Events

Nicaragua Retreat 2018

Richmond Station is heading to Nicaragua. Surfing, Yoga, Cooking!
Only 17 Spots Remaining.

Information

Date: November 24, 2018

Company: Richmond Station

Venue: El Coco Loco Eco Resort

Guest Count: 20

Categories:

International

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Richmond Station is heading to Nicaragua for a week of cooking workshops, surfing lessons and yoga practice. In partnership with our friends at El Coco Loco Eco Resort, Richmond Station will curate this once in a lifetime culinary getaway in a private oceanside paradise.

 

 Travel with us on our Nicaragua retreat from November 24th to December 1st. 

Only 17 Spots Remaining! 

 

Our week together will include daily opportunities to participate in cooking skill boot camps, shared meals, surfing lessons, and yoga classes as well as off-site tours, private massages and late night salsa dancing.

El Coco Loco is situated in the tranquil surf town of El Manzano. While most traditional tours of Nicaragua focus on the party towns of San Juan Del Sur and the historic architecture of Grenada; we are curating an experience centred around food and hospitality – the things you’ve come to expect from Richmond Station.



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With the 2016 launch of our offsite events brand, Station Events, our team has committed to hosting your most important moments – your weddings, your children’s graduations, and your companies’ product launches. We are equally committed to curating unique events focused on food and hospitality: from secluded winter feasts to long table dinners celebrating the bounty of a small garden. Richmond Station in Nicaragua is our first foray into international travel, and you can expect to spend a week shoulder to shoulder with our team as we experience new foods, try new cooking techniques, take on new challenges and embrace a new culture – together. Station Events is Richmond Station out on the open road, in November 2018 that path will lead us to Nicaragua.

El Coco Loco is owned and operated by four Canadian friends. Richmond Station got to know El Coco Loco through family – what better connection is there. When the idea arose that we could work together on curating a food-focused retreat, well, we had to check it out for ourselves. Every great event involves a site visit!

So in November of 2017, Ryan, Jenn and Hayden took a quick three day trip to Nicaragua to check out El Coco Loco. We had all sorts of questions. Was the food fresh? Were the sheets clean? Was the surf that good? Below is a short post about or “recon” trip, as well as some photos of what we saw during our visit.

Suffice to say the recon trip was a success. The resort is perfect: quiet, clean, secluded and private. El Coco Loco is a campus-style resort strewn over 6 acres of oceanfront property. The main restaurant sits on top of the hill looking over the ocean. Adjacent rests an inground pool, cabana chairs and a platform for napping in the afternoon. Along the side of the hill en route to the beach is an assortment of cabanas, as well as a tiki-style yoga platform that can comfortably host a group of 20 students.



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What you should expect

A Tranquil Experience

Paramount to this experience, you should expect privacy. We will be taking over the entirety of this 6-acre paradise, and the space will be closed to other vacationers. This is a private holiday for our group. The resort is an outdoor campus with amenities situated throughout.

Our goal is to introduce you to the foods of Nicaragua. El Coco Loco boasts an orchard of tropical fruits, and this will be the foundation of meals and classes. Healthy living is fundamental in the Chinandega Department. Processed foods and imported ingredients are in short supply, and the region survives off the fruit-bearing trees and the fish from the ocean. Oh, rice and beans are a staple too. Gallopinto anchors most meals, enlivened by the presence of coconuts, plantains and citrus.

Recharge at El Coco Loco

This retreat will help you unwind, get healthy and return to your life at home refreshed and newly charged. In addition to a focus on fresh and local foods, each day will offer activities that feed your soul, challenge your ego and provide a rewarding sense of accomplishment.

The yoga studio at El Coco Loco is a raised platform that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, and under a thatched roof is perfect for a deep stretch even during an afternoon rainfall. Included in the price is a yoga class guided by one of the resorts two in-house instructors. Also, the studio is open and available to guests through the entire trip. So if you need a little mid-afternoon Shavasana or a morning flow, this retreat is the perfect place to have more yoga in your life.

