Matt Dickinson escapes the rat race


Myles Pettengill

Myles Pettengill

Before I came to Nicaragua in 2009, I was rarely excited to get out of bed. I had gone into real estate because I was interested in development, but needed a break from Toronto. I decided to take four months off and headed to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. I stumbled on this place while the main guesthouse was under construction, and I offered to partner with the guy building it. Along with two more partners, we purchased the surrounding land and started building up Maderas Village. The idea was to build a retirement community for young people, where anyone could come for two days or two years and practice their passions. We want guests to come and work on a project, whether it’s writing a book, painting, recording an acoustic album or doing private yoga.

[adspot align=”right”]

Every day now, I wake up and answer e-mails in bed before eating breakfast with the guests. I’ll read some Monocle or The Paris Review, banter a bit more, then head to an oceanfront loft to spend the afternoon managing operations or working on designs and marketing plans for new villas. Around sunset, I go down to the beach to surf and drink a beer, and then it’s back to the main house for cocktails and a dinner made from local ingredients. I love being able to work at my own natural rhythm. I only wear shoes about once a week. Running a business is still stressful, but the ability to work from a hammock helps.

My life in numbers


Toronto alarm clock


San Juan del Sur body clock


Average nightly rate at Maderas Village


Number of hammocks