Nicaragua Private Island is a dreamy vacation villa on its own island on Lago Cocibolca, or Lake Nicaragua, just 60 minutes from Managua.
How would you describe Villa in Granada in a nutshell?
Villa in Granada is a tropical oasis in the middle of the wildly colorful town of Granada. It’s somewhere beautiful where you can completely disconnect and relax, allowing the world outside to disappear, and when you want, venture back out into it.
What’s your background and what was your inspiration to open Villa in Granada?
My background is actually in archaeology... It’s a long, long story, but I went from wanting to dig around in the dirt to working for the Department of Homeland Security in International Affairs, to becoming a freelance writer and soon to be (fingers crossed) novelist and finally, now one of the owners of Villa in Granada.
I don’t think there was an inspired “moment”, but rather a winding through life. My wife and I had just sold all our things, including our home in Washington DC to move to Latin America for an indefinite amount of time. I was to pursue writing, and we knew that part of that adventure would be extending the superior hospitality that my wife’s company, El Camino Travel has become known for through an actual physical space. However, we wanted whatever we created to be more than a property. We wanted to transform a physical location into an experience.
Originally, we were scouting Colombia but then this incredible opportunity to purchase Villa in Granada came up, and we knew we had to seriously consider it. We know the designers of Villa in Granada, Yvan and Jean Marc, the owners of Tribal Hotel, well. We also knew that they have impeccable taste and high standards so anything that they had constructed and created was going to be eclectically designed to the highest quality. All the pieces fell in place over the next few months, including bringing on the insanely talented photographer Jen Chase as part owner. It moved from piquing our interest to maybe being too good to be true, to being true. We couldn’t pass it up. Yvan and Jean-Marc had laid the foundation for us to take what they beautifully built and add the El Camino touch through the actual experiences and hospitality.
Beyond that, we have been actively visiting since 2013, and we knew that it was perfectly located from stunning coastlines, a volcanically heated crater lake, and Nicaragua’s most bustling market. We felt it could be a perfect home base for the experiential traveler who is looking to explore all that Nicaragua has to offer both culturally and geographically.
How would you describe the atmosphere and the interior design of Villa in Granada?
To me, sometimes “luxury“ can seem opulent to the point of being ridiculous, or so modern to the point of being cold. However, Villa in Granada, while a maximalist design, still retains the warm charm that so many luxury properties simply lose. When I’m there, I don’t get hung up on what I can do, or touch. I sink into the couch cushions. I cook. I enjoy myself! It becomes a place I like living in as opposed to a place that follows my mother’s rule when we went somewhere nice of “Look, but don't touch“.
The blending of indoor and outdoor living space also adds an element of comfort and livability in a high-end atmosphere. At night, the space transforms again, just begging to be used by a small group of friends to enjoy the intimate setting for drinks and laughs through the night hours. The house, to me, is designed for full sensory exploration. Visually, it’s stunning, and I think the photos speak to that. But, hearing the wind rustle the giant banana leaves in your own living room while the water from the pool cools your skin, and you’re eating fresh fruit all combine into a complete, immersive experience for your senses.
To you personally, what is so special about Villa in Granada?
We love that the house is centered around communal spaces, meant to be shared. We also love that the bold custom-tiled pool is like a living piece of art for our guests where they can be together, surrounded by as much thought and detail as they give to each other. The technicolored sunsets that can be seen from the terrace are not to be missed. The sun’s rays peek out from behind Mombacho volcano, casting a direct light onto the canary yellow cathedral. It’s in those moments where I am completely in awe of nature; all my worries seem to completely escape me and I realize how incredibly lucky we are to be able to share this experience with others. In short, the house’s greatest quality is its ability to bring people together.
Please tell us about the food.
We offer a kitchen to be used how you see fit. The local municipal market is only a few blocks away so you can go there to pick up fresh dragon fruit, papaya, tortillas, and an assortment of additional fresh produce. However, we also have several recommendations in our house book with our favorite spots for everything from a delicious iced latte to the hole in the wall spot that serves our favorite local dish, Fritanga.
Is Villa in Granada best suited for couples, families, groups? What’s your policy on kids?
Villa in Granada is great for couples, families, and small groups of six or less. We do allow children, but we do not think this is the best house for infants under the age of two because of the floating staircase.