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Get the skinny on the Mukul Luxury Resort and Spa

It is 6:30 a.m. and I am thinking about skinny dipping in the private plunge pool located on the deck of my ocean view cabin at Mukul Luxury Resort and Spa in Nicaragua.

I was in junior high school the last time I even remotely considered taking a skinny dip and it didn’t go well — my two cousins ratted me out to my grandmother. Since the incident, I have done Grandma proud — restricting myself to a one-piece bathing suit on even the least restrictive beaches.

To be honest, after four pregnancies, I am quite comfortable following my grandmother’s advice about appropriate swim attire.

But this is different. Today I have my own private pool right on the outdoor deck of my private cabin-style accommodations. I slip off my clothes, slip on my robe and pop out the back door of my cabin to scope out the situation. There are three cabins with sightlines to the plunge pool and the curtains are shut on all three. Woo-hoo!

Looking out the back I see several tropical birds and some spider monkeys playing in the trees, but no sign of human life.

As I sit on the edge of the pool and begin to loosen my robe, I mentally congratulate myself for my early rising. In nature, the early bird gets the worm and in life, this early bird was about to get her first skinny dip in three decades.

I am almost finished de-robing when I spot something that causes me to promptly reverse. Sitting on the corner of his deck in the only position with a possible sightline to my pool is the man in cabin 22.

Common sense tells me that if I can see him, he can see me. Fortunately, he is so busy watching the spider monkeys climbing in the trees just off his deck that he has completely missed the big picture — the big bare picture that is.

I never realized that having a private pool could be so challenging.

Mukul Resort and Spa is the first luxury vacation resort in Nicaragua and there’s much to like about it besides just the private pools that come with each unit.

Situated on 1,670 acres of oceanfront land about a 90-minute drive south of the Managua airport, the resort conforms to the highest standards of service and provides amenities such as private pools for each unit, an included kids club, activities programs, butler service in most units and excellent gourmet cuisine.

The resort takes service so seriously, the staff to guest ratio is nearly three to one.

After the close call, I pop back inside to put on some clothes and then sit out on my deck sipping herbal tea while watching the birds and monkeys.

Mukul must be used to having hobbits for guests, because they serve a first and a second breakfast.

The first breakfast is called “rooster breakfast” and it is particularly nice for early risers like me. Served on your deck, it consists of three small cookies with coffee or tea.

Perhaps it is the after effects of the adrenaline rush from the plunge pool incident, but a little more than an hour later I make like Bilbo Baggins and head for my second breakfast.

Mukul recently hired a new executive chef named Cupertino Ortiz and the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus have just been revised.

Ortiz has worked with a number of famous French and American chefs and was the executive chef at an ultra-luxury resort property in St. Lucia prior to coming to Mukul.

Ortiz has experience serving the kind of clientele that the new Nicaraguan resort is attracting and has cooked for fussy Hollywood stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and her family, creating a special menu just for them when they visited a resort he worked at in St. Lucia. He is in the process of developing an entirely new menu concept for Mukul.

“This resort was built to showcase what Nicaragua has to offer as a destination and the new menus will do the same,” explains Ortiz. “I am using local, organic ingredients and creating a menu that features classic Nicaraguan dishes with a European flare. The ingredients are fresh and delicious with simple seasonings to allow the flavours to come through.”

The real challenge that Ortiz faces is training kitchen staff to properly prepare the dishes. The resort is committed to improving the lives of local Nicaraguans by providing them with opportunities for employment, but finding Nicaraguans with the required skills has been a challenge.

“In many cases, I am training the culinary staff right from scratch,” Ortiz says.

It’s a work in progress, but judging by the food I ate at Mukul, Paltrow and her crew have nothing to fear.

After second breakfast, I spend the rest of the day enjoying Manzanillo Beach and the huge infinity pools at the main resort area. Sipping drinks by the pool, reading and relaxing under a shady palapa is my idea of paradise.

Prior to dinner, I make a visit to the Mukul spa for an aromatherapy healing massage.

It is dark when I finally return to my beach cabin for the night, so I flick off the outside lights, slip off my clothes and put on the robe. In the darkness, I am positive the man in cabin 22 cannot see what’s going on in my plunge pool. I doubt even my grandma would object if I go skinny dipping now.

If you go:

• Rates at Mukul Luxury Resort and Spa start at $525 per night for two people for a bohio or cabin-style accommodation with a private pool. Rates include breakfast, lunch, premium drinks and snacks until 5 p.m. daily. Dinner is not included, so guests can either enjoy dinner off the resort or pay to dine at the restaurants on the resort. The average cost of a dinner meal with wine is $90 to $100 per couple. Special six-course tasting menus with wine pairings will cost $95 per person. From August to October, rates may be slightly lower as this is the rainy season in Nicaragua.

• There are no direct flights from Alberta to Nicaragua, but one-stop flights are available with several carriers starting at about $800 per person, including taxes, from Calgary.

Debbie Olsen is a Lacombe-based freelance writer. If you have a travel story you would like to share or know someone with an interesting travel story who we might interview, please email: or write to: Debbie Olsen, c/o Red Deer Advocate, 2950 Bremner Ave., Red Deer, Alta., T4R 1M9.



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