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Dec. 7, 2010 Ultimately, I believe it was less expensive, and definitely less stressful, than if we had done the planning ourselves.
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 night tours and the detailed knowledge of the guides made the evenings especially interesting.  If I had gone at age 14 I'm sure I would have become a biologist! 


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

The lodging was all excellent.  We couldn't have paid what the guide books indicated, or the cost of our trip would have been doubled or more.  Additionally, all the guides, restaurant and  hotel staff and other tourism related folks were very friendly and knowledgeable.  All the transportation was prompt and comfortable (early!).


...and what fell short of your expectations? 

The snorkeling trip to Cano island did not include the promised hike.  The rafing trip with H2O rafting did not include the promised lunch.  And it seemed odd that we took a boat and a van from Drake Bay to the airport in palmar sur only to fly back to Drake Bay before landing in San Jose.  Also, had I know a night hike was available through Aguila de Osa, I wouldn't have booked the tour with the Bug lady, although both were good.


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

My 33 year old daughter and I traveled together.  We learned we are well matched traveling companions and had a wonderful time together, each of us loving every minute of the trip.  We know now that we can successfully travel together.


What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us

I thought I could do as well organizing things myself.


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

Feeling overwhelmed about where to go, where to stay and how to limit the trip to the time we had available.  The questionairre helped establish which lodging and tours were the best fit for us.

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

Priscilla Jiminez was very patient with my many changes of itinerary before the trip, and did an excellent job of putting things together for us.

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

We had a wonderful, well-organized trip with great places to stay all well within our budget.  The initial questionairre made it easy to consider what aspects of the trip were important to us, how long we wanted to stay at each location, etc.  Costa Rica Expeditions made it easy to coordinate transportation, lodging and activities within our areas of interest and budget.  They were patient with many changes and even allow changes during the trip. They were prompt in responding to emails and were easy and professional to work with. Ultimately, I believe it was less expensive, and definitely less stressful, than if we had done the planning ourselves.

Mary Elderidge
November 2010



Our Response

I've looked into the things that you mentioned that fell below your expectations while traveling with us.

Regarding the tour to Caño Island and the missing hike. I've discovered that our data base has a mistaken description of this tour. A long time ago the snorkeling tour at Caño Island did include a hike to see the pre Columbian spheres, but it turned out that many guests did not especially enjoy the experience and the spheres are in such bad shape that a lot had to be left to the imagination. As a result of this the hike was eliminated from the experience. Unfortunately we didn´t eliminate it from our description!

Regarding the lunch on the Naranjo River, you definitely should have been given a trip that included lunch that is what we quoted you.

As far as your flight on SANSA from Palmar back to Drake´s Bay before continuing to San Jose, I am sure what happened here is that when we confirmed your flight, SANSA was not planning on flying to Drake´s Bay. They then changed their itinerary and neglected to let us know that you could fly directly from there. I’m sorry for the wasted time here. I will let our Operations Manager know so that we are sure to reconfirm these flights previously and specifically check to see if the flight schedule has changed in favor of our guests.

You mentioned that you would have preferred doing the Aguila de Osa night walk to the Bug Ladies experience. Would you mind expanding on the reasons for this? We want to make sure that we are offering our guests the best possible experience and I'm curious about your impressions.

I would like to make these things up to you. Do you think it would be fair to send you a refund for the Naranjo River lunch of $10 per person and a subscription to gourmet Costa Rican coffee? Do you drink coffee? If not how about chocolate?


Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer

Costa Rica Expeditions & Nicaragua Expeditions,

Mary Elderidge

Natalie

The fact that you thoroughly read my comments and responded to them reflects the commitment CR Expeditions has to customer service.

Just to clarify, the hike at Drake Bay with the bug lady was excellent. She is very knowledgeable, interesting and found a large number of creature for us to see and learn about. Carlos, from Aguila de Osa, also led a good night . I am glad we did both, and an additional night tour we added in Monteverde. I selected the Bug Lady tour myself from a guide book and asked that it be added to our itinerary prior to the trip. If, at that time, Priscilla had mentioned that a similar tour was available through the hotel, I might have just done that. But...then I would have missed out. So, the outcome was fine.

One additional thing I think I forgot to mention involved Monteverde Lodge. We had looked forward to use of the library and the nightly films. Neither were available due to repairs/renovations. We were not informed of this when we checked in. They did have some natural history books available, which were interesting.

Thanks for explaining the various things that went slightly awry. It's good to know what happened, although none of those things caused us any distress.

I appreciate your offer to reimburse the cost of lunch on the rafting day, but it is unnecessary. However, I will accept the offer of a gift! I do drink coffee, but my daughter does not, so I will select the chocolate so I can share with her.

I am enrolled in tripadvisor and I will share my impressions there.

Mary
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Dec. 7, 2010 As I said earlier, we loved the trip, but there were a few things that could stand improvement.
Overall, we loved our experience!  It was a first for both of us to travel with a tour and we wouldn't hesitate to do it again. First and foremost, our guide Miguel Marin and our driver Ramon were both super.  We felt comfortable with Ramon's driving regardless how steep or rutted the roads were or how bad the truck traffic.  What's more, he went above and beyond to give great service, especially with the way he watched for interesting birds and animals and stopped to let us see them. He was always courteous and went out of his way to keep us from even having to walk a few feet in the rain. He pulled the bus up closer than I would have thought possible to our facilities whenever it was raining. 

Miguel Marin deserves a special mention, because he was a perfect guide: friendly, knowledgeable, courteous, good-humored and willing to get up at all hours to add special hikes and excursions whenever anyone in the party wanted one.  In addition, he kept everyone on the same schedule so we didn't spend time waiting for stragglers when it was time to load up in the bus and go.  Miguel obviously loves his work and it shows. He went out of his way to find the special wildlife interests of each of the group members. My wife Ellen wanted to see a snake and Miguel finally found one for her just before the end of our stay in Tortuguero.  We would highly recommend Miguel to anyone as a guide and if we return, we'll definitely try to get him again. 

The facilities at Monteverde (Monteverde Lodge), Arenal (Arenal Manoa) and Tortuguero (Tortuga Lodge) were all super. The food was spectacular, the staff were helpful and courteous and the settings were beautiful. I really appreciated the food at all three. I guess I see now how our tour-- the "Costa Rica Connoisseur"-- got its name: the food was excellent and even the presentation of the food was a delight.

