Once a year the Away team takes an international team retreat, and so one Thursday in late April, 45 people met at JFK at 6 a.m. to catch a flight through Miami and on to Nicaragua.
One person nearly missed the flight, one person arrived eating ice cream; miraculously everyone made it onto the plane. Two flights later, 45 Away bags were loaded on top of a bus, and we drove three hours, before being transferred to pickup trucks. Bags were meant to go in the bed of the trucks, and humans were supposed to go inside, but with half an hour left in the journey, most of the team piled into the back for a dusty ride up a steep hill to Maderas Village.
Casitas and cabanas dotted the top of the peak, with a large “lobby” area that doubled as a restaurant and bar. The complex felt like adult summer camp—amplified by the four-people-to-a-room setup. (How’s that for team bonding?)
The sun was setting by the time we arrived, so we made a quick change and dashed down the hill to get a taste of the ocean before dinner. Pro tip: Beware of the riptide at Playa Maderas—half the team had a near accident within the first hour of our trip (#sweptaway). To make a long story short, we certainly got our fill of the ocean and needed something a little stronger. Trust, we deserved the margaritas and rum punches that followed.
Maderas Village is an adults only beachfront Nicaraguan hideaway focused on providing guests with whatever they need to relax. They offer everything from yoga, surfing and horseback riding to massages and cruises, and even disc golfing.
Dinner is served family style every night at Maderas Village, and our meals included a sushi spread, chicken masala, and a glorious fried chicken and lobster feast. Breakfast and lunch are à la carte, and we can’t say enough about the breakfast burrito, granola bowl (with homemade cashew-coconut butter), or pork tacos. Smoothies and juices are served throughout the day, which means some people ordered one every hour on the hour (hello, watermelon juice).
R&R is the name of the game in Nicaragua. For some people, that meant surfing off Playa Maderas. For others, that meant posting up in hammocks and checking off their reading lists. Yoga classes were held twice a day in an open-air studio, and massages at Dunia’s Hut halfway down the hill were the hottest commodity on the property—some people even booked her every day (looking at you, Jen Rubio).
Evenings brought dance parties and pinatas, tequila shots, and midnight beach volleyball games. On our last night, one lucky group went horseback riding just as a setting sun fit for movie poster kissed the top of a shark-fin shaped rock and disappeared into the sea.