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Apr. 22, 2009 “The destinations and activities he set up for our family were perfect for all of us.”
Dear Michael and Natalie: I am very glad to get your email as I have wanted to write you about our incredible trip. We have been quite busy since getting back, so this correspondence (as well our survey form) has not seen the prompt attention we had intended. Of course, one of the things we have been busy with is down loading the content of three cameras, so we will be glad to send you our compilation. Be advised however that we do find ourselves reliving these great times as we go through every single picture, so I expect that this process will be somewhat drawn out.

Shari and I have been very fortunate as we have had the opportunity to travel fairly extensively. Our first trip to Costa Rica was when Shari was pregnant with Natalie - a last vacation BC, “Before Child”. We fell in love with the country and its people, particularly their knowledge and respect of the beauty and variety of nature that this one of a kind country provides them. We actually stayed at Si Como No that nine plus years ago, so we were excited to return. We knew on that first visit that we wanted to have Natalie experience this wonderful place as soon as she was old enough to appreciate its unique beauty and gracious people; we fully expected that she would soon feel as we did about Costa Rica.

What we did not expect was the unrivaled traveling experience that Costa Rica Expeditions along with your associates provided for our family every step of the way. At the outset, Luis Cubero gave patient and thorough consideration to the combination of our wishes and schedule requirements. The destinations and activities he set up for our family were perfect for all of us. Then, arrival - and from that point on a seamless, smooth (yet still fun) transition from point to point; and while Shari and Natalie were both comfortable and impressed, I must tell you that as the person who is usually concerned with making sure all the pieces fit, I finally had a real vacation myself.

It is difficult to single out individual areas where our expectations were exceeded, but certainly the food at each of the destinations Luis picked for us was beyond surprising (you're bound to get a least a few pictures when we send you a disc as we soon started taking pictures of plates before we dug in). For us; ideal accommodations, incredible food, impeccable service, fascinating guides, and friendly and empathetic assistance at every turn. For her part, Natalie is hard pressed to pick a favorite highlight - was it zip lining through a forest canopy, watching a troupe of monkeys do acrobatics across her path, or just relaxing in a palm surrounded pool.

I have already forwarded your link with my recommendation to several business associates, and Shari is spreading the word to all of her Delta Airlines co-workers, so we do hope we can have some friends share this wonderful vacation experience. Please don't hesitate to have any potential customers contact us for our family’s unqualified recommendation. Our sincere thanks for, just as you promised, the trip of a lifetime.
- Bruce, Shari & Natalie Clark

Apr. 21, 2009 “Thank you for creating such an amazing vacation experience.”
Thank you for creating such an amazing vacation experience for our family! We absolutely loved Costa Rica and our guide Mauricio, who took such good care of us. This vacation was the best we have ever had! I will forward some photos as soon as I get a chance. Pls let Mauricio know how much we enjoyed having him as a guide - he was warm, friendly, very knowledgeable and professional. Thanks again!
- Sue Pentland

Apr. 15, 2009 “We travel quite a bit, but we've never had a vacation like this one.”
Dear Mr. Kaye: I couldn't write to you soon enough to let you know what an incredible Costa Rica vacation we had last week. Marco Hernandez did such outstanding planning for us and it all exceeded our expectations. Each driver and tour guide was professional, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and very, very nice. They all enjoy working for or being affiliated with Costa Rica Expeditions - it's really quite a team. And the accommodations in Arenal and Monteverde were perfect. The views were so beautiful from both and the food at the Monteverde Lodge (that I believe you own) was delicious. When we began the planning process, it was so confusing, but Marco took the bull by the horns, and put it all together for us. We travel quite a bit, but we've never had a vacation like this one. We're looking forward to returning to Costa Rica and exploring more and more. Again, I had to let you know how this wonderful experience began with Marco's help. He's top on the Briskin's list!
- Gloria Steinberg Briskin

Apr. 14, 2009 “We had a WONDERFUL trip. Everything and everyone was great!”
Hi Luis: Again, we had a WONDERFUL trip. Everything and everyone was great! I hope we can return to Costa Rica someday. I would not have planned things any differently, except to have a day or two more at the beach. What an experience!
- Diane Miller

Apr. 12, 2009 “All of the guides were wonderful and the arrangements could not have been better.”
Thank you! We had a great trip. All of the guides were wonderful and the arrangements could not have been better. I will definitely recommend you to everyone I know and we hope to get back some day! We especially enjoyed the rafting trip on the Pacuare River; Natu (Alvaro Farias) was a prefect guide and host, his enthusiasm and love of the river were contagious. Tortuguero was also unforgettable. Frederico welcomed us and he and the whole staff were friendly, and helpful throughout our stay. They made us a special dinner on our last night, which was amazing. I wish I had more and better pictures. Here are a few. Keep up the great work, and thank you to everyone for sharing a bit of Costa Rica with us.
- Diane Odion