As I said earlier, we loved the trip, but there were a few things that could stand improvement. I think staying at the El Presidente hotel for the first night was a weak start to the tour.  The "Welcome Breakfast" was disorganized and not all of the food was ready at the appointed time.  It was only after we boarded our bus and headed toward Monteverde that we began to get any substantive information. At the end of the trip as well, the El Presidente was a disappointment. We arrived back in San Jose hoping to spend the afternoon walking around or shopping, but we had to wait over an hour for our suitcases to be brought up to the room, so we could get our jackets. When I tried to take one of our suitcases up on my own, I was informed they would be brought up "right away" by the bellman. We spent over an hour waiting. 

Another weak spot of the trip was the tour of Cafe Britt.  At first the skit was informative, but it dragged on way too long and we began to feel like a captive audience in a thinly-veiled attempt to sell their coffee and souvenirs. When we went in to have our lunch (which was excellent), we were greeted by a long questionnaire to fill out while we ate. I looked for a response that would indicate that the skit was too long, but didn't find one. Hmmmm........

One other minor complaint: the restaurant we used for lunch twice in Arenal  (right outside the Arenal Manoa, but I didn't get the name): the food was way too heavy, the servings too large (Miguel did warn us)  and I tried chewing  my tenderloin tips into submission for several minutes before leaving most of the meat on the plate. My wife did enjoy her sea bass. The setting of that restaurant was beautiful. If only the food had been better, it would have been nice. We did see a pale-billed woodpecker while there!

Other highlights: (1)the hot springs and the traditional meal afterwards--a very memorable experience. (2) prompt and dependable transportation all along the way, from our greeting at the airport until our departure. 

My wife Ellen participated in the school visit program and would like to add her impressions of that:

I would like to compliment Shiela who accompanied me to the visit at the school near Tortuguero.  The English class took place as an after-school program.  There were eight children in attendance.  The students were attentive and were responding to Shiela's instructions.  Shiela was very enthusiastic and ensured that every student was given opportunities to practice speaking in English.  I think that it's a very good idea to have tourists visit because it gives the students a chance to show what they know to someone other than the teacher (Shiela) and also exposes the children, who are quite isolated, to people from other parts of the world.  I think it's a really good thing that Costa Rica Expeditions provides English lessons for the children in the Tortuguero area.

Overall, we enjoyed our tour very much: the food and lodgings were great, the guides and staff were wonderful and the price was right.  We wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone. Thanks so much for a pleasant vacation!!

Jim and Ellen Thompson (Costa Rica Connoisseur, October 16-24, 2010)



Our Response

I have carefully read through your suggestions for improvement. We too question the choice of Hotel Presidente every year when we go to reserve space for the Connoisseur. I personally agree with you and would rather see us use a hotel that is a bit pricier and with more character. The problem is twofold. On the one hand we are really struggling to keep the price of this tour down and we feel that if we’re going to cut corners anywhere San Jose is probably the best place to do it because it’s the place where you spend the least amount of time. On the other hand, when we have used hotels that are nicer it just so happens that they are not in downtown San Jose and we get guests that are disappointed that they were unable to walk around the city. We’ve considered offering a variety of hotels so that guests have a choice about where they stay in San Jose but the presents a series of logistical problems. In any case, I want to thank you for brining this to our attention we will review the choice. I will also forward your comments to the management of El Presidente, there is no excuse for you having to wait for an hour for your luggage. One thing the have going for them is that every time I’ve sent them negative feedback they’ve been very quick to respond and make changes.

Café Britt is another one of the places that people either really enjoy or not. The reason that we use it is because we used to get a lot of feedback saying that we never gave anybody a time or place to shop on this trip. Given the big selection of items, their lunch and the theater production we choose it so that people can not only shop, but also learn a little bit about the history of coffee in Costa Rica. I will also send your feedback to them, they are constantly fine tuning the production and I know they will be interested in reading your comments.

The restaurant that you mention in Arenal is usually a culinary highlight. They must have been having an off week! The chef’s name is Hugo Salas, known as Perla. He was the Executive Chef for Costa Rica Expeditions lodges for a number of years. We use him quite a bit, although guides are free to make their own choice of restaurants, because people enjoy his food. I’ll keep an eye on the evaluations coming in to see if this is something that continues to show up. Thank you for drawing it to our attention.
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Dec. 7, 2010 Thank you Michael for creating a company that provides excellent service through every level. I am not easily impressed but I am by Costa Rica Expeditions.
What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?

I was very delighted with everything I saw and experienced while in Costa Rica; the ticos are so friendly and hospitable. The countryside, the richness of the environment; the flora and the fauna.

I have travelled in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia,

This was my first trip to Costa Rica and I would like to return and visit other regions. 

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

I was very surprised by the excellent service given by all the transfer drivers, and the guides at Selva Biological, Arenal Hanging Gardens and by Carlos in Monteverde.

Thank you to Marco and his team for taking the "travail" out of travel.

Thank you to all the staff at each lodge for their hospitality.

Thank you to all the drivers for the safe transfers between lodges and tours.


...and what fell short of your expectations?

Absolutely nothing fell short of my expectations. 

Only disappointment:  Arenal volcano was quiet and there were no lava flows at the time of my visit; but for a while the volcano was cloudless and in full view;

the next day the clouds obscured the volcano completly!


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

No


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

I had no issues; once committed I had no hesitations.

  

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

the website was very informative, the dvd was enjoyable.

Marco Hernandez was quick to reply to my emails and very helpful in preparing the itinerary based on my requests.  The level of organization and the fact that CRE has been in business for a long time convinced me that this was the best company to go with.  I was looking for a trouble free vacation.  Worried somewhat about torrential rains which did not materialize; it only rained the second night at Arenal and also in Monteverde.  Otherwise, the weather was pretty perfect for mid november.


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

All the ticos I met were friendly and delightful persons.  No wonder you are such happy people.  Debe ser la Pura Vida.

by the way, I did not see any ticos smoking; only the tourists; another plus for your country!

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

If you want to visit Costa Rica you have to go with the best company in the country.

The custom itinerary was accomplished without any problems. 

I am a tour director in Los Angeles and understand the logistics of putting together a trip involving multiple drivers for the transfers who arrived all on time.  The faxes to the lodges to alert me to changes in the pick up times were reassuring.

I appreciate very much that CRE was minding every day of my journey.

The guides at La Selva, the Arenal Hanging Bridges and Carlos in Monteverde were all knowledgeable and sharp to spot wildlife specially in the dark and in the rain!

Arenal Observatory Lodge was more delightful than I envisioned; I enjoyed the gardens and the spectacular view of Arenal volcano from my room.

I also liked Selva Verde Lodge on the banks of the Sarapiqui River; wonderful and hospitable staff.  Monteverde Lodge also has wonderful staff at the front desk and dining room; enjoyed checking out the guidebooks from the lobby area.

I liked the access to computers at Selva Verde and Monteverde Lodges.

