Luxury with Responsibility at Bahia Majagual

For three days, we lived the life of luxury at Morgan's Rock on Bahia Majagual. But it came with some awesome responsibility.

Luxury with Responsibility at Bahia Majagual

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by ext212 on February 27, 2007

We left Morgan's Rock feeling a little spoiled. We spent three luxurious (and expensive) days at Morgan's Rock, but we also learned how to take a guilt-free vacation by giving back to Mother Nature.

There are 15 bungalows at Morgan's Rock and if you're a couple, one night can cost you $225 per person during the high season of November to May. This fee includes the bungalow, meals three times a day, local drinks and some of the activities listed on${QuickSuggestions} Because your nightly fee at Morgan's Rock includes your meals and some of the activities, it is not necessary to be carrying cash with you. All credit cards are accepted if you incur more fees during your stay.

We had the #15 bungalow which was on top of the mountain. I counted 184 steps to go up - that's half of the steps of Paris' Arc de Triomphe! - so let the staff know if you have difficulty walking.

If you want to participate in any of the activities offered at Morgan's Rock, give the staff ample notice. It was an extra $30 per person to go horseback riding but we weren't able to do it because it was too late to reserve a horse for the next day.

Only local beers and the house-made rum is included in your nightly fee. Get your money's worth and drink up all the Morgan's Rock Rum you can get. It's delicious with the fresh fruit juice they make at the bar.${BestWay} The bus ride from Granada to Rivas was about two hours. Taxi drivers swarmed as soon as we got off the bus. One of them started to take my backpack. Espera, I said, almost pissed off. Calm down and wait for us to hire one of you before you take our bags. We needed a ride to Morgan’s Rock on Bahia Majagual and we heard prices up to $40. I read beforehand that the ride to San Juan was about $18, but because Morgan’s Rock is a private hacienda, we negotiated with one of the drivers for $25.

From Morgan's Rock to Managua, the manager gave us a lift to San Juan which helped us save $60. From San Juan, we got on a cab to the Rivas bus station where we caught the bus back to Managua.

Morgan's Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by ext212 on February 27, 2007

I read beforehand that the ride to San Juan was about $18, but because Morgan’s Rock is a private hacienda, we negotiated with one of the drivers in Rivas for $25. Moises followed the blue MR signs on La Chocolata Road for 30 minutes before we reached the security gate. The guard let us in after confirming our reservations. We kept driving through the private forest until we arrived at the main lodge where iced-cold cranberry juice was waiting for us. Staff members in white uniforms and khaki shorts took our bags to deliver them to our room while the manager showed us around. We laughed at ourselves because we've never stayed at a luxury place in Central America.

Inspired by the Lapa Rios Ecolodge in Costa Rica, luxury became an understatement the three days we were at the hacienda because it came with some awesome responsibility. Morgan’s Rock is part of a 1,000-hectare tree farming and reforestation project as well as an 800-hectare private nature reserve. More than a million hardwood and fruit trees have been planted the last five years to bring back the animals native to the Pacific Coast. Howler monkeys woke us up in the middle of the night. Magpie Blue Jays and squirrels joined us for coffee in the mornings. Turtle eggs are monitored and protected on the beach. They have a sugar cane mill where they make their own rum, plus a farm provides food to the staff and the guests.

All the wood used to build the bungalows came from responsibly-managed logging sources and tree farming projects in the country to ensure ecological responsibility. The bungalows face west and have a view of the bay or the estuary and they were all designed to shelter guests from all kinds of weather. The designer and architect only used local materials and recycled wood while artisans in the area created and crafted the furnishings. The bungalows are connected to the main lodge by a 110-meter suspension bridge which was built so that trees weren’t unnecessarily cut. We had to climb 184 steps to our #15 bungalow so we made sure we packed everything we needed in the morning. There is no solar power but a bio-filter system was installed for water and the pool only uses natural salt to stay clean. They also built an on-site waste disposal plant and separation system and created a recycling project.