Fun Filled Activites and Experiences

El Manzano is well known in the international surfing community. Along the northern Pacific coast of Nicaragua, the waves are perfect for both those learning to surf as well as those with more experience. A short ten-minute walk along the beach will bring you to Nahualapa Bay. Here we will host daily surfing lessons guided by the incredible staff from El Coco Loco. In Chinandega, surfing is a way of life – a daily activity that is as important as a cup of coffee in the morning. In fact, surfing is so essential that it has a direct impact on the food: there are two traditional breakfasts at El Coco Loco. First Breakfast is served at sunrise, before surfing, and focuses on fresh fruit and hearty grains. Second Breakfast is served upon returning from the beach and focuses on restorative vegetables and protein.

Afternoon cooking boot camps will be an essential part of the retreat. In the heat of the afternoon, the beach is often dangerously hot for the uninitiated and seeking the cover of shade is wise. After a morning of yoga, surfing and breakfasts, Hayden and Ryan will curate a cooking seminar rooted in local ingredients and techniques. Together we’ll workshop tortilla making, fish filleting, fruit dissection, as well as local preservation methods like ceviche. Each of the cooking workshops will be optional attendance if you’d rather nap, swim or stretch. The goal of each class will be to explore a new method and help you gain the confidence necessary to apply this technique on your own.

Culture, Community and Giving Back

Each evening, we will all sit down together for a shared family-style meal prepared by the kitchen team at El Coco Loco. Our team will work in concert with the resort staff to host a grand meal every evening. The meal will not be the food of Richmond Station – sorry, no burgers! Rather each meal will embrace our core values: great technique applied to excellently sourced local foods. Our goal is not to cook Richmond Station in Nicaragua, but to bring our food philosophy to a region that is new to us, and to learn about those foods alongside our guests. During our recon trip in 2017, the meals prepared by El Coco Loco was among the highlights. The care put into procuring great ingredients and making each meal fresh, from scratch, was impressive.

Over and above the food, yoga and surfing, this private vacation will offer a unique glimpse into the efforts to build and operate sustainably in Nicaragua in a way that integrates into the local community. El Coco Loco stands as a great example of how resorts can and should be built. A range of solutions is in place to protect the landscape, preserve wildlife as well as conserve energy and water. The partners of El Coco Loco will be on hand to tour the property and discuss the solar panels, composting toilets, water cisterns, and reforestation efforts.

Beyond the green build solutions, El Coco Loco also operates a local charitable foundation called Waves of Hope. As a group, we’ll spend time engaging in Waves of Hope initiatives. Among the options, this is an excellent time of year to join with the sea turtle conservation initiative. The community around Chinandega has initiated a brilliant local solution to turtle egg poaching that has helped hatch nearly 15,000 endangered sea turtles since 2012.

In addition to great food, giving back and active itinerary you can expect reliable communication, a flawless booking process and great value from your family at Station Events. Jenn will orchestrate all your information intake, provide an easy to understand and execute a contract that allows you to pay online with security and peace of mind. Our goal is to create a complete experience for you.



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The Agenda

Day 1

Arrive at El Coco Loco at any time.

Meals included: 2nd breakfast, light lunch, cocktails and dinner.

Day 2

Morning surf, plenty of free time throughout the day. Afternoon SUP kayaking tour followed by evening yoga.

Meals included: 1st & 2nd breakfast, light lunch, cocktails and dinner.

Day 3

Morning surf, plenty of free time throughout the day. Afternoon Central American salsa culinary workshop and yoga.

Meals included: 1st & 2nd breakfast, light lunch, cocktails and dinner.

Day 4

Morning yoga with plenty of free time throughout the day. Afternoon tortilla culinary workshop followed by a chocolate workshop.

Meals included: 1st & 2nd breakfast, light lunch, cocktails and dinner.

Day 5

Morning surf with plenty of free time throughout the day. Fish filleting and seviche culinary workshop and evening yoga.

Meals included: 1st & 2nd breakfast, light lunch, cocktails and dinner.

Day 6

Morning surf, plenty of free time throughout the day, fruit dissection and blended cocktails culinary workshop. Evening yoga and a night of salsa dancing at Pasta La Vista.

Meals included: 1st & 2nd breakfast, light lunch, cocktails and dinner.

Day 7

Morning yoga, plenty of free time throughout the day, beach cookout culinary workshop, followed by Flor de Cana rum tour and a farewell beach cookout party.

Meals included: 1st & 2nd breakfast, light lunch, cocktails and dinner.

Day 8

Morning yoga and free time. Depart for MGA airport to catch the flight back home.

Meals Included: 1st Breakfast.

