Our Senior Logistics Manager, Amelia Conti, concludes her sabbatical adventures and offers her tips for planning events in Central America.
Due to time constraints, we skipped Honduras and El Salvador and flew direct into Managua. Arriving late in the evening we stayed at a very weird hotel with caged parrots everywhere – I wont mention the name, but I wouldn’t recommend!!
Our first real stop in Nicaragua was Leon, a beautiful Colonial town. The real tourist draw here is the Volcano Boarding, where you hurtle down a volcano standing up on a wooden board. After meeting some people with horrific injuries and not wanting to trudge 1hour up a volcano in 36 degree heat in a boiler suit, we decided to skip it. Instead we filled out days eating amazing food at the French Café Pan e Paz and exploring the town. The Cathedral de la Asuncion in the centre of town allows you to climb onto the roof where the white domes and turrets contrasts with the black volcanos looming in the distance – makes for brilliant photos. We also took a day trip out to Las Penitas the nearby beach. While not the turquoise blues of the water in Mexico, this beach had a rugged charm all of its own, with seashells scattering the shores and the local fisherman's stalls dotting the landscape. We befriended a local dog which didn’t leave our side for the entire day.
My favourite memory of Leon is walking down the streets in the evening and watching everyone sitting in rocking chairs out the front of their houses chatting with neighbours and friends – the town had a real sense of community spirit and pride.
Granada was another picturesque Colonial town, located close to Lago Nicaragua and the archipelagos of Las Isletas where we spent a morning out on a boat exploring the islands. Not quite sick of volcanos yet, we climbed Volcan Mombacho and tried to spot the local puma which can sometimes be glimpsed, but instead had to make do with hunting down the beautiful little red eye frog.
Costa Rica was like being in a 24/7 Bikram yoga class – 35 degrees and 90% humidity, so we were glad to have picked a beach location for our first stop. Tamarindo is a fun beach town teaming with surfers looking for the perfect wave. We stayed at Tamarindo Dira Beach Resort located in the heart of the town and right on the beach – where we soaked up the amazing sunsets from our balcony. We made day trips out to Playa Conchal – probably the most beautiful beach on this trip, where the sand is made up of crushed conch shells and locals grill fresh fish for you, served straight to your towel. We also spent at morning at La Senda – an amazing venue which can be used for corporate groups, including an intriguing cacti labrynth, the setting for what could be a truly unique enchanted forest gala dinner. They also offer small group cooking lessons and yoga.
My favourite evening was onboard the Marlin Del Ray catamaran, where we enjoyed a snorkelling and sunset cruise – their frozen mojitos slipped down all too easily while watching the sun set to the sounds of Bob Marley. After a somewhat mojito filled afternoon, we finished at the Langosta Beach Club with some excelled seafood (and a couple more mojitos).
Not ready to leave the beach life yet, we drove down to Montezuma where we stayed at the beach resort Tango Mar. Again, another lovely room with a balcony to watch either a cracking sunset or a thunderstorm roll in – both of which was experienced. We made the most of the onsite golf course, tennis courts and two onsite pools and worked on our tans.
And then suddenly 5.5 weeks later, we were onto our last stop – the majestic Monteverde in the Cloud Forest. Here we stayed at the Eco Lodge El Establo – a sprawling 155 bed hotel set in the hills of the forest. This destination is all about nature and we got stuck in with a night hike, complete with tarantula sightings, adrenalin racing zip-lining at Sky Trek (including the longest zipline of 750m!) and a guided tour of the Cloud Forest where we spotted sloths, vipers and experienced the most amazing hummingbird gallery.
Fancy planning an event?
Although this trip was for my honeymoon, I don’t easily put down my Event Manager clipboard and below is what I think would work best for events in these destinations:
Mexico – Fantastic for a high end incentive, the Belmond property is really something special and would make your delegates feel very rewarded
Belize – Definitely a country for a younger, high energy incentive group. Lots of action packed tours and partying to be had here.
Nicaragua – Great for a group which has seen it all, as not a country on many peoples list (although it should be) and are interested in a more cultural side of Central America (Volcano boarding excluded!!)
Costa Rica – Fabulous for any group type – Costa Rica really has an option for any group, whether they want high adrenalin, beach relaxation, cultural, nature… the list is endless!