Ranchitos or huts sit on the beach to provide respite from the intense sun. A pool with an infinity-style edge is right next to the restaurant and bar. We didn’t do much while at Morgan’s Rock except truly relax and tune out. But we also learned that to enjoy luxury without guilt, we must learn to take care of Mother Nature and give back.
Morgan's Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
(506) 232-6449

La Bastide

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by ext212 on February 27, 2007

If you're a couple staying in one of the 15 bungalows at Morgan's Rock, your $225 per person fee per night includes three meals and all the local beers and homemade rum you can drink.

La Bastide is the name of the restaurant inside Morgan's Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge. Throughout our entire stay in Nicaragua, we never ate food made of fresh produce like we did at Morgan's Rock.

A lot of their products are organically grown. A farm inside the hacienda provides the fruits and vegetables plus all dairy needs to the guests. If they do not have the items inside, they buy them from local producers in nearby San Juan del Sur and Rivas. This way, the hacienda not only supports their employees, but also the local farmers in the country.

The restaurant staff are by no means trained by a chef, but we appreciated them for trying to offer fancy food. We loved their chilled cucumber soup drowned in garlic, but some of the meals were incorrectly named. I expected a tomato-based seafood soup when I ordered the bouillabaisse one evening, but it came with coconut milk, lime juice and cilantro. Calling it coconut-lime shrimp soup would have been better.

They have their own shrimp farm so order anything with shrimps from their menu. They tasted so fresh even if they were slathered with mayonnaise. At least, they came on a bed of fresh mesclun.

Like most of Central America, La Bastide doesn't really care for medium-rare meat. I ordered a steak sandwich for lunch one day and it was chewy and rubbery because the meat was well done. (And I still ate it because it had some merits.) When I ordered duck for dinner, they noted that I wanted it medium-rare, but the dish turned out to be baked in a ramekin filled with cheese that it didn't matter if the meat was overdone. (I also ate it because my mother taught me not waste food, especially while at Morgan's Rock!)

Breakfast is served until 9am so you have to wait until lunch time if you're a late riser. The night before, though, you can sign up to have coffee delivered to your room. When we woke up, a thermos with freshly-brewed coffee (from their own coffee farm somewhere else in Nicaragua) waited outside our door. It was one of our favorite things about Morgan's Rock. We drank coffee on our porch every morning while the howler monkeys made noise from afar.

The staff ask their guests for their dinner order during lunch time. They only cook what's been ordered. This way, no food is wasted.

On the plus side, they make their own Morgan's Rock Rum and it's included in your bill. They have so many locally-grown fruits that I managed to taste all of them during our stay: passion fruit, mango, tamarind, banana-flavored juices, all spiked with rum, of course.
La Bastide
Morgan's Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Night Walk

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by ext212 on February 27, 2007

We didn't just act like lazy bums while at Morgan's Rock. We hiked around the forest one morning where we saw a few white-faced monkeys across the shrimp farm. We used the body boards when the waves were strong enough. Unfortunately, the estuary was too dry to kayak and it was too windy in the season to go fishing with the staff.

Our favorite activity, though, was the night walk with Juan. We signed up early in the day for a 6pm start and it took about an hour and a half to go around the premises of the hacienda. We saw all kinds of animals in the dark with the help of a flashlight. There were snakes, scorpions, bats, spiders, sleeping birds and butterflies, and stinky howler monkeys.

When it started to smell like cow poop, Juan howled to attract them. We ran as soon as they responded because they apparently throw their poop to scare you away. We were laughing so hard, we also scared the bats and the sleeping birds on the trees.

When we first met Juan at the main lodge, he looked down at my feet and suggested that I wear my hiking boots instead of my flip-flops. I didn't follow his advice until he mentioned the scorpions along the way. There were plenty of them on the dirt road. Even though the tour was really just a walk, my boots protected me from the animals of the forest.

Juan has been working at Morgan's Rock for more than a year. He's been doing the night walk tour and it showed. He knows all the animals' names and he had a lot of interesting tidbits about all of them. We had a question about a snake we saw near our bungalow and he was able to name and confirm it by checking his picture book. (A non-poisonous ribbon green snake.)

We learned a lot about our cohabitants during our tour. And when you educate yourself about your surroundings, you're more inclined to take care of it.
Morgan's Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

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