 

 



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The Cooking

Each afternoon we’ll take over the harvest table in the dining room of the main building. Here we’ll set up the cutting board, bowls, ingredients and condiments. Richmond Station’s Chef de Cuisine, Hayden Johnston, will lead the group in a focused class unpacking a fundamental technique or classic local dish that personifies Nicaragua. Below is a list of what to expect.

A few of these classes will be cocktail based and will focus on fruit harvested from the orchard. In these classes, we’ll work in concert with El Coco Loco’s staff to harvest fruit, with Chef Hayden to unlock the fruit with the right knife skills, and with Jenn Hornak to mix the perfect cocktail.

Tortilla Relays

This lesson will focus on corn flour as a staple ingredient in Nicaraguan cuisine. Learn to hydrate corn flour to the right consistency, press out a fresh tortilla and cook them to order. Oh, and did we mention it’s a race? We’ll break out into teams, and we’ll compete to see which side can mix, press and assemble their tortilla’s the fastest. Once we’re good enough, we’ll take on the locals.

Chocolate Workshop

From bean to bar, we’ll work as a group to make chocolate bars from scratch. Cacao beans are an essential commodity in Nicaragua, and both coffee and chocolate are pillars of the communities economy. In this class, we’ll learn how the beans are harvested, and then we’ll sweeten the pot by making our chocolates, from bean to bar.

Blended Cocktails

You’ll never take coconut water for granted again! In this class we’ll learn to climb trees, harvest fruit, assess the fruits for ripeness and harvest the edible parts for flesh and juice. El Coco Loco is covered in organic fruit trees including Coconut, Mango, Papaya and Guava. We’ll take our harvest back to the bar and make some delicious blended cocktails with Jenn, Richmond Station’s OG bartender!

1-2-3 Salsa

Condiments are critical to a delightful plate: they can provide sweetness, salinity, acidity and warmth where needed. Salsa represents a range of condiments and can be made from both fruits and vegetables. In North America, we often look at salsa as a preserved condiment, but in Central America, they are almost always made fresh, a la minute and are crafted specifically to the meal being eaten. In this class, we’ll explore a range of local ingredients and deploy our growing set of knife skills. The salsa’s we make will be perfect for dinner that night, but the skills are ones you can take home with you for your backyard BBQs.

Fish Filleting and Ceviche

When you’re living on the ocean, it’s too easy to eat fish. At some point in the week, we’ll make time to visit the local fishing dock where the fresh catch is brought in, sorted and sold. El Coco Loco receives fresh fish every day and true to Richmond Station, the best fish will make the best dinner. In this lesson, we’ll discuss the basis of round fish and flat fish, identify a variety of local fish on hand, then set up cutting boards and start filleting fish with you. The goal here is to give you the skills to buy whole fish on your own when your return home, and fillet them with confidence. The best pieces we’ll use for dinner that night: with the rest, we’ll make ceviche!



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The Meals

6:30 am First Breakfast

Served before the morning surf and is always accompanied by organic coffee from Nicaragua. This meal is served in a continental format: you can wake up as you see fit and the food is available for you at the main bar. Grab a plate, fill up a coffee and find a spot to sit and open up to your day.

10:00 am Second Breakfast

Served after the morning surf and a good representation would be eggs, granola, fresh fruit and tortillas. Second Breakfast is a beautiful tradition in Nicaragua and a necessary reality. The days can grow so warm, that most people wake up early to accomplish the day’s tasks when the temperature is coolest, and the sun is low. Second Breakfast marks the beginning of the days intense warmth and encourages you to get inside, recharge and start to relax.

1:30 pm Light Lunch

Consists of fresh fruit, soup made from local vegetables accompanied by sandwiches or wraps of grilled vegetables. And there’s always hot sauce on the table!

6:30 pm Cocktail Hour

Kicks off a communal table 3 course dinner shared family style. By this time of the day the sun has set, the air is a little lighter and the day’s activities are coming to an end, and the fish has had time to relax! Most dinners will include a component of the afternoons cooking lesson. What lies ahead is a delicious meal, good conversation, new friends and probably a late night swim.

The meals throughout our retreat will be prepared and served by the staff at El Coco Loco. The team from Richmond Station will be engaged in all the meal planning. We’re excited to learn about the indigenous ingredients and local cooking techniques. We won’t, however, be planning each menu from inception, nor will we be cooking each meal from scratch. One of the most impressive parts of our recon trip was the quality of the food, and we would not be curating this experience if every meal required our intervention.

Throughout our stay at El Coco Loco, we will be able to accommodate any food allergy or dietary restriction. Please ensure that you communicate your preferences at the time of booking.

 



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The Yoga

El Coco Loco boasts a stunning yoga studio with a 180-degree view of the ocean. There are two yoga instructors, and each day we’ll have a guided one hour class. Yoga classes are optional. We’ve scheduled the yoga classes for late afternoon. This is a good time to charge the battery, get out of the heat and to watch the sunset.

If morning yoga is essential for your daily routine, the yoga studio is always accessible, and you can roll out a mat any time. If there’s enough interest from the group in a morning yoga class, the opportunity exists to add more classes to the existing itinerary.

The yoga studio comes complete with mats, straps and blocks for everyone attending. There’s no need to bring your own gear. Having a water bottle of your own is a good idea for the trip.



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The Surfing

Surfing is a part of life in Chinandega and is a core component of our week-long itinerary. Surf sessions are always optional, and if your body needs a rest, you can always opt to sleep in, hang by the pool, book a massage or stretch out in the yoga studio. At the same time, there is no time sensitivity to the yoga. In the morning, the tide is best, and the beach is the most hospitable temperature. Surfing in the afternoon can be dangerous if there is no cloud cover and heat stroke is a real thing! The staff at El Coco Loco are all surfers, and each trip to the bay will include a handful of trained instructors to help the uninitiated learn to surf.

If you’ve never surfed before, a single day is usually enough to help you learn to get up and catch some water. A few days of commitment will bring any rookie enough board time to catch green waves and stay up long enough that you could look a stranger in the eye and honestly say you can surf! It’s hard to believe, but we’re living proof. The ocean wants you to learn, and the staff are great instructors.



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The Accommodation

El Coco Loco offers a range of beach style cabanas as well as a single beachfront house with A/C, perfect if you’re bringing your whole family or booking our retreat with a small group of friends.

Each cabana includes beds with mosquito netting and an accompanying dresser, a private bathroom with composting toilet and open-air shower. The cabanas are intended to be low impact and to leave a small footprint.

The cabanas are available in a range of sizes:
5 x double occupancy cabanas with a double bed and a single bed
2 x triple occupancy cabanas with a double bed and two single beds
1 x family cabana with four single beds and two single toilets

The cabanas are shared occupancy. If you’re booking an individual ticket, you should expect to room with someone else. The total occupancy in the resort is 27, and our private retreat will likely include only 20 individuals. We expect there to be ample accommodation for everyone to have a comfortable space with the opportunity for some privacy. However, we can’t guarantee which cabana set up you will have until the complete list of participants is finalized.

If you have specific questions about the cabana setups and how they pertain to the mix of guests you hope to travel with, please contact us.



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More Topics

Sea Turtle Conservation

In 2009, El Coco Loco founded a non-profit organization called Waves of Hope to develop a well educated, healthy and prosperous community. Since then, $350,000 in donations have been raised from guests, friends, families and partnerships.

November marks a special month in Chinandega when the sea turtle conservation effort on the beachfront of El Coco Loco is host to hundreds of pregnant sea turtles. The eggs of these endangered sea turtles are a sought-after global commodity, and together our retreat will work with the conservancy effort to harvest, conserve and hatch the eggs from these sea turtles. While we can never guarantee the presence of these animals, the week our group occupies El Coco Loco is the height of the spawning season for sea turtles.

School Construction

Another initiative through Waves of Hope is the construction of local schools. If there is interest within our group, we can certainly plan a trip to the local school and learn more about the initiatives were taken by Waves of Hope to promote education in Chinandega, all the way from preschool to high school.

 

 

Pasta La Vista Salsa Night

El Coco Loco has been so influential in its community. Like all good local community efforts, new opportunities and offerings have sprung up around the resort. A new vibrant restaurant has opened up in the community and Stef; another Canadian ex-patriot hosts an impressive night of salsa dancing every Thursday evening. This local party is a beautiful mix of local workers, tourists from the surf camp and staff from the area’s amenities. Included in our package is transportation to and from the Salsa Night.

One Hour Relaxing Massage

Also included in our price is a private 60-minute massage. Throughout your week, you will have the opportunity to schedule your massage for a time that suits your schedule.

Flor de Cana Rum Tour

Founded in 1890, Flor de Cana is an internationally recognized and award-winning distillery at the base of Nicaragua’s volcanoes. We’ll tour the distillery, sample some of the rums and bring a few back to the resort to have with dinner!

SUP Kayak Tour

Kayak or Paddle Board down the river below a mangrove forest to where the river meets the ocean. This tour will take the better part of one afternoon and is an excellent opportunity to get off the resort and see some of the different ecosystems in the Chinandega Department. This is another example of an active component of our itinerary. The cost is included in our retreat price. However, attendance is optional.

More About Our Partnership with El Coco Loco Eco Resort

The resort is owned and operated by four Canadian friends. This is a small business that is owner operated and eco-conscious. Earl, Jamie, and the two Bens have become friends of our family at Richmond Station. They approach their business with similar passion: they are committed to their community, conscious of their environmental impact and passionate about their staff. Through Waves of Hope, the community has benefited from a unique scholarship program too. Learn more here.

More Options That Are Not Included

There are optional activities available in the area, beyond what we have built into our retreat. The experience we’ve made is curated and based on our experience visiting the resort, meeting the staff, trying the food and testing the waves. We have built a comprehensive and active retreat that is focused on good food and complemented by healthy living.



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What You Shouldn’t Expect

If you’ve ever been on a package vacation to the Caribbean or Central America where the pools are many, and there is a separate restaurant for every national fare, this is not that type of place. El Coco Loco is a 6-acre plot of oceanfront property that has a beautiful sandy beach as well as a tropical fruit orchard. There is one in-ground pool that is beautifully manicured and perfectly inviting. But you’ll have to get out of the pool to get to the bar.

Jenn, Hayden and Ryan will be on hand every day to help curate your experience. Imagine enjoying the hospitality of sitting at chef’s table for seven days! Carl, however, will not be along for the trip. His family is young, and he hopes to add more kids to the brood: travelling to Central America doesn’t suit his lifestyle at this stage. The staff at El Coco Loco will prepare four meals a day. This experience is not an opportunity to eat the menu of Richmond Station in another location. The impact of bringing the required ingredients and equipment to cook our food is counterintuitive to our goal for this retreat. As a team, we often travel to explore new regions, new foods and new cocktails: this private retreat is best seen as an insider’s opportunity to travel with chefs.

While the opportunity does exist to arrive and completely unplug from the trials of life at work, we are building a private vacation supported by lots of activity. Cooking, yoga and surf are all active ways to relax: they are engaging, challenging and require physical and mental attention. Each day will have loads of dedicated time to relax in a hammock, read by the pool and fall asleep in the shade. Moreover, activities like cooking, yoga and surfing are always optional. You certainly can spend your days with both feet up. You should expect to be surrounded by a group that is active, engaged, and ready to interact with the week’s itinerary.



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The Pricing

Some available activities that we have not built in include horseback riding on the beach, volcano boarding, volcano hiking and touring the local waters on a fishing boat. Once we have our final group together, we can explore the cost and willingness of other participants to expand the itinerary. Indeed, the staff at El Coco Loco would be excited to accommodate additional tours and look forward to hosting our private group in efforts to explore more of the area.

What’s Included In The Price of $2,800 CDN?

  • Accommodations
  • Transportation to and from the airport in Managua
  • 4 Meals per Day
  • Nightly snacks and appetizers
  • Fresh juice daily
  • Soda, water, coffee, tea
  • Unlimited alcohol (rum, wine, vodka, tequila)
  • Daily Surf Lessons + Unlimited Board Rentals
  • Daily Yoga Practice
  • Daily afternoon smoothie
  • One 60 minute Relaxing Massage
  • Daily Cooking Boot Camps
  • SUP Kayaking Tour
  • Flor de Cana Rum Tour
  • Nicaragua 15% tax
  • Gratuity for Resort Staff
  • A group donation to Waves of Hope

What’s Not Included in The Price of $2,800 CDN?

  • Airfare to and from Managua International Airport
  • Personal Travel Insurance
  • HST


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Sponsors




El Coco Loco is paradise. I’m so excited to travel with our most committed regulars to a perfect slice of the Central America, where the excellent hospitality and quality ingredients will be just as good as they are at Richmond Station, but with yoga, surfing and tropical weather!


Ryan Donovan, Richmond Station, co-owner