Apr. 10, 2009 “The two nights we had at Tortuguero were absolutely fascinating.”
Dear Nadya: We have just returned from our holiday and I wanted to tell you that our week in Costa Rica couldn't have gone better. I did fill in the questionnaire but then promptly lost it in the packing! Everyone who collected us, drove us and guided us were so nice and informative. They were always on time and couldn't have done more for us.

The two nights we had at Tortuguero were absolutely fascinating and we loved the drive up there as we could see so much of the country and "Con 1," the guide, was full of information. Then the boat trips were so exciting. Tortuga Lodge was perfect. Lapa Rios was excellent - a real opposite to Tortuguero and equally as fascinating - very good to do both areas. Also the flights were interesting as we could see what the country looked like from the air. What a wonderful country you live in and everyone was so friendly - we couldn't have enjoyed it more. Thank you so much for organising it so well.
- Rozzie Buxton, UK

Apr. 6, 2009 “We had a BLAST in Costa Rica and hope to return in the future.”
Hi Marco: I just wanted to extend to you a big THANKS for putting together such a fun trip for me and my friends! We had a BLAST in Costa Rica, and we hope to return again in the future because there is still so much to do. The itinerary you put together was great - enough rest in between all the adventures. We also couldn't have asked for better transfer drivers. We had Jorge pick us up from the airport and drop us off on our last day, and he was the best! He was patient with us, and allowed us multiple pit stops as long as we had the time.

The hotels that you picked for us were also great. We loved the friendly atmosphere at both Arenal Manoa and Monteverde Lodge. Both of those hotels took very good care of us, and they also provided a lot of information to us. They also kept us up to date on what time we needed to be ready for our next adventure…I hope to return to Costa Rica in the near future, and if I do, I will be sure to work with you and Costa Rica Expeditions again!
- Peylin Feng

Apr. 3, 2009 “You guys were great.”
Michael: The trip was great and I have already told at least a dozen people about your firm (and sent them to the site). You guys were great. All aspects of the trip went off without a hitch, even a few last minute changes due to earthquake damage and a revised itinerary. I wouldn't have changed a thing and we WILL be back.

There was one highlight to the trip that we keep speaking of and that is your staff (and those you set us up with). Everyone was great. I tend to ask a million questions to find out about a place and it's people and they were all more than helpful in answering them. The thing that came up time and again was the length of time staff had been with you. From guides to waiters to lodge staff, everyone has been there for years (many over 10 or 15). It shows by the level of service they provide. You are gifted to have such a great crew represent you (I know you make them that way too) but they all seem to love their jobs and make pleasing us a number one priority.

For that reason, I have included a few pictures of our family with yours (staff). Thanks for the great experience.
- Dave, Joanne, Matt & Mitchell Patriarche

Mar. 31, 2009 Wedding arrangements: “…One of the most special days of our lives.”
Hi Nadya: We just got home last night...and I just don't know where to start! The entire day was like a fairy tale! Every person we met, every place they took us, everything we did was wonderful! Jonathan Sequeira was wonderful, a personable and knowledgeable guide who made the whole day just one fabulous surprise after another. He truly made us feel welcome in your country and I couldn't have dreamed of a better person to share our day with.

The rainforest was spectacular and the guide we had there was great as well. They made us feel so welcome and helped make this one of the most special days of our lives. Every person we meet at the park had a smile on their face and added so much joy to our trip. I just can't express how happy everyone there made us! Our only regret was how short a time we had in your country. We are planning to come back there and visit again, and next time to stay for at least a week if possible to truly be able to explore Costa Rica. We decided anything less just wouldn't do your country justice.

Everything you did Nadya was wonderful. It was so much more than I dreamed of and I just want to tell you how much I appreciate every thoughtful detail, from the flowers to the cans you put on the back of the van. (That was the funniest thing ever! We laughed the whole ride back as everyone stopped and stared at us...it was just great!) I don't know how to thank everyone there for making this such a fairy tale day for us. The lunch that we had, releasing the butterflies, the guided tour through the preserve, the aerial tram ride, the wedding, and tour through your countryside...it still brings tears to my eyes thinking about everything everyone did for us to make it such a special day.

