Nicaragua -- Spa Villas, Golf Course Lots, and Heart-Stopping Ocean Views

By Michelle Sedita

I feel as if Nicaragua is changing so rapidly, it’s a new country every time I go. And I go at least twice a year.

In my last report, I left you at Rancho Santana on Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast.  You’ll remember, we’d arrived in Jeeps, driven through a river bed, and one had popped a tire.

I’d piled the folks from the disabled Jeep into the working ones, and we’d pressed on. But I’d put all the luggage in the stranded Jeep and left the driver to find tire-repair help.

I was at Rancho Santana waiting for the luggage to arrive when I wrote my first Dispatch. It did arrive. And I said to my group of adventuresome investors, something I say on every trip:  “Nicaragua has wonderful, reliable drivers and guides.”

With luggage safely accounted for, we spent the day touring Rancho Santana — a 3,000-acre private community and the most well-established development along Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast.

I saw this place for the first time about seven years ago… on horseback. It was just raw land. But today there are 40 houses (casitas, villas, and estates) built to look out over the 3.2 kilometers of coastline. They look out over 5 beaches, and residents and visitors here enjoy the tennis courts, stables, a small hotel, a restaurant, bar, and pools. And there are more amenities to come.

In truth, there’s not that much for sale here these days, but it’s always a great place to stay.  Gail Geerling, one of our fearless real-estate liaisons here, has a house at Rancho Santana that I was lucky enough to stay in as it was not occupied by renters.

The house is designed by an incredible architect named Hal Sorrenti, whose work is all over Central America.  He did a wonderful job capturing the incredible ocean and sunset views across the infinity swimming pool.  (If you’re interested in renting Gail’s house, email her at

The next morning, I got up early and walked to the clubhouse — up until this point in the trip, we’d been eating non-stop, and I figured a nice stroll would do me good. The wrap-around view of the jungle and hills to my right and the winding coastline in front and back of me made me actually stop walking and thank god for such wonder and beauty.  Reluctantly, I made my way to the clubhouse — only to eat again.

From Rancho Santana we headed to another property that I had not seen in a few years — Iguana Beach, now called Hacienda Iguana Golf and Beach Club.  When I first visited there, the developers were selling only beach lots (lots sitting right on the water for $55,000 — similar to the lots in Manzanillo that I wrote about you about in my last Dispatch) and condos on the beach for $99,000-$125,000.

Well, now those beach lots are now selling for $275,000 and the condos are priced at more than $300,000 and renting.

But the best part is, they have the first nine-hole golf course on the beach with four holes finished. The course is slated to be completely done by January 2007.  You can get golf lots from $67,500-$77,500, which includes the golf package. (For more information about this opportunity — and any others property questions — please email Gail & Jocelyn at, our wonderful real estate connection on the ground in Nicaragua.)

From there, we went to one of my favorite developments: Arenas Bay. This 600-acre project has views just as incredible as those at Rancho Santana — but with added rock formations, caves, peninsulas, and beach coves.

Only a few lots remain on the cliff top, called Buccaneer Point. Five homes are complete up there, and more than a dozen others are in various stages of construction with several more planned soon.

They just opened a new phase of development here, with spectacular lots along the coast that have some of the best views I’ve seen in Nicaragua — it looks like the cliffs in Ireland!!

But to my mind, the best opportunity in this development is at the Village at Aqua –Spa Villas. (In fact, I’m trying to figure out how I can buy one for myself.)

Pre-construction costs range from $149,000- $300,000, depending on what model you choose.  These villas will sit right under Buccaneer Point in the trees and come down to the beach.

The design is meant to enhance the glorious natural setting here, and so the buildings will all be of exotic hardwoods and stone, and you’ll feel as if you’re in a  tree house.  The plans call for only minimal tree removal, so you can count on a protected, wild feel. Each villa will have its own garden, easy access to the beach, and use of the spa, yoga, and wellness center.

The best part is that a purchase here falls under Nicaragua’s Law 306, the Tourism Incentive Law, which means that all income the units generate will be tax-free in Nicaragua for ten years… and that rental income could well cover your investment in as few as ten to fifteen years.

There’s another place I should mention, too… Pelican Eyes Resort in San Juan del Sur. This is a five-star establishment in my book. (And one that New York Times article Barb mentioned up top raves about, as well.)

An eco-friendly environment with walking paths, flowers, gardens, and birds, it overlooks the town of San Juan del Sur and the expansive bay there.  I took pictures of some of the most beautiful sunsets from their terraced pools.

And — lucky us — we got there just in time for Happy Hour — 2-for-1 drinks! And then we dined on homemade bread, perfectly grilled filet mignon, fresh seafood, curry, and scrumptious desserts. Pelican Eyes has one of the best chefs in the country, and whatever you do, you don’t want to miss a meal here.

I could go on and on about the other projects we investigated on this trip, but I want to save some surprises for the folks who join me in Nicaragua when I head back in February 2007. (We’ll see these I’ve mentioned as well as a few more and in all likelihood some brand-new opportunities as well. Things are developing here so quickly, there’s always something new to investigate on every trip.)

In fact, at the end of this recent visit, we stopped at one last development — the first work crews had just broken ground on a new phase there — and every single person on the trip was impressed with the beauty and potential they saw. I’m not going to give this one away, though. Join me in Nicaragua February 3-10, 2007 and you can discover this place for yourself

I really hope you will. Our trips are an adventure, to be sure. But we take care of every detail so you don’t have to worry about where you’ll stay or where you’ll find a good meal or if you’re seeing the best deals on offer.

We’ve got that figured out for you, so you can rest assured your time on the ground is spent efficiently and enjoyably.

For more information about our upcoming tour, February 3-10, 2007, visit or call our office at 1-800-926-6575 and I’ll tell you all about it.

Or, if those dates won’t work for you and you’d rather go on your own, feel free to email Gail and Jocelyn directly so they can assist you in setting up a trip for yourself. You’ll find them at:

You know, I’ve neglected to mention some of the interesting people we met this trip… from the in-country investment gurus to a realtor who moved from Costa Rica to Nicaragua and showed us how to make money in property in Granada (the oldest city in the Americas).  While some people say the real estate market in Granada is over, after what I heard and saw that day I’d say they’re very mistaken.

Jocelyn and Gail introduced us to developers who have ground-floor opportunities in joint ventures, as well as professionals from all walks of life.  One was attorney Adam Gaitan, a lively character who leads hunting and fishing expeditions when he’s not busy handling legal transactions.

And one of my favorite locals with whom we met is Giselle Poveda Monterrey, who not only shared the history of Granada with us (watch for her new book, coming out in 2007) but inspired us with her insights on political and cultural aspects of Nicaragua.

If you’d like to meet (and be inspired by) people such as Giselle and the others, join me in Nicaragua this February.  We don’t know exactly where we’ll be going yet as current real estate bargains and availability will dictate our agenda, but wherever we go, you can be certain you’ll enjoy the journey!

Happy Travels,