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This is the most difficult trip I've ever planned.

Twin Lakes...
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1,622 posts
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This is the most difficult trip I've ever planned.

I've finally decided where we want to go and which hotels (after weeks of research).I booked one with Expedia and got the reservation confirmation immediately and charged immediately. I was happy one of the other hotels that I contacted directly said they did not charge until our arrival in 7 months, but needed a charge authorization form filled out and emailed back.I would be sending them a cc# before any contract of what type room I want reserved.This is a very popular hotel, but seems kind of odd the way of reserving it. There is no phone # anywhere on their web sight or email correspondence. I will contact them again, just wondered if that is the normal way of doing things?

Hotel #3 is asking for the same thing only they charge immediately and not saying type of room,only price(cheap, one night by the airport, but still)

I think I know the answer, but any experience or input appreciated.

Dallas, Texas
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1. Re: This is the most difficult trip I've ever planned.

I hear ya! I've been planning this trip since January. We are finally leaving in a week - woohoo!

I did have one tour company ask for the authorization info as well. I said "NO" I will not -ever- send my credit card information either by fax or email to anyone. When I told the tour company rep this, she immediately said I could make a deposit with Paypal. Since we are going in the "Green" season (read: rainy) I know that they will not have tons of tourists there and I will take my chance and book once I arrive. You appear to be going in the Dry season and you may have to fight for a room. And if you don't get the answers you need, don't go there (your experience over the phone is probably indicative of what you'll find when you arrive). There are scam artists in CR who prey on the unwary, unread, tourist.

I think there are two reasons for this (granted my experience is only from planning so far). First, I think I read in Lonely Planet that it is illegal to take a credit card number unless the person is standing right in front of you - getting an authorization seems to be the way they are getting around this. Doesn't work for me. Second, CR hotels seem to have the reputation of not actually having your reserved room available once you arrive (I've forgotten where I read this). Since they can't take credit card numbers to hold the reservation, they often give the room to the first warm body that can pay for it. So they want you to think that getting your authorization guarantees you a room - it does not.

Trip Advisor has always been my source for good recommendations. Stick with the top 10 hotels/B&Bs/Specialty Lodgings. Study the pictures and really read the reviews. Some hotels are run by awesome people and some are not. It's a crap shoot.

I'm really thinking I should have gone with a tour company.

Dallas, Texas
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3 posts
95 reviews
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2. Re: This is the most difficult trip I've ever planned.

In my last sentence, I meant a large tour company that takes one to all the amazing places in CR and arranges everything. Not the tour company I said "No" to. Sorry.

wgr
Vancouver, BC
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1,237 posts
109 reviews
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3. Re: This is the most difficult trip I've ever planned.

I think I disagree with Mr. heilmann. Most hotels anywhere want a credit card number to guarantee a hotel reservation. If you aren't prepared to do that, in most places in the world, you are not going to get a reservation. Some hotels, particularly in the high season, like March want payment in full, 30 to 6 days before arrival. Again, no pay, no room.

That said, I agree that you want to know the hotel is reputable and the ones that are most highly recommended are.

If you are doing your own booking (which I prefer to do), then ask for confirmation of your reservation so that when you arrive, you have a communication from them to show. Where you use a travel agent, you are relying on someone elses communication. I have never had a problem with online reservations.

Some hotels, including unfortunately one of my favourites, El Silencio del Campo in La Fortuna asks for passport numbers and a photocopy of it in advance. I refused to give it to them and they backed down. In many countries in the world, hoteliers are required to get your passport number on checkin. There is no country in the world that I am aware of that requires it on making a reservation.

And the hotel is covered with your credit card information.

I am not sure where the comment about all the scam artists in hotels in Costa Rica comes from. That certainly was not our experience and not the experience of most people on this site.

St. Petersburg...
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4. Re: This is the most difficult trip I've ever planned.

Many, many trips myself, have always had to provide credit card info up front. A couple charged right then, most wait til you check out and merely use the cc as a guarantee you will show up. Keep in mind many places, regardless of the season, are often booked up months in advance and they need some recourse if you do not show up.

Sorry, but have to disagree about the part of CR being notorious for scams and not having your room available, on all my trips never had it happen, which is why you can rely on guidebooks only so much.

I don't understand the part about the specific type of room. Ask if they have availability and the specific type of room available and if so I would reserve by whatever means they ask. Why not just name the hotels you are considering so people can comment on them and their reservation policies? I would also book directly thru the hotels instead of a third party like expedia.