Don Carlos Hotel in San Jose was like being in a home; not a hotel; I liked the ceviche, too.

In all this was a most memorable vacation and I will be contacting your company for my next trip to Costa Rica.

Thank you Michael for creating a company that provides excellent service through every level.  I am not easily impressed but I am by Costa Rica Expeditions. 

Muchisimas gracias a todos los ticos por realizar una maravillosa vacacion que siempre recordare.  PURA VIDA!!!

Nancy
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Dec. 7, 2010 I guess the best compliment I can say is that some of us are thinking of returning there in the near future with our families to see more of CR´s beauties, people and adventure options.
Dear Michael & Marco; 

Upon returning to Buenos Aires, and in the name of the Los Truchos Group and my own, I wish to express my gratitude for a well planned and and superbly operated trip that you put together for us.

All of us were positively surprised with your country´s beauty, the kindness of its people and the professionalism of all Costan Rica´s Expedition staff and related operators. Not only the fishing aspect met our expectations, which was our primary focus, but the quality of the lodging, logistics and alternative tours were right on the money ! I could not think of a detail that went wrong in them.

I guess the best compliment I can say is that some of us are thinking of returning there in the near future with our families to see more of CR´s beauties, people and adventure options.

All the best and please extend our gratitude to your staff.

Daniel Hirsch

Grupo Los Truchos - Argentina

November 2010 

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Dec. 7, 2010 The relief from concern or planning was invaluable.
Priscilla, I cannot thank you enough for the fabulous trip you planned! 

We just got home and are readjusting, it is in the 30's here. 

Our vacation was wonderful. The accommodations were  beyond our expectations; especially the volcano view from our room at Monoa, and the superlative service and luxurious room at Tortuga Lodge. The special attention to detail at Tortuga was incredible; welcome beverage upon arrival and candles litin our room after dinner. Our anniversary dinner was beyond imagination, illuminated path to our private riverside table under a lantern lit tree!!! 

Everyone from CRE was so professional, and every meal so wonderful ( amazing lunch halfway down the Pacuare). The relief from concern or planning was invaluable.

The activities we did were great. Thank you for including the waterfall rappelling, a rare thrill, and the ecothermales, perfection afterwards. Special thanks to rearranging our zipline day to enable us to raft, that was incredible!!! 

We will be spreading the word on your service, and wishing for someone like you/CRE for our future excursions (hoping for South Africa for my 50th).

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

Our anniversary dinner at Tortuga Lodge !

...and what fell short of your expectations?

Tree of Life Sanctuary.

Our Cahuita snorkeling/hiking trip was canceled and replaced by Tree of Life/hiking. The hiking was great. The guides/driver was great. The sanctuary was sad and disappointing. Also, surprised to be charged the same price as the snorkeling trip. 

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

My partner is not a traveler and so questions everything. CRE level of professionalism allowed him to relax and enjoy! 

My brother and his family had worked with you through a Seattle based company, and basically would not let me go unless I worked with CRE (:protective older brother).

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

 Almost everyone exceded expectations. Maybe the most was the rafting team. Not only their level of experience, which created an incredible experience on the river, ( there was only two of us) but the feast they prepared, the photos ( included), and cocktails after all made for an outstanding day.

The driver from Cano Blanco to Puerte Vieja was really bad. His vehicle reeked of air freshener, he stopped twice, once to pee and once for his partner to grab a package (?) Our inability to communicate with each other did not help.

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

The level of professionalism and attention to detail and meeting our preferences and then some.



Our Response

I was concerned to hear about your experience with the driver from Caño Blanco to Puerto Viejo. Our policy is that drivers are never accompanied by anyone and that they use the restroom when our guest’s have requested a stop unless it’s a real emergency. When they do use the restroom they need to ask our guests to stay with the van to make sure that your luggage is safe. I just spoke to Ricardo at Cahuita Tours and he explained that they sent a companion for the driver on that day because at that time the country was on alert due to the heavy rains, floods and landslides that were taking place. They felt, and I agree, that it was better to send the driver with another person that could assist him if need be. My question to you is, was this person somebody that looked like they could assist the driver in the event of an emergency? Or was it an 8 year old little girl or his mother?

You also mentioned the cancelation of the snorkeling tour in Cahuita which was replaced by the Tree of Life Sanctuary was disappointing, but that you enjoyed the hiking. I think the mistake here was that we allowed Cahuita Tours to negotiate directly with you rather than going through us. Had we known what exactly was involved in going to the Sanctuary we probably would have vetoed that idea. From your comment below, I see that you did enjoy the hiking part of the trip. The difference between the doing only the hiking tour vs. the hiking and the Sanctuary is $15 per person, I will ask Priscilla to send you a refund for the difference.

Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer

Costa Rica Expeditions & Nicaragua Expeditions
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Dec. 7, 2010 I know another person at work who traveled with her family to Costa Rica without much assistance. She said she would not return.
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?  Everything about the trip was wonderful.  The people were so kind and fun.  The wildlife was spectacular and the food was fabulous.  If you ask the waiters they may tell you nothing was left on the plate after a meal.  The last activity before returning to the US was the coffee plantation tour.  It was very enlightening.  Raising coffee in an organic manner is challenging but worth the effort.

What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had, based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?  Three of us traveled to Costa Rica for the first time in June.  Tortuguero is my favorite place so far in Costa Rica.  The second trip was more fun because I was more comfortable with transportation.  We could venture out on our own.

...and what fell short of your expectations?  Nothing.  Everything was great.

Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?  There were no changes.

What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?  There were no issues.

What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?  I had a great experience in June using CR Expeditions.  Nadya Shaw has planned each trip and has taken care of all the details.  I wouldn’t travel to Costa Rica without her input.  The transfer guides are so helpful, friendly and very good drivers.  It makes the experience fun and restful.

What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?  No one fell short of expectations.  Don Fernando is the river guide we have used for both trips in Tortuguero.  He is the best.  The manager and assistant manager at the lodge were very kind and cognizant of any needs.  The chef prepared flavorful meals.  The wait staff was very polite and attentive.  The housekeeping staff was excellent, also.

What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?  I know another person at work who traveled with her family to Costa Rica without much assistance.  She said she would not return.  If she traveled that way to save money she really lost money and vacation time by not having support from those who know their country.  It’s the difference between having a memorable experience and one that is not.  I love Costa Rica.  I’m glad I live on this side of the world.  It’s a fun place to be.

Brooke Scheibe

November 2010
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Dec. 7, 2010 Watching the hatchling turtles at Tortuguero was wonderful....with us acting as a guard of honour for their journey from nest to the sea...
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 hatchling turtles at Tortuguero was wonderful....with us acting as a guard of honour for their journey from nest to the sea..under the watchful gaze of the turkey vultures and hawks!

