Aqua Wellness Resort
by, 03-26-2013 at 12:30 PM (1635 Views)
Aqua Wellness Resort Redondo Bay, Gigante, Nicaragua
Aqua Wellness Resort is located on the pacific coast about 1 hour north of San Juan del Sur and about a 2 hour drive south of Managua in a fairly remote area. The nearest large town is Tola about 1 hour away and the village of Gigante is about a 15 minute walk. There is not much in Gigante a few restaurants and hostels there are about 500 residents.
Our LL package was for 5 nights, breakfast each morning, dinner one night, a 50 minute spa treatment, and a 1 way transfer from the international airport. We arrived in Managua around 12:30pm, customs was easy and our Aqua driver was waiting for us. The driver was very nice and did not speak much English and my Spanish is very rusty, however, we had a very pleasant and scenic 2 hour drive to the resort we practiced our language skills! We also stopped for a brief grocery store on the way to stock up on some supplies since we knew we had a full kitchen at the resort.
Aqua bills itself as luxury treehouses and if you are in one of the penthouses, luxury suites or tree house rooms situated higher up on the hillside, then you do feel like you are living in the trees. Every villa complex is crafted from native hardwoods, stone and glass and are all connected to the beach and the resort common areas via elevated wooden walkways, stairs and pathways. There are stairs and depending on which room you are located in, there could be quite a few, however, if you get to know the layout of the resort you can find shortcuts that avoid many of the steps. If stairs are a big problem for you, then you may want to avoid this resort or make sure you request a room on the beach beach front rooms do not require a lot of stairs and they are very close to the restaurant and bar areas.
The Aracari penthouse complex is the highest on the hill and is one of the few that has both rainforest and ocean views if monkey sighting is important to you, request a rainforest room. It is important to understand the resort configurations as far as the rooms go. Each complex usually consists of a penthouse room and 2 tree house rooms or a luxury suite (there are 2 luxury suites) and 1 tree house room. A whole complex is called a villa. Penthouse rooms are 2 floors with the living area and full kitchen on the 1st floor and the king bed bedroom and bathroom on the 2nd floor. The luxury suites also have a full kitchen; however, instead of being on 2 floors, they have 2 separate buildings connected by an L shaped deck. One building contains the full kitchen and the other contains the bedroom and bathroom. Tree house rooms have no kitchen it is a single queen bed room with a full bathroom. All types of rooms have an outside deck and some have their own plunge pool. If a pool is important to you then you need to make sure when arranging for your room, to ask for one with a private plunge pool. Not all penthouse rooms have a private plunge pool and not all tree house rooms have a private plunge pool. Both luxury suites have a pool. Some pools seem to be shared.
Our package was for an oceanview penthouse with private plunge pool, however, we requested a rainforest penthouse since we wanted monkey contact and we were assured we would have a rainforest penthouse with a private deck and plunge pool. When we checked in we were shown to a rainforest penthouse with an evidently shared pool since there were folks towels and slippers arranged by the pool. I went back to the reception area and told them this was not what we had requested nor was it what the LL package indicated. This particular penthouse did not have a pool it ended up belonging to the tree house room that was part of this particular complex (I believe it was the orchid penthouse). This is one of the places where Aqua needs some customer service training they seemed to freeze up and were not sure how to handle a situation like this. I kept saying we are supposed to have our own penthouse with private pool and deck and finally after about an hour of phone calls, etc. on their part, they told us they had a penthouse for us that has a pool the pool actually belonged to one of the tree houses but they said they would not rent out either of the tree house rooms so that we could have the whole complex to ourselves worked for us we had the penthouse with big wrap around deck and the plunge pool was on the deck below next to the unoccupied tree house and as we discovered conveniently located next to the dirt road that you use to get to El Gigante village and you could also use this road to get to the resort restaurant and beach area no stairs for us! It is not real clear on either the Luxury Link posting or on Aquas own website how the complex is laid out the LL package stated you would have a penthouse villa with private wrap around deck and plunge pool but not many of the penthouse rooms actually have their own wrap around deck or private plunge pool since they all have at least 1 tree house room on part of the deck area I did not go around and examine each of the room complexes but this is how it appeared from what we did see.
All room types include air conditioning (which we did not need), ceiling fans, on demand hot water, very comfortable Serta mattresses with nice, soft linens, coffee maker, refrigerator in the penthouse and luxury suites and a wine chiller/mini bar in the tree house rooms, in room safe, desk, chair and reading lamp and slate or teak rain showers. Each unit also has an outdoor deck with at least 2 chairs and a table.
