Me, I’m a single woman of a certain age. I’ve been running a successful company (Key Production (London) Ltd ) for the past 17 years (after graduating at Leeds in Genetics followed by 2 years gallivanting around Europe). We are a broker for manufacturing Audio and Audio visual product and all related print and packaging. I also have a small property company.

Whilst on holiday in Nicaragua in January of this year, I walked into a restaurant and saw a notice proclaiming “Island for Sale”. This rather interested me – partly as a fantasy, partly as I had recognised that Nicaragua was a developing Central American country with a lot to offer. A short boat ride later with the owners followed by a relaxing week at an astounding eco lodge called Morgans Rock, an idea had started developing in my head.

After arriving back home to the bleak London winter, I got out the back of an envelope and scribbled down a few figures. Within a few weeks I had wired a deposit for the Island over to the owners.

I returned in March and appointed a local English speaking lawyer to do the land search. Whilst there, I visited a second Island – aaarrgghhh decisions decisions. Oh well – lets get the lawyer to check this one out too. I also managed to meet up with the architect who designed Morgans Rock – a likeable Englishman called Matthew Falkiner who’s lived there for 12 years and runs a successful furniture company making beautiful pieces from reclaimed wood. He very kindly went on a reccie of the 2 islands to establish which one would be best for my idea.

My idea: to build (from scratch) an eco lodge on an island in Lake Nicaragua. The Island is a short boat ride from Puerto Asese in Granada – a beautiful colonial town one hour from the capital Managua (2.5 hour flight from Miami) and well placed for touring some of the best sights in Nicaragua. The lodge will be very exclusive – a main building with pool and around 7 bungalows overlooking the lake. It will be able to be rented out exclusively with a private chef, or on a bungalow by bungalow basis (there is nothing of this standard in Granada). I would also like to use it for yoga retreats in the low season. Presuming it starts making money, a proportion will go back into the local community. The lodge will be built using local materials and every effort will be made not to harm any trees and to make it as eco friendly as possible.

Anyway, the second Island proved to be the architects choice and the one that cleared the land search first and is now officially mine! El Jicaro is its name.

I have been back to Central America to check out other eco lodges and then to Nicaragua to discuss going forward with the architect. And then the troubles begin. I only have a smattering of Spanish, have a thriving business to run in the UK, will need to be on site in Nicaragua, know nothing about building or tourism – but I know what I like and that I am determined and pedantic.

Heres a brief outline of what Ill be doing:

Resort to be as Eco Friendly as possible – no trees chopped down. Keep the wild rocky feel of the land. Local materials to be used, local staff paid above average wages in good conditions. All solar powered Re use of grey water. Recycling. Filtered drinking water rather than bottled.

One main building with 4 double rooms (one for management, one for me others to be spare (and away from the other 2) for when people hire whole resort and might need extra space. Dining space should be both inside and outside with enough room inside to hold yoga classes when raining. Also, relaxation area and small space for internet although will want wireless service in all cabanas. Out of bounds area for staff to stay overnight + staff kitchen.

Decent sized swimming pool chemical free

8 x cabanas – all facing out to the lake. One to be used as a spa.

Furniture and interiors locally sourced and again as eco-friendly as possible. Style and quality as Morgans Rock standard.

Look into bio diesel for boat.

Profits to be put back into helping local community projects.

Activities – general sightseeing as well as boat trips on the lake. Provide kayaks.

Whole Island can be hired for weddings, privacy etc.

Yoga retreats in rainy season.

6 Responses to About

  1. Sheree Pollard says:

    I so enjoyed reading about your progress with the Eco Hotel you are building. How adventurous!! My husband and I currently live in Arizona and have purchased some property in the Bocas Del Toro region of Pamana. We are planning on building an ecolodge out there this year and you have given me hope that this venture is possible! Neither of us speak much Spanish either, but will obviously have to learn very quickly. I emailed Matthew Falkiner last week and am hoping that he will be available to design our lodge as well. Is the construction going fairly smoothly? I will definitely be checking your website regularly for updates. I would love to exchange stories in the future!

  2. Apologies for not updating regularly, I am quickly realising that holding down a business in the Uk and starting this project in Nicaragua keeps a girl fairly busy! Bocas Del Toro is lovely . I wish you all the best. We haven’t started on the construction yet as am currently sifting through the mounds of paperwork and permissions!

  3. chilis says:

    Lago Nicaragua will look much better with our projects inside.
    Have a good luck, Karen!!
    (Hotel La Isla. Ometepe)

  4. Lourdes Chamorro says:

    Congratulations on what seems to be a beautiful project. I am originally from Nicaragua, but I am finishing a PhD in Entomology in the US. My family used to vacation in las isletas and I always make it a point to visit when I am in the country. As you already know, it is gorgeous. I think your vision and commitment to the environment is exciting. My family owns property in the Rivas/San Juan del Sur area and we hope to develop small bungalows that are sustainable, but at the same time affordable … yet …as you already know, many things have to come together in order to see your dreams realized. Congratulations again and good luck.

  5. Adrienne says:

    Hi Karen ~ I hope this finds you well…It seems like not so long ago that we were sharing a ride from Morgan’s Rock to Punta Teonoste and exchanging ideas and seeing even more of beautiful Nicaragua albeit on quite a bumpy ride!!!
    Please keep me posted on the progress and the ultimate opening of your hotel as I may have some Yoga Instructors who wish to host retreats at your wonderful new site. I will be back in Nicaragua leading a Beginner Yoga Retreat in February and would love to hook up with you to tour the site, if you are agreeable

  6. Evelyn says:

    Hello Karen, so glad to hear about your future project. I am originally from NIcaragua and my family owns land in the pacific coast. I myself am building a project based on a retreat style place, good to hear about your creative plans. Please keep in touch and wishyou the best.

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