Views from the Arenal Volcano Inn
It’s always lovely to have feedback from clients, it’s even better when it’s so well structured and detailed that it proves genuinely helpful for both us and for future clients. So thank you Jan & Tom for taking time to write the following from their recent Costa Rica holiday. I haven’t changed or edited anything, even the CAPS on our name is not our work, honest.
COSTA RICA UNCOVERED 12 – 30 JULY 2010
Jan and Tom Bown visited Costa Rica on a holiday organised by PURA AVENTURA in July 2010. For first-time visitors to Central America the experience was excellent, thanks to the high degree of knowledge, expertise and professionalism shown by PURA AVENTURA and their local agents. This critique is intended as feedback to PURA AVENTURA that may be of help to future clients.
1. International Flights were with BA (world traveller). Flights were more or less on time and legroom was good. In-flight food was adequate.
2. Arrival in Costa Rica Costa Rica Trails provided in-country support. Met on arrival by a smartly-presented English speaker, we were whisked away to our hotel (Buena Vista) in a clean and roomy vehicle. We were given a comprehensive and detailed arrival pack-up that included a very detailed itinerary, local contact numbers, vouchers for the whole trip and plenty of useful information and maps. This company could not be faulted; they inspired confidence and were extremely efficient throughout.
3. Tortuguero Early on day 1 we were picked up and taken to another hotel where we met another couple and changed vehicles. We then drove to another hotel where we picked up a third couple and were then taken into San Jose where we transferred to a 52-seater coach that was nearly full. At this point we were starting to feel uncomfortable, having signed up to a private tour with an individual itinerary. It subsequently transpired that this (long bus journey and boat trip) was the only way to get to the Tortuguero hotels (other than flying in). While it all worked out well, we feel that you should make these arrangements clear to your clients prior to departure. The Pachira Lodge Hotel was a little Spartan, certainly the least impressive of the 7 hotels that we stayed in. However, it provided just what was needed in the unusual Tortuguero environment.
4. Sarapiqui Having picked up a 4-wheel drive hire vehicle en route, we arrived at the Sueno Azul Hotel after a short drive. The whole experience here was delightful. The hotel is in a beautiful setting, the room was large and comfortable and the staff were welcoming (including the owner who greeted us at dinner). The food was particularly good. Notwithstanding the poor roads on the approach, we really enjoyed our stay.
5. Bosque de Paz We were quite unprepared for Bosque de Paz! Met by the owner on arrival, we spent 2 wonderful nights in this most extraordinary private wildlife sanctuary. Once again the food was superb and the staff could not have been more helpful. This hotel is a little gem and provides a greatly superior cloud forest experience to the one that we had during a trip through Monteverde.
6. Arenal After Bosque de Paz we expected the next hotel to be a little disappointing. The Arenal Volcano Inn was anything but. The suite-style room was roomy and luxurious, complete with Jacuzzi. There can be few hotel rooms in the world where one can lie on the bed and watch a live volcano doing it’s stuff! Although the dining room was open to the general public and was very busy, we found both the food and service to be of a high standard.
7. Alajuela En route from Arenal to the Osa Peninsula we spent our second night at the Buena Vista hotel. This is an ideal location for arrival/departures/transfers, offering a friendly, helpful and flexible staff and some excellent food. The rooms are perfectly functional for a short stay.
8. Internal Flights Our internal flights (to/from the Osa Peninsula) were provided by Sansa and Nature Air. The difference between these 2 carriers is quite marked and we would recommend that you use Nature Air whenever possible, not least because of the great views from their large cabin windows
9. Corcovado This was truly the highlight of our holiday: the Casa Corcovado Lodge has to be seen to be believed. We loved everything about this place, from the spacious suite to the friendly staff, from the extraordinary wildlife to the first-class cuisine this was a wonderful experience that will live long in the memory. Above all we were impressed by the efforts of the staff in planning, preparing and delivering your activities for each day. Each guest was then debriefed on their experience and the next day’s details were confirmed at dinner. If we have one small beef, it is that the excursions were over-priced. However, we cannot recommend this hotel too highly.
10. Manuel Antonio Once again, we were pleasantly surprised by the variety and the quality of the accommodation provided. The Hotel Costa Verde is a more traditional type of hotel, but with large rooms and a fine hillside location. We found this a great place to relax after a hectic tour. Located between the beach and the town, we found it easy to get around. The choice of food and the quality were both excellent.
Thanks to the comprehensive information that you provided prior to departure, we were prepared for the weather that we encountered. Of 19 days away, there were only 2 days when we had no rain. The worst weather was in Manuel Antonio where the downpour was torrential and was accompanied by thunder and lightning throughout the night. None of our plans had to be changed because of the weather.
The wildlife was the real magnet for us. Despite going on a number of jungle expeditions, we encountered the most wildlife (and certainly the closest encounters) on various hotel lawns! This was a delight.
We really appreciate the level of attention to detail provided by PURA AVENTURA and its agents. All transfers were smooth and efficient and everything worked very well. The quality and variety of accommodation that you provided was excellent; each hotel was quite different and each provided a unique local flavour and experience.
Thank you – we will certainly recommend you to others.
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