Lomas de Palermo
Elevated above the bustling beach town of San Juan del Sur is this elegant and exclusive property, with incredible views over farmland and dry tropical forest to the Pacific Ocean.
Fifty quiet, condominium–style villas, offering what are the most comfortable accommodations in the country, rise in tasteful terra cottas from the hills, welcoming you for days or weeks to a truly wondrous corner of Central America.
You'll be welcomed to your own private paradise at the palapa–topped clubhouse of Palermo Hotel and Resort, with rustic overtones on the outside, but a soaring, sleek and modern interior. The architectural focus at Palermo is a phalanx of glass doors and enormous windows that allow you to admire the flowing lines of the refreshing pool, and awesome vistas beyond. The space, perfect for weddings and other events, is warmed up with Indonesian and Nicaraguan artwork and furnishings, and river rock accents.
Step outside, onto the shady ceramic–tiled terrace, where drinks are served at the outdoor bar. The arrangement is elegant and understated, appealing to not only to guests relaxing, swimming and dining, but also area businesspeople and other VIPs who come to sample the excellent cuisine. Chef Kenny Nakai, a native of Hawaii who has worked in fine restaurants all over the world, earns accolades for his innovative international fare — not always easy to find in Nicaragua's fledgling tourist scene — created from fresh, local ingredients.
Or, visit San Juan del Sur's tidy local market yourself, then whip up something spectacular in your villa's full kitchen, outfitted with the latest appliances in glistening steel, including a microwave, coffee maker (complete with organic, locally grown coffee), plus all the pots, pans, and other cooking utensils a gourmet cook might desire. Also a delight are marble countertops and a hardwood dining nook, perfect for couples or families, though you may prefer to enjoy your meal outside on the private patio, perfectly angled for appreciating those inspiring views.
Unlike more rustic (though gorgeous) Morgan's Rock, Palermo's villas are outfitted with every modern amenity, a real boon to families accustomed to air conditioning, satellite television, wireless Internet, DVD and CD players; as well as businesspeople who need to stay connected to the outside world.
Each 1600 sq ft, condominium–style space offers two large bedroom suites, coolly paved in black and white checkered floors, with large windows, enormous walk–in closets, and accent pieces in wrought iron, local ceramics, and pale linens. A spacious living area has similarly sleek design elements, as well as evocative décor offering a sense of place, such as local seashells and handicrafts. Best of all, each villa's handsome hardwood furniture, from the large, comfortable double beds to the graceful tables and sofas, rocking chairs, and more, were innovatively designed and hand–built by Simplemente Madera, (Simply Wood) a Managua–based design collective committed to sustainable, community–conscious tropical hardwood creations with a conscience.
Though the resort is a bit isolated––a boon to some, perhaps an inconvenience for those who would rather be closer to the festive bars and surf scene in central San Juan del Sur &mdash there's plenty to do nearby, including horseback riding and hiking the property's scenic trails. The country's longest, fastest canopy tour (with what may be the region's largest and most important petroglyph, or ancient stone carving) is also nearby. The friendly, professional staff, most of whom speak English, also arranges tours of nearby sites such as the beautiful Spanish colonial city of Granada or the volcanic island of Ometepe. Childcare, laundry service, free 24–hour transportation, and many other services are also on offer. There's even an above–average souvenir shop selling thoughtful gifts, most handmade and/or sustainably produced in Nicaragua.
The property is steep––the better to offer those exquisite views––thus transportation is included in the price. Regardless, guests in the upper villas will get a bit of a workout walking to the clubhouse; mobility impaired travelers can request villas closer to the restaurant and pool. Air–conditioned transport to the town and beach (about a mile from the resort&) is also included, important if you didn't rent a car. If you don't mind the distance, or prefer the privacy, this Palermo offers an outstanding deal on upscale accommodations, at less than half what you'd pay in Costa Rica, just a few miles away.
Web Address: www.villasdepalermo.com
Total Number of Rooms: 50
Published rates: $149, up to five people
Review and photos by Paige R. Penland.