel, golf, food, nature and lifestyles.