I was the planner for myself and six girlfriends. We are all 40ish professionals and live in various places around the country. Most of us met in college. We usually plan a big annual girlfriend getaway. We have traveled previously to Jamaica several times, Antigua, Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Cancun, and various other carribbean locations. This was our first Central American trip. As the planner, I was quite nervous. There is always a certain fear of the unknown when renting a villa. We usually stay in all-inclusive resorts. We decided to rent a villa to try something different and to keep the costs down. The villa looks just like the pics on all the rental websites. Something I noticed along the way....a single villa can be listed by several management/rental companies. This villa was posted by Escape Villas, Villasofcostarica.com, VRBO, and a few others I think. They all seemed to post the same rate so I don't know if it really matters which you choose. Escape (Tripp S.) was very professional, answered all my questions, and connected me with a concierge (Jennifer D.) who was actually a short distance from the villa and came to the villa to make our excursion arrangements. One minor difference between the rental companies is the credit cards that they accept. Some only accept Visa. My Visa (Bank of Am) charged a huge 6% fee for this and all other CR charges so this is something to consider if your ccard company has the same fee. I have a gazillion suggestions, but I'll try to keep the list relatively short.
1. You'll need to rent a vehicle. We used Avis since I think they're American. Make sure you reserve an automatic (with GPS) if you can't drive stick. Driving was easy. They drive on the right side of the road like we do. The main roads are all paved and in excellent condition (but no shoulders). The street signs are understandable. The residential areas are mostly gravel roads...bumpy but fine. You'll need 4 wheel drive just in case. If you're a punk, you'll take cabs everywhere.
2. Tell your concierge your interests and let her pick out the excursions. Jennifer hooked us up with Alex's Tours. He is a native and speaks near perfect English. We went to Palo Verde which Jen recommended and Buena Vista. Palo Verde was SUPER AWESOME. It helped having a large group because Jen arranged for us to have our own boat and guides. THIS made an enourmous difference. The other boats had about 30 or so cramped looking ppl. We also did a sunset cruise. Again, we had the boat to ourselves, per Jen's arrangements. It started to storm, and we all fit comfortably under the shelter. The other boats were packed and the men had to sit out in the rain while it thundered and lighteninged (spell check:).
3. Pack lots of snacks. We brought pancake mix, microwave bacon, pringles, mic. popcorn, cookies, grits, cereal, PBJ, and even a soy milk. Be sure to pack it in your checked bagged. There are several restaurants in walking distance too...both casual and a small fancy hotel rest..
4. Bring lots of small bill so you can buy things with exact US$. All the retailers and restaurants take US but usually give change in CR$. Remember, you will be charged huge fees by CCard companies so you have to weigh the risks of having large amounts of cash or paying fees. The house does have several safes. We all used cash for nearly everything. We felt safe everywhere we went.
5. The house comes with a maid, Mercedes, who is there from 6am to 1pm-ish. She is FANTASTIC. She cleans up and even washes your clothes. The house also has a maintanance/pool man, David, who is also there all morning. The two will help you with any needs. There is a night guardsman for the culdesac. He is outside from 6pm-6am. It was great having so many nice and helpful ppl.
5 1/2. Be nosey. We didn't snoop in any of the drawers or cabinets out of respect for the homeowners. We finally looked in one of the drawers and found hundreds of DVDs, books, magazines, batteries for one of the remotes that needed them etc...The house is well equipped, so looked around and you'll find everything you need...It has: nice beach towels, pool toys, cooking utensils, basic spices, basically everything you have in your kitchen, large screen TV, TVs and cable in every bedroom, soap,...
6. Brush up on your middle school Spanish. Most retailers speak a little English...but this ain't Cancun...Very few ppl seemed to speak fluent English.
7. Relax, it will be great. It was our best trip to date....Stop spending so much time reading all these reviews and stop agonizing over planning!
|How easy was it to book the property?||How helpful were the directions to the property?|
|How easy was key pickup/access to the property?||Overall condition of the property|
|Bedding & mattresses||Kitchen & utensils|
|Bathroom cleanliness||Other facilities & amenities|
|Friends getaway||Families with young children|
|Large groups||People with pets|
|Check-in / front desk||Service|
|Check-in / front desk||Service|
|Young singles||Friends getaway|
|A romantic getaway||Older travelers|
|Families with young children||Families with teenagers|
|Luxury-minded travelers||Rugged travelers|