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

The genuine care and interest of all the staff involved...made us feel like VIPs from start to finish.

...and what fell short of your expectations?

Absolutely nothing!

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

Not really relevant as travelled with family members

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

Absolutely nothing

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

The professional approach from the website and the e-mail contact and also the positive feedback feedback from previous travellers

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

No one fell short and everyone was wonderful. Norton, the guide at Tortuga Lodge was excellent and the hosts who accompanied us by bus to the boat dock (Miguel) and for the brief journey from the airport to the hotel (sorry forgot his names) were unexpected bonuses...both very friendly and knowledgable


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

I thoroughly recommend this company. They will handle everything for you in a friendly and professional manner and give you a trip to remember for a lifetime...and can I come too!!!!!

Lisa Fisher

November 2010
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Dec. 7, 2010 ...we did experience a trip of a lifetime as promised by your compan
I wanted to mention that we particularly appreciate one of your guides,
Norton, at Tortuga Lodge.  He was able to find wildlife wherever we went.
Also, he advised us how to see the baby turtles, and we were successful.
Everyone was awesome, and we did experience a trip of a lifetime as promised
by your company.  

Thank you, Priscila.  Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Best regards,

Ricki Wilson
October 2010
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Nov. 19, 2010 It really exceeded my expectations.

My stay at Tortuga Lodge was fantastic. It really exceeded my expectations. From the moment my group was picked up at the Intercontinental Hotel in San Jose to the end of our trip everything was perfect and on schedule. The rooms were clean and well appointed, the food was fabulous and the excursions entertaining and educational. It was a totally relaxing and enjoyable experience.

My only recommendations is to add some exercise equipment at the lodge. Maybe one or two cardio machines would be great for those or us that want to stay in shape even in the middle of the Tortuguero Rain Forrest.

Best regards,

Alex Feliciano



Our Response

Thank you for taking the time to write about your trip to Tortuguero. I hear you on the exercise equipment. What I usually do is walk from the town to the airstrip and then take a kayak out for a spin. Although that’s not always feasible when you’re on tour. I’ve also tried swimming laps, but the pool is a bit short for that.

Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer

Costa Rica Expeditions & Nicaragua Expeditions
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Nov. 19, 2010 First rafting trip (awesome) and first zipline (more awesome). Great people. Really made us feel welcome.
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?
First rafting trip (awesome) and first zipline (more awesome).   Great people.  Really made us feel welcome. 

What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had, based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?
The dinner you had for us at Tortuga Lodge was very unexpected.  Also the lunch stop prior to getting there.  We have never been treated so graciously before.  

Also, the three lodges that Nadya picked out for us were very, very, nice. I knew they were nice from reading the guide books, but not that nice.

...and what fell short of your expectations?
Having to go home......Really, I can not think of anything.  the whole time was very "magical" (as my Sister put it) 

Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
Nope.  We all had a great time and enjoyed every minute. 

What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
Maybe the cost.  But looking at what we got and where we stayed it was well worth the price. 

  

What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
Your reputation.  You are mentioned in the guide books quite a bit as being the best. Also my original foryay on to your website)  Where you have the questionairre about likes and dislikes.  (thats a greatidea)  Having someone get back to me pretty quickly about the suggested itinerary and that same person staying with us all the way.  Nadya was great....

  

What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
Exceeded:  Nadya Shaw (always quick to get back to me on any questions)  I trusted her recommendations and she is a great employee (I recommend giving her a raise) 

Exceeded: Norton (our guide at Tortuga)  Great personality and local knowledge.  We really enjoyed our time with him.

Exceeded: All the drivers, pilot.  Can't remember names but they were all fun to be around and knew enough of English to have some fun conversations with. (some would actually appologize for not knowing English better!!  We were the visitors, we should know your language better!!)  Also were more than willing to answer questions we had about your Country.

Exceeded: All the rest.  Sorry about forgetting names but every one of your employees we had contact with treated us as "friends".  Never a hitch in our itinerary.

fell short: no one

  

What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?  
I'd recommend this place instead of Hawaii.  The people are very friendly, the food is fantastic, the scenery is incredible.  There is an endless variety of things to do.  You really feel welcome there.

Douglas Praetzel



Margaret

We also booked a self directed trip through nadya - She was fantastic & always got back to us very promptly. I would do it again in a minute. 11/10
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Nov. 16, 2010 Both he and our driver Patrone were more like family than guides and we feel we have built lasting friendships.
Priscila,

When we left Diego on Monday we spoke with him about the possibility of adding a day tour in San Jose on November 3rd.  He had some ideas and was going to speak with you on Tuesday and have you get back to me with a proposal.  I know that he is really busy preparing for the upcoming PBS special and this may have slipped his mind.  Could you get with him and see what he had in mind and let me know if it is possible to schedule.

On another note I wanted you to know that our experience with Costa Rica Expeditions and with Diego and Patrone in particular were absolutely fabulous.  Once we got everybody here and got on our way everything proceeded without a hitch.  The objectives that we set out to achieve with my grandchildren were not only met but exceeded.  In Diego your organization has an outstanding young man.  His knowledge of Costa Rica is amazing, we had never been birdwatchers before but know have become hooked because of him.  He never quit working and as a result we were able to see and identify almost 150 birds.  Both he and our driver Patrone were more like family than guides and we feel we have built lasting friendships. The White Hawk Villa at Arenal was a wonderful choice the only missing part was an eruption while we were there, but we’ll save that for another trip.

We are now looking forward to our next opportunity to enjoy Costa Rica and Costa Rica Expeditions.

Blaine Hendrickson
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Nov. 16, 2010 We want to thank Michael Kaye for coming to talk to us while at 'Tortugara
I am not sure my husband will fill out your evaluation so I am writing directly to let you know how impressed we were with your company and our connoisseur tour led by Migel Marin.

From the moment we arrived in San Jose and were greeted by Itsa (sp?) we felt we were in the best possible hands and could forget the details and just enjoy our trip.

The 2 hotels owned by your company were superb and the food was fabulous.  We want to thank Michael Kaye for coming to talk to us while at 'Tortugara I hope we made it clear how positively we felt about the company.

Our Lapa Rios extension was fantastic, the hotel, staff and food were all terrific.  The best trip I have had in many years.

Melinda Wolff
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Oct. 25, 2010 Didn't realize my guides would be degreed naturalists in addition to a driver.
Luis

Had a great Vacation. Far exceeded expectations with professionalism and number of staff. Didn't realize my guides would be degreed naturalists in addition to a driver. What a learning experience. Accomadations were great service excellent in all but Le Chamilion.

