As my helicopter descended upon the vibrant Emerald coastline of Nicaragua, I was filled with anticipation to discover this magical paradise, after hearing from high end travelers about its hidden, undiscovered location. Nicaragua is quickly becoming a first rate alternative to luxury resorts in Mexico and Costa Rica. It has quietly become a superstar getaway for Beyonce, Michael Douglas, Halle Berry, Morgan Freeman, Michael Fassbender and many others thanks to the allure of the recently opened Mukul Resort, the country’s first five-star hotel. Once you arrive in Managua, it’s a two hour drive (30-minute helicopter ride) to the majestic and tranquil Mukul Beach & Spa Resort located in a very exclusive and private stretch along the Pacific Ocean. The area is also blessed with the opening of the new Costa Esmeralda Airport—only five miles north of Mukul.

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Golf Course at Guacalito de la Isla

The 492,000-square-foot airport features one terminal and a 5,000-foot runway that will be able to accommodate Gulfstream GV jets. After years of political turbulence and war, Nicaragua is now safe and growing daily. It’s quiet unpopulated beaches, bohemian surf villages, and boutique hotels is trying to remain intimate and traditional, while still embracing the future. A huge $50 billion dollar Panama Canal style development which will attract international commerce and further growth connecting the Pacific to the Atlantic. A Chinese billionaire is funding the canal development and is stirring a lot of controversy in the area. I was privileged to stay at the Mukul Resort as a guest of Don Carlos Pellas, Nicaragua’s charming billionaire, named as one of the 50 most influential persons in Latin America. Pellas made the commitment to create one of the most exclusive luxury resorts in the world. I really consider Don Carlos the King of Nicaragua (and so do locals) as he not only continues his family legacy with a natural sanctuary but in return is benefiting the surrounding community with a better quality of life. The helicopter originated from Costa Rica and landed a short distance from the resort where I was met with customs officials organized by Mukul for a quick and painless entry into the country. The private SUV transported me through long, winding meticulously manicured roads through the resorts massive Jurassic Park style security check point. Once inside the gates, I was amazed at the stunning oceanfront villas, an 18-hole golf course designed by David McLay Kidd, and the local resident monkeys, porcupines, sloths and iguanas. I was greeted by the staff and immediately offered cocktails while sitting on the expansive terrace of the lobby. The vista perfectly captured GoPro Founder and CEO Nicholas Woodman’s magnificent yacht anchored in front of the resort. As an avid surfer, Woodman is a longtime fan of the resort.