MANAGUA – Nicaragua’s capital city has been called a lot of things over the years, but rarely is it referred to as “sleek, sexy or contemporary.”
In fact, Managua hasn’t really been all that hip since Guy Lombardo sang “Managua, Nicaragua,” his peppy big-band tribute to the city in 1946 – 26 years before it was leveled by an earthquake. The past 36 years of slow, patchwork reconstruction hasn’t produced much to sing about, unless you’re someone who enjoys jingles about shopping malls.
However, one new business on the outskirts of town is starting to raise eyebrows for trying to do something more stylish than most others.
Hotel Contempo, a surprisingly sleek boutique hotel and gourmet restaurant on the outskirts of Managua, is quietly becoming the trendy new place to eat lunch or stay for a few nights while in town on a business trip. Interestingly enough, it was built by an old Managua family – the Osorio Bustamante family – who left the Nicaraguan capital after the 1972 earthquake and recently decided now is the right time to start investing here again.
“The hotel is owned by a Nicaraguan family that has been living in Guatemala for a long time, and now they have confidence in the possibility of Nicaragua becoming a new tourism center, so they built this hotel, which is completely different from any other hotel in the city,” said Cuban-born Bernardo Falcon, executive director of Hotel Contempo, named for the word contemporary.
With a very modern and bright feel to the lobby and the restaurant, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a manicured garden area, Hotel Contempo has 18 individually designed, four-star rooms, inspired by a variety of Nicaraguan themes, from coffee and rum, to lakes, poetry and colonial architecture. All the rooms are wired for Internet and range in price from $145-$195.
The hotel opened last April, but so far the restaurant has been doing most of the business, as more people discover this classy escape for a tasty lunch or meeting with clients.
The restaurant, with gourmet French fare mixed with Mediterranean and Nicaraguan influences, has already become a popular spot for business executives, politicians and other members of the well-to-do Managua elite.
The 40-seat restaurant also features its own private wine cave, which can be rented out for smaller private meetings of 8-10 people. The kitchen is equipped to cater to groups using the hotel’s events room, which can hold up to 300 people for conferences or weddings.
“Every day more people are coming here, and every day more people are experiencing the quality of food here,” Falcon said.
Hotel Contempo is already planning an expansion of its hotel facilities by adding new rooms and a full-service spa. The hotel already has a pool, jacuzzi and garden area for guests to unwind and beat the heat of Managua.
So while Nicaragua’s capital may still have a long way to go before it returns to its swing-town glory days, Hotel Contempo is doing its part to make Managua, Nicaragua a beautiful town.
And they hope tourists will respond and take Guy Lombardo’s advice to “Take a trip and on a ship go sailing away, across the agua to Managua, Nicaragua, olé.”
For more information, visit www.contempohb.com, or call 505-2279-9226.