What a trip. We'll be back in a few months and try thy pacific. I'm thing 8-10 days in March and look for a condo or home on the Pacific side.

Regards,

Richard

October 2010
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Oct. 25, 2010 The questionnaire that we filled out in the beginning of the process was so key to the planning. Once we were assigned Luis Cubero, it was as if he knew us.
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 questionnaire that we filled out in the beginning of the process was so key to the planning.  Once we were assigned Luis Cubero, it was as if he knew us.  The planned vacation has so much activity but was also balanced with time for renewal.

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

The Tortuga Lodge was surreal!  The atmosphere, the accommodations, the remoteness, and especially the amazing food!  This was such a highlight.

...and what fell short of your expectations?

The Le Cameleon was too modern and didn’t give a Costa Rican feel.

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

Just that we got what we were looking for at an amazing value.

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

Nothing…we were confirmed after our first moments.  Your prompt responses to our emails from the moment we submitted our questionnaire…outstanding!

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

The activities tied with luxury..

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

Nothing.  We especially were pleased with all our drivers.  That was such a great idea!  After experiencing the roads, I would never want to drive in Costa Rica.

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

You will find that whatever you’d like to do can be done.  Costa Rican Expeditions will respect your desires and create a vacation that can fit in any budget.  Pura Vida!

Kimberly Bernard



Our Response

I am sorry to hear that your experience at Le Camaleon wasn’t up to standard. This is the third negative review we have had of this hotel and we are in the process of talking to their management so that we can figure out if they are capable of making the changes that need to be made if they are going to continue to host our guests. The southern Caribbean coast is tricky because there are very few hotels that up to the same standard of the rest of the country. It’s such a beautiful area, that we really want to sell it, but need to continue looking for suppliers that are willing and able to provide service that is at our standards. It also has the advantage that the weather is gorgeous in September and October and this works quite well for guests that are traveling this time of year. These are months where it’s pouring rain on the Pacific.
-

Oct. 25, 2010 we never would have learned as much or had as much fun without the excellent service from all the CRE staff. Thanks for making our family vacation a memorable, exciting, and fun adventure.

We had a fantastic trip!  Every adventure was wonderful.  There were two main "value added" components to the trip.  First, we never would have been able to do so much in such a short number of days without the detailed planning from CRE.  Second, we never would have learned as much or had as much fun without the excellent service from all the CRE staff.  Thanks for making our family vacation a memorable, exciting, and fun adventure.

Special thanks to:

Norton, an amazingly patient and knowledgable guide
Sheila, who made everything fun
Ricardo, a skilled river guide
Alex the driver, who made extra efforts to help us find roadside attractions we were looking for

Best regards.

The Burton Family

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Oct. 25, 2010 I never expected all the pampering.
The service from your company is terific. I never expected all the pampering. Everyone is so friendly and helpful. Your country is beautiful and so interesting. I have enjoyed seeing all the plants and animals. The food at both Monteverde and Tortuguero has been wonderful. Thanks for all your help.  

Sue L
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Oct. 25, 2010 Anything we wanted to do or asked for was made to happen!
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 loved how friendly each guide was and how they went above and beyond to make our trip exciting and interesting. Learning more about the culture in Costa Rica was a great experience.

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

Things ran so smoothly- everything ran perfectly on time, people were helpful and took their time to make sure that we had a great time. Anything we wanted to do or asked for was made to happen!

...and what fell short of your expectations? Nothing.

Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with? no

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?

Quick responses, answers to all of our questions, good recommendations from others, attention to everything that we asked for in our trip.

What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways? none.

 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 created a perfect itinerary for us to fully enjoy Costa Rica, meet interesting and friendly people, see the beautiful countryside and go on an exciting adventure that we will never forget!
-

Oct. 25, 2010 Tortuga Lodge was the highlight of the trip - a really fantastic place to stay
“Tortuga Lodge was the highlight of the trip - a really fantastic place to stay: great service but with a really relaxed informal atmosphere.  It was a really special place and a fabulous welcome. The turtle watching was a fantastic experience. It was also great to have the opportunity to join in with the English language classes with some of the local kids which really made us feel party of the place rather than just tourists”. 

(PF Chiswick) 
August 2010

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Sep. 17, 2010 I really enjoyed myself and felt safe traveling alone with the costa rica expeditions.
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?
 
I thought the nature and scenery overall is an amazing memory.   Getting a chance to see so many of the animals in nature was awesome- the resplendent quetzal, common potoo.  I did wish I saw more toucans and parrots up close though!  Another time I guess!
 
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had, based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?
 
The accomadations at my first 2 hotels were fabolous- volcano lodge, monteverde lodge- were awesome!  The food everywhere was delicious even at a simple roadside place.  Loved it!  I went to the butterfly gardens in monteverde in my free time and thought the guide there was the most informative of all.  I recommend that place.
 
 
...and what fell short of your expectations?
 
The last hotel, Falls Resort, was not how I pictured it based on their website.  Most of the guides were good, informative.  I thought the kayaking in the mangrove at Manuel Antonio would have been longer & better.  Perhaps because I am an experienced kayaker and most of the others have never done it.  It just didn't seem like we paddled that far before we had to turn around.
 
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
 
Traveled alone, but share transportation.
 
 
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
 
The price of traveling alone.
 
 
 What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
How informative Nadya was and her timely responses to my many questions.  I liked the itinerary overall that was made for me.  I literally decided 24 hours before the flight to go and Nadya got everything to me in time.
 
 
 What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 
My first driver (from airport to volcano lodge) was awesome and very friendly.  Can't remember any names though at this point!  The guides at Monteverde and Hanging Bridges were very good.
 
 
 
What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?
 
I really enjoyed myself and felt safe traveling alone with the costa rica expeditions.  The prices were reasonable especially if you were traveling with another person (someone you can share a room with).
 
Kimberly Cook
August 2010



Our Response

Thank you for letting us know that you didn’t particularly enjoy the kayaking trip in Manuel Antonio. You’re the third person to send this feedback and I think we are going to have to quite offering this tour!
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Sep. 14, 2010 We had an amazing vacation
Dear Michael,

May I call you Michael? I love the way you sign your name everywhere, always
taking responsibility for your organization. Your corporate culture is
wonderful and our entire family was most impressed with each and every
person either employed or contracted by CRE. They were professional,
friendly, helpful, on time (usually early and waiting for us) and most
impressively, genuinely happy to be doing their jobs.