I will be posting all our photos online in the next couple of days. As soon as I have them up I will send you the address so you can see them all. Please give Jonathan my thanks yet again for everything he did. (and tell him next time to bring his wife! lol!) And to our driver as well (I'm sorry, I can't remember what his name was now), he did a wonderful job and the smile he had on his face when we saw the flowers in the van was priceless! Again...thank you so much!!!! And don't worry, when we come back we'll call you to plan it for us! I have absolute faith in anything you decide we need to do there! LOL!
- Lisa Orban

Mar. 19, 2009 “The schedule you had put together was just perfect. We were busy but the pace was just right.”
Luis: Just wanted to let you know that the four of us had a wonderful time in Costa Rica last week! We saw a lot of animals (pretty much everything we wanted to see except no poison dart frogs) and the schedule you had put together was just perfect. We were busy but the pace was just right. We are going to fill out the survey and mail it in, but I wanted to give you a bit of personal feedback.

First of all, the four hotels were wonderful - much nicer than we had expected. La Cusinga was a pleasant surprise because it doesn't look that nice at first - but the dinner was probably the best meal we had the entire trip! They have a new chef - there is no menu, just one meal - and it was excellent and not too expensive. The only hotel problem we had was that at two of the places - La Cusinga and Villa Blanca - we had to change rooms once we got there because our son and daughter were assigned to a room with only one bed. Fortunately both places had vacancies so it worked out OK.

Finally, thank you SO much for the delicious lunch at Villa Blanca. That morning was a bit frustrating due to the confusion about airport assignments, but once it was cleared up we were only a few hours late getting to Villa Blanca and we enjoyed our afternoon there. We were hungry by the time we got there, since we had had breakfast at 5:30am, so we do appreciate the nice lunch!
- Jackie & Bill Stallings

Mar. 12, 2009 “We have had the time of our lives.”
Hello Luis: We have had the time of our lives, truly a very memorable vacation. Thanks to you for putting together such an itinerary that exceeded all our expectations! Everyone we met associated with Costa Rica Expeditions made us feel a part of the family! Each one is a true ambassador for CRE and for Costa Rica. I will fill out the questionnaire in detail and send it to you, but I had to share this with you right away! Many, many thanks from us to you.
- Bharat Raval

Mar. 2, 2009 “Tortuguero was probably our favorite place and the service at Tortuga Lodge was outstanding.”
We had a fantastic trip to Costa Rica and can't believe we waited this long to come to your country. We are telling everyone how great the trip was and telling them that you arranged everything for us. All of the connections worked out very well and the guides were so knowledgeable and passionate about their country. We thought the order of the trip was perfect. It was nice to end in Manuel Antonio relaxing and enjoying the beach.

The only disappointment was in Arenal. We didn't see much of the volcano, which I know happens to a lot of people. We drove into town in the afternoon and the volcano was only slightly clouded in at the very top. We figured we would go to visit it the next day and, of course, the next day it was very cloudy and rainy. We should have checked in to the hotel and immediately gone back to see the volcano.

Before we contacted you, we had not intended to go to the Caribbean coast. That would have been a huge mistake. Tortuguero was probably our favorite place and the service at Tortuga Lodge was outstanding.
- Debbie & Gary Frank

Feb. 28, 2009 “I'm reasonably certain that traveling with Costa Rica Expeditions has spoiled me for life.”
I'm including a letter below and a link to my blog at http://toryporter.blogspot.com where I wrote day-by-day accounts of our trip (January posts) as well as a summary post (posted this month and revised today). If you want to link to my blog, let me know and I can do some further editing to include more rave reviews and references to Costa Rica Expeditions. :-)

Letter of Appreciation to Costa Rica Expeditions: I was fortunate enough to be invited along on a private tour of Costa Rica that was led by Mark Garland and arranged through Costa Rica Expeditions. Mark Garland is an experienced Audubon guide and friend of many years to several people in our group. We were so lucky to have Niño Morales as our bus driver for the entire trip because he is an excellent bird spotter and has such sharp eyes that we saw many birds we might have otherwise missed. We were also very lucky to have Carlos (Charlie) Gomez join the tour as our naturalist during the second week of our trip. It was impossible to stump Charlie because he knew the names of everything! Plants, insects, butterflies, birds, animals... What a wealth of knowledge he possesses.

