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Costa Rica Trip March 2019 - Review Overall The trip went very well and was well organised. However there were some easily rectified issues that had they not been there would have substantially increased our satisfaction. Foremost amongst these was the one page (2 sides) itinerary which frequently left us in the dark about what was happening. Set out below are my comments in each of the relevant areas. Meet and greet This was ok, however it was disappointing that we weren’t offered a bottle of water after an 18 hour journey. The problem was compounded when we arrived at the hotel (after 20.00) as it had no tea/coffee making facilities or complimentary water, and only a massively over priced in room fridge. The last thing we wanted to do was go out searching for a drink after our journey, in the dark in a strange city, especially as we were being picked up at 06.00 the following morning! Hotels The Balmoral The hotel was clean and not very comfortable (no where to sit or make a drink and the only window looked out on a wall). The fire alarm went off repeatedly at 00.30 and I couldn’t raise anybody on the front desk or security telephones. On the second morning they did not give us a booked early morning call and we were nearly late for pick up. Given that we were travelling 40 minutes back past the airport the following morning we may have saved time (2 journeys) by staying at an airport hotel, especially as San Jose offers little to the tourist. We were happy with food in the restaurant on the second night. We were booked B&B but were not able to take breakfast on either day due to early pick up time - (see comments about itinerary). Mawamba Lodge We thoroughly enjoyed this hotel, excellent restaurant, location and pool. We would recommend. Casa Luna Room was spacious, comfortable and clean, pool / hot tubs were very nice. Restaurant was OK but we would have preferred to be nearer the town rather than having to mess about with taxis after a day of sightseeing. We couldn’t see any advantage of being so far out. Trapp Family Lodge This was a very well run hotel with lovely, helpful staff and a nice restaurant. Whilst it was convenient for the National Park, once we had done 4 hours with a private guide we didn’t want to return and again it would have been better to be nearer to town. We walked (5kms) into town one day but ended up getting taxis. The hotel doesn’t have any outside (sheltered ie no parasols) sitting areas and therefore isn’t attractive to stay put during the day. Unfortunately sitting in the room pre-dinner was uncomfortable as we were on the shaded side of the building, directly in the strong wind (which came through the windows). As a result our bedroom was freezing cold (less than 15 degrees) as the cloud descended because there is no heating in the rooms. (which in fairness was mentioned in the original 36 page itinerary). Hacienda Guachipelin Right in the heart of the reserve, nice pool, large restaurant (but did the job), the best place to stay in the area. Villas Playa Samarra Given the concern about some of the recent Trip Advisor) reviews we were very pleased about this hotel. Staff were great, pool was superb, room was clean and spacious. Yes the restaurant was haphazard but we were very satisfied and would recommend the hotel. (mind you The Azura looks superb). Excursions We enjoyed all of the tours although we particularly liked The Peace Garden which encapsulated so much of Costa Rica and was beautifully done. Whilst the volcano hike was a bit of a disappointment being only1.2km there and 1.2km back (although we did extend it). We didn’t really get very close to the Volcano (the guide ended up showing us photographs in a book) and the lava field didn’t compare with lava fields in Las Canarias! The Itinerary The two page itinerary was poor in that it didn’t give details of what to wear , what to bring (eg towels for Dolphin cruise), relevant timings, tips about eating arrangements, (eg 06.00 pick up,-hotel breakfast didn’t start till 06.00). Some days had three separate lines, other days were lumped under one heading, on some days breakfast was shown as included on other days where it was included it wasn’t shown. It looked more like a check list for Ecole Travel than a helpful guide to us as travellers. We found ourselves uploading the original 36 page itinerary on the TL website and then trying to cross match it to the 2 page itinerary - and still we weren’t clear, (eg for the private tour in Monterverde we arrived early in the hotel lobby to meet our guide as with all the other tours, expecting “an international group” only to realise after 20 minutes that we had to walk up to the National Park for a one to two experience). We reverted to taking the tour operators names from the various tokens and then used their websites to fit our tours to their offerings (eg Mawamba has an excellent two page, hourly itinerary covering the package we were on). Other tour companies produced equally explicit leaflets and these could easily have been included in our welcome pack. Finally Thank you for organising our trip and I hope you find these comments helpful. To reiterate Overall we enjoyed Costa Rica and the experience and our comments are intended to give you constructive feedback. Kind regards Richard and Sue Dew March 2019

richard, from Solihull - UK

Visited Costa Rica in

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What was good about our local partner based in Costa Rica?

Planning and fast interaction

What could our local partner based in Costa Rica improve on?

Written itinerary with welcome pack was poor

What did you think about the guides or drivers on your trip?

All good

What advice would you give to other travellers planning a trip to Costa Rica?

See above - La Paz Peace Garden very good. Pay close attention to hotel location - walkability. Get information about tour start, finish times and inclusions before you travel (not necessary if local itinerary is sufficiently explicit)

What was the most memorable part of your trip?

Mawamba / Tortuguero

How likely are you to recommend TravelLocal?