This was a very big trip for us and we felt very cared-for from the minute
we saw your representative at the airport. As for the planning, a huge thank
you goes to Priscilla Jimenez who apparently knew what we wanted to do in
Costa Rica better than we did ourselves. She planned our 10 days with a bang
in the beginning, a bang at the end and plenty of excitement in the middle.
It really had a nice flow.

I filled out your questionaire before leaving the country. The hardest
question to answer was what we enjoyed the most. My family couldn't agree
between the 2-day Pacuare River trip with the overnight at the Pacuare Lodge
(really special); the day at Cahuita National Park both snorkeling (saw a
shark!) and hiking back seeing all the animals; and canyoning at Arenal
(definitely the most exciting thing we've ever done!).

The most unexpected adventure was flying in a 5 passenger plane. When we
booked the domestic flight, we had no idea it was to be a private plane.
WOW. Our biggest disappointment was at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
Though we have no doubt our guide was extremely capable, we saw next to
nothing besides the ubiquitous leafcutter ants.

Have no doubt that should we plan a return trip to Costa Rica, you will be
the first to know. And we strongly suggest anyone wishing to travel to Costa
Rica contact you immediately!

Truly, thanks for everything,
D


Denise Sternburg
September 2010



Michael Kaye’s Response

I am sorry the animals in Monteverde did not cooperate. When I feel disappointed that I have not seen the animals I was hoping for, I try to remember that one of the many wonderful aspects of wildlife viewing is that we not count on spotting animals all the time. This is one of the things that makes it so exciting when we do see a special animal.
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Sep. 14, 2010 .you can be absolutely certain that we will be back in touch with you to help us plan another great vacation.
I am so glad that you wrote and reminded me.  I wanted to get back with you and tell you what a terrific job you did choosing the tours that John and I went on.  They were perfect for us and for the weather that we had to deal with.
 
The city tour was a nice balance of riding, walking, information, and time.  The guide (sorry I only remember the drive's name, Ed) was very knowledgeable, friendly and inspiringly bilingual!
 
The Cloud Forest tour was also nicely paced.  Arturo is an excellent guide, patient with all of our questions, stopping for pictures of flowers, etc. and knowledgeable about Nectandra, the flora and fauna (we heard but never saw a peccary, thank goodness!) and the value that the Cloud Forest adds in its own unique way.
 
Thank you so much.  When we return to Costa Rica we are planning on staying closer to the Caribean coast (neither of us has done that) and you can be absolutely certain that we will be back in touch with you to help us plan another great vacation.  Would we recommend you and your website - you can bet on it!
 
Beth
September 2010
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Sep. 2, 2010 Your company lived up to your slogan....legendary service and unforgettable memories! I will say however that in hindsight I'm surprised at the cost of the trip.
Hello Luis,
 
We had an absolutely wonderful vacation!  Thank you so much for the wonderful itinerary and recommending such beautiful accommodations.  Both resorts were outstanding and the activities at Punta Islita were exactly what we were looking for. Thanks as well to your operations staff for the flawless logistics - it made for a very stress free vacation.  Your company lived up to your slogan....legendary service and unforgettable memories!
 
I will say however that in hindsight I'm surprised at the cost of the trip.  As we checked into one of the resorts, I overhead the room rate (much lower than I expected) quoted to another guest. Upon our return, I checked the hotel websites and it appears our lodging cost was less than $1,500 of our $5,300 trip cost.  I fully expected to pay a mark-up, but even if I add in generous allowances for the transportation and activities, the cost is quite a premium.  I am still glad I booked through your company as I haven't been to Costa Rica before and we were on a very short timeline. I will recommend your company to others, as your execution was flawless, but I will encourage others to be more diligent about understanding the costs versus making arrangements directly.
 
Regards and thanks again for everything,
Becky
 
July 2010



Our Response

Dear Becky,

Finally here I am with the full report on your quote. I am very sorry for the delay in getting back to you!

I asked Douglas Espinosa to check the quote that Luis Pablo prepared for you. Douglas is a Senior Travel Planner and he has been with the company for a total of 10 years.

Douglas tells me that the quote was prepared correctly. There are a few inclusions that increased the overall cost of your vacation and I thought it would be a good idea to go over those with you.

- You say that you overheard a receptionist tell someone checking in how much the room rate was and that you were surprised at the amount as you expected it to be lower. Unfortunately, it is entirely possible that the hotel gave that guest what is known in the industry as a “walk in” rate. These rates are often lower than the regular retail rate because they are offered on the day of check in and fill a room that would have otherwise gone unsold. Many people choose to travel this way although there can be a lot of uncertainty associated with driving from hotel to hotel to see if they have space. We do offer our guests all of the special promotions that hotels make available, but for obvious reasons they don’t give us the walk in rate.

- You say that you later checked the rates in internet and that you came up with a total of $1500 for lodging. When we do the math, your total for lodging is $1788.82. You may not be taking into consideration the 13%taxes that are charged for lodging, many hotels publish their rates without taxes.

- While you were at Punta Islita you had a golf cart at your disposal the whole time. The daily rental increases the costs per day.

- You had two private charters one from San Jose to Islita and one from Islita to Arenal. Charters are wonderful because they get you from one place to another so much faster than going by land but they are pricey. I was just in Punta Islita in July with my son and it took us 4 hours to drive from San Jose to the resort. On the way back we got stuck behind some trucks on the highway and it took us 5 hours. To go by land from Islita to Arenal you would be looking at about 5 hours as well.

- Luis Pablo tells me that when you expressed concern at the overall cost of the itinerary before confirming, he offered to modify the itinerary so that you would be staying at Si Como No rather than Punta Islita. Not only is the lodging less money per night, but you wouldn’t have needed the golf cart to move around and transportation from San Jose to Manuel Antonio and on to Arenal is much less than to Islita. Luis Pablo remembers that you decided to stay with Punta Islita because it was less crowded. I would say that you made a good choice. While Si Como No is a very nice hotel, the isolation of Punta Islita, the view and the service is really tops.

- As you know we do add a fee to the costs of your trip for our planning and operation services. In this particular case, Luis Pablo charged you a rush fee given that the request came in on July 9th and you arrived on July 14th. This meant that he had to put many other tasks on hold and give your vacation priority. What he didn’t do was tell you that there would be a rush fee and that is a mistake in procedure.

