The Verdad Difference
Updated: Sep 26, 2022
It’s no secret that the past two years have been unique and challenging…but we’re hanging on here at Verdad!
We continue to take each day as it comes, while we enjoy the boundless beauty that surrounds us. Our day-to-day reality remains untouched and peaceful, and we are so thankful for the staff at Verdad — our “Verdad family” — for sticking with us through these up and down times. Their dedication and relentlessly positive attitude is truly what makes Verdad the special place that it is!
From Neri, Heydi and Elena who cook the fresh food that fuels us, Harold and his team of grounds and housekeepers who keep both the flower beds and the bed-rooms in tip-top shape, to our amazing surf instructors Wes (who also happens to be our general manager) and Ibrahim, both of whom are hands down the best surf coaches we’ve ever met, and Alex, Willy and Alvaro, who play music at our happy hours while we watch the sunset over the sea, plus the talented crafts people who made our gorgeous new ceramic dinnerware which we can’t wait to show off — these caring and creative individuals are the backbone of Verdad, and it’s them who make the Verdad Difference.
Over the last few weeks we’ve started welcoming our guests back with open arms, and we couldn’t be more excited for the season ahead. We want to say gracias to our dedicated, hard-working Verdad family whose care and passion continue to make Verdad a “home away from home” for all — we couldn’t do it without them!
Back row: Jota, Roxana, Harold, David, Junior Front row: Wes, Marc, Elena, Neri, Luis
MEET THE TEAM
As you know, we are blessed with a consistent off-shore wind that creates clean waves almost all year round, so you can count on being stoked to surf here pretty much every day. We are even more blessed to have some of Nicaragua’s best surf instructors here at Verdad. Both Wes and Ibrahim are pros at motivating absolute beginners to pop-up on their first wave and helping advanced surfers shred a barrel or two. They also know the best spots on any given day to catch the best waves, so even if you aren’t taking a lesson with them, be sure to check in for their surf report. 🌊
We joke that Wes was probably born in the water. He’s been surfing at San Juan del Sur’s beaches since he was a kid, and has inspired so many locals and guests alike to get out in the water and shred some waves in the ten years he has been teaching.
Wes' enthusiasm and love for surfing is simply contagious!
You’ll also find his goofy grin holding down the fort at reception.
“Not only do you get to learn from some of the most skilled surfers, but you get to surf along-side an energizing, fun community so you end the day with a smile on your face and a feeling of accomplishment even if you didn’t catch every wave.”
- Olivia, January 2021
Ibrahim is an especially talented instructor for beginner and intermediate students — he has a way of making you feel not only comfortable, but confident in the water. Born in the city of Rivas, Ibrahim moved to the area ten years ago to be closer to the waves, and he hasn't looked back since!
One of the many, many perks of living in Nicaragua is that we have access to an endless bounty of fresh ingredients all year round. Verdad’s talented chefs, Neri, Heydi and Elena, make all of our delicious and homemade meals from scratch with local ingredients (and a lot of love) in our on-site kitchen. All of our seafood is locally caught, our dairy products, such as eggs and homemade yogurt, are locally sourced, and what we don’t grow here in our garden, we get at the local farmer’s market, enabling us to support our neighbors in numerous ways. The kitchen crew goes above and beyond to create dishes with a Nicaraguan flair that appeal to everyone, catering to all dietary preferences and needs, be it vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, paleo or something else, so that every guest can indulge in the scrumptious flavors of Cocina Verdad.
“The freshly squeezed juice every morning was only outdone by the food itself. Elena and Heydi prepared each meal with care, fresh ingredients and local flavors that never failed to have our mouths watering.” - Jessica M, August 2021
Check out Chef Neri's Famous Ceviche Recipe, which, in our humble opinion, is the perfect 'summer cocktail dish.' Our favorite way to eat it, is using fresh tostones as a spoon.
Along with their tried and true recipes, our chefs love learning from guest chefs who visit from around the world. Here they are with Highway Diner and Bar’s Justin Finney of East Hampton, NY. Also pictured are Gabriel (center) and Junior (with Justin). These two set up your early morning breakfast, bartend at happy hour, and are all-around helpers who are game to do just about anything you ask of them. Junior even donned a pair of sneakers every day for a week and trained with a guest who was logging miles in preparation for the NYC marathon. He isn't a runner by the way, he's just young and up for a challenge. 😉
And it doesn’t stop there...Most of the gorgeous meals created at Cocina Verdad are served on our brand new, beautiful ceramics. Handcrafted by Anita (pictured below) in the small town of San Juan de Oriente, about an hour north of us. Fun fact, San Juan de Oriente is well known for its artisans and has been a pottery center since pre-Columbian times — dating back to at least 500 BC. Built on deep deposits of clay that were laid down by volcanic activity, today, this village is home to many family run workshops and a pottery cooperative as well. Anita’s shop and workshop is an all women collective. We are super excited to be able to support Anita while adding another local touch to our hotel.
Behind the scenes of absolutely everything at Verdad, is Harold. He is always two steps ahead of all of us, thinking of ways to make everything here better. Plus, Harold can fix anything, from plumbing to electricity, and even a client’s shoe (yes, he really has done that before.) Whenever we’re back in New York and something needs repair, we say, “If Harold were here, it’d be done already!”
Harold’s brother, Luis, has a magical green thumb, and he is the one to thank for the fresh arugula, basil and our signature hot peppers that the chefs use in their delicious homemade meals, straight from the garden!
And we can’t forget Roxanna and Joanna, who take care of all the cleaning around Verdad with special attention to detail. From making the beds just so, to beautifully arranging fresh picked flowers, or providing you with a Turkish towel post surf session, it truly is a team effort. You are bound to hear the sound of Roxana's laughter when you see her going about her work, because she's always joking around with the rest of the crew. As Marc says, "Roxana's smile and twinkling eyes just light up the day." To complete the team family picture, Joanna also happens to be Harold’s sister — it's a family around here at Verdad in more ways than one! 🥰
Every Friday evening, we gather for our infamous Happy Hour to enjoy a magical sunset and share ice cold beverages and delicious tapas.
As the sun disappears below the horizon, Willy, Alex and often Alvaro, who is featured on the vocals of the video on our homepage, serenade our family and our guests with a blend of music uniquely theirs — even when they play a cover! Willy, our youngest entertainer, is quite modest but he’s a natural talent. He first took up the guitar when he was about thirteen years old and a guest who was jamming by the pool noticed Willy’s intent interest and taught him a few simple chords. Willy has been diligently practicing since then and learns from both Alex and Alvaro, as well, whenever he can.
We built Verdad with the relaxed and cheerful Nicaraguan people and lifestyle in mind, and immersed ourselves in the community from the get go. The past two years have reminded us how important community is, both in good times, and the more challenging times as well. This week of thanks giving, we can’t say enough about how grateful we are for the Nicaraguan people who have embraced us and made us a part of their family as we have made them part of ours.
We hope you all are staying safe, healthy, and calm. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for continuing to support our community and the Verdad Family. 🤙🏽
P.S. Check out our previous post The Makings of Verdad to learn more about the other folks and local craftspeople who helped bring Verdad to life and whose contributions and hard work make for Travel Beyond Expectation.