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Still Searching!

Folsom, California
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14 posts
10 reviews
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Still Searching!

I have tried to work with travel agencies and they don't seem to understand (or work with lodges in) the areas we are interested in. 7 nights traveling through Manual Antonio, Drakes Bay and 3 nights (included in the 7) at the Osa Del Mar eco lodge 12 miles outside of Puerto Jimenez (not necessarily in that order). One agent told us it was boring on south eastern part of the Osa. We love nature and this place looks perfect. I hate to say this, but I'm not getting a good feeling from any of the agents I have spoken to so far, even the recommended ones!! Is it that were looking for eco lodges and have a budget? We can't afford, nor do we want luxury lodges. I keep asking for the Bug Lady Tour in Drakes Bay, and not one itinerary has come back with it included. What's up!!?? Thank you.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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47,147 posts
35 reviews
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1. Re: Still Searching!

Good set of questions....some travel agents...do not get good commisions out of some lodges...some times they do not like to work with the....the best deal direct with lodges or in general with services providdrs....

Try to get in touch with JAAGUARDMAN he knows OSA better than almost any body...send him a PM...

Roadadvisor

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
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9,702 posts
23 reviews
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2. Re: Still Searching!

Are you working with travel agencies based in Costa Rica? If not that may be your problem.

You could also contact your preferred Osa lodge directly and ask them to book transfers from Drake Bay and a return to San Jose for you. Then select your Drake Bay lodge, most of whom are happy to help you arrange transfers. You don't really need a travel agent.

I can tell you from personal experience that many travel agents do not like to book small simple lodges they are unfamiliar with, as they don't know if you'll be happy with your choice once you arrive.

Slovenia
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
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15,925 posts
60 reviews
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3. Re: Still Searching!

As above I also recommend you to contact the preferred lodges directly. Itinerary Manuel Antonio - Drake Bay - Puerto Jimenez is nice and very wildlife orientated. Since you set your eyes already on Ojo Del Mar between Puerto Jimenez and Carate you might look at Finca Maresia on Drake Bay side and La Posada Jungle Bungalows in Manuel Antonio. All of them are more budget oriented small lodges with friendly and personal services. You can do it in both directions, personally I would start in PJ, maybe flying in. For road transfers check easyride shuttle http://www.easyridecr.com/ .

Uvita, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Uvita, Ojochal
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2,649 posts
44 reviews
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4. Re: Still Searching!

Many small lodges do not pay commisions to Travel Agencies and as such you will get steared away from these. Its not to do with familiarity or uality of the place but 20% commission that small price consious places would need to incorporate into their cost structure and pass on to their customer.

Contact the places direct, you do not need to go through agencies at all. There are a lot of resources and advice available on the forums and reviews.

Bermuda
Destination Expert
for Bermuda
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3,470 posts
28 reviews
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5. Re: Still Searching!

I don't understand why in the age of internet and tripadvisor people still use travel agents. Nowadays they can be more of a hinderance because sometimes not all of the information gets properly conveyed between all three involved parties which invariably leads to a dispute between the end user (you) and the service provider (hotel/car rental etc). I've travelled all over cr in rental cars, private limo, planes, boats and short distances by bus, even a spontaneous trip from cr to panama all without a travel agent and with no screwups.

Roadadvisor and xelas give good advice when they tell you to book direct. I've found the ta hotel search feature to be invaluable in finding the right hotel. I tend to put more focus on quantity rather than quality, but need private bathroom and in cr this roughly translates to $50-$60 per night. Go to the drake bay forum and set the price slider to your budget and then read reviews and amenities of the resulting hotels. That's probably what your travel agent does! As for tours, your hotel can make suggestions and book them for you before you arrive or you can ask fellow travelers what they thought of their tours when you get there.

Don't be shy about asking questions here in the forum and don't forget about the serach feature either! One thing to be wary of is unsolicited private messages. There are a few "participants" here that are paid by various hotels to pm "honest reviews" to people like yourself so be cautious in how you use that info or even better copy and paste it in the forum to validate its authenticity as good advice.

Edited: 29 November 2012, 14:01
San Jose, Costa Rica
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735 posts
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6. Re: Still Searching!

There's a lot of good information above, and I agree w/ a lot of it.

Every hotel and lodge in Drake Bay should be able to book Tracie's tour, and she has her own page (http://www.thenighttour.com/)

However, as a small agency based in Costa Rica, I totally understand why people still use agencies. For one, I never base my decisions on the commission, but on the clients' needs, travel style, and budget. Several hotels I book often pay lousy to nothing commission. They are small, well-regarded and fill up fast on their own. They don't need to pay commission. But if they are great properties and work well for my clients, I will send them there.

Now, I'm a bit different than most "agencies" since I've lived here for 20 years, am a one-person operation, and literally wrote the books... I do not base my selections on TA reviews or their (revenue generating) booking engines, but on first hand knowledge.

Sure folks can spend hours (days) scouring the boards to figure out all the different routes and logistics. But a knowledgeable "agent" on the ground can put all that together in one shot, seemlessly...

For some, booking direct is an excellent option, but others, the value added of using an agent is considerable, since in almost all cases the client's gonna end up paying the same rack rate anyway...

Sorry for the defensive nature, but it struck close to home...

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
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9,702 posts
23 reviews
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7. Re: Still Searching!

I'm with eliot on this one even though I do not work in the travel industry. There is a huge value to using a knowledgeable local agent, especially for a 1st trip to a country or anytime you prefer to travel off the beaten path. Yes there's a ton of info on the internet but not everyone has hours to sort through it all and find those few gems that seem like a perfect fit for them. In addition the websites are not going to tell you that the neighbors are building next door with construction going 24/7 or that the inn might have some issues you might have missed (far from town, lots of stairs, railings and decks unsafe for small children). Tripadvisor reviews are great but I've stayed in a number of small inns that had few or no tripadvisor reviews or were rated low for the area, but turned out to be a perfect fit for us.

I also think that if you already know exactly where you want to stay, you shouldn't involve a middleman but should book directly.

Sounds like a great trip. Please let us hear from you if you have further questions.

Folsom, California
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14 posts
10 reviews
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8. Re: Still Searching!

Thank you. Before reading this, we had decided to do just what you suggest!

9. Re: Still Searching!

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