Holiday review by Sara and Peter
Name: Sara and Peter
Date of trip: 20/02/2018
Number of people: 2
Monkeys on the roof of the hotel in the middle of the night. Ant eater performing for us in Manuel Antonio. Sound of the howler monkeys reverberating. View from the roadside cafe on the way up to Tilaran. Relaxing in the thermal waters (so good for skin disorder). Pelicans diving for fish at Poltrero Beach. One of the resident Iguanas at San Bada Hotel demolishing the residue lunch left on a table and watching him guard his territory from other Iguanas. The beautiful garden we found on the way to Manuel Antonio on the side of a hill with stunning views in all directions. The butterfly conservation at Arenal where we received a guided tour from a Danish volunteer. The Trapiche coffee, cocoa and sugar tour is not to be missed.
Just loved the country, the people and the weather - we were lucky in that we only had a couple of rain showers at Arenal Paraiso. It was surprisingly cold in Monteverde but no rain. The people are welcoming, gentle and very happy to help. Not a problem that we did not speak Spanish.
After a small initial setback regarding hotels booked, Rory produced a good itinerary in line with our thinking. The hire car was right for the 'unpaved' roads - Swiss Travel produced a map (out of date) with routes marked and provided separate journey information for each stage. So we did not get lost! Only one small comment (and not really anything wrong) would be that having advised of our flights (late afternoon), we could have had another day at Potrero Beach rather than travelling to San Jose that day as we had plenty of time to get there on the last day for the flight.
Very good guides, especially the young lady at Manuel Antonio- she was so enthusiastic about her work and she was very knowledgeable on both flora and fauna. Nothing was too much trouble (endless 'phone shots on her monocular for us all). Drivers were good and careful
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
The local population do seem to care about survival of their heritage by managing the reforestation of a great many areas and taking a pride in that heritage. Unlike Chileans there was no underlying bitterness towards the Spanish Conquistedors, perhaps because there was no takeover of minerals, raping of the country etc. They are keen on preserving their environment for the future. However with ever increasing traffic (local and tourist) they do need to upgrade the roads as the dirt and dust from the unpaved roads must be very detrimental to the health of local people, especially young children.
So happy to see that local crafts were in abundance for sale (no Chinese tat) and although quite a lot was not our style, we did manage to find a few lgood items to bring back memories and support the fragile economy. Some good local painters.
The places you stayed
Very good hotel; well run; friendly staff with time to talk and give information; good wi-fi in the room. Comfortable bed. Just short of excellent as blocked sink, faulty light switch. Have separate service lift for moving tour bus luggage.
They seem to have all the right ethos but fail to deliver or maybe they are basking in past glory! Enormous room; two huge beds which they need lessons in making-up (had to remake the bed each day); sheets so worn the stripes have disappeared. Provided bathrobes first day (very worn out) which were not left nor replaced! Shower in bath with fully enclosed doors put in the wrong way round. Hair dryer did not work and the sink plug mechanism missing. Had to ask for a new hairdryer twice before it appeared and then it could not be fitted to the wall (wonder if they have done it now). Light fittings very dim - lack of decent bulbs. Food was fine but seemed like a ghost restaurant most of the time. Again Wifi only available in the reception and restaurant. Grounds were nice and apart from the roads seemed to be well maintained. They need to sort out the main roadways in the complex as they are just rough gravel roads and probably the reason for requesting shoes off in the rooms! Staff were nice enough but not properly managed. The pool was very cold but there were two nice jacuzzis instead.
Playa Potrero, Guanacaste
Very good and modern hotel. Well run. Good Wifi, nice food and friendly staff. Liked the fact that the chef came out and asked me if I enjoyed my lunch-time lobster roll! The room was fronted by a full glass entrance with sliding doors so curtains needed to be drawn for privacy. Wierd feature of a bath in the middle of the room placed in a drainage tray filled with cobbles - not very practical to get in and out of so did not use and probably not many others have used it! Pool nice with poolside bar and happy hour feature. The pool needed to be cleaned of debris (leaves etc.) a little more often though. Only downside was the room cleaning was not very good; dust in the corners of the room and the floor not cleaned. Again, I remade the bed every day.
Wonderful grounds and beach and not too crowded. Very amused by the American/German claiming of sun loungers. Just a point to note, the sea seemed quite cold in this bay compared with further south at Manuel Antonio.