First Happy New Year to you and yours! We wish you only the best.
Next, the trip was exceptional, memorable, somewhat challenging and an adventure we will never forget.
Let’s start with the wonderful things: all the hotels with the exception of Sapo Dorado were beyond first rate. Casa Bella Rita’s location, Rita and Steve’s warmth and class, and the decision to spend the first and last night were perfect…..the only thing I might add was we left yearning for time to go to the Toucan Restoration Ranch Rita is associated with. I don’t know how we could have arranged it, but just wanted you to know about her affiliation. Nayara in Arenal was just lovely and I don’t know if you did it on purpose, but our villa – number 15, had what would have been the best view of the volcano in the entire resort (it the volcano had been visible, but that’s for another paragraph). The Makanda was extraordinarily classy, perfect for the last two nights – especially since the weather made eating in a beautiful hotel room just the thing to do. The only caveat is that it isn’t the place for anyone challenged by a lot of steps – an older arthritic person would have a problem with the steep climb up or down.
That brings us to Sabo. I can see why you put it in the mix. It could have been cozy except for a few bizarre and not so bizarre occurences.
Let’s start with the not so bizarre- the weather. Of course no one is in control of the rain, although everyone we spoke with said the better time to come would have been January through April. That said, a tropical storm throughout Costa Rica didn’t help and by the time we got to Monteverde, we and Sabo were a sodden mess. However the staff was beyond gracious and it all could have been okay if a truck hadn’t knocked out electricity by hitting a main line and, drum roll, the original owner hadn’t lost the resort and bank officials hadn’t showed up the day after we arrived to close the place down. All true. But that was the somewhat bad news. The good news was that Hotel Establo – the huge resort 5 minutes away – had actually bought the place and was planning on renovating it…and with that in mind, gave us a luxurious room which still had electricity since they had their own electrical generator. Strange but true.
Next, let’s talk about transfers from hotel to hotel. All the private transfers were fine…everyone was on time, extraordinarily professional, wouldn’t change a thing. The only thing to add was:
1. the transfer via jeep, boat, jeep which brought us to Monteverde was really difficult due to the weather, the lack of visibility and the road conditions. We are not normally prima donnas, but getting the luggage to and from the boat was not a picnic. We don’t know how else this could have been done (or if contingencies might be suggested in case of bad weather) but just wanted you to know what happened.
2.The transfer from Manuel Antonio was extraordinary due to the fact that Juan, the owner of Manuel Antionio Adventures (or is it called Aguila Tours)- and our guide for the walk through the park – made it possible for us to see the most magnificent sunset we ever experienced by stopping for a drink at the 5-star Hotel Villa Caletas en route to San Jose. Apparently the sunset and the hotel setting are world famous and well worth a planned stop.
Lastly, the activities.
Obviously the weather put, pardon the pun, a damper on the hike to see the volcano since:
1. The path was soaking wet and just too rustic in this weather.
2. You couldn’t see the volcano.
3. The guide was nice but not as knowledgeable about volcanoes and the area as we would want.
4. My husband’s back and my stamina are not great.
All this would have probably have been worth it if we saw the volcano and what we were told is an amazing sunset, but that was not to be. So my advise would be to tell your clients they might want to consider canceling the hike if the weather is bad and just going to the hot springs earlier since the place was (we were told) quite lovely in the daylight. As it was we enjoyed a restful soak in the springs and a great meal..
The trip to Cano Negro was great and sunny (thank God) – no issue at all. The walk on the Hanging Bridges was just fine – rainy of course, but it seemed fitting and the guide was exceptional. The trip to the mangrove with lunch was magical – we loved Pablo and his passion for this amazing ecosystem and will never forget lunch with his family. And as good as that was, the trip through Manual Antonio’s Park was even better. As noted, Juan went above and beyond and just getting to know him was an important part of the trip.
Going forward, you just might consider getting a little more information about the physical condition of your clients just to be sure how strenuous the activities should be and give them back up plans in case of rotten weather.
Lastly, we came away with a tremendous respect and affection for the country and have told anyone who would listen that they owe it to themselves to go Costa Rica. My husband might also add that he would re-think going to Monteverde at all due to a 1 1/2 hour jarring ride on a cratered road, but I’m not sure about that.
So thank you Marina for all your help in making this trip such a good experience. Would we recommend you as a travel agent? Absolutely.
All the best,
Carol and Lloyd Brinan, Canada