San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Beach Resort Makes Weekend Escapes Easy

Escaping to the beach for a weekend getaway, or bringing the family on vacation to a kid-friendly beach resort, shouldn t be more hassle than it s worth.

But in a country with underdeveloped infrastructure and some pretty off-the-beaten-path beaches, a trip to the shore here often requires more logistical planning than just remembering to pack the sunscreen and a novel.

Then there s the question of picking what type of resort to visit. Many Nicaraguan resorts have a clearly defined target audience: they appeal either to a quiet and refined crowd (Danielle Steele and a Waldorf salad); the backpacker crowd (bottle of water, Toña and Jack Kerouac), or the ruckus, heavydrinking- I m-on-vacation crowd (Daddy Yankee, Ron Plata, cannonball!).

Vistamar Beach Resort, at Pochomil beach, is none of the above. The two-year-old hotel offers something for everyone, yet with a delicate balance that takes into account all sensibilities and definitions of fun.

Plus, at only a 90-minute drive from downtown Managua, Vistamar takes a lot of the tactical planning and stress out of vacationing in Nicaragua.

Secluded on a safe and pleasantly flowered property overlooking the crashing surf of Pochomil, Vistamar has 17 cheerful and comfortably modern two-story wooden bungalows facing the beach.

The bungalows, complete with cable TV, air-conditioning, hammocks on the balconies, and small kitchens, are set around two pools, a Jacuzzi and a thatched-bar all a stone s throw from the beach.

For those who like the full sand-in-the-toes experience of being on the beach, a 30-meter walk and a short picket fence separates Vistamar from two thatched beach umbrellas, offering an unobstructed view of the waves.

Several hundred meters down the beach are four-wheel ATVs for rent for $12 an hour, as well as several local restaurants and bars to explore.

But you don t have to wander from the grounds for food or entertainment.

The hotel offers an all-inclusive package that works conveniently for families with kids, big or small. And unlike other all-inclusive places that pack 100-plus people into oversized pools, Vistamar maintains a smaller and more personal feel.

It does, however, offer some of the trappings of a larger all-inclusive place, such as buffet-style meals, keg beer in a plastic cup, and entertainment like pool volleyball and piñatas for kids.

The difference is that the entertainment events at Vistamar are more entertaining than unruly. Volleyball games are four on four, rather than 30-on-30; piñata grabs are between six kids, not 50.

The events are also spread out, allowing those who would rather read quietly by the pool the ability to do so.

Even the buffet-style meals feel more like family meals than mess-hall gatherings. Meals can be taken in the air-conditioned restaurant, on the tree-shaded patio next to the pool, or in the privacy of your cabina.

A full restaurant menu is available for those who don t want the buffet.

At night, the open-air bar near the pool turns into a temporary disco for those who want to partake. But even the closest rooms are protected from the music by the hum of the air-conditioning unit and nearby crashing surf.

The idea is to give th e internationaltourist the complete Nicaraguan experience at a beach hotel of international quality, without forgetting the characteristics of Nicaraguan culture, says Karla Mansell, public-relations director for Vistamar. The hotel is setup for family vacations, for couples, for friends, for honeymoons, and for every type of social and business event.

Mansell says that the hotel has had great success with the national market in the last two years, but that the national market is primarily a weekend market.

The hotel therefore is now also reaching out to the international market to come see one of Nicaragua s most convenient beaches.

To entice international tourists to stay for several days, Hotel Vistamar is also offering daily tours to nearby destinations, such as Granada, León,Managua and Masaya.

After all, you don t have to stay in a downtown Managua hotel to make daytrips to all he exciting destinations in and around the capital.

You can see it all from the beach. Room rates at Vistamar start at $85 for a double, or $71 per person for all-inclusive stays.

For more information call (505) 265-8099, or visit


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