Two Nights in Maderas: Plugging into Nicaragua’s Most Magnetic Village

Two Nights in Maderas: Plugging into Nicaragua’s Most Magnetic Village

Maderas Village on the Nicaraguan coast has become a mecca for remote-working creatives and artists, who come seeking sun, surf and inspiration.

offshore winds of Playa Maderas tend to give rise to vivid
dreams. Before arriving in Nicaragua,
it had been weeks since I could recall my nightly reveries. As it
turns out, rum on the rocks, good conversation and an ocean breeze
is an infallible recipe for lucidity.

Everyone has their own reasons for visiting Playa Maderas.
Despite being just 20 minutes away from the bustling beach town of
San Juan del Sur, the Pacific Coast’s most tranquil enclave feels
miles away from the real world. For some, it’s just an alternate
version of reality – a place where you can have your surf, sand and
success, too. At the heart is Maderas Village, a
boutique-hotel-meets-creative-colony that has become a second home
for beach-loving artistic professionals. When the chaos of New York and Los
becomes too much, the magnetism of Maderas beckons. I’d
seen the Village’s envy-inducing Instagram feed of surfer babes on
horseback, yogis doing headstands in the sand and sunbathers
lounging in lace hammocks – and just had to go.

After a rough ride up to the top of a steep dirt road, we arrive
to a round of sunset cocktails on the penthouse’s open-air deck. We
bask in silence, save for a series of mysterious echoes, which
Maderas Village’s Canadian co-founder Matt Dickinson explains are
coming from a sound therapy session currently in progress. It’s not
your typical beachside rubdown, but then again, this isn’t your
typical hotel. Bottomless margaritas are swapped for sun
salutations in a jungle-encircled yoga studio, while evenings are
spent conversing under a canopy of constellations in the garden.
Dickinson, a
transplant with a background in commercial real estate,
arrived in Nicaragua with the intent of opening a hotel. Back then,
the concept to create a utopia for modern travellers was supported
by just a few cinderblock-exposed rooms and a whole lot of

“I’ve always loved hosting dinner parties where there were a lot
of intellectual debates and good discussions. I wanted to be able
to selfishly hang out with the most interesting people of our
generation”, says Dickinson. “It was about changing the perspective
on vacation and paradise. I don’t like thinking of us as a
destination that people go to for a week and only go to once, it’s
much more of an extension of your life.”

In the process, the Village has become a mecca for
remote-working creatives – the kind you might see hot desking in
Brooklyn’s coffee shops. About 20%of the clientele are return
visitors. Swedish musician Tove Lo, for example, has been here
three times already and recently played at their New Year’s party
with Icona Pop. Others, such as members from bands like MGMT and
Broken Social Scene have worked on their albums in Maderas’ own
recording studio. With works by former artists-in-residence, like
LA-based Tofer Chin, scattered across the property, it’s easy to
feel inspired.

“We knew from the beginning that we wanted to position ourselves
as a creator’s paradise. I always wanted to build out the creative
infrastructure to support that. I’d love to do a dark room next,”
says Dickinson.

The expansion plans go beyond adding casitas to Maderas’
40-person occupancy utopia. In fact, the founders just opened a
second hotel by Playa Marsella, BayHouse,
which will serve as a stepping-stone to international projects.

Word of mouth has turned the area into an artistic hub, with
other properties boasting their own inspirational draws. Up the
road, HulaKai Hotel features a pavilion designed by Japanese surf
photographer and architect Junya Oishi. The property also hosts
artist-in-residence programs and dinners prepared by travelling
chefs. Meanwhile, Morgan’s Rock, a 15-bungalow resort on a private beach
just outside of Maderas, pairs secluded luxury with an organic farm
and jungle reserve. Down by the beach, backpackers sip Toña beers
under the shade of colourful shacks, while surfers catch waves
until the sun disappears behind the coast’s signature
shark-fin-shaped rock formations.

Distractions such as catching rays on a catamaran are within
easy reach, but for creative types it’s the energy of Maderas that
differentiates it from other tropical retreats. As we eat banana
pancakes for breakfast at a large communal table, I discover just
how many people have extended their stay. Some intend to come back
within the next few months and others have just never left.

We head to the music studio, where we meet Mike Freesh, a
producer from LA who came to Maderas Village to work on Interscope
artist Saint Mesa’s debut album. He greets us with a groggy wave,
adding that he’s just woken up from “the craziest dream” – the kind
that seems to be contagious around here. He kills the silence with
a song. It’s the first one he’s ever written and just one of the
many reasons he hasn’t returned to LA yet.

“Back home, I’ve always been a producer. I’ve always helped
other people, which is fine, but something about being out here
allowed my mind to be free enough to let my guard down,” he says.
“I’m now making a debut album, which I’d never considered doing
before. It’s really trippy. This little valley has the strangest
and magical effect. Everyone ends up with a smile on their

The concept of a studio where you can lay down a track with a
view of the surf was always part of the plan, adds Dickinson. But
even if you aren’t a musician, you can still find a sweet spot
somewhere between the warm winds and mellow conversations with
fellow thinkers and doers.

It’s only been two days, but after an afternoon of surfing and
an evening spent listening to the strums of an acoustic guitar, I
fully understand the appeal of the Maderas life. For a second, I
consider the idea of changing my flight and letting my hair stay
salty for a few more days. That night, I happily float into one
last surf-themed dream. It’s crazy, inspired and fuelled by those
offshore winds – the kind you only catch in a paradisiacal

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