USA
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2,214 posts
33 reviews
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5. Re: This is the most difficult trip I've ever planned.

I had many of the same concerns when booking my trip (which starts in three weeks) and have had some difficulty communication with some lodges. (I really hope the AOL has my rooms!

Were I to do it over again, I would book most of my hotel stays through a Travel Agency that specializes in Costa Rica travel like anywherecostarica.com or Holbrook Travel. It seems a bit easier and you'd be assured your room was there.

Twin Lakes...
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1,622 posts
16 reviews
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6. Re: This is the most difficult trip I've ever planned.

I completely understand the need for a credit card guarantee to protect against no shows. What is different from other hotels I've booked is the lack of a form stating terms and agreements before I send cc info.

I booked Lomas del Volcan near Arenal thru Expedia . That was charged and I'll reconfirm directly with the hotel before we leave.

I hesitate to give out the name of the second hotel because I think it's a hidden gem(one reviewer's actual words) and I've yet to confirm a reservation.What concerns me is the fact they only have 8 standard rooms and the other 20 suites are out of our price range. I don't want to arrive at the hotel in peak season to find out all that's available is the penthouse suite which is 3 times what we can afford.I guess I'm used to booking with huge chains, which is not where I want to go.I'm going to send another email to the manager and state my concerns and see what he can do to ease my mind before I dig out my wallet.

Thanks for all the input.

.
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806 posts
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7. Re: This is the most difficult trip I've ever planned.

>> Second, CR hotels seem to have the reputation of not actually having your reserved room available once you arrive (I've forgotten where I read this).

My experience with CR is limited -- I started doing research last summer for a trip which we took this past February -- but I do browse this and the Fodor's forum frequently and have pretty much read the Fodor's and Moon guides cover-to-cover and leafed through Frommer's and Lonely Planet. I've NEVER gotten any sense that CR hotels routinely practice what you've described. I'm sure you can cite specific hotels that have this reputation but I doubt that it's more than hotels in general in any country.

We stayed in 5 different properties throughout our stay (including 2 one-nighters near the airport before/after flights.) I booked all our reservations directly with the hotels. They all had very different reservation/credit card/cancellation policies. In every case, I initiated the reservation process on their website, then exchanged a few emails with questions before committing to the reservation with a deposit or credit card authorization.

If you're not comfortable with the amount of information you've been provided, I'd either email or phone them and try to resolve your questions before making a commitment with a deposit/CC #.

North Palm Beach...
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945 posts
36 reviews
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8. Re: This is the most difficult trip I've ever planned.

In our experience, it is not unusual at all for hotels to require charge authorization forms either via email or fax when reserving in CR. Dealings that we, and others we know, have had with hotels in CR have shown them to be honest, generally helpful, and truly concerned with quality of service they deliver.

California
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3 posts
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9. Re: This is the most difficult trip I've ever planned.

If you are still planning a trip to Costa Rica, I recommend you to make your bookings with TourTech (info@tourtech.net or www.tourtech.net). We used them last April and everything was perfect! We were 6 and spent 14 exciting, full of fun and adventure days in Costa Rica. We have used this same company several times, to arrange trips to Guatemala, Galapagos and Peru and we are already working on our first visit to Chile and Argentina next year. We all in our family are very happy with the results.

Enjoy your vacations!

Erin

Twin Lakes...
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1,622 posts
16 reviews
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10. Re: This is the most difficult trip I've ever planned.

Well everything is taken care of. The hotel that was a concern actually did send a specific attachment, I just didn't know how to open it.It was jibberish until my son finally helped me install Word on my computer. The first form he sent was very generic and no mention of the type of room.That was my concern, not sending cc info.

Everything is booked, 4 nights in Arenal, 3 nights at Hotel Club del Mar near Jaco and one night at Adventure Inn near San Jose.The easiest one to book(Lomas del Volcan)is also the one that charged right away(thru Expedia).The other two aren't charging till checkout.The Adventure Inn is only $79.00,close to the airport, free breakfast and even a discount for paying cash US. They don't advertise that, but it was in the lenghty reservation confirmation they sent me.

Although this has been a pain,I think it was all worth it.All of my emails were answered promptly and I wouldn't hesitate to piece meal our next trip.I just have to learn more about my computer .

Thanks all.