This was my first time doing a group tour, and I'm reasonably certain that traveling with Costa Rica Expeditions has spoiled me for life. This was easily the most relaxing vacation I've ever had because I didn't have to worry about any of the details. Lodging, food, marvelous tours... Everything was planned out and handled beautifully. I've fallen in love with Costa Rica as a result of this trip and hope to return again ... And when I do, I'll check with Costa Rica Expeditions before doing anything else! Thanks so much for the wonderful trip.
- Victoria Porter

Feb. 27, 2009 “Thank you for organizing our best vacation ever.”
We are all well and home safely after a 36-hour journey home! We had a fabulous time in Costa Rica and will highly recommend CR Expeditions to everyone. I will write up a detailed message for you later, but thank you for organizing our best vacation ever.
- Carole Greenfield

Feb. 20, 2009 “(We) really enjoyed Corcovado Park, I hope this wild and natural beauty will keep preserved for as long as possible.”
Dear Michael and Marco: Back in Amsterdam and would like to thank you for your professional help in visiting your wonderful country and I hope to use your services again soon. Gert, Jan and I really enjoyed Corcovado Park, I hope this wild and natural beauty will keep preserved for as long as possible. Our guide, Felipe Arias, was very experienced and helpful, the jungle was his home! Following your kind request here some pictures, even if they are not professional they are a good memories for us in this cold winter.
- Katia Impelitieri

Jan. 26, 2009 “Our group of 14 had a lovely stay at the Monteverde Lodge.”
Michael & Natalie: Our group of 14 had a lovely stay at the Monteverde Lodge. The staff was very helpful and professional. The food was delicious. Rooms clean and well appointed. The beds devine - just like at home - exactly the same sheets!!! The hot tub was a great rallying spot at the end of a busy day. I will have our group photographer find a picture or two to send you. I have several people interested in exploring the area and will definitely recommend your lovely lodge. Pura vida.
- John Las Brisas

Jan. 23, 2009 “Thank you for all the effort and energy you put into the planning of (our trip).”
Dear Marco Hernandez: Thanks so much for your message. I am sorry that the earring wasn't found, but it did not ruin our trip! We had a wonderful time, and we thank you for all the effort and energy you put into the planning of it. We went to Costa Rica to see the plants and wildlife and returned home loving the people. Pura vida!
- Janet Stern & George Theodoridis

Jan. 19, 2009 “This was a wonderful holiday, which we will be talking about for many years.”
Many thanks for all the hard work of your staff to make our holiday so memorable. We had a fantastic time. We loved Costa Rica. Your employees were all polite, friendly and informative. Our only criticism was of the Hotel L'acquaviva in Nosara. It looks beautiful but unfortunately the suites are all on the edge of the property, a few meters from the road. Traffic is noisy (since the road isn't tarmac and the hotel is situated on an S bend) and starts at 5.30am. The hotel kindly moved us to a different suite on our 2nd night - its bedroom faced away from rather then towards the road - but it made only a slight difference. I would only recommend the hotel to people staying in rooms around the pool. Otherwise, this was a wonderful holiday, which we will be talking about for many years.
- Lucy Elgood

Jan. 13, 2009 “We loved everything about our vacation. You planned a perfect trip for us.”
What a fabulous vacation we had in Costa Rica! You have a beautiful country with such friendly people! We loved everything about our vacation. You planned a perfect trip for us. We were able to see such different parts of Costa Rica from the cloud forest to Guanacaste and the Pacific Ocean to Arenal to the Central Valley. We were even able to see Arenal with no clouds covering the peak! We saw wildlife (sloths, howler monkeys, birds, tarantulas, butterflies) and my parents saw every orchid in the country! The hotels were perfect. Arenal Nyara and Punta Islita were beautiful! Everyone of our guides and drivers were excellent! All I can say is that life at home is not the same since we miss the fresh fruit and tipico breakfasts.

Thank you so much for helping to make my birthday special. What a surprise to arrive to cake and champagne! Thank you also for my gift of the wood frog. He is an excellent addition to my frog collection. Did Michael tell you in advance that I collect frogs? Everywhere I travel, I buy frogs. Your gift has a place of honor in my home. We will gladly recommend Costa Rica Expeditions to anyone traveling to your country. Thank you again for helping us plan the perfect vacation.
- Jill Haas

Jan. 13, 2009 “All of our arrangements were perfectly planned.”
Hi Luis: I want to start off by saying that we had an absolutely wonderful trip and you were to thank for that! The fact that all of our arrangements were perfectly planned made all the difference in the world. I can't tell you enough how great it was that we had our own plane, our own ride, own driver, own guide…and our own planner!
- Sandy Gibson

Jan. 9, 2009 “It was the best vacation we have ever taken.”
Dear Michael and Natalie: Our holiday with Costa Rica Expeditions was great!!! In fact it was the best vacation we have ever taken. Our boys had a blast and even though everyone had a tough time saying their names, (Zale and Zev) each guide and driver always tried. We have only wonderful things to say about Luis Cubero, our travel planner, and Luis, our guide. Due to plane delays, we arrived a day late in San Jose and were thrilled to find people to greet us and take us to Savegre Lodge.

