The Splendors of Morgan’s Rock
Cross a suspension bridge with a view of the private beach in the distance. Sunlight filters down between the trees, home to howler monkeys. You walk up a primitive dirt stairway, red and purple land crabs scuttling out of the way. There, in the middle of the forest, you find a sign that says “Massage Area” pointing to a thatched hut. Welcome to the spa service division of off-the-beaten-path Morgan’s Rock
This ecolodge in southwestern Nicaragua promises relaxation, comfort and lots of customer care far from any tourist hordes. The huge tract of land that house the ecolodge is also home to a large working farm, many species of animals and a massive reforestation effort. In the past 8 years, the Ponçon family, who own Morgan’s Rock, have had more than 1.5 million hardwood and fruit trees planted.
The bungalows are spacious and even more secluded than the massage hut. On a recent stay, I occupied bungalow eight. It had a fabulous view of the private beach – think magical orange sunsets – and a walled-in courtyard complete with outdoor hanging bed. Inside, I had a comfortable bed, desk, bath area with double sinks and enough space to dance or do yoga.
Morgan’s Rock reveals a stunning attention to detail, thanks to English designer and architect Matthew Falkiner. He moved to Nicaragua in 1995 and settled in Managua. Falkiner chose an array of woods to construct the ecolodge, including eucalyptus, walnut jatoba, almond, mahogany and royal cedar. Even the ice bucket was made of a beautiful dark wood.
The coffee service was one of my favorite Morgan’s Rock details. If you sign up for morning coffee delivery, a worker brings your coffee at the requested time and hands you a thermos through a specially constructed coffee door built within the larger outer door of your bungalow compound. Plus, it’s really good coffee, some of it grown on the Ponçon family’s coffee plantation in the Matagalpa region of Nicaragua.
Tour director Bismar Lopez helps guests decide what to do with their days at the ecolodge. Bismar speaks excellent English and is accomplished at deep-sea fishing, horseback riding, spotting animals in the forest and wildlife photography. I enjoyed a truck tour of the property with Bismar pointing out sloths, iguanas, monkeys, macaws, a toucan and many types of tree and plant. The truck bumped through rutted dirt grooves as we kept our faces upturned, looking for animals in the trees. Sighting a mother and baby sloth was one of the highlights of my week in Nicaragua. You can also fish, ride a horse, go for a sunrise kayak trip, borrow a boogie board, or take guided or solitary hikes on the property.
Kids and animal lovers of all ages will love the periodic release of baby sea turtles from the Morgan’s Rock turtle nursery. Too bad for me, I missed a release by one night.
Morgan’s Rock features a full bar and a gourmet restaurant called La Bastide. Much of the food is grown on the farm, so it couldn’t be fresher. They very nicely satisfied my vegetarian preferences and are also adept at gluten-free cooking. The best meal I ate there was a dinner of vegetable skewers. The tropical pancakes with cashew and coconut were a delicious breakfast choice.
If you have a chance to visit Morgan’s Rock, take advantage of what the ecolodge terms “barefoot luxury.” You can dress casually, enjoy nature, and not for a second feel like you’re roughing it.