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Apr. 27, 2010 The boys had a blast on the horseback ride, hanging bridges and at the hot springs ---
Tuesday, April 27
 
What a fabulous trip!  Thank you so much for putting together such a memorable experience!
 
Finca Blanca was amazing.  We had a beautiful villa and woke up to such a breathtaking view.  The staff was lovely and we enjoyed being away from the big city.
 
We didn't get to see the volcano, but our trip to Arenal/Fortuna was so much fun nonetheless.  The boys had a blast on the horseback ride, hanging bridges and at the hot springs --- all unique experiences.  Miguel and Alex were wonderful and we saw some great wildlife.
 
Lost Iguana was perfect!  I liked being in "the middle of nowhere." The Celebrity villas are very nice and perfect for families.
 
Lapa Rios was amazing.  My only complaint is that I wish we didn't have to leave so early that Saturday...
 
We did go zip lining at a new place that the hotel arranged for us; another family with young children recommended it and I hope you might be able to send them business in the future.  Very nice people and it seemed safe.
 
The kayaking was cool, too, but it was tough getting back with the strong waves.  We managed and came very close to a group of dolphins! We saw white faced monkeys.
 
The boys took a surf lesson and loved it!  It's perfect for learning there since the water is very warm and shallow.
 
Attached are a few photos.  Thank you again and I hope we can return at some point in the future!!
 
Celeste
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Apr. 22, 2010 The lunch after our whitewater trip,...
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...
 
What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
        The lunch after our whitewater trip, dinner behind the Monteverde lodge under the Tiki lights and candles, finding tarantulas on our night hike at Monteverde

 
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...
        We really felt like VIPs.  Your service was outstanding, the guides were wonderful, and the accommodations great.

 
 
...and what fell short of your expectations?
        Nothing except maybe having several days of the runs

 
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
 
 
 
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
        Possibly the delays that occurred between email exchanges

 
 
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
        Your reputation, then the quality of your proposed packages

 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
        We will always have good memories of Eduardo, our river guide and Diego, our travel guide. They made our days with them thoroughly enjoyable and were a plasure to be around.  Congratulations to Diego on his wedding.

 
Stephen Bowles
 
Thanks again for your feedback!
-

Apr. 21, 2010 . . . that was just a great "Welcome to Costa Rica moment."
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...
 
What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?  
 
We flew into SJ late on Friday night.  I was a bit resistant about being met at 6 a.m. the next day to fly to Tortuguero.  BUT, barely having my eyes open and arriving at the Lodge, being greeted at the dock, enjoying breakfast by 7:30 a.m. looking out over the river, and being in a kayak by 9:00 . . . that was just a great "Welcome to Costa Rica moment."
 
 
 
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had, based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?
 
 
 
...and what fell short of your expectations?
 The portion of our journey to Rincon de la Vieja and the quality of the establishment (Borinquen) fell short.  The park was OK (others in our party liked it more than I did), but the hotel was so far from the park (1.5 - 2 hours each way) and the hotel did meet expectations.  The accommodations were nice enough but the restaurant was pretty sub-standard (service bad, food so-so).

 
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
 
 
 
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
 
 Long delays in getting responses as we worked on the itinerary.

 
 
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
 Your reputation and the fact that we were really close to our departure date.
 
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 
 All CRE people were exceptionally "customer-service" oriented.  Stand-outs include Julian at Tortuguero, all the wait-staff at Monteverde, and though they aren't officially CRE employees, our guide Carlos and driver Max.

 
 
 Carol Goland 



Natalie Ewing

I understand your experience with Borinquen, we use it because it’s the best there is available in the area, but after having been at Tortuga Lodge and Monteverde Lodge I can see how it would be a bit of a downer. I am sending your review to them and asking them to evaluate their restaurant service and overall service ethic.

Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Chief Client Satisfaction Officer

April 27
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Apr. 19, 2010 We would certainly like to return to Costa Rica again.
Dear Priscilla,
 
Just to let you know that we had a wonderful trip.
William was a fabulous guide and excellent company.
We would certainly like to return to Costa Rica again.
Thank you again for your assistance.
Kind regards,
 
 
Lex van Vught
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Apr. 15, 2010 You have a good reputation via Trip Advisor.com as well as travel books.
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?

Watching the cutter ants in the rainforest at Arenal

Pulling off the Pan American highway to see monkeys in the trees! Not sure how the driver spotted them.

What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...

The travel planning phase was far better than I expected. See my notes below.

The travel guides were at the hotel right on time each day to pick us up.  I expected to have to be patient in Costa Rica so this was a wonderful surprise.

Overall, great transportation vehicles.

...and what fell short of your expectations?

When I received our vouchers at the airport the rooming assignments were not correct.

Marco and I had spent a lot of time making sure that for each hotel I had 1 room with a King bed and a second room with 2 beds.  The vouchers simply stated “2 twin beds” for each room.  Yikes! I panicked as we drove to Arenal and had to call back to the planners to ensure the beds were correct.  Please make sure that what is decided upon is actually typed correctly on the voucher.

I would have liked to have had a copy of the final itinerary before we arrived.  Since there were 4 of us traveling and using 2 rooms I would have also liked to have had a second itinerary.


Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?

Nope – we’re still a happy family J


What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?


Lost email communication with Marco my travel planner for a few days.  Once I called by phone and we reconnected via email planning moved forward again.


What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?

You have a good reputation via Trip Advisor.com as well as travel books.
However, the deciding personal factor is the positive experience I had during the initial trip planning stage.  You have a great business model of enabling customer input throughout the process to determine the trip cost.  Most travel agents say “Here are the activities you want to do, here are the hotels I suggest… boom – here’s the price.”  Instead, you tell me about hotel prices ranges and what to expect, then I get to choose the price range before you select the final hotel.  I felt informed and I felt like my input mattered when making the final activities list, hotel arrangements, and ultimately the price.  I really wish other travel agents had the same level of cooperation that you do.  I love how you do business! Thank- you!  
 
If you ever decide to expand beyond Costa Rica, please let me know. I’d love to use your services again in the future.
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?


Marco was great at planning

Travel guides were wonderful; especially the guide who rode with us from Monteverde to Tamarindo. He worked for another company but you paid for his guide services apparently.  He was very knowledgeable in many areas of Costa Rica and spoke great English so we had a great discussion during such a long drive.


What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?


CR expeditions actually gives you planning and price choices with alternatives when planning your itinerary.  They are great at listening to your travel likes and dislikes to ensure a good experience.

Thanks again for your feedback!

Susan Burke
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Apr. 13, 2010 First, we had THE BEST TIME and can’t thank you, Douglas and Marcos enough for putting together the most memorable vacation we’ve had as a family.
Thanks so much for your note and I apologize for the delay in responding.  All the fun I had while I was away put me behind on some projects.
 
First, we had THE BEST TIME and can’t thank you, Douglas and Marcos enough for putting together the most memorable vacation we’ve had as a family.  The long drive was just a slight blip on an otherwise SPECTACULAR 9 days away.  I did have a chance to call Douglas and personally thank him already.  As you may (or may not) know I was a last minute phone call to plan the whole vacation on a referral from David Fein.  Douglas was patient, attentive and put his heart into our desires.
 
Please tell your wife that I really enjoyed visiting with her by the coffee bar before you left.  I never would have figured warming the milk on my own.
 
Please feel free to use us as a reference if ever necessary (but ask before you publish anything).
 
Again, muchos gracias for everything!!!
 
 
Steve Horowitz
 
PS  Do you really want pictures???
 
 
PLEASE GIVE US FEEDBACK  (Thanks in advance!)

As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
The rainforest in Torteguero was amazing and being able to share everything with my whole family (including my 4 year old daughter) was fantastic.  Since she could only hike limited distances the ability to see everything by boat and kayak was magnificent.

What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...
The monkey’s swinging for the trees all around us, “toucan Sam” (my daughter loves fruit loops) in a tree while we were swimming and the dinner out on the point for our family.  Your staff, from Douglas to Marcos to EVERYONE at the Tortuga Lodge were above and beyond nice!


...and what fell short of your expectations?
In all seriousness, the only moment of “stress” was the 2.5 hours from the rafting to the boat ride.  

Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
I still like my wife and kids if that’s what you’re asking J

What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
Thought I might not have given Douglas enough time to put everything together (10 days or so).

What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
Recommendation from a friend that you were reliable.
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
Everyone from the people who handled our transfers, to the chambermaids at the lodge…everyone was pleasant, helpful and a joy to be with.  Additionally, your graciousness when we talked about the van ride was most appreciated.


What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?  

CRE is professional, friendly and deliver on what was promised.  One other thing…there were a number of things I told Douglas I cared about and didn’t even remember that I had until I was experiencing the activity.  By example…we had lunch in town with a family at their home in Tortegeuro.  FANTASTIC experience taken from my comment that I wanted to spend some time with true Costa Ricans out of the “hotel” environment.

Thanks again for your feedback!
Steve Horowitz
 
-

Apr. 13, 2010 To Our Beautiful, Smart, Wonderful, Lovely, Sofiaaaaaaaa (sing it loud!),
To Our Beautiful, Smart, Wonderful, Lovely, Sofiaaaaaaaa (sing it loud!),
 
I just wanted to thank you so much for the experience of a lifetime in Costa Rica!
There was so much I wanted to say at the airport but if I opened my mouth I would
have started crying like a baby!!  I never thought it would be so hard to say goodbye
to you.  You have become part of our family.
 
Your passion for what you do and your love of nature was so inspiring and such a
positive influence on our kids.  We were all so impressed by your knowledge of every
subject from sloths to irrigation--is there anything you do not know?  Your patience
and joyful personality was a pleasure to live with each day.  Thank you for putting up
with the kids' crazy eating habits, all the picture-taking and the fighting in the van.
We will all miss you so much!!
 
Unfortunately, it sounds as though the missing money is going to stay missing so we
will work on getting the well-deserved money to you as soon as possible.
 
Please keep in touch and of course, if you ever want to see New York City, you have
an open invitation to visit us!  All the best to you--
 
Lots of love,
 
Tina
 
And, of course, Matt, Morgan, Julia and Rowan too!)
 
P.S. We will email you some pictures soon.
-

Apr. 12, 2010 We were totally blown away by the candlelight dinner on the lawn our last evening.
Dear Michael,
 
We enjoyed meeting you in Tortugeuro and sharing some of our impressions about our tour.  Thank you for stopping by and chatting with us.  We are delighted to participate by giving you more feedback about our experience.
 
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...
 
What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
 
We enjoyed all the locations and lodgings, but the experience at Tortugeuro took our breath away.  We were touched by the greeting we received at the dock and the send-off at the dock.  The remote location contributed to the sense of community with the staff.  We enjoyed the surprise of the chocolate liquor and the swan towels when we returned to our room.  We were totally blown away by the candlelight dinner on the lawn our last evening.  It was romantic and magical.  The food was delicious, too!  We loved living amongst the iguanas, crocodiles, toucans, and the long-nosed bats, an experience we had never had before.  
 
We loved experiencing the four locations.  Driving up to Monteverde from San Jose was fascinating.  Maurizio stopped whenever he spotted some wildlife and continually talked about the trees and vegetation.  Walking through the cloud forest in Monteverde with Samuel as our guide was wonderous.  We even got a glimpse of the Resplendent Quetzal, male and female!  We had an interesting conversation with Samuel about the value of zoos.  We brought the perspective of the Albuquerque zoo docent to the discussion, promoting the value of zoos in educating people about the fragility of our planet, the impact of the loss of habitat on many species and the role zoos play with breeding programs of endangered species.
 