The penthouse we finally ended up in was the Jicaro penthouse and it was very nice. Great rainforest views and many, many monkeys visited each morning and evening. It had a wraparound deck so we actually had 2 Adirondack chairs and a table on one side and 2 Adirondack cushioned rocking chairs and a table on the other side. We spent most of our time sitting on the deck monkey and bird watching. On one side of the deck was a tree house room which we were able to look at a bit small with a queen bed, desk, chair and small bathroom and outside the entrance door were 2 chairs and a table. Also outside the tree house entrance were stairs leading down to the next deck where there was another tree house room with a plunge pool which was the pool we were using. At the very bottom of the stairs at ground level is a large stone patio with a barbeque pit and wraparound wood benches not all of the villa complexes have this feature.
Our penthouse was very nice with modern appliances in the kitchen, dishes and cutlery for 4, plenty of pots and pans, coffee maker and tea kettle. They also supplied dish washing liquid for washing dishes everything you would need for cooking and cleaning up. There was also a nice round table and 4 chairs for dining, a full size sofa and coffee table. Sliding screened doors led out on to the deck.
The 2nd floor bedroom contained a king size bed, ample storage space, desk and the bathroom with a nice sink and counter area and a large teak shower. Very comfy bedding and plenty of soft towels.
There are also sliding screened doors in the bedroom leading to a very small balcony. I really liked the penthouses. Evidently these are private residences where the owners get to use them for around 108 days per year and Aqua (the management company) rents them out the rest of the time. Since they are private, each room may have a little more or less than the others, for example, we had a washer and dryer in our penthouse which came in handy. All the kitchens do have appliances, dishes, etc.
The beach area, beach front bar and restaurant area are all very nice with ample seating. The restaurant serves very good food at reasonable prices. The menu is varied, however, they always seemed to be out of shrimp and lobster. Portions are a nice size and I liked everything I tried. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are also reasonably priced. There are also a few private seating areas scattered about around the bar and restaurant. The beach is exclusive to Aqua, however, you do get the occasional visitor from Gigante since Aquas beach is nicer. During the time we were there, the beach and seating areas were never crowded.
The spa is great and is located on the hillside with wonderful views. We each had a 50 minute massage and they were so good .. The spa also offers facials, manicures and pedicures.
There were a few glitches: the problem we had with getting the penthouse room we were supposed to get, the water going out for a day and 1 of the luxury suites that was occupied had a rodent problem in each of these cases, the staff seemed like they were not sure what to do. When I called to tell them there was no water, they hesitated and then finally said it was being looked at but not sure when it would be fixed they were getting ready to just hang up the phone but I said what about drinking water, flushing the toilets and that I had a sink full of dirty dishes they said someone would come to our PH and someone did within 10 minutes they filled a bucket with pool water and washed the dishes and flushed the toilet and they put a new big bottle of water on our water cooler and then just left with no other explanation very confusing! The water did come back on the next morning and everyone was treated to a free lunch evidently there was a broken pipe. We met the couple who had the rodent problem in their luxury suite and from what they told us we gather that they saw the rodent one night and called reception, reception had maintenance come and they found the hole where the rodent got in and sealed the hole, however, evidently they did not check inside the suite to make sure the rodent was not still in the suite it was and for some reason the couple did not get moved to another room for 2 more nights I think the resort was trying to find a similar room to the one they were in, however, there are only 2 luxury suites and the other one was occupied. When the 2nd luxury suite opened up, the resort actually moved my husband and I to that one for our last night as their way of apologizing for the penthouse room screw up we had on check in. Why they did not move the folks with the rodent in the luxury suite they were in, I could not tell you all confused at this point. Around midnight, I heard a noise and someone trying to open our suite doors and saw people with flashlights on our deck, I screamed hey get out of here and woke my husband up we ran out on the deck and started asking a man and woman what are you doing but they just mumbled sorry and took off weird! We then noticed that the lights were on in the tree house that was part of our luxury suite complex and walked over to see who was in there since it was supposed to be unoccupied it turns out it was the couple that had the rodent in their room we asked why did the resort wait until midnight to move them and the lady said she could no longer stay in their room with a rodent they should have insisted much sooner that they be moved I would have! Again it seems like the resort does not know how to handle a crisis.
The luxury suite we were moved to for our last night was called Tortuga and was very nice with an amazing ocean view, wraparound deck connecting the bedroom and kitchen buildings and a much larger plunge pool than the older part of the resort. This suite was part of the newer end of the resort and was pretty much just built there were 2 more under construction in this area. A pretty nice place!
Even with the glitches, this is a very nice resort and the penthouses and luxury suites are very, very nice. It is clear the staff and management could use some additional training to make it a 1st rate resort, however, glitches and all; we would go back to Aqua. The staff, as are all the people we interacted with in Nicaragua, very nice, the food is good, the beach is beautiful and the accommodations are very comfortable. Tour arrangements are easily managed at decent prices and there are a good variety of options to choose from. Transfers to and from the airport are easy we used them to transfer to the Jicaro Eco Island Lodge and the price was around $85 for the 1 ½ - 2 hour drive.
Here is the link to the Aqua Resort pictures: