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US investor bets big on Nicaragua hotels

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Miami-based investor Ophir Sternberg, recently discussed his real estate investment firm- Lionheart Capital's initial investment in Nicaragua. The Central American country, now an emerging and trending holiday destination, has come a long way from its days of political upheaval and conflict and is attracting major investment from international hoteliers like Sternberg.

US investor bets big on Nicaragua hotels

Not too long ago Nicaragua was a country synonymous with political unrest and conflict, but today Nicaragua is fast becoming one of the most sought after Central American holiday destinations with many insiders suggesting that Nicaragua now poses a real threat to Costa Rica's long-standing reputation as the top destination in the region.

Real estate investor, Ophir Sternberg, recently spoke with Wall Street Journal about his foray into the Nicaraguan hotel market.

Sternberg first visited the country when he was invited there for a tour by an American-Nicaraguan foundation after he had made a donation of beds and medical supplies to Nicaraguan hospitals.

Of his initial trip to Nicaragua, Sternberg stated:

"I didn't go there with the intention of investing any money or spending any time in the country. But I loved what I saw".

Despite his preconceptions, once there, Sternberg is said to have fell in love with the warm sunny climate, the Spanish colonial architecture and the breath-taking beaches in Nicaragua. The combination of all the trappings of a tropical paradise combined with government tax incentives for foreign investors, all contributed to Sternberg's property development firm, Lionheart Capital LLC, deciding to purchase its first hotel in Nicaragua last year, the Aqua Wellness Resort.

The Aqua Wellness Resort, a two-hour drive or a 20-minute helicopter ride from Managua, is currently being refurbished with the number of rooms and villas expected to double to 110 units in addition to the construction of a swimming pool and a restaurant. Sternberg's total investment in the resort, including its acquisition, is estimated to be $45 million.

After the refurbishments are completed, the resort's daily rates are expected to increase from the current $330 to $600 a night. Lionheart Capital is said to be working on an agreement with an Asian-based luxury resort hotelier to operate the resort.

In addition to the Aqua Wellness Resort, Lionheart Capital is also in the process of securing two additional properties in Granada and Lake Nicaragua, both of which will likely be managed by the same operator of the Aqua Wellness Resort.

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