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...
 
We have dreamed of visiting Costa Rica for years, fascinated by your country's devotion to preserving our planet, eager to experience the multiple ecosystems, wide variety of flora and fauna, a country with no military...  In our research we read about Costa Rica Expeditions and were impressed, thinking that we had found a company that would meet our needs.  We wanted to learn as much as we could, we wanted to feel safe and secure, we wanted to see as much wildlife as was possible.  In all of our previous travel, we have traveled alone, in all but 2 times making all or our arrangements.  This was the first time that we joined a scheduled, all-encompassing tour with other people.  We wondered ahead of time how it would be for us.   
 
You met and exceeded our expectations!  We will never forget Maurizio.  From the moment he met us he took care of us in a way that we had not anticipated.  His punctuality, attentiveness to every detail, driving ability, flexibility, sense of humor, concern for the individual needs of each member of our group, and his wildlife expertise were extraordinary. The van was immaculate and we all teased him when it got dirty.   We can't come up with a single complaint about Maurizio! We felt so safe and cared for beyond our expectations.
 
Unexpectedly we needed to have laundry done at Tortuga Lodge.  Not only was it handled easily and in a timely way, but when we went to settle our account, we were told that we would not be charged for the laundry service.  That totally surprised us.
 
In every guide book about Costa Rica, we read that one should not go there for the food, with rice and beans at every meal.  Now we do like rice and beans (though not at every meal) and we love good food, we were more than willing to sacrifice food to have the other experiences of Costa Rica.  On your tour almost all the food was extraordinarily good.  That really surprised us.  We are not accustomed to eating 3 meals a day and while in CR we became eager for each meal.  There were a few criticisms about the food: when we arrived at Tortuguero Lodge and the staff realized that 3 of us did not eat meat, they served shrimp that were delicious but a bit overcooked;  and the food at Arenal Manoa was not up to the standards of Monteverde Lodge or Tortuga Lodge.  We loved the food at the restaurant near Arenal Manoa that Maurizio took us to.
 
...and what fell short of your expectations?
 
Maurizio set very high standards and so we were a bit disappointed  by a few of the guides.  Carlos, who took us on a twilight tour of the Ecological Farm in Monteverde, was an excellent spotter.  But he got a little impatient at times and overused the expression "my friends."  The young woman (cannot recall   her name) who guided us on the hanging bridges in Arenal was very nice but   young and inexperienced, and seemed more interested in learning English from us than directing us to observe the flora and fauna around us.  In Tortuguero, we took a boat ride to the village and walked back along the beach, having been told by our guide that it would take 45 minutes to an hour.  We thought he misled us since it was a very long walk of about an hour and a half, and we found the beach dirty and difficult to walk on.  We know that you are not responsible for the upkeep of the beach.  And, though the Arenal Manoa cottages and landscaping were beautiful, our cottage had its problems, including a sink stopper that did not work (we needed to hand wash some of our clothes).  Also, it was a bit annoying that we were in the only room where the room "key" had to be inserted into a receptacle in order for anything electrical in the room to function.  That included the air conditioning.  The food at Arenal Manoa was inferior to the other places we stayed at.  
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
 
That is a great question.  As we mentioned we had never traveled with a group before.  We initially found everyone to be interesting, bright, eager to learn and experience all that was being presented to us.  That initial assessment was accurate.  We had a little bit of trouble with one member, a young woman much younger that the rest of us who could not stop talking about herself, her experiences and the wildlife we were seeing.  She is very bright and knew a great deal but she rushed in to answer all questions, even those not directed at her.  It was tiresome.  But when the trip was completed, we remember her with compassion, realizing that she may have been compensating for a certain amount of insecurity.
 
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
 
This was not an issue.  We never doubted our decision.  Instinctively, we had a very good feeling about Costa Rica Expeditions.
 
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?  
 
We liked your itinerary very much.  We read reviews on Trip Advisor which were mostly positive.  Your website was appealing.  The pre-trip blogs that we received reinforced our confidence in the company and its philosophy.   
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 
Maurizio is a wonderful guide, and he exceeded our expectations.   We were so pleased to meet Michael Kaye, and were impressed that he took the time to meet our group and to discuss our experience on the tour.  Priscilla has always been pleasant to interact with, but she has not always been timely in her responses.   We wrote her an e-mail after our return, and we still have not heard back from her.   
 
What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when   they come to Costa Rica?  (Please type it as if you were talking to them.)
 
This is a company that you can trust and must travel with!   The food, lodging, itinerary, and guides are first-rate.  The pacing of the trip was pitch-perfect, providing intensive wildlife watching and activities, in addition to downtime to relax.  The activities were varied, ranging from van travel through beautiful countryside, hot tubs, boat trips, cocktails by the poolside, an insect and butterfly exhibition, and other surprises.   We felt that we received an authentic overview of the country, though there is so much left to see.  We cannot wait to return and to travel with Costa Rica Expeditions!
 
Thanks again for your feedback!
 
 
 Patricia Grossman and Vicki Mitchell
-

Apr. 12, 2010 PLEASE GIVE US FEEDBACK (Thanks in advance!)
We had a wonderful trip – see comments below…
 
Thank you for everything you did to make our trip so memorable!
 
Betsy
 
 

 
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...
 
What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
 
We absolutely loved the variety of countryside – beach, mountains, jungle, rainforest, volcano, cloudforest, rivers, mangroves etc.  It was so amazing to see all of these different climates and areas and feel like to experienced the highlights of each.
 
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had, based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?
 
We really didn’t appreciate the number of birds that Costa Rica has and it was fun to see the large variety!  We loved our safari in Arenal and the visit to Don Pedro’s home was truly incredible.  We did get lucky in that Don Pedro’s grandson was our guide on the safari, so that was very memorable.  The hot springs were beyond our expectations and so was the canopy tour.
 
...and what fell short of your expectations?
 
I think the only thing that fell short was the number of mammals that we saw – especially at Manual Antonio and in Monteverde.  We were under the impression (I’m not sure why) that we’d see monkeys, sloths, cats and other mammals everywhere.  We saw a lot, but many were far away or sleeping.  Also, there were few mammals in Monteverde.  Once we reoriented our expectations all was well.
 
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
 
Nope, we went with our immediate family and it was just great!
 
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
 
There was nothing that had us thinking about not travelling with you.  I guess the only reservation I had was “do we need a travel service”?  I thought we might be able to organize this trip on our own.  But, I ran into concerns and problems and therefore called you guys.  After the trip it was VERY clear that travelling with you was the way to go!
 
 
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
The most important thing was a recommendation from a friend.  The 2nd most important thing was having Nadya explain to us why some things were recommended and others were not.  It was very clear that Costa Rica expeditions has very high standards for the companies they recommend.  This was very much appreciated.
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 
We were thrilled with the promptness of Costa Rica Expeditions.  We’d heard all about “costa Rican time” and the need for Americans to relax and not be so uptight.  As a result, it was really awesome to have your drivers at our hotel exactly when they said they would be there.  We also really appreciated the daily check in to confirm pick up times and any potential changes.  The only real issue we had was in Arenal – our safari pick up was before breakfast opened at our hotel.  However, this worked great as our safari guide took us to a local restaurant/store and we picked up his favorite breakfast for the family and off we went.  It was wonderful to experience that.  The other confusion was on our last day – driving into San Jose.  Our original itinerary said a 2pm pick up.  Our fax confirmation was messy and unclear.  I called and spoke with CR Expeditions and they confirmed a 12pm pick up.  We were ready to go at 12pm and no one was there.  At 12:30 I called CR Expeditions and your department said we had a 2pm pickup.  I told the person I was speaking with that we had a 12pm confirmed pick up.  He said he’s send someone right away – probably about 10 mintues.  After 15 minutes we got a call from you saying that there was an accident on the road and the drive couldn’t get through.  We really appreciated that call as it allowed us to have lunch.  We were finally picked up at 1:30.  That was our only hiccup.
 
 
What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?
 
I would tell my friend exactly what our friends told us.  “Everything that Costa Rica Expeditions did for us turned out to be exactly as advertised – the tours, the hotels, the transportation – everything.  We were never disappointed.  Also, I’d highly recommend using them because of the research they do with tour companies and with the hotel.  Finally – our vacation was totally stress free because we had a driver and a guide for everything.  This allowed us to enjoy the country, look out the window, talk to our kids, ask questions and be sure that when we stopped at a local restaurant that it’d be ok to eat there.  It’s definitely worth it and I’d highly recommend Costa Rica Expeditions!”.
 
Thanks again for your feedback!
 
-

Apr. 10, 2010 PLEASE GIVE US FEEDBACK (Thanks in advance!)
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
 
We think it was the special attention we received  from the Hotel staff during our stay  at Tortuguero and Monteverde Lodges.  They treated us like Roalty.  We are humble people, however, it was great to have all that attention.  The guides were also noteworthly in their attention to detail, helping us with photos, and generally making the trours special for us.




What were surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...

 
The service we received from your staff and tour guides.


...and what fell short of your expectations?
 
We don't think there was any part of the trip that fell short of our expectations.


Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
 

No!


What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
 
We don't think there was one

What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?

The nice article we read from our local paper "The Register" (Orange County California) in regards to Monteverde and the recomendation as far as places to stay.  You were the place they recomended the most.
 
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 
House keeping at Tortuguero was exceptional, along with the young lady who checked us into the hotel and showed us to our room.  The waiters  were also gracious at Tortugero Lodge, amoung other things, noting we had become friends with another couple there and prepared tables for the four of us during the time we were there together.  While at Monteverde Lodge, one particular waiter his name is Jorge, he was extremely polite and courteous and the night before we departed he prepared a candelight dinner for us.  We couldn't it believe it!!  You guys went above and beyond our expectations and made our 30th Anniversary even more special and we appreciate it very much!


What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?

 
We recommend Costa Rica Expeditions highly don't even think about doing business with anybody else if going to Costa Rica.  The tour guides were knowledgable and accomodating, the service and staff were SUPERB, the food was delicious and had the opportunity to meet the chef and Manager, his name is Valentin Corral  and thanks to him we had an exceptional wedding celebration.
 
Jim & Zenaida



Thanks again for your feedback!
-

Apr. 10, 2010 PLEASE GIVE US FEEDBACK (Thanks in advance!)
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...
 
What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?

Costa Rica is a beautiful country, so there's not much to add to that.  The color, the climate, and topography all complement each other and make the experience tranquil.  Of course, the visit to Peninsula Osa was the most breath-taking and relaxing. There is really nothing like being able to listen to changing sounds of the ocean running up to the shore or to take cool showers and drink warm beverages at midday to cool down.  Similarly, the coffee plantation, Finca Rosa Blanca, with shade and sloping grounds and stunning views of the Heredia valley are unforgettable.  
 
 
 
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...

I have never used a travel service before, but I was pleasantly surprised by how prompt and courteous the service was.  Our escorts were knowledgeable and we didn't have to worry about renting a car, driving into places not knowing where to park or where we were going with any confidence.  I particularly enjoyed the views from the small chartered plane we took to Osa.  It was great way to see a lot of Costa Rica and the variety it has to offer.
 
 
 ...and what fell short of your expectations?

Communication with La Leona Lodge, where we stayed, seemed a bit confused, but I think  that was their issue and not your services.  This isn't a criticism, however. The service provided by your company was so good that we were spoiled and so it's unfair to criticize the lodge, which is definitely more relaxed about these kinds of details.  Plus, we weren't in any hurry.
 
 
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?

No.
 
 
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?

 There was some initial confusion in my communications with the person creating the itinerary and I think that was the result of the questionnaire, which, while thorough, also records conflicting intentions.  Now that I know how your service works, I can offer more specific information the next time we travel there.
 
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?

Your service came highly recommended from two tour books.
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 
 No one disappointed us or created a negative impression. Everyone was extremely professional and inspired confidence.
 
What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?  

Use this service.  They are prompt, courteous, and honest about what they can do and what parts of the country you'd like to see.
 

 Tim
-

Apr. 7, 2010 I would highly recommend they use you as it was seamless, worry free, and well done.
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?

We saw a lot of wildlife daily and this was great. We also really enjoyed the hot springs near the arenal volcano (although all of our activites were great)

What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...

the hot springs near arenal, the hotel arenas del mar, the hotel lost iguana,

...and what fell short of your expectations?

nothing

Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?

no (traveled with my family)

What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?

at the travel clinic when we had to get many immunizations

What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?

the recommendation by national geographic website

What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?

all the personel-guides, drivers, etc- were very good and friendly, Samuel at Monteverde rain forest was very good, Carlos on the river raft guide (arenal area) was very good too .

What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?

I would highly recommend they use you as it was seamless, worry free, and well done.


- Christine M. Hayes

Apr. 7, 2010 I would highly recommend they use you as it was seamless, worry free, and well done.
 As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...
 What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
We saw a lot of wildlife daily and this was great.  We also really enjoyed the hot springs near the arenal volcano (although all of our activites were great)
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...
the hot springs near arenal, the hotel arenas del mar, the hotel lost iguana,
...and what fell short of your expectations?
nothing
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
no (traveled with my family)
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
at the travel clinic when we had to get many immunizations
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 the recommendation by national geographic website
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 all the personel-guides, drivers, etc- were very good and friendly, Samuel at Monteverde rain forest was very good, Carlos on the river raft guide (arenal area) was very good too .
What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?
I would highly recommend they use you as it was seamless, worry free, and well done.
 Christine M. Hayes
-

Apr. 7, 2010 We have traveled in 22 different countries and we have never met devoted people like your staff.
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

The best!

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?

The people that work at Tortugero Lodge are the best.  We have traveled in 22 different countries and we have never met devoted people like your staff.  Everybody is great.  I won’t name anybody, because from the boat driver, waiters, room maintenance, reception, EVERYBODY was exceptional and REAL.  At night we were having a drink, and somebody came and got us to show us a special snake.  He did not need to do it.  I am sure it was normal to him, but he took the time to show us and explain us.

A perfect mention to everybody and a 10 stars review to Wilmar that gave us an amazing service.


What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...

It was a lot of work to organize the dinner on beside the water and it seems like nothing is a problem.  The Chief Cook was talking to us, waiters so patient,…We felt part of them.

...and what fell short of your expectations?

NOTHING


Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?


What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?

 It felt complicated to get to Tortugero, but it was not.


What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
The review on trip advisor and the great response to my questions by email
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?


What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?  (Please type it as if you were talking to them.)

If you go to Tortugero, you go to Tortuga Lodge.  No other option.  It is a lifetime experience.

Karine Gauthier
-

Apr. 5, 2010 They made sure we had a spectacularly good time.
I have attached answers to your questions - the trip was great. Thanks!
 
What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
 
We loved everything about Monteverde, especially the Lodge, and we loved the jungle hike at Lost Iguana (1.5 hour hike around the property).  The river trip was also special for us.
 
 
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...
 
Everything went unbelievable smoothly – drivers and guides were exactly on time, we were expected wherever we went, and everyone was very friendly.  It was a little like summer camp!  The hotels were lovely.
 
 
...and what fell short of your expectations?
 
The Marriott Guanacasta was the least favorite part of the trip – too isolated, no Costa Rican influence, and too far from the town.  Also, the food at the hotel was not very good.  I also wish we had been told we could purchase our departure tax form before we went to the airport – that was almost a disaster.
 
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?  Actually, my 18 year old son surprised me by actually doing everything we had planned, and seeming to enjoy it.
 
 
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?  Sending a charge card authorization and not getting vouchers or receipts until we arrived.
 
 
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
You picked the same hotels I had already selected, plus did all the reservations and the driving for a reasonable price.
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 
Everyone was wonderful.  Patricia Jimenez was special.  She was organized and responsive despite working on short notice and having me change things a few times.
 
What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?
 
You should contact Costa Rica Expeditions and let them take care of everything for you.  They know the country, they have contacts everywhere, and they are very careful about who and what they offer you.  They made sure we had a spectacularly good time.  Every activity fit into its assigned time slot perfectly, everyone knew what he was doing, and everyone was always exactly on time.  They will adjust your trip to your price guidelines, and they are very reasonable.  I recommend them most highly.
 
Carolyn Levin 



Natalie Ewing

I have taken note of your comments about the JW Marriott. We get mixed reviews of this property, some guests love it and some really don't enjoy the style. I am going review our description of the place and see if I can write a better description of the property so that we can give a more accurate image of the place.

Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer

April 09, 2010
-

Apr. 2, 2010 I was glad we did not have to navigate the roads and could just enjoy the views.
Dear Costa Rica Expeditions,
 
It is not possible to fill out the form that you provided using my e-mail program but I did want to communicate the following.
 
First, our CRE trip was a marvelous experience and we give you and all the staff high marks for filling all our expectations.  Particular thanks to Jose Huertes for his patience and help in planning our itinerary.
 
We thoroughly enjoyed the destinations that we chose (Monteverde, Tortuguero and Arenal) and the guided experiences there.  We were particularly interested in birding and saw lots of new species.
 
The Monteverde and Tortuguero hotels were lovely and the staff did everything possible to enhance our visit.  The food was great at both locations.  The Arenal Observatory Lodge was more run-of-the-mill with disinterested staff but the view from the Smithsonian rooms more than made up for the lack of amenities.  The food at Arenal was disappointing, very Americanized and poorly done at that.
 
We were very impressed with the transportation/pick-up service.  It was always prompt and everything worked perfectly.  The service guides were friendly, safe drivers and I was glad we did not have to navigate the roads and could just enjoy the views.  All of the folks we met whose tours were arranged by your company were pleased with the professionalism of everyone with whom they came in contact and the services provided.
 
As for anything that could be improved, I'd suggest that CRE provide more information on the tour options available in each area.  For example, I would have swapped the Arenal Hanging Bridges tour for something else because of an aversion to heights.  My fault for not doing research on this location but I think your web site might be improved by giving guests more information about available tours.  I also think you should have a toll-free number to contact CRE.  I almost chose not to explore your tours because of this limitation and only pursued your company because of a friend's recommendation.
 
Thanks again to CRE and Jose for a memorable trip.  I would highly recommend CRE to a friend.
 
Kathleen and Alan Nauss 



Natalie Ewing

…I also made a note that you would have liked more information about the activities that are available in each location. Just yesterday we had a meeting where we were putting together a plan to inspect and write up reports on the different activities that are available. This can be tricky because a lot of the tours require inspections by personnel that is trained for specific safety inspections. The good news is that we are working on it and appreciate your feedback because it reaffirms that we are working in the right direction.

As far as a toll-free number, we tried it a couple of years ago and literally had to turn it off about two days after we put it to use because it didn’t stop ringing! Our problem is that if we have a toll free number, we would have to have staff that is uniquely qualified to man the phones and they require the same skill set of a travel planner. I’m sure that after traveling in Costa Rica you can appreciate that it takes a long time to train a person. If our travel planners have to answer unscheduled phone calls we just wouldn’t be able to do the work! What we do now is screen the requests so that when they are very likely to confirm a Travel Planner can schedule phone calls on an as needed basis. I would love to be able to do a toll free number properly, but I think it will take a few years before we get there. ….

Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer

April 09, 2010
-

Apr. 1, 2010 This was truly a magical vacation ...
April 01, 2010 6:29 PM

 
Michael,   This was a wonderful rip  especially Turtuga Lodge ...it was not as fancy as the others but the heart and compassion of the entire staff was soooo important.  It was our absolute favorite  place...other places quite nice  Si Como No ...lovely but the guides were mediocre   the Cloud forest was GREAT with David, Arturo and Elena...so passionate...The gentleman who organized the trip was very accommodating and responsive...Michael knows his name ( my husband ) I am worried about Harry ?  he had a cellulitus brewing in his heel  ( Turtuga Lodge )   I hope he is ok...Please let us know he is ok ...This was truly a magical vacation ...Thank you so very  much ...We wish you the  best!! And we will be working with you again  !!!!!
 
 "Sam" and Mike Donahue



Natalie Ewing

….I called Tortuga Lodge to see how Harry’s heel was doing and Julian tells me that Harry came to San Jose and went to the doctor. He was given treatment for his heel and is now feeling much better….

Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer

April 06, 2010
-

Mar. 31, 2010 If you are going to CR and you don't want to drive (and you really don't want to) and also would like help with your itinerary, contact CRE.
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
1. Tortuguero- flying on the charter plane on a beautiful day and being met at the airport by the hotel mgr and boat driver and then greeted by the hotel staff and ushered to a wonderful breakfast... memorable

2. Our guide, Carlos, with Sunset tours in Arenal.  His tour was great and the story of his wife fleeing Nicaragua was memorable.
3. Seeing quetzals, sloths and the monkeys.  Also, the morpho and the orange kneed tarantula at night.  Especially the monkeys on the beach at Manuel Antonio going through our bags.
4. The canyon rapelling in Arenal and zip lining in Los Suenos.
5. Rainbows from the plane.
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...

I thought the guides on all of our trips were not only extremely knowledgeable about nature and spotting wildlife, but were genuinely enthusiastic about their jobs.  They were also willing to share alot about CR, their lives, etc..  As a result, we learned much more than I anticipated about nature and the people in CR.


...and what fell short of your expectations?

I would say my biggest disappointment was garbage along the side of the road, especially the highways closer to the coast.  Not that we don't have it here, I just didn't think I would see as much in a country that promotes and relies on ecotourism.


Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?

No.

What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?

As for Costa Rica Expeditions (I think that is what you mean... not about going to CR in general), your website needs improvement.  I have jumbled print that makes it hard to read and fill out your questionnaire.  I'm not sure if I mentioned this to Priscilla Jimenez but it doesn't give a good first impression.
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
I felt I couldn't figure out where we wanted to go in CR and, more importantly, how to get from one place to another.  I knew we didn't want to drive.  When Priscilla Jimenez contacted me, it made the planning simple.
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
All the CRE people we came in contact with-drivers, pilots, etc.- were excellent.  Also, the tour guides which you arranged were all terrific.

What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica ?  (Please type it as if you were talking to them.)
If you are going to CR and you don't want to drive (and you really don't want to)  and also would like help with your itinerary, contact CRE.  They are excellent.  All our pickups were on time with friendly, knowledgeable people who were willing to provide information.  The drivers were also very safety conscious which is important on the mountain roads.  Our itinerary was just what we wanted... alot of action and sightseeing.  But CRE also understands when and where you want downtime, and will incorporate that into the schedule.

Thanks again for your feedback!

 Koster Family
-

Mar. 31, 2010 It is pricey but you are extremely well treated.
Dear Jacqueline,
 
What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
 
Arenal had been constantly shrouded in clouds until our last night and it appeared in the middle of the night in the moonlight.  Then soon after 6am, it exploded!  What a sight .. and a noise!  
 
The beauty, variety and richness of nature:  dry, cloud and rain forests, the green hills of the center when one goes over the divide.  The diversity of the trees in blossom.

What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...
 
What surprised me is that it all came up to our expectations!

...and what fell short of your expectations?
 
We expected more walking in the forests.  Maybe because of our age (71) and the fact that I had mentioned being a slow walker, Marco limited our physical exercise.  In fact, slowly, I can go a long way.
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
We never travelled with other people.


What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
None

What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?  
 Your unanimous reputation.
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
They exceeded it.  Marco Hernandez was very flexible in making changes.  Alex Lopez and Fernando (our driver) were eager to cater to our smallest desires.  They scouted the towns to find restaurants we would enjoy for lunch, especially places with Costa Rican food.

What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come toCosta Rica?  (Please type it as if you were talking to them.)
 
If you want a trip without any worry, go with Costa Rica Expeditions.  It is pricey but you are extremely well treated.  They offer a great variety of activities, especially if you are into rafting (which is not our thing.) or interested in the local fauna (snakes, butterflies, frogs, etc).  Your trip will be tailored to your desires and you have a good chance to have a very knowledgeable guide.  The lodge in Monteverde is very pleasant and offers delicious meals.  We were even treated to a Romantic dinner by the pond in the garden.  It was lovely.


Thanks again for your feedback!

 Jacqueline Simmons
-

Mar. 30, 2010 Our guide and the guides in the kayaks made us feel very safe while we were enjoying a very exciting raft trip.
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?

The ZIP line tour was fantastic. Everybody on staff was excellent. I felt safety was a high priority, but they made sure you had a great ride. I wasn't expecting it to have so many different cables. The water break and fruit at the end was a nice touch. The facilities and equipment were top notch.

The white water rafting was excellent also. Our guide and the guides in the kayaks made us feel very safe while we were enjoying a very exciting raft trip. Our guide was wonderful about pointing out birds and animals and telling us about the area we were floating through. The area was absolutely gorgeous. The raft trip tied with the zip line tour as everyone's favorite activity.

Our driver and guide excelled at finding and pointing out wild life. They were really nice people, who made sure we had the best trip we could.

What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...

Being driven around was very relaxing. Since the schedule was so hectic, we would have been exhausted if we had tried to do this trip on our own. I never expected to see so many animals and varied plants. Costa Rica is a beautiful country.

...and what fell short of your expectations?

The tour group that offered the snorkeling trip was not up to par with the other groups you worked with. The one hour boat ride was excruciating. It was monotonous, tiring to be bounced so hard, and since there was very little shade - a recipe for sun burn. The itinerary made this sound like either a sail boat or a whale watching boat. It was neither. I believe we could have driven farther south and had a shorter boat ride. If there is no chance of seeing whales, this would preferable. The snorkeling off the boat was in a very crowded area. Although the guides tried to be helpful about what fish were seeing, it was too awkward. My children had never snorkeled before and there was no instruction offered. At the beach the lunch provided was only adequate. It did not meet the standards of the other lunches. Sanitizing gel should have been offered, since there was no way to wash on the island. The water was gorgeous and it was nice to get out on it.

You REALLY need to update the itinerary. The guide told us it had not been updated since the tour was created. Since we picked this tour based on the itinerary, it should be as accurate as possible.

Checking into the Punta Leona took about 30 minutes. This should not have taken so long. Surely some things could have been arranged ahead of time.

Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?

Not really. We enjoyed spending time with each other.


What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?

Not being able to give blood for a year after visiting Costa Rica. This tour had a lot of activities. I was afraid it was too much. There were too many early mornings, but it was very relaxing to be driven from place to place.

What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?

My contact setting up the trip, Luis, was wonderful to work with. He answered all of my questions and helped us decide which trip we should go on.

I liked that all the meals and activities were included in the tour price. I like going with a locally owned company instead of one based in the U.S. The cost of the tour was cheaper than Wilderness Travel's tour.

The length of this tour was just the right number of days. It also was during the time when our children were on spring break.

What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?

Only the tour group that offered the snorkeling fell short of our expectations.

Richardo and our driver exceeded our expectations, and I had high expectations. They stopped at a super market so we could buy Pops ice cream, mangoes, and souvenirs. This helped because some of our luggage was late arriving, so Jeff had to buy shorts also. Richardo and Costa Rica Expeditions worked with American Airlines to make sure our luggage got to us as quickly as it could. They were experts at spotting birds and animals. Richardo's pictures were fantastic. All of his wildlife pictures were better than mine. Getting the rafting pictures was great also. It was great that they were included in the price. That was a very nice touch.

What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?

Costa Rica Expeditions offers great tours at a great price. You'll love Costa Rica.

Janet Lister
- Janet Lister

Mar. 30, 2010 We loved the family style meals, the other guests and the open, friendly staff.
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
 
We absolutely LOVED Aguila de Osa.  We loved the family style meals, the other guests and the open, friendly staff.  We still talk about many of the staff and how wonderful they were.


What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...

We got put in the Xandari because of some reservation problem.  Boy, was that nice!!


...and what fell short of your expectations?

We were booked on a river rafting trip that had Class 4 and 5 rapids.  Our kids are 11 and 13.  The guides felt this was not safe.  We agreed and switched to the Savegre river.  It was not a huge problem, but confusing and different expectations.

Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?

No.

What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?

Found you on the internet, not sure if you were legit.

What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
 Rave reviews.
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?


All were routinely excellent.


What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?  (Please type it as if you were talking to them.)


CRE makes your trip so easy and relaxing. you are in good hands, and all you need to do is enjoy.

Thanks again for your feedback!

 Jessica Daily
-

Mar. 30, 2010 I think Costa Rica expeditions has the best naturalist guides. As well as a reputation for providing quality service.

...and what fell short of your expectations?

the portion of our vacation at  Punta Islita was way too hot for our liking. We like to be able to walk and do things other than just lie on the beach, but it was too hot to do anything other than sit in the shade. I would not go back there again. We loved the nature at Arenal and Monteverdi and hope to return there.


What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
I had been on a previous Costa Rica Expeditions trip and had been very impressed with the caliber of the naturalist guide and how well organized the trip was.
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?

 Our naturalist guide William Granados was excellent. He was very knowledgeable and very organized. He showed considerable attention to detail and acted like he really cared about us. He went above and beyond -- for example purchasing some ginger and honey so that the hotel could make my sister some ginger tea to help with her cold. Our driver Fernando was also excellent. I would definitely use Costa Rica Expeditions again and would ask for William if he were available.

What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?

 I think Costa Rica expeditions has the best naturalist guides. As well as a reputation for providing quality service.

Thanks again for your feedback!

Glenna de Haan
-

Mar. 30, 2010 Our guide and the guides in the kayaks made us feel very safe while we were enjoying a very exciting raft trip.
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
 
The ZIP line tour was fantastic.  Everybody on staff was excellent.  I felt safety was a high priority, but they made sure you had a great ride.  I wasn't expecting it to have so many different cables.  The water break and fruit at the end was a nice touch.  The facilities and equipment were top notch.
 
The white water rafting was excellent also.  Our guide and the guides in the kayaks made us feel very safe while we were enjoying a very exciting raft trip.  Our guide was wonderful about pointing out birds and animals and telling us about the area we were floating through.  The area was absolutely gorgeous.  The raft trip tied with the zip line tour as everyone's favorite activity.
 
Our driver and guide excelled at finding and pointing out wild life.  They were really nice people, who made sure we had the best trip we could.

What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...
 

Being driven around was very relaxing.  Since the schedule was so hectic, we would have been exhausted if we had tried to do this trip on our own.  I never expected to see so many animals and varied plants.  Costa Rica is a beautiful country.

...and what fell short of your expectations?
 

 The tour group that offered the snorkeling trip was not up to par with the other groups you worked with.  The one hour boat ride was excruciating.  It was monotonous, tiring to be bounced so hard, and since there was very little shade - a recipe for sun burn.  The itinerary made this sound like either a sail boat or a whale watching boat.  It was neither.  I believe we could have driven farther south and had a shorter boat ride.  If there is no chance of seeing whales, this would preferable.  The snorkeling off the boat was in a very crowded area.  Although the guides tried to be helpful about what fish were seeing, it was too awkward.  My children had never snorkeled before and there was no instruction offered.  At the beach the lunch provided was only adequate.  It did not meet the standards of the other lunches.  Sanitizing gel should have been offered, since there was no way to wash on the island.  The water was gorgeous and it was nice to get out on it.
 
You REALLY need to update the itinerary.  The guide told us it had not been updated since the  tour was created.  Since we picked this tour based on the itinerary, it should be as accurate as possible.

Checking into the Punta Leona took about 30 minutes.  This should not have taken so long.  Surely some things could have been arranged ahead of time.
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
 

Not really.  We enjoyed spending time with each other.


What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
 

Not being able to give blood for a year after visiting Costa Rica.  This tour had a lot of activities.  I was afraid it was too much.  There were too many early mornings, but it was very relaxing to be driven from place to place.
 

What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
My contact setting up the trip, Luis, was wonderful to work with. He answered all of my questions and helped us decide which trip we should go on.
 
I liked that all the meals and activities were included in the tour price. I like going with a locally owned company instead of one based in the U.S.  The cost of the tour was cheaper than Wilderness Travel's tour.
 
The length of this tour was just the right number of days. It also was during the time when our children were on spring break.
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 

 Only the tour group that offered the snorkeling fell short of our expectations.
 
Richardo and our driver exceeded our expectations, and I had high expectations.  They stopped at a super market so we could buy Pops ice cream, mangoes, and souvenirs.  This helped because some of our luggage was late arriving, so Jeff had to buy shorts also.  Richardo and Costa Rica Expeditions worked with American Airlines to make sure our luggage got to us as quickly as it could.  They were experts at spotting birds and animals.  Richardo's pictures were fantastic.  All of his wildlife pictures were better than mine.  Getting the rafting pictures was great also.  It was great that they were included in the price.  That was a very nice touch.

 

What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?

Costa Rica Expeditions offers great tours at a great price.  You'll love Costa Rica.

Janet Lister



Natalie Ewing

…I was especially concerned about your comments about the tour to Cano Island. I personally have had the exact experience that you describe and so I know that our service provider has really slacked off with the standards that were defined for the operation of the tour. In this particular case, rather than adjust the description of the tour, we need to change service providers and get a tour that fits the description!

As far as the description of the trip in general, I have sent a copy of it to Luis and the different guides that lead this trip so that they can send me a memo with the changes in our operation so that I can adjust the itinerary. Thank you very much for bringing this to my attention.

Do you drink coffee? If you do, I would like to send you a subscription to gourmet Costa Rican coffee to thank you for your very helpful comments…

Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer

April 09, 2010
-

Mar. 25, 2010 how breathtakingly beautiful the Hotel Bouganvillea was!

Luis, just wanted to let you know how breathtakingly beautiful the Hotel Bouganvillea was! We wandered around the gardens for 1 1/2 hours, and then looked at the amazing rock and pottery collections inside. You and Natalie picked a perfect hotel for me and John to stay at. Thank you!

We bought some very nice souvenirs from the hotel gift shop, and we have you to thank for giving us the spending money to be able to buy these things.

I had a good conversation with the fellow in the seat next to me on the flight from Houston to Atlanta, and I told him over and over again to use Costa Rica Expeditions. He has never been there and he was very interested in my trip. I'm happy to be able to recommend C.R.E. to him.

Just wanted to let you know that we are both safe at home now, and we are looking forward to returning sometime. Thank you so much for taking good care of us. We appreciate it very much!

P.S. I'll send you a nice review in a follow up email. :)


- Lori A. Crow

Mar. 22, 2010 My husband and I have traveled for many, many years, and this trip to Costa Rica was one of the very best.
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?

Whow, I don't know where to begin.  The entire trip is a lifetime memory.  My husband and I have traveled for many, many years, and this trip to Costa Rica was one of the very best.  The Costa Rican people delighted us with their sincere, warm, hospitality and genuine charm.  The beauty of the country fascinated and amazed us, and the knowledge and expertise of your guides and staff were very enlightening.



What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...

The professional way in which your company operates is outstanding!! From beginning to end it was flawless.  It seemed that every single detail was taken care of before we could even think or ask for it.  And always with a warm smile as well.  Your staff are all so charming.  We truly enjoyed our transfers from one place to the next because we had such fun talking with the guides and drivers.


...and what fell short of your expectations? I honestly can not think of one thing.  

Maybe I would suggest telling clients about the very long and bumpy ride to Tortuguero.  Although we enjoyed seeing the banana plantations and, again, the great company of your staff (ask Louis how the crops are doing.  We are still laughing about that. He will explain) some people may prefer the extra cost to fly both ways.  


What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?

 Maybe I would say your website.  I began planning this trip on my own, as I always do, but couldn't get much information about Monteverde Lodge or Tortuga Lodge from your site.  It seemed almost impossible to get much detail without filling out your questionaire.  I am very glad that I did, because that is what eventually made me decide to book with you, but I do not usually fill out those type of things.


What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
Priscilla Jimenez is a jewel, and the reviews I read about your reputation.
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?

No one even came close to falling short of our expectations.  As I mentioned above, Priscilla is a delight. Louis and his crops we will not soon forget, we laughed all the way to Tortuguero.  All of the wonderful staff at Monteverde Lodge.  They could not have been more charming.  Sam, our guide into Monteverde - I can't believe how much we learned from him.  Olman - not sure I have the name just right, but he took us to Finca Rosa Blanca and to the airport. He went out of his way to help us find a flower shop and get a good price too.  And all of the drivers.  I am a very nervous passenger, but never once felt nervous with your drivers.

What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?  (Please type it as if you were talking to them.)

Costa Rica Expeditions is sheer perfection.  Worth every penny and then some more.  They will make you feel like royalty.

Thanks again for your feedback!

Donna & John
-

Mar. 22, 2010 Priscilla Jimenez, our planner even accommodated our last minute (day before) request to add Sarchi...
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?  

all the tours at the various stops were interesting.  seeing wildlife is always great and between the birds and monkeys and crocodiles (and more) we weren't disappointed.   a true highlight was the Iguana Tours Mangrove tour out of the Parador.  we were entertained wildly by two capuchin monkey troups having a territory disagreement.

What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...

above. also, had NO idea how hot/humid manuel antonio/Quepos would be.  not that I wouldn't do it again, but i'd never been that hot!


...and what fell short of your expectations?

I am not sure that i would stay at the Parador again. It was fine as large resorts go, but i found on this trip that i preferred both the monteverde and tortugerro lodge feeling to the feel of the larger complex.  I LOVED the hotel in San Jose (Grana De Ora).   Next time in quepos would ask for a smaller boutique type hotel (Arenas del Mar for ex).  And don't get me wrong, everyone at the Parador was extremely nice and accommodating. This is more about the feel of a place and look of a place.

also, one or two of our drives didn' speak english and I don' speak spanish, so those trips were a little more interesting and challenging for communicating. The drivers were ALL terrific, english or not, and their driving was fabulous -- safe and careful.   we managed well enough and i don't see it as a real issue for the most part.   just didn't think about that before-hand.  All the drivers worked at showing us the countryside and sites, english or not!  we really enjoyed them all.  

Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?  

no.  for the most part we travelled solo with our drivers/guides.  most contact w/other travelers was at the parador.  again, we really enjoyed talking with our guides about life i costa rica so the degree that we could do that, we were happy.


What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?  none

What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?

previous history (my sister traveled w/you a few years ago) and your reputation on websites.

 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways


None --everyone was terrific.  Priscilla Jimenez, our planner even accommodated our last minute (day before) request to add Sarchi as a destination for day trip, to our itinerary.


What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?


 Give CR Expediions a try -- you won't be disappointed.

Thanks again for your feedback!

 
 Judy & Pamela
-

Mar. 17, 2010 Our first day at Monte Verde we sat on a bench in the garden out back and fell asleep to the quiet sounds of running water. It felt like we were in heaven.
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...
 
Our trip was the least stressful trip I can remember and this includes many trips to Hawaii.  Although we had many pleasant surprises, the only "moment" of stress I can remember was trying to turn in a handbag left by a little girl to security at the San Jose airport as we were waiting to return to the US, with the problem being my very poor (almost non-existent) Spanish.  All of our car journeys were fun and enlightening, even the very bumpy ride as we neared Monte Verde.  Although we might have felt a little squeamish about getting on a 6-seat airplane, that flight was a dream, the smoothest I can ever remember on any type of plane.  Our hotels exceeded our expectations.  I would rate the food at Monte Verde Lodge as equal to many so-called "gourmet restaurants" in the US.  All our tours, which we booked at the hotels, were outstanding.
 
Three of the photos I sent separately were taken from the charter flight between San Jose and Quepos.
 
The picture of Scarlet Macaws was taken because our driver stopped and pointed them out to us.  I had to take a section representing around 5% of the photo I snapped to get it and do a lot of enhancements just to get what I got due to my slow (f5.6) and short (200 mm) lens BUT I wouldn't have all the shots I picked this from except for our very courteous driver who stopped several times for various reasons to make our trip enjoyable.

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?

 
Our park tour at Manuel Antonio was fantastic.  Our guide told us that might see 3 kinds of monkeys, 2 kinds of sloths and certain birds.  We not only saw everything she mentioned but many other animals as well.  I think even she (Viviana) was surprised at how much we got to see that day.  We had two troops of monkeys just kind of hang around for almost 20 minutes each allowing us to snap lots of pictures (more to come when I can edit them).
 
Our first day at Monte Verde we sat on a bench in the garden out back and fell asleep to the quiet sounds of running water. It felt like we were in heaven.
 
As I said earlier, the food at Monte Verde Lodge was just wonderful.  In talking with a guide at the Orchid Farm who goes to a college in our state (Colorado), we learned that the food in Costa Rica overall is very high quality and I would agree.  Pura Vida!
 
Our night tour at Monte Verde was very exciting, almost a little scary to start out, but total fun!


What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...


The quality of everything (food, guides, hotels, even our sometimes bump rides).  The beauty of the rain forests.  The closeness of the animals.  The lack of any nasty bugs!  Worried about mosquitos but didn't see or hear any.

...and what fell short of your expectations?


Nothing really!

Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?

It was nice to have so much time with each other in such wonderful surroundings.  Even though we were checking on three different people (family and close friends) whose lives were in serious danger, we felt safe, comfortable, excited and pleased almost all the time!

What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?


We were comfortable with using your company from the first contact.

What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?

 
Your initial responses and testimonials from such sites as Trip Advisor.
 

What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?


No one disappointed us and everyone was so friendly that we felt immediately comfortable and safe with everyone we encountered.

What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come toCosta Rica?

 
Costa Rica is what people say Hawaii is like but even more interesting and exciting.  You will not believe that food can be so good and cost so little.  It is growing and feels full of energy.  The people there seem to have a natural sense of balance in life that makes you feel immediately comfortable.  They call it "Pura Vida" (pure life) and you can sense what they mean.  You must go!  Costa Rica Expeditions made our trip so easy and pleasant that getting up and going to work in the morning is a bigger hassle.  We also had many exciting and pleasant experiences with absolutely no stress due to their thoughtful scheduling.



Thanks again for your feedback!
 
Thanks for the trip you planned for us.  It was wonderful!


 Margaret Lubbers
March 17, 2010
-

Mar. 15, 2010 Just looking at the stars while down in the Osa was an experience that my daughter and I will never forget.
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
 
We went to Costa Rica to see the wildlife, particularly the birds; we were not disappointed. We saw the Quetzal, the blue-crowned motmot; several trogans, MANY scarlet macaws, several parrots and toucans, etc., etc. But we also got to watch sloths, monkeys, anteaters, and other mammals in their natural surroundings, not to mention the butterflies, leafcutter ants, and other species. Just looking at the stars while down in the Osa was an experience that my daughter and I will never forget. The trip was a phenomenal experience.


What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...


...and what fell short of your expectations?

One suggestion: we scheduled an all day “hike” into the Corcovado National Park. While our guide, Eric, was fantastic, the hike itself was too long considering the heat. I believe we walked 22-23 kilometers. I think it would have been better if we had walked only 15 or 16 k. That way we could have spent more time looking for and at the birds that were all over the place.


Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?


What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?


What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
1) the recommendation of our friends, Richard and Felice Brenner here in Winston-Salem
 
2) the professional service from Nadya Shaw, both over the phone and by email.
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?

All were good. The following were better than good: Luis, our travel guide the first day we were there (in van from San Jose to Arenal); Charlie, our guide at Monteverde (he was the BEST), and Kenya, the manager at Laguna Vista Villas. Luis was passionate about his country (of which he is very proud) and went out of his way to show us some birds and sloths when he found out we were really interested in seeing them. Charlie was just so knowledgeable and friendly; he is the perfect guide for someone looking to learn about the birds in Monteverde. Kenya is great in a million ways; she made us feel completely at home; she wanted to do everything she could to make our stay enjoyable; her cooking was fantastic.


What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?  (Please type it as if you were talking to them.)

Costa Rica Vacations took care of everything. Once we arrived, we never had to worry about anything.

Bill Gifford

March 15, 2010



Natalie Ewing

….I also made a note about your hike in Corcovado. Yes, it can be terribly hot, I’ve done that hike many times myself and understand you completely. We will make sure that the guides check with guests and gauge the distance of the hike more accurately. This is something that Laguna Vista Villas can certainly look out for….

Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer

March 18, 2010
-

Mar. 11, 2010 Many special thanks to Douglas, the best vacation of my life wouldn't have happened without him.
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?

- Spending the day with Samuel the Monteverde cloud forest guide, and every amazing piece of the ecological puzzle he pointed out.
- Driving remote back roads in the many different climate zones
- The mindblowing luxury, pristine setting and welcoming locals at Punta Islita.

What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...

- Punta Islita.  Everything about it, especially the setting and the people.
- The transportation from site to site, because we were almost always the only passengers, and every driver was friendly, talented and safe. It allowed us to see Costa Rica and it's back roads in in ways that wouldn't have been possible if we had arranged our own transport.

...and what fell short of your expectations?
 
- Volcan Arenal area, hotel, and La Fortuna.  The hotel was nice (especially the gardens) but generally bland and corporate feeling.  Also, the whole are felt highly touristy with everything heavily packaged.  The only times we left the hotel we were ferried around from tourist site to tourist site, with no interaction with local people other than people we gave money to.This area may have fallen short of expectations due to the clouds covering the hyped lava at the volcano, but I think it had more to do with the isolated and nondescript americanized hotel we ended up spending most of our time at.

Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?

- It was a honeymoon and it went very well so if anything, it strengthened our connection.  Definitely the easiest travel experience we have had together.

What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?

- We ended up planning the trip last minute.  Although we knew the planning part would be tight, there was a moment when we were not getting responses from Costa Rica Expeditions and almost went elsewhere.  We are very glad we stuck around however.  There is no better way to see Costa Rica than through your company.

What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
 - CR Exped. worked so hard to arrange our trip and change locations, room selection, and activities based on our preferences.  This custom personal treatment was why we went with CR Exped.
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?

- Briefly, Douglas was hard to get ahold of during the planning process, but he ended up repeatedly following through and going way above and beyond expectations.  Many special thanks to Douglas, the best vacation of my life wouldn't have happened without him.
- Samuel (Spelling? Sam-Well?) the guide at the Monteverde cloud forest was wonderful.  He was very knowledgeable, friendly, easygoing and helpful.
- The boat driver across lake Arenal was great, unfortunately I don't have his name.  He told us much about the lake and showed us all sorts of wildlife at whatever pace we wanted to move.  Same for the volcano hike guide at Arenal.  These two were the exception to the rule in the La Fortuna area.
- The staff and locals at Punta Islita, although not directly employed by CR Expeditions, deserve mention.  Every one of them was incredibly friendly, open and relaxed.  I highly recommend pointing anyone in their direction.
- The pilot of the charter flight from Punta Islita to San Jose was great.  He had some unexpected engine trouble, found a solution, got the tiny plan safely on the ground and managed to keep us at ease throughout.
- The young woman you had meet us when the charter flight landed in in San Jose was friendly and helpful.  We had an unexpected delay, and she worked it out, made us comfortable and talked to us in both Spanish and English while she got us to the airport on time and prepared.

What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?  (Please type it as if you were talking to them.)
 
You should use CR Ex on your trip.  They will customize your trip using their in depth local knowledge and fine attention to detail.  They can find the perfect adventure for you on any budget level.  No matter what, you will get a rich and varied interaction with the fine people of Costa Rica and all the natural beauty.

Dan Brainerd
March 11, 2010



Dan Brainerd

THANK YOU

What a great experience we had in Costa Rica, due to your knowledge and hard work.

Here are some comments.

Dan,

Natalie Ewing

…I can see why Volcano Lodge would not have been the right choice for your hotel in Arenal, especially if the volcano was not visible while you were there. This is sometimes done this way to save on lodging at one location in order to allocate funds for an over the top property such as Punta Islita. Ideally, Douglas would have explained the trade offs. I apologize for this error in judgement…

Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer

March 11, 2010
-

Mar. 3, 2010 I WENT SOLO & WAS APPREHENSIVE ABOUT A "GROUP" EXPERIENCE ~THE GROUP WAS AMAZING
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
 THE KNOWLEDGE AND ENTHUSIASM OF OUR GUIDE, MARIELLA, AND THE DRIVER (ROBERTO? RODRIGUEZ?) WAS CONTAGEOUS .... THEY, ALONG WITH THE OUR TRAVELERS, MADE THE TRIP A SHEER JOY!!


What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...
ATTENTION TO DETAIL, PERSONAL CARE/SERVICE, QUALITY/QUANTITY OF WILDLIFE AND PLANT LIFE WE RECEIVED



...and what fell short of your expectations?



Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?  
I WENT SOLO & WAS APPREHENSIVE ABOUT A "GROUP" EXPERIENCE ~THE GROUP WAS AMAZING ~A SMALL GROUP, INTERNATIONAL, VERY INTERESTED IN THE ECO LIFE - I LEARNED SO MUCH FROM THEM ... LOVED IT!  ALSO, MARIELLA AND THE GROUP WERE GREAT WHEN UNDERSTANDING I WOULD WANT TO DO SOME THINGS ON MY OWN/NOT ALWAYS BE WITH THE GROUP - MY INDEPENDENCE   WAS RESPECTED AND SUPPORTED.



What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us? BEING WITH A GROUP ...



What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us? NADYA - THE TRIP COORDINATOR WAS VERY RESPONSIVE, SERVICE ORIENTED AND GAVE ME THE FLEXIBILITY TO WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO SIGN UP (I WAS ALREADY IN COSTA RICA AND UNSURE IF I WOULD WANT TO DO THE TRIP ON MY OWN OR WITH A GORUP)
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?


ALL THOSE I MENTIONED - MARIELLA, NADYA, THE DRIVER ... PLUS THE SERVICE/SUPPORT AT YOUR PROPERTIES WAS GREAT, TOO!


What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come toCosta Rica?  (Please type it as if you were talking to them.)
 

I HAVE ALREADY RECOMMENDED YOU TO THREE PEOPLE ... I'D SAY EVERYTHING I SAID ABOVE!


Thanks again for your feedback!  THANK YOU AND THANKS TO YOUR TEAM!!!



Judy Scheffel
March 3, 2010
-

Mar. 2, 2010 We will happily recommend Costa Rica Expeditions and you to anyone who asks

March 2, 2010

Diego Blanco
Costa Rica Expeditions
Calle Central and Avenida 3

San Jose, Costa Rica 

Dear Diego,

It has been a month since we returned from our wonderful trip to Costa Rica, and I am still thinking about what a lovely time we had.  We enjoyed traveling with you and Alex.   We found you to be good company and felt like we were in good hands for the whole trip.  Alex was a very careful driver and we always felt safe on the road. 

I was grateful for your comprehensive knowledge of Costa Rica and your willingness to answer any question, and was especially impressed with your skills as a naturalist.  It was fun birding with you and I thank you for helping me see 50 new species for my list.  I know that the Painted Bunting was a new life bird for you, so I hope that you will enjoy the enclosed photograph taken by a Texas photographer, John English.

Both Terry and I and Anne and Ori were pleased with the trip, which was well planned and met all our expectations.  We also appreciate the flexibility that was possible when we all decided that adding another national park to the itinerary was a chance to see another type of habitat.

We will happily recommend Costa Rica Expeditions and you to anyone who asks.  Thanks again for a wonderful trip. 

Yours truly,

Jenny Cloudman

cc mskaye@expeditions.co.cr


-

Feb. 25, 2010 A trip of a lifetime for me



Dear Luis,

Where do I begin to write the words to convey how perfectly you arranged and orchestrated a trip of a lifetime for me and my 8 best girlfriends.  It was Elysium. 

When we started working together by e-mail last March, I was skeptical because I had no prior experience with Costa Rica Expeditions.  My dear friend, Susie Popplewell, assured me CRE would do an excellent job and I trusted her.  So you and I began putting together an itinerary that would complete a vision I had 10 years ago, to experience a new land that provided warm sunshine in February, was not too far from the U.S. for short flying distances, had lots of activities for my active friends and had an element of fun.

Through many e-mails, suggestions and tweaking ideas, you presented me with an itinerary that looked like it would be a winner.  Then, I threw out the "tutus and tiaras (T&T's)" and think I took you to a new place you'd never been before.  Fortunately, you responded with grace and said, "No problem".  At every turn of every corner during the creation of the itinerary you were responsive and flexible.  And, you read through my lines to understand what my expectation was - very, very high!

Finally, February 7th came and Jo and I boarded the airplane in Kansas City, to arrive a day early, just for the heck of it!  I was amazed at how easy it was to get from K.C. to San Jose.  Leave at 8:25 a.m.and arrive in C.R. at 3:05 p.m..  The staff of CRE was there to greet us, as they did so well for everyone.  They were smiling, courteous, helpful and eager for us to have fun.  Perfect!  They were flawless in meeting us.

Your suggestion for the Xandari Lodge couldn't have been better.  The close proximity to the airport for easy transfer was critical, especially since there were late arrivals.  The hotel was a hit.  I loved its colorful nature.  The views were awe inspiring.  Seeing the lights of San Jose twinkle at night from our patios was dreamy.  The staff was friendly, efficient and most helpful.  They were most accommodating when we wanted to watch the SuperBowl but unfortunately, served us way too much wine!  The hike the next day on their property was like the Baatan death march, but we did perserve and visit every single one of the waterfalls, even with our green faces and gurgling tummies.  Fortunately, we had massages and facials awaiting us at their organic and nature loving spa.  Conrad gave me the best massage of my life.  I told him, but please let him know again. That's a rare treat that I didn't expect to experience.  I'd recommend Xandari to anyone!  An excellent choice of lodging

Tuesday morning, after everyone arrived (except Anne who was snowbound in D.C., the only sad note of the trip), Mariela and Jeffrey greeted us.  We knew we were in for a treat with Mariela, based on the bio you provided us in advance.  But, seeing her beautiful, beaming smile and feeling her energy, it was confirmed.  She was the perfect pick for our group and I'm so happy you hung tight to make sure she was available to us.  That was a major decision you made that was critical to our expectations.  Jeffrey also played a vital role in our happiness quotient, especially on the drive to the volcano!

And, the bus was the perfect transport for our journey, plenty of room, air-conditioned and easy to enjoy.  Mariela could interact with each of us together, with the microphone and separately, for our individual questions or discussion.  I now understand why you scheduled zip-lining the first day.  What a thrilling activity to get the group jelling together.  Even our first time hiker, Sharon, overcame her hangover and fear to enjoy the breezes of the jungle air to fly in the sky.  The zip-line was just enough to get the adrenaline flowing.  I'm sure some natives thought there were holler monkeys making noises at 12 in the afternoon, because of our screams of delight! 

After the zip-lining, we walked back to a clearing to experience one of the many surprises you arranged for the trip.  The itinerary read "box lunches" and that was my expectation.  But, you surpassed that wildly with the beautiful canopy over a gorgeous table, awaiting us.  Valentin and staff set a new high-water mark for great lunches.  Every morsel we put in our mouths was fresh, light and delicious.  And, to see the Blue Morph arrive, as if on cue, landing on Loretta for a special look.  It was right out of the movie.  Do you always cue up the B.M. on time???  The gentle breezes blowing and the excitement of my friends made it the first elysian moment.

We hopped back in the bus to arrive at MonteVerde, a hotel I had low expectations of based on previous information.  Boy, was I wrong.  From the time they quickly checked us in, to seeing the sunset from my window, to sharing wine on the patio outside while I told stories about each of my friends, to the delicious dinner prepared by Valentin and staff, it was a grand day.  Day One - went to bed with the biggest grin on my face, remembering moments and wanting to immortalize them in my brain.  Sweet dreams!

Wednesday, I awoke knowing I just turned 60.  YIKES!  As so many, I never thought I'd survive the many mishaps of life and live this long.  But, to be able to celebrate it and my friendships in this environment was exactly as I envisioned it would be.  Can you believe it?  I hardly could. That morning, after another delicious, fresh breakfast, we were off to the Butterfly Farm, to be enchanted by Tyler.  Most of the girls are afraid of bugs but somehow, Tyler made them seem beautiful, useful and intriguing.  I never believed I would see some actually "touch" the little criters, but they did.  Tyler spun the most tantilizing stories to help us better understand the delicate balance of nature and how Costa Ricans embrace that and want to share.  That each of us got to launch our own butterflies made it a very personal experience.  If you could see the number of pictures taken in those 4 butterfly houses, you'd understand why that ranked so high on everyone's list.

The piece de resistance occurred after our beautiful lunch prepared outside on the table in the gardens.  Mariela and I had several talks, as I did with you, about how to present the tutus and tiaras.  Thanks to her creativity, along with Valentin, they appeared like it had been planned for months.  On the flower decorated wheel barrel, the 300+ yards of tulle overflowed, like ice cream scoops in 10 flavors, for the taking.  At that moment, when I announced the significance of the T&T's, I saw my friends turn into 6 year old, rushing from the table to claim their tutus of their favorite color - blue, aqua, green, orange, yellow, gold, purple, lavendar.  And, seeing their tiaras arrive on pillows presented by the staff.  What a vision.  I knew they'd be excited but I didn't expect them to put the T&T's on immediately.  Then, somehow, T&T's with hiking boots seemed perfect.  The pictures prove it!  Brilliant planning and execution by you, Mariela and Valentin!

The hike in the MonteVerde Reserve was the best suggestion to work off our exquisite lunch (with the best strawberry ice cream I've tasted).  It was a gentle hike, well planned because of Carol's 2 new knees.  But, it was exhilarating, especially being on the Continental Divide, doing our yoga stance, our faces to the Caribbean and our backs to the Pacific. There were many picture moments, taking in the lush vegetation surrounding us.  Nature is the best cinema there is.

Back to the Lodge to prepare for the birthday dinner.  This whole evening was full of surprises.  First, I never thought I'd see my friends act like 6 year olds (grabbing their tutus).  Then, I watched as they became 16 again, getting dressed and made up for the evening.  Princesses abounded in their rooms, matching the perfect top for the tutu.  "Do I need a belt?"  "Should this tutu hang lower on my hips?"  "Is my tiara on right?"  "How does my make-up look?"  

I opened my door to a knock, with handsome, young, tall Felix standing there, asking to take me to the T&T dinner.  Ah, I was in heaven (of course, the martini Carol and Loretta brought for me earlier helped!).  Felix gingerly walked me through the candle lit garden (gingerly because the girls didn't want me wearing my eyeglasses for pictures!).  My blurred vision made it look like a scene out of Avatar.  So shining, so luminescent, a cinematic moment.  As we approached the outdoor dining, there the princesses were, glimmering in all their beauty and baubles.  It was a moment in time that is emblazoned in my brain.  It could not have been more perfectly executed and more perfectly cast.  Pictures, pictures and more pictures.  As we enjoyed our wonderfful champagne, the toasts and poems from my friends warmed my heart 'til it must have been glowing like the sun.  It was not just my 60th celebration.  It was a celebration of friendships  so dear, so critical to my well-being, to my growth, to my life and to my soul.  To be able to grasp that moment and memorialize it was one of the greatest blessings of the trip.  And, made more special because, tricky Valentin appeared with my request which he said couldn't happen - the fresh lobsters!!!  Oh, Valentin, he should know that made the evening perfect.  Again, every morsel we put in our mouths was a gastronomic experience.  Such simple presentations to let the natural tastes explode in our mouths.  And, just when all the surprises seemed done, Mariela arranged for the roses (one for each lady) to appear under the umbrella, so each could hand pick theirs.  Who would have thunk?  It was another magical presentation, so well thought out.  So fun.  

But, the evenings not over yet. Salsa lessons!  Even though the winds were howling and Susie grabbed for her down jacket, we managed to follow Mariela's salsa instructions.  Mine you, I never could disconnect my shoulders from my waist, from my hips,to do the moves right; but some did.  No one will ever be able to mimic the sexy, salsa moves Marieta showed us, but I promise you there are some in their homes here in the U.S. that are still trying.  Sweet, sweet dreams.

Thursday, we say goodbye to our newfound friends at Monteverde.  We'll be back to the welcoming staff who made our stay magical.  It was a leisurely day getting to the Four Seasons.  Many stops along the way.  (Note to me: when tranporting 60 year olds, plan for plenty of potty breaks and try to make sure there is no good shopping at the stops!).  We were in an idyllic mood, not a care in the world and going with the flow - all 9 of us.  If someone wanted to shop, we all shopped.  If someone needed a "refresh", we all refreshed.  Pura Vita!  Ah, but we did have a schedule.  To the Rincon de la Vieja volcano for the hike, originally planned for 11:30.  Mariela informs us around 3:00 that we may not have time.  We insist.  Jeffrey jumps into the action and high tales us along the sometimes unpaved road at safe but interesting speeds, passing slow cars right and left.  We arrive at the entrance to the Volcano at 3:50 p.m., just in the knick of time to do the hike.  With T&T's packed in our backpacks (for the perfect photo op on the volcano), we begin.  We experience the bubbling mud/suffer pots.  We see lush vegetation everywhere.  We look at our watches.  Almost sundown and we're at Sign 6 with 6 more to go to the exit.  This, even after Mariela changed our route to the shorter one.  And, we've determined her definition of flat is new to us.  It's up steep inclines, down steep descents.  Poor Carol and her new, titanium knees.  They were already swollen from last night's dancing.  Finally, the last 4 of us, under the guidance of Mariela, look up to see a glimmer of the fiery, orangish, red sunset through the trees.  We're at the exit and gleeful and ecstatic at another adventure that has a fairytale ending with night upon us as we walk to the bus.

With our late but satisfying arrival at the Four Seasons, we sadly say goodbye to our 2 new, dear friends, Mariela and Jeffrey.  They both worked exceedingly hard to create so many magical moments and I am forever grateful to them.  Please share this with them.

We uncharacteristicly decide to stay in our hiking clothes and go straight to dinner at the Papagayo Restaurant.  While wildly talking about the events of the day and planning for tomorrow, I present each one with their T&T ballcap with flashlight.  It's a hit.  You've got yours and will hopefully wear it knowing how happy you made the 9 of us.  

Friday was just a laid back day, topped off with the 9 massages you arranged at 4:30.  To be able to accommodate all of us at the same time took planning and, once again, you executed it perfectly.  By the time we finished, our bodies were like limp noodles.  We were happy.  

The final dinner around a round table, with glittering heart-shaped sunglasses for the trip home before Valentine's Day, could only have been enhanced by Valentin's food (better than the Four Seasons!).  Each one went round the table, sharing 5 things about themselves that we didn't know.  More unraveling of personalities.  More giving.  More unknowns, now known.  And, to think we had 2 record holding high-jumpers in the group.  And, a Nixonette.  And, one afraid of heighth. One afraid of the ocean.  One who slept with a hugh fishing knife under her bed as a little girl.  One who loves flyfishing (next trip!).  One nicknamed Sunny.  Such a diverse group of talented, compassionate, caring, loving, determined type-A friends.  Who blended like a great strawberry milkshake full of mouthwatering tastes.  

Luis, the week of February 7th was a perfect week.  You made it happen.  Your attention to every details allowed me and my friends to bask in the sunlight of our friendship.  You, Mariela and Jeffrey, along with the countless others deserve high praise for exceeding my expectations.  I once mentioned in an e-mail that I was expecting a Butterfield & Robinson luxury trip (since that's the only other travel company I'd worked with, who continue to do 1st class trips).  I now know, B&R could take a lesson from you.  That is the highest compliment I can pay to a man who put himself in the mindset of Tutus and Tiaras and delivered.

Please accept my heartfelt thanks for making 9 lovely ladies feel like kids, feel like intrepid adventurers, feel like princesses, feel satisfied that we've experienced "Pura Vita".  It was an Elysian moment.

Warmly and with gratitude,


- Bethany

Feb. 7, 2010 We wanted to thank you for making our trip so wonderful

Dear Marco,

Nico and I just got home last night. We wanted to thank you for making our trip so wonderful. Arenal was wonderful. The hotel was beautiful and the service was great. Nico and I found a hidden jaccuzi that was pool warm, not hot at the hotel. We swam there for hours at night. We also zip-lined and went horse back riding and walked on those floppy bridges. The best part of that leg of the trip was the people we met. Our tour guide Jahaida, I think was her name, was so knowledgeable. She even showed me how to work my camera! Then there was Allan, the waiter at the Volcano Lodge. What a lovely lovely man. Our driver from El Sitio who drove us up to that hotel in Arenal was also wonderful. He stopped to let us buy things from the side of the road, stopped to let me take pictures, and stopped to show us a sloth.

Then there was Mauricio our second driver. I really liked him! I think I sucked that poor man's brain dry. Like the other driver, he also knew a lot about the politics in the country, and the nature that passed us by. I was worried that Nico would be bored with all the driving but he was as intrigued as I was by all the education we were getting. 

Probably the best part of the trip was Tortuguero. The hotel where we stayed was magical because of the people who work there. Julian is like a calm and just king. Sylvia (I think that was her name) was also wonderful and helpful in every way. Norton, our everything man....part body guard, part luggage retriever, part walking encyclopedia, part water driver, part tour guide.........what a sweet sweet wonderful man. Like Allan and Mauricio, I consider Norton to be my friend. Including Oscar. Oscar was our bar tender. He must have made 10 virgin pina coladas for nico and me. He made hot chocolate like I have never tasted before. He was wonderful to talk to. The woman who washed and dried our clothes also sticks out in my mind. Did you know that my child who is addicted to his Nintendo and television, never even asked why there was no television in Torguero and never even wanted his Nintendo in Tortuguero? We were so happy there. The wind blowing about, the 5 minute rain every few hours, it was a place unlike anything I have every seen. Then Nico got sick. For a whole 24 hours he was sick. I panicked. I always panic when my child gets sick. When you have your baby you too will panic every time he/she sneezes. And yet, in Torguero, I wasn't crazy panicked. I sensed that Julian wouldn't let anything bad happen to my child. And Norton, who rescued my child who had split off from our walking tour, I knew HE wouldn't let anything bad happen to my child either. What I'm trying to say is that Torguero really felt like home. Like family. When we finished our trip for the two days you weren't responsible for in Nosara because I said I would take care of that....because I said that my ex husband would be there, so all would be fine.....I was miserably disappointed. My ex husband booked the worst hotel with the worst service. Even the woman who cleaned our room seemed to have a bad attitude. I should have let you book those two days.

Anyway, this is my long winded way of saying thank you for everything. You were so helpful and kind and because of you and everyone who works with you, Nico and I had a great time. I think when we return to Costa Rica, hopefully in 6 months, we will stay in Tortuguero. I already miss those people there. Isn't it interesting that I miss the people who work at that hotel more than the hotel's clients who were staying there at the same time? Nico and I made friends with the other clients, but it's the hotel's staff we miss.

Ok, It's late. Be well, and again, thank you.


- Alicia and Nico

Feb. 2, 2010 Wonderful Time

Hello,

We had a wonderful time on our trip and felt that Costa Rica Expeditions lived up to and exceeded our expectations.  We sent a hard copy of the evaluation form back in the mail to your US office.  I'll answer the questions below.

Take care,
Bill


- Bill Rand

Feb. 2, 2010 We had a great experience

I am not going to answer all of your questions but….. We had a great experience to the point that instead of 2 of us returning, there will be 4 to 5 of us. The white glove trip was extraordinary and we will want to do it again as soon as the schedules of the participants can be arranged to do so. Our guide, Ricardo, was fantastic as were all the members of the support crew. The disc of photos was worth the extra cost as were all of the aspects of this trip. We will go white glove again.

Can you tell us the best time of year for rafting on the Pacuare river?

I am also going to write an evaluation for Trip Advisor.com


- Paul Gianini

Feb. 2, 2010 Discover Costa Rica

Dear Michael,

Carole and I would like to thank you and your staff for a truely special day on the Pecuare.  Walter and Luis who picked us up at our hotel were friendly and knowledgeable, and our raft captain Seoul is a true professional.  They all gave us a little history of the area along with the plant and animal life. The scenic drive to the river was as enjoyable as the rafting itself as was the breakfast and lunch.  I mentioned to Walter that as a business person myself, the fact that you tour fee is all inclusive is "good business".    We cannot believe it took us this long to discover Costa Rica.  Being from Tampa, we had a hour and a half drive to Orlando then a two hour and forty minute flight to San Jose.  You come highly recommended, and we are planning on returning soon.




- Nelson Priede

Feb. 1, 2010 thank you

We just completed a trip with the assistance of Luis Pablo  Cubero and wanted to say thank you to Luis and your entire staff—It was excellent!  My mistake not fly more but that allowed more time in country with your drivers and guides. All around a great job , wonderful people, attentive to our safety and needs .

Thanks you very much.

 


- Mike Cambron.

Jan. 30, 2010 A wonderful time on our trip to Costa Rica

Priscilla,

Liz and I just wanted to let you know that we had a wonderful time on our trip to Costa Rica.

Everything went very well - even the weather cooperated.  The locations and accommodations were very well chosen and the staff at all of our hotels were very friendly and courteous.

We especially wanted to commend our guides Geraldo in Tortuguero and Alex in Arenal and Monteverde, and our driver Fernando.  Geraldo and Alex were very good at finding and explaining the flora and fauna of Costa Rica, and there are lots of plants and animals we would not have been able to see if were not for them.  We even saw a Queztal in Monteverde!  Fernando kept the van very clean and was a very careful driver, especially on the roads around Monteverde which can be very difficult.

We would definitely recommend Costa Rica in general as a vacation destination and Costa Rica Expeditions in particular.

Regards.

 


- Liz and Dave Strauss

Jan. 26, 2010 definitely go with CRE again


PLEASE GIVE US FEEDBACK  (Thanks in advance!)

As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
Seeing a Resp.Quetzal and njoying an authentic CR meal for lunch on the way to the airport-Vincent knew the owners and they introduced us to crevich(?) and were delightful people.  It was amzing to see how excited Charlie (GUide) got when he spotted a bird he rarely sees--that's enthusiam for your job.  Several times we heard from CR people--"This is your vacation so if you want to do .......... or not want to to do.......... That's OK.  We're here for you."  It was our agenda not yours to follow.  Since were more interested in nature and scenery and touring independently the tours were what we wanted and fit our needs.  The amazing staff at your places-the courtesy, friendliness was more than we have had in other caribbean nations so it was a pleasant surprise.  We had also commented to ourseld that CR appears to be kept up or cleaner than other place we've been. Rarely saw garbage, slum areas along the roads and poverty. It waw also surprising to see US dollars on  menus, souvenirs, and used everywhere.

What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?... Drivers/pickup times were on time-if not early, but the drivers did not hurry us.  What the final agenda said is what we did.

...and what fell short of your expectations? Nothing really.  One one comment--the second to last day was spent traveling back up to San Jose and then the last day to the aiarport.  Perhaps if  I had more knowledge of the time frame or country I maya have paid alittle more to try and get a flight out near  our last stay that morning of our last day and go directly to the San Jose airport.  WE could have spent another day somewhere. But Douglas was staying within our budget.  Next time I'll know alittle more.

Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with? Just the two of us as usual.  But we have conversations with other travelers at the places we stayed.  We even found a couple that grew up not far from our hometown in Indiana.

What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us? I guess not really knowing the company and it being in CR.    And CRE got good reviews in many sources I checked on.

What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?

I figured if your are from there you know the ins and outs of the counrty first hand.  Plus you had your own guides and several hotels that also got good reviews.

What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 Exceeded the expections--again we did what you said we would do, the trip was within the budget we had set, the exceptional employees-they know their stuff.


What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?  (Please type it as if you were talking to them.)
Go with CRE because you tell them what kinds of things you want to do-they have an extensive checklist of activities.  You also give them your price range and they fit it to your lists.  THe drivers, guides, places to stay wee outstanding and things took place on time (unless weather became a problem for your safety) CRE haw their own guides and drivers who are very knowledgable of the areas, activities so you get great and accurate information.  We're ready to go back to see parts of the country we missed and would definitely go with CRE again.

 

 

 


- Barbara

Jan. 25, 2010 FEEDBACK

PLEASE GIVE US FEEDBACK  (Thanks in advance!)

As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
Our objective in coming to Costa Rica was to get a general impression of the people and place where our daughter was going to school. Secondarily we had heard many positive things from various friends about the animal and bird life available for observation in Costa Rica. We were very pleased with our entire experience. Since our travel time was dictated by the academic calender requirements of our daughter, we did not investigate the typical weather to be expected in the three distinct geographic areas that we chose to see. I think that we did encounter some dramatic weather that probably affected what animal life we saw, but it also presented the local people as being very positive and lovely under challenging circumstances. I think that the balance of scheduled activities and free time was perfect and within our control. That was a very nice occurrence that I did not anticipate.

What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...
Having the guides in addition to the transportation drivers, to explain culture and sites as we traveled between destination sites was more than I expected. I was ashamed to speak so little Spanish as to be useless and though my daughter and husband both spoke some, I was made to feel comfortable.

...and what fell short of your expectations?

Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?

What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
The cost almost made us reconsider the manner of our traveling. You were highly recommended to us though and we realized that you would take away all the stress and worry of logistical arrangements for us. We recognize that with more time to travel, some of those same explorations can lead to some delightful experiences. I guess just not our first trip to your country.

What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 Your reputation.
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?

I enjoyed all the guided tours and found their knowledge a tremendous asset to our experience. I really enjoyed the wonder of the Hummingbird Gallery in Monte Verde. The night guided trip was also more interesting than I would have imagined. We added this to our itinerary from options available at the lodge.

What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?  (Please type it as if you were talking to them.)

Everyone Associated with Costa Rica Expeditions was pleasant, positive, prompt and prepared at every stage of our experience. We chose to make one time change in our itinerary and with only one days notice. That poor gentlemen then had to get up at 3:00 am to drive to Manuel Antonio to get us and drive us back to San Jose. All of the accommodation were comfortable and attractive while still supporting an environmental awareness of tourism and their impact. The food was better than I expected too! We had a great time.
 


- Alisa F. Roe

Jan. 19, 2010 Nine days in Costa Rica

January 19, 2010

Michael Kaye
President and CEO

Costa Rica Expeditions
#SJO 235
7979NW 21st St.
Doral, FL 33122-1616

Dear Mr. Kaye:

Though we suspect you get many positive comments on the trips that Costa Rica Expeditions arranges for its clients, we would like to add a few more.

We recently returned from nine days in Costa Rica but as you know the planning begins well ahead of the trip.  After a lot of research about what we were interested in, we contacted your offices and spoke with Marco Hernandez.  He was very responsive to our interests and helped us craft the right combination of accommodations and experiences.

For two legs of our trip, we were accompanied by a driver and guide.  It is the guide that has prompted this letter.  Sheyla Santamaria was a pleasure from the moment we met her.  She was able to provide the right combination of service, information, and humor that added greatly to our overall experience.  On the trip from San Jose to Monteverde she was able to convey many insights that she recognized were interesting and important and was able to respond with complete information to our questions about history, flora and fauna, food, customs, etc.  When in fact, she did not have an answer, she said so.  But when we saw her a few days later for our trip from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio, she had researched the unanswered questions and quickly provided us with the answers. 

You and your entire staff are to be congratulated on the level of service.  Thanks again.  When we plan a return trip, Costa Rica Expeditions will be our guide.

Sincerely,

Sally and Doug Taylor

c:         Marco Hernandez           
            Sheyla Santamaria
________________________________

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?

Just a wonderful trip all around. Planning our next visit already.

What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...

All of our guides were top notch.

...and what fell short of your expectations?

Nothing.

Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?

It was nice to have a week to relax together.

What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?

None

What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?

Recommendations from others. Responsiveness.

What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?

Sheyla was great. All of our drivers were good. Samuel and our other guide at Monteverde were particularly knowledgeable and friendly. (See attached letter.)


What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica ?  (Please type it as if you were talking to them.)

If you want a trip with no hassles, let CRE plan it for you. We just relaxed and everything was well taken care of.


- Sally and Doug Taylor

Jan. 15, 2010 CRE’s Connoisseur Expedition

Hi Michael:  My partner, Bill Badertscher, and I took CRE’s Connoisseur expedition that began on December 26, 2009.  We’ve travelled to the Amazon with International Expeditions and to the Galapagos with Lindblad.  On those trips, the staff treated us like gold.  Please know that everyone at CRE did the same. 

From the day we first contacted CRE, José Huertas’ professionalism put us at ease.  He was unfailingly supportive and answered our many emails within 24 hours.  Even after we’ve returned home, he has helped us with a number of things. 

We were with Mauricio for 5 days, and he contributed in a big way to making our trip memorable.  Safety was his first priority on the road.  He loves his country and was an exceptional teacher, guide and ambassador.  We shared many laughs, as well.  We were sorry to part with him at Caño Blanco.  Now I need to find someone else to help me with my Spanish.

At Tortuga Lodge, Heraldo was at the helm for our canal trips into the National Park.  In addition to his extensive knowledge of the fauna and flora, he shared things about his childhood and how he grew to become a guardian of the Park and everything around him.  For me and Bill, learning how local people think and feel is one of the wonders of travel.  Upon seeing another tour boat capture a frog, Heraldo reported them to the ranger on our way back to the Lodge. (If it’s permitted, it would be useful for the guides to carry a laser pointer.  This would make spotting wildlife easier and would save time.)

We commend Oscar for his attentive service in the dining room and at the bar at Tortuga Lodge.  I don’t eat red meat or chicken.  Oscar made certain I had fish or shrimp.  And always with a smile.  Finally, as we were leaving to fly back to San José, Sylvia, some kitchen staff and a gardener wished us farewell at the dock.  That was a very nice touch.

The folks at Britt were very accommodating, their Vaudeville skits were a blast and lunch was first rate.  The CRE website lists the tour as “Britt Coffee Plantation”.   We had hoped to see an operating plantation, but learned that Britt buys their coffee cherries elsewhere.  In retrospect, watching itinerant folks working the fields might not be something many tourists would enjoy. No problem.  

At Monteverde Lodge, we were intrigued by three pieces of pottery in the lobby.  Perhaps you can direct us to the artist, so we can commission some works by him or her.  The different-sized, bottle-shaped pieces are located on a shelf, by themselves, in a seating area in front of the reception desk.  They aren’t the typical tan, red ochre and black seen in Chorotega pottery.  The pieces are dark brown, have narrow necks and appear hand thrown.  They have a naturalistic, rough surface rather than a high glaze.  Each is decorated with impressed, vertical, S-shaped curves.  Any ideas?

National Geographic Magazine is right . . . Costa Rica Expeditions is one of the best outfitters on earth!


- Stuart Caplan and Bill Badertscher

Jan. 13, 2010 Great itinerary

PLEASE GIVE US FEEDBACK  (Thanks in advance!)

As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica vacation...

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?

The ability to see and interact with all of the beautiful wildlife in its natural environment.

What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?...

My husband had to join us a day later than the rest of us, due to a passport problem, but he was VERY impressed with Nadya's help in keeping up with him via email, and arranging a last minute (and late night!) driver to take him to meet us at the Volcano Lodge.  His driver was also great, and provided him with a lot of information, since he spoke very good English. (sorry, we don't remember his name)

...and what fell short of your expectations?

Monteverde Lodge had a beautiful setting and fabulous restaurant, but the inabilty to open windows and let in the gorgeously cool air was a real drawback.


What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?

 Great itinerary, rapid response to emails, and having all the drivers set up ahead of time.

What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?

Nadya, as noted above, exceeded.


What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?  (Please type it as if you were talking to them.)

"They are pricey, but they are worth it, for the peace of mind in having everything taken care of, and the ease with which the voucher system works.  We had no questions, and no hassles the entire time we were in their beautiful country."


- Lisa Jabusch

See letters for second half 2010
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