Staying at Laguna Vista in Corcovado was very special. The place is beautiful. Kenya and the other staff who work there made us feel like royalty. Nan fed us great meals that were delicious and healthy. Luis was always there to get us up and out. He was thoughtful, fun, sensitive to our needs and is a wealth of knowledge on Costa Rica, which he generously shared with us.

The Pacuare Rafting and overnight was also a highlight. We did it and survived – both the tent and rapids and had a fabulous time. We look forward to returning and having more adventures. With warm memories and many thanks to all of you for a fabulous trip.
- Judi Swartz & Bob Skolnik

Jan. 6, 2009 “We really loved the country and we cannot wait to go back.”
We had an amazing time. Wow, gustamos Costa Rica. What a beautiful country. We really appreciated our private van shuttles and the drivers. And oh my gosh, having 2 private chartered flights was very nice and easy and fast. We really liked that. All of the drivers we had showed up on time and were very nice. We didn't have a problem with anyone. The guide who picked us up from the airport was so nice and gave us all the information we needed. And also Natalia, I think that is her name, who picked us up from Pavas and took us to the big airport was very nice. They were great.

Arenal - We liked the property and the pool at Mountain Paradise. There were always birds and butterflies around and the hot springs pool was nice. The staff was helpful too. BUT we didn't like the rooms at Mountain Paradise because there were so many strange insects that we couldn't keep out. Also, the doors are made poorly. There's a big gap in between the door and the frame, allowing bugs to come in. We couldn't use the outdoor hot tub because mosquitoes were everywhere. And the rock shower got water everywhere. And the food there is TERRIBLE and expensive. The Christmas dinner included with the package was bad. I wouldn't recommend staying or eating there. We loved Ecotermales hot springs (Hidalgo). Smaller and more quiet, and the dinner was good.

We did a Desafio Adventures tour for canyoning. We really enjoyed that tour, the guides were great. And we also would recommend Sky Tram Ziplines. Much easier brake system for users. We also liked the food at Don Rufino in Fortuna.

Monteverde - The boat trip from Lake Arenal to Rio Chiquito was very fun. WE loved LA FONDA VELA. Our junior suite was beautiful. The whole hotel and grounds were very peaceful and tranquil, just what we wanted. The furniture is nice and the rooms were clean. If I had to make one request, I wish they had new linens. The sheets and pillow cases were thin. I have to recommend a restaurant there called Chimera. It's tapas style food. That was our best meal of the whole trip. We tried a tip line trip with Adventure Canopy. I would not recommend that canopy tour because the brake system was very hard for me to use.

One of our favorite things was going into the Monteverde cloud forest. I really enjoyed hearing our guide Sammy talk about the animals and plants in the forest and how Monteverde tries to protect the land. We even saw the female and male Quetzales. We were very lucky we saw so many animals that day.

Marriott at Pinilla - The five hour drive was long, but we enjoyed seeing the land. We got a good view of Nicoya Gulf. We really really really loved the Marriott at Pinilla. The rooms are so clean and new and comfortable. The spa is gorgeous and we had good massages. The pool and beach were nice. They had hammocks in many places, which we enjoyed. We walked to Playa Avellanas. The service there is still not good yet, but everyone is new and they are still learning. The dinner there was not that good, and expensive, so it's better to eat outside of the restaurant. But breakfast and lunch were okay.

Tamarindo - We loved Tamarindo. We came to surf and the surf was good. Tell your clients to stay away from the Diria. It is so loud there. Everynight, the music from the bar down the street was blasting until 2 AM. The rooms were just okay. The service was very bad too. And we did not like the food either. We ate in other places in town. When we go back to Tamarindo, I want to check out some other places to stay. I have to recommend Seasons by Schlomy, a new restaurant that opened in a hotel close to center of town. We had the best meal in Tamarindo there.

We really loved the country and we cannot wait to go back. Thank you so much for arranging this trip for us. We were very pleased and satisfied with the itinerary. It was organized very well and the drivers and transportation was excellent.
- Oanh Ly

Jan. 6, 2009 “The trip was amazing…Thank you.”
The trip was amazing, fabulous, unbelievable. Thank you for making it all work out. The crew was awesome. I cant say enough good things. Thank you again.
- Judy Horvath

See letters for second half 2009
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