Bermudian sisters open boutique hotel and yoga retreat in Nicaragua
Two years ago while travelling throughout South East Asia, sisters Arantxa and Eloisa Mayers were inspired to open up their own business.
They didn’t know what exactly this dream business would look like then, but after stumbling upon Nicaragua during their travels they decided to just “grab the bull by the horns”.
The sisters have recently opened a Moroccan inspired tapas bar and cafe called Shi Sha; and plan to open the doors to a boutique hotel and yoga retreat called Casa Lucia in July.
Both sisters are trained yoga instructors; with Eloisa specialising in Sivananda yoga and Arantxa equipped to teach both Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga.
Since the move to the developing country last year, the pair have had to overcome language barriers and adapt to a slower pace of life.
But Eloisa admitted they have learned a lot in regards to being patient and persistent and are both excited to get the business up and running.
“You need to really know what you want out of your life in order to take on a project like this,” she said.
“If you have the confidence in yourself, then you will be fine [and] from day one we have believed in our product and our goals.
“We believe in each other and use our strengths to our advantage, and while we each have different roles in the day-to-day management of the business, we make all our plans and decisions together.”
Before embarking on this journey both girls enjoyed jobs in the corporate sector.
“Arantxa had studied hospitality management and worked in the banking industry for a few years, while Eloisa had worked in journalism, marketing and corporate communications.
They had always dreamed of opening their own business, but said it wouldn’t have been possible without support from each other, family and friends.
Nicaragua struck a chord with them because of its natural beauty and culture; its tourism product can also easily rival that of Costa Rica, the pair said.
One of their biggest challenges in setting up the business has been finding carpenters in Nicaragua to make the style of furniture they envisioned.
There is no advertising for these kinds of services and they have had to go through a local network of word of mouth to get the items needed.
“This helped us to improve our Spanish language skills, and at the same time make new business contacts and friends,” Eloisa said.
“When it came to furnishing the bar it was not easy to find the style of furniture we wanted — low Moroccan couches and bistro style tables.
“We had to bring photos to a local carpenter and explain this all in Spanish.
“[But] the result took us by surprise — all of the furniture is handmade from Nicaraguan tropical hardwood and is absolutely beautiful.”
They plan to get local artisans to make all the rest of the furnishings and decor and have found the people to be “incredibly resourceful, creative, and good with their hands”.
The sisters have also learned to be innovative when it comes to what ingredients to include in the tapas bar menu.
Arantxa said speciality items like cheeses and wines are difficult to come by in Nicaragua.
As a result they have spent “a good amount of time” sourcing different items and just being creative.
“If you can’t find a fresh feta cheese in a store, you have to go to a local farm and talk to a farmer and ask him to make a similar cheese for you,” she said.
Arantxa said the most rewarding part of the project is seeing some of their hard work come together and people enjoying their product.
“When we have a crowded bar and see people enjoying themselves in an atmosphere we created, it is the best feeling ever,” she told
The Royal Gazette.
“When we open the hotel we want each and every guest to have a special experience.
“We will be offering a unique holiday experience where guests can get away from the regular grind of their day to day lives and take some time out for themselves in a healthy environment.”
Hotel guests will receive a complimentary daily yoga class, as well as complimentary gym membership from a nearby fitness centre.
They can also enjoy spa/wellness services in the comfort of their room or enjoy a host of outdoor activities — from surfing to sightseeing trips.
The hotel will also be equipped to host weddings, events and corporate retreats once opened.
Useful website: www.casaluciagranada.com.