I am delighted that in spite of your concerns about the costs that you and your nephew thoroughly enjoyed your vacation in Costa Rica and that the activities were just what you were looking to experience. As far as the logistics, it does make for a carefree vacation when you don’t have to think at all about what will happen next, but in my view so worthwhile given how precious vacation time is. When guests book their vacation direct, they will sometimes be able to do it for less, but they invariably have a lot of stress and time invested both at the planning and the tasks execution stages of the vacation. And that doesn’t take into account the risk of ending up doing tours that are unsafe with guides that are not professional or riding in vans that aren’t insured or planes that don’t adhere to the FAA flight safety standards. Also, when a hotel overbooks or makes a mistake with rooms category assignments, the first people to get bumped are the direct guests. I am including a link to a section of our website that we call Why Not Do It Yourself. You may find it useful when thinking about vacations down the road.

http://www.costaricaexpeditions.com/wl3/whynot.php

In closing, I would like to make up the long delay in my getting back to you on this concern. The communication break down between Luis Pablo and I caused a long delay. Do you drink coffee? If so, would you enjoy a subscription to gourmet Costa Rica coffee? Would you like light roast or dark roast? If you don’t drink coffee I would be happy to send you tropical fruit filled chocolates. If you would like to receive this, please send me your mailing address and I’ll have your first delivery ordered today.

Thank you so much for bringing your concerns to our attention, it’s people like you that make it all worth it.

Sincerely,

Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer
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Sep. 2, 2010 The whole trip exceeded our expectations and all 4 of our kids loved the trip. Including two teenagers.
What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
 
Tortugero was a facinating place.  Remote, beautiful, with abundant wildlife.  Who would have known that such a remote place could be so vibrant.  All the people were very nice and welcoming.  I loved how much pride the people had and how concervation concious everyone was.
 
 
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had, based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?
 
We were very pleased by the service of our guide and driver.  They were always there to help us, take care of a question or make sure our needs were met.  The second week we were on our own and I was so spoiled, I wanted to take them with us.
 
 
...and what fell short of your expectations?
 
 My husband and I wished that we had a king sized bed to sleep in.  Also, offer your guests earplugs at Tortuga Lodge.  Some people may want to sleep past the Howler monkeys wake up call.
 
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
 
No
 
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
 
My husband was concerned about the mosquitos and drinking water.  Neither turned out to be an issue for us.
 
 
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
The high recommendation that came from our friends, The Kluth Family, who toured with you the year before.
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 
Nothing or no one fell short of our expectations.  The whole trip exceeded our expectations and all 4 of our kids loved the trip.  Including two teenagers.
 
 
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 Costa Rica Expeditions.  They took great care of all our needs and concerns.  It was a well balanced trip.  The wildlife was abundant and the guides and drivers were able to spot animals that we would have never seen if we were on our own.  Our travel planner took great care of us, also.  She gave us upgrades when available and took care of every little detail.  All we had to do was tell her what we wanted to see/do and she took care of the rest.
 
 
Thanks again for your feedback!
 
Laurie James
August 2010
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Sep. 2, 2010 .the turtle tour on our first night was very poor and did not live up to the level of service that we understand Costa Rica Expeditions strives to provide.
22 August 2010
 
Dear Priscilla:
 
Our stay at the Tortuga Lodge was very enjoyable.  We had a good boat trip into the park with Fernando, and enjoyed our visit to the local school as well.  The staff were kind and friendly and meals were to a high standard.  Things were as they should be for the quality of service that we expected when we booked with you!
 
However, the turtle tour on our first night was very poor and did not live up to the level of service that we understand Costa Rica Expeditions strives to provide.  The local manager asked us to take up this matter directly with you.
 
We were informed that the turtle tour at 29$pp + 10$pp would be for our group of four persons or a maximum of six.  In fact, only on departure did we realize that there were 11 people (us plus 7 others including a very young child).  We were not given any option to cancel out and go the next night instead.
 
While we went prepared with rain wear and umbrellas, these other guests went in day clothing with no protection and even in flip-flop shoes.  There was no guidance or advice given to us or them from your staff or the specific guide for the tour.  Further we were given no introductory talk about the turtles and what we would see.  We were not provided with any lights to walk the distance through the park to Point 5 (about 2 km).
 
Unfortunately the other guests on the trip were talking and noise throughout and there was no atmosphere on the beach to experience the turtles and appreciate the natural environment.  It felt just like a cheap commercial venture/tour oversubscribed in numbers and with minimal added value.  
 
Then it started to rain very heavily.  The guests with the young child who were totally unprepared and unprotected asked us to provide them with the umbrella my two sons had brought with them.  As a result my two sons were soaked to the skin (and were not even thanked by these people).  
 
The walk back on the forest trail in pouring rain and with no flashlights given to us (the guide had one flashlight for 11 guests) was unpleasant and arguably dangerous.
 
As a result of the above we believe we should be refunded the amount paid for this tour.  The hotel manager asked us to refer this to you.
 
I look forward to hearing from you and Costa Rica Expeditions in due course.
Yours sincerely
Richard Jewell
 
Ps.  Flight cancellation:  I would be grateful if you would also let me know on the refund for travel since our flight was cancelled, meaning that we lost the last day of our vacation in Costa Rica (planned coffee plantation tour and Poas visit). As we have a rental car (left at Air Paradise hanger) we paid the additional cost of air travel precisely to gain time - Richard
 
CC. Michael S. Kaye



Our Response

Dear Mr. Jewell,

I have now looked into the situation thoroughly and the short version of my determination is that you have requested virtually the right amount for the refund, but your reasoning is in part flawed.

We are in complete agreement on the turtle tour. Gerardo was getting extremely sloppy in the introductory part of the tour. My guess is that the reason that I had not heard about it sooner was that the experience of seeing the turtle nesting itself is so moving that participants forget that the beginning of the tour was not handled well We have already sent one of our training guides to Tortuga Lodge to correct the situation.

The total amount you paid for the Turtle Tour and the park entrance fees was $160.

The problem with your reasoning about the refund for returning to San Jose by surface rather than air is that you are comparing the global pricing of a package with the pricing of individual services, which is what you bought. There is literally no way to do this. Packages are priced in a completely different way than individual services. The fact that it turns out that the amount due you is very close to the amount that you are requesting is actually a coincidence.

The reason for the difference between what I originally though you were due and what you were actually due is that I mistakenly assumed that the figure of $110 that I was giving for the difference in the price between surface and air was a global figure for the 4 of you. It turns out it was a per person price. This means that refund due you for the flights is $440. We will credit your card with the total amount of $600. The credit can take as long as 3 weeks to appear on your statement. If it is not on your statement within 3 weeks, chances are it has gotten lost. Please let us know so that we can reissue it.

Before closing, I want to comment on your offer to post a positive review on Trip Advisor if you are satisfied with our response to your request for a refund.

In my opinion Trip Advisor is an extremely valuable resource for both travelers and responsible suppliers of travel services. The site gives travelers unprecedented access to usually reliable information, rewards good suppliers and punishes bad ones.

