Holiday review by Mr. Neil Symmonds
Name: Mr. Neil Symmonds
Date of trip: 12/11/2019
Number of people: 2
We all thought the boat trips around Tortuguero were excellent and showed us an environment not available in western civilisations. We also enjoyed the fact that we saw 4 distinct areas of the country, which were quite discreet- those being : both coasts, the rain-forest and the cloud- forest. We thought the " hanging bridges" tour ( Arenal) was excellent, even the downpour we experienced couldn't dampen our enjoyment! We also did a coffee/ chocolate tour near La Fortuna ( Don Juan) which we arranged ourselves and was a great morning. Whilst in the Cloud forest, we all also enjoyed a day out ( in Monteverde area) at "Selvatura", which allowed us to experience zip- lines, a butterfly garden, a hummingbird area and a reptile display- all in the one area, everyone was very happy! Our holiday closed out on the NW coast, staying on the coast near Potrero, which allowed to see the Pacific coast and enjoy some stunning sunsets! We also were relived that we were not as pestered by mosquitos as much as we expected; we took spray and used it, but all things considered, it was better than we'd feared!
Costa Rica is a beautiful country, with a very clean environment and amazing scenery. The variety of climates and terrain within a relatively small country is amazing. We thought the Costa Rican people were all friendly, helpful, mostly spoke english ( luckily!) and they take great pride in their country- which is evident by the almost complete lack of rubbish/ litter- fantastic! Their driving and road manners are also good ( which helps)
The advice and arrangements we received from this company was exceptional. The pick-ups and transfers all worked like clockwork, the vehicles used were comfortable, clean and well driven. Just a tip if you intend to drive around the Monteverde area- the roads are almost always unsurfaced- and therefore if renting a hire car, a 4WD would be advisable.
We had a variety of guides ( per trip) and almost without exception, they were very informative and spoke good english.
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
We gained some insight into the lives of Costa Rican people, as we were told about the change of Government's policies that had affected certain activates in the quest for environmental improvement. The focus was on wiildlife and in this regard we were slightly disappointed by the lack of birds ( and others) that were not as evident as we had expected, HOWEVER, that maybe not unusual in the natural world?
The places you stayed
A one-night stay after arriving at the airport, with an early morning pick-up- HOWEVER, the hotel was comfortable, clean and had a pleasant bar on site- which we all needed on arrival!
A lovely place to stay in the Tortuguero area. The service was very good and friendly and the food was enjoyable.
It has a pool overlooking the river- which is a lovely place to cool down.
We had guided boat trips from the hotel which were superb! We did a night- walk ( from the hotel) which we all enjoyed.
On arrival we were allocated a bungalow which was having a few new bungalows built at the rear- hence we were sitting on the patio watching men working ( not ideal!). The hotel rectified this and the next morning moved us- good service, (but why allocate the initial bungalow in the first place when they had options?) Notwithstanding this " hiccup", the rest of our stay went very well. The food was good, the al la carte breakfast was good and they had a nice open air bar area. Taxis to/ from La Fortuna are easy and cheap and a walk into town is do-able ( take a brolly/ coat!)
This is a beautiful hotel to stay, the views from the dining balcony are exceptional. We had a peninsula room ( main block) which was very comfortable with it's own small balcony area. The dining was quite formal, the food was slightly disappointing and we found the waiting and bar service to be slow and less friendly than elsewhere. Taxis into Santa Elena are easy and cheap, and there are a few bars and restaurants there to use- most being quite OK. The gardens at the Belmar are worth having a wander around as you can spot quite a bit of wildlife, not visible from the hotel. We didn't get around to using the sauna- but it looked very inviting.
Playa Potrero, Guanacaste
A complete and utter contrast to where we had stayed before- this is a fantastic place to stay!! Right next to the beach, with a lovely pool, great bar, with really good staff . The room was comfortable and clean, we ate in their restaurant- which was good and the breakfast was also very enjoyable. There are a few bars and restaurants within strolling distance, which provide a change from the hotel. The sunsets are a true attraction and their happy hour is well timed to coordinate with this! A taxi into Tamarindo (arranged by the hotel at a cost to us of $45 e/w) takes about 35-40 mins- and allowed us to see a much more commercialised area of this coast. We also rented a golf buggy locally which was very useful and good fun.