Nicaraguan Hideaway

Courtesy Rancho Santana

The boutique Inn at Rancho Santana is an anti-mega-resort beach paradise.

For the last two years, travelers to the southwest Pacific region of Nicaragua have had one outsize luxury option: Mukul (rooms, from $500; Carretera Tola–Las Salinas km. 10, Guacalito de la Isla; 800-390-8844; mukulresort.com), the 37 ­room sprawling resort (complete with a spa, a golf course, a rum room, and a cigar room) owned by sugar and rum tycoon Carlos Pellas, who also happens to be one of the wealthiest men in Central America. In March a second—decidedly less manicured, more rough luxe—option emerged in the Inn at Rancho Santana (rooms, from $250; Rancho Santana Tola-Rivas; 310-929-5221; ranchosantana.com), a 30­ minute drive northwest of Mukul and a two­ hour drive from two international airports (Nicaragua’s Managua and Costa Rica’s Liberia). The 17­ room boutique hotel in the Rancho Santana portfolio of private homes and rentable properties layers on the local charm: woodwork crafted on­ site at the ranch’s wood shop, iron details, such as curtain rods, made in the resort’s iron shop, paintings and ceramic works sourced from Nicaraguan artists.

“It was important for us to create something beautiful and relaxed that was also respectful of the area’s traditions and history,” says Rancho Santana CEO Matt Turner. As comfortable as the rooms’ intricately tiled bathrooms and Frette towels are (request either suite 9 or 10 for the resorts’ only free­standing tubs), the inn’s standout feature is its two­mile stretch of beach, where guests can stroll, ride horseback, or surf. (It’s Nicaragua’s unique wind patterns that make it a favorite for wave chasers.) First­time travelers coming to this region of Nicaragua should know: The months of May to October make up the rainy season, when rainfall occurs for at least a portion of the day. (Though autumn is wettest.) Surfers should rejoice, though. The wet months are prime wave season.

Image Credit: © Rancho Santana