Mukul, a luxury boutique hotel and spa in Guacalito de la Isla, a new $250-million, 1,670-acre private beach community on Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast, is scheduled to open in January 2013.
Mukul – which is the Mayan word for “secret” – will feature 37 accommodations, each with an ocean view, pool and private staff. Other resort amenities include Spa Mukul, with six private spa-treatment casitas; a beach club featuring dining and lounge areas and a swimming pool; and the 18-hole Guacalito Golf Course.
On offer are access to the property’s four miles of beach and coastline, and five kilometers of nature trails for hiking or biking, or observing the four species of monkeys and other wildlife that reside in the coastal forest. There are similarly customized experiences.
Mukul and Guacalito de la Isla are the vision of Nicaraguan entrepreneur Don Carlos Pellas, whose family has roots in the country that date back to the 19th century. The Pellas family businesses include transportation, computers, sugar, ethanol, Flor de Caña Rum and the Vivian Pellas Hospital. Pellas also founded the BAC Credomatic financial network in 1985.
The property’s designers included Jeff Jensen, principal designer at HKS Hill Glazier Architects, who collaborated with Frank Butler and Song Chia of FAB Studio; SWA Landscape Architects; and Paul Duesing Partners Interior Designers. Their resort projects include Las Ventanas al Paraiso and Palmilla One & Only Hotel in Cabo San Lucas, and Rosewood Mayakoba and Tucker’s Point Club in Bermuda. The Guacalito Golf Course was designed by David McLay Kidd. The concept and treatments at Spa Mukul were created by Angel Vezina Stewart, founding spa director at the Spa at Las Ventanas al Paraiso.
Mukul has 37 accommodations designed in a style said to combine “modern elegance with traditional Nicaraguan roots”. Interior designer Paul Duesing worked with Nicaraguan artisans to craft furnishings and decorations reflecting the traditions of the country, including tables made of carved native teak, headboards made of woven sugarcane twigs and rum barrel staves, accent pieces made of sand-casted polished pewter and lamps made of clay from nearby Masaya Volcano.
Twelve one- and two-bedroom Beach Villas, beginning in size at 881 square feet and boasting nine-foot ceilings and walls of glass, face the surf of Playa Manzanillo. The rooms of the red-tile-roofed Beach Villas feature a “barefoot chic” indoor-outdoor setting, complete with swimming pool, wrap-around deck, outdoor-lounging palapa and secret garden with an outdoor shower. The 500 square-foot bathroom suites include separate “his and hers” vanity areas and a “Liquid Temple” wet room with a soaking tub and monsoon shower. The two-bedroom villas are family compounds with their own private show kitchen, pantry and living room.
Mukul’s 23 Bohios perch on a steep hillside 300 feet above Playa Manzanillo, offering ocean views. Built of sustainable native teak and pine, each of the 621 square-foot cliff houses features high ceilings and a wall of glass that opens onto a wooden deck with a private plunge pool. The bathrooms are finished in Nicaraguan travertine marble and boast couples’ “showers-with-a-view.”
Considered the jewel in the crown is Casona Don Carlos, the Pellas’ private beach home. Located adjacent to the Beach Villas, the oceanfront compound features a 20,000 square-foot indoor-outdoor living area with an 80-foot-high palapa ceiling, four bedroom suites, a wrap-around stone terrace and a private swimming pool. Casona Don Carlos may be booked by guests as two two-bedroom suites when the Pellas family is not in residence.
The open-air Mukul Beach Club will be the heart of Mukul. It will include: the palapa-shaded Beach Terrace, the barefoot-dining Parrilla, and Mukul Restaurant, where the décor includes mementoes and photographs chronicling the 135-year history of the Pellas family in Nicaragua. An outfitter casita by the beach will provide surfboards, paddle boards, snorkeling gear, kayaks and water toys for guests. The Mukul Beach Club will feature a separate area for children, the Mukul Kids Club.
Spa Mukul does not have a reception area and communal locker rooms. Instead, guests are welcomed in one of six spa casitas, each with a unique decor, theme and sequence of treatments. In essence, Spa Mukul is comprised of six different spas in one location. It also has a private garden, which features palapa-shaded lounging areas and a monsoon shower. Each of the six spa casitas focuses on a different spa experience.
Secret Garden boasts its own pool for a “Watsu” treatment that combines Shiatsu and stretching. Hamman features Moorish architecture and tiles that pays homage to a traditional Turkish “sweat bath”; treatments include the five-step detox and cleansing treatments. Rain Forest boasts of hydrotherapy that involves a salt water soaking pool, a Monsoon shower, a Vichy shower, scrubs, massage and moisturizing wraps.
The Crystal Temple has a two-story-high spa casita, where guests can stay overnight on a roof deck with an ocean view. Healing Hut is a mountain-view spa casita featuring traditional Asian and international healing rituals including Indian Ayurveda, Thai and barefoot Indonesian massages, and Chinese reflexology. Meanwhile, Casita Mukul incorporates ancient indigenous healing practices and traditional Nicaraguan medicinal plants grown on property; guests can spend the night in the ocean-view garden palapa.
Golf course architect David McLay Kidd integrated the slope of the land, the forest and the ocean bluffs into an 18-hole course. Guacalito Golf Course is irrigated by a treated-water system, in keeping with the resort’s commitment to sustainability.
Mukul is said to be committed to sustainability, with the property built with the use of rainwater catchments, regional materials, timber from sustainable forests, non-toxic paints and energy-efficient windows. The implementation of a gray-water program is ongoing. To limit environmental disturbance during its construction, builders replanted more than 1,500 trees, including a one million pound, 150-year-old Guanacaste, rather than cut them down to make room for construction.
Mukul is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.