Holiday review by Doctor Ian Ground
Name: Doctor Ian Ground
Date of trip: 21/01/2020
Number of people: 2
What we loved The standard of accommodation consistently exceeded our expectations. We thought the pacing too was excellent. Two nights was enough in some places but three was great to have at Parador and Corcovado. Every time we left for a new venue, we felt the excitement of setting off on a new adventure. The longest drive we had was 4 hours but it did not feel too long. We loved the forest trails at Villa Blanca and Corcovado especially. Wild enough to feel you were really in the forest but still likable and signposted. Having the plane to ourselves on the flight from Osa was a real treat. Stunning views over the country. The Free or tip based walking tour in San Jose starts at the National Theatre at 9:00. This was really excellent with local guides who had a lot to say about the history of Costa Rica. Well worth bringing to peoples attention.
We loved this trip. It consistently exceeded our expectations, was full of lovely surprises. The itinerary was beautiful paced with plenty of contrasting locations. And of course, the country itself is amazing and beautiful. Overall we felt that the trip was exceptionally good value for money, given the level of accommodation, included tours and the private transfers.
It was wonderful to have a single point of contact for all our dealings regarding initial discussions, itinerary planning and payments. Alex Neaves was terrific. Knowledgeable and very responsive. He is a real asset to your company.
The app is very well designed and really useful.
The partnership with the local agents in Costa Rica worked very smoothly. With a single, understandable exception, our transfer drivers were all on time, courteous, efficient and safe drivers. It really felt that there was some vast team behind the scenes keeping an eye out for us and laying on the next magical experience.
The guides at Pachira Lodge, Parador and Villa Blanca, especially the latter, were excellent. Authoritative, knowledgeable and organised. The guide at La Isla for a night walk was okay but seemed a little inexperienced and I think we saw things more by sheer luck than judgement. The night tour was around the Lodge garden, rather than, as Villa Blanca, in the forest property. The guide at Corcovado was rather poor
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
Always a conudrum, Costa Rica could not safeguards it natural heritage without tourists but tourists have carbon footprints. Very pleased to see that Tribes is doing its best to offset. We offset our flights again with GoldStandard so you might politley suggest that customers do so also.
The places you stayed
Perfectly nice central city hotel in a great location. The rooftop bar is worth a visit.
Enjoyed it here very much. Though it is quite easy to get lost in the grounds as the paths snake around very similar bungalows and rooms. The boat based safaris are excellent. Getting onto the boats to get there means tackling a rather muddy shore. A few planks down would help there.
From the pictures, this seemed to be a bit of a standard chain resort, but it is in reality far better. In terms of guest service, Parador was by far the best. There seemed to be as many staff as guests and all very proactively helpful. We were also delighted to get a free upgrade to the suite level rooms which are really fantastic. Sea views and a jacuzzi on the balcony. But the standard rooms looked lovely too. The resort forest path is interesting and a little wilder in places than one might expect. Trips were well organised. Everything just worked fantastically well at this place. We were expecting this to be the least interesting venue in terms of wildlife, but it was in fact the best! Surprisingly we had our best encounters with Sloths in this resort. One in the trees near the garden and another, who, to our astonishment actually came down from his tree for a poop, on the beach path. Very good trip to the National Park with a professional guide. The rainforest being what it is, you could easily walk round on your own and not notice anything. You do really need a guide to see what’s there. Worth taking the taxi into town for a change, especially as one local restaurant may have some great live music on.
In general, Corcovado was the most beautiful location but, probably, the least well-run. We really wouldn’t have wanted to miss it but the management of the place, communications and some of the little touches were just a bit unfocussed somehow. For example, the dining room is rather lovely, but the lighting makes it seem a bit dull and institutional. A few candles would have gone a long way. The tables are set for the relevant sized groups but far apart so that the different groups can’t mix very easily. There is a lovely sunset bar, but the cocktails are poorly made. The dinners are okay but have no flair. Clear communications from management when you get there, but the staff can sometimes be hard to find when you want them or give out the wrong info. I think if we had paid the full website price for this venue, we would have felt it was overpriced for the non-nature related aspects. However, the beaches and trails are really spectacular. (don’t miss the little path that goes off from the beach where you have lunch). The guide was poor and definitely needs to be more safety aware re the snorkelling trip. We were fine but open seas snorkelling like this is not for beginners. Lovely to see a humpback on the way to the island and to see a huge turtle when swimming.
So, a bit of a conundrum this place. Beautiful but unfocussed service wise. I think that the owner and founder, who still lives on the property, needs to refresh his vision of what is on offer here, better motivate the staff and take H&S issues more seriously.