It is because I appreciate the value of Trip Advisor that I am concerned that a very small but increasing percentage of travelers are using the promise of a good review and/or the threat of a bad one as an argument to approve refunds. Inaccurate positive or negative reviews to reward or punish refunds make Trip Advisor less trustworthy and detract from its value for all concerned.

Fortunately we do not get very many of these situations, but when we do our job is to decide whether or not approve a refund exclusively on the merits. Often there are conflicting versions and taking everything into account we have to make the best determination we can on what to believe. A threat or promise regarding Trip Advisor to us is evidence that the guest really does not think that that the request for the refund stands on the merits. It does not mean that we should not give a refund that is deserved, but at best it creates a smoke screen (or should I say ash screen) that we have to work through to come to a fair determination.

If you are inclined to post on Trip Advisor about this situation I hope you will do so not to reward or punish us, but rather to help future guest make the best informed decision that they can.

These are not just my opinions. I am in pretty constant contact with colleagues who have similar businesses from all over the world and most of us have come to the same conclusions.

Please let me know if you have any questions and please excuse the frank comments at the end of this email.

Michael Kaye, CEO & Founder

Costa Rica Expeditions & Nicaragua Expeditions,

Richard Jewell

Dear Michael:

Realizing you aim to close out on our case today I thought the attached summary might be useful (note there are three separate sheets). We trust you will find this helpful.

We are very much hoping for a good resolution from your side so we can put this to rest and feel that we have been treated fairly and correctly by Costa Rica Expeditions.

The trip was arranged while we were already travelling in country and perhaps all the information was not properly exchanged/understood between Priscilla and ourselves during that time.

I very much hope that our comments on the turtle tour are considered seriously and adopted where possible.

We look forward to hearing from you and to closing this chapter, whereupon we can add positive comment on our experience in Trip Advisor.

Yours sincerely

Richard Jewell,

Our Response

Dear Mr. Jewell

Since resolving your request for a refund for the Turtle Tour may will involve determining the credibility of conflicting versions of the same incidents, your email has been forwarded to me for a decision. Before I can come to a fair conclusion I will need to talk to everyone involved including the other participants in the tour. I am not sure how long that will take, but I commit to resolving this as quickly as I can and to email you and update no later then close of business a week from today.

In the meantime, there is one question that you can help me clear up. Who told you that the tour would be for 4 or a maximum of 6 participants. If you do not know the name please describe the person. Assuming that it was an employee of Tortuga Lodge it will be easy enough to figure out.

Regarding the cancelled flight we agree that you are due a refund for the difference between the price of the flight and price of surface transportation, which comes to $27.50 per person for a total of $110. We will credit this amount to your credit card along with any refund due for the turtle tour as soon as this matter is settled.

I am sorry that you were not entirely satisfied with your experience at Tortuga Lodge and promise to make a good faith effort to resolve your request fairly.

Michael Kaye, CEO & Founder

Costa Rica Expeditions & Nicaragua Expeditions

Legendary Service*Unforgettable Memories®,

Richard Jewell

Dear Mr Kaye:

Thank you for your prompt reply, and I trust that the requested recompense will be forthcoming.

To summarize for the turtle tour in relation to Costa Rica Expeditions stated aims and ambitions:

1. Costa Rica Expedition aim for Pedagogic tours: there was no initial briefing or presentation on turtles. There was no information handed out on turtles. The guide only provided banal information that we already knew from guide books (Lonely Planet, Insight Guide). I am afraid that your guide for the turtle tour falls far short of the knowledge and ability to transfer information that Fernando exhibits for the boat tours. (Indeed, rather irritatingly, his main preoccupation seemed to be to tell us how lucky we would be to see a turtle etc., in mid-August!).

2. Costa Rica Expedition emphasis on safety: the group included 7 members who were permitted to go on the tour with no protection whatsoever from rainfall, and several members of whom only had flip-flop shoes. In the village many operators of turtle tours rent boots for the tours, it is beyond me to understand why you do not do the same (or indeed provide those as an option for clients)? On coming back through the water filled paths in the park the guide had one light, the young family had one light and I had one light (for a group of 11 people in torrential downpour walking in pitch dark though a national park).

3. Costa Rica Expedition emphasis on small groups: it was the hotel manager who mentioned he thought we would be just us (family x4) or perhaps six on the tour. This comment was likely made given that the lodge was relatively empty. I realize that the written information on your website says up to 10. We were 11 guests on the tour.

Finally on the turtle tour, value for money. The CRE tour costs 45% more than the most expensive tour we found in the village (20US$). We selected the CRE tour with high expectations that it would be better than these alternatives. As you know, this turned out not to be the case.

Therefore we trust you will make good and refund us at least 4x29US$ in good faith.

On transport costs, we made our 3 week trip to Costa Rica by car. If we had wished to travel to Tortuga Lodge by car that would have cost us 90US$ per person for the return transfer Cabo Blanco-Tortuga Lodge. We chose the return plane journey to save a day at extra cost. Therefore we would request refund of 125$ - 45$ = $80US per person for losing our last day of vacation due to the cancellation of our flight. Again we trust you will make this refund in good faith.

The context is that we are a family of four who like to show our two teenage sons different environments – we have visited Azores, Bali and now Costa Rica. To achieve this we travel independently and are necessarily cautious and mindful on budget. We decided to use some of our last week (which we had left free for such choices) to visit Tortuguero. As it stands today, we spent about 2000US$ for our 48 hour stay at Tortuga Lodge. By any standards this is a high cost that should be associated with unstinted service and good faith compensation when things go wrong (such as the flight cancellation).

We hope you will do the right thing and look forward to hearing from you in the coming days.

Yours sincerely

Richard Jewell,

Richard Jewell

Dear Mr Kaye:

The following is a suggested resolution for our problem that it appears to us will leave everyone satisfied.

Given that we travelled one way by plane and the other by boat and our trip included one successful boat tour, the correct basis for payment should be the 378US$/per person that you offer for your 3D/2N tour. That would be a total cost US$1512.

Assuming a full refund for the ill-fated turtle tour, and allowing for 8US$ worth of laundry we had done during our stay, the amount to refund would be the total paid by us, minus 8$ laundry, minus US$1512 adventure trip that we completed. The maths is then:

1770 paid in advance + 347$ paid at the lodge – 8$ laundry – 1512$ for 4xadventure trip 3D/2N = 597US$ to be refunded.

For us the above would fully resolve our issues and would allow us to add a positive comment on trip advisor about CRE and Tortuga Lodge.

We hope you will agree with the above resolution (which still leaves us having lost our last day of vacation in Costa Rica, but volcanoes do that).

Yours sincerely

Richard Jewell,

Our Response

Dear Mr Jewell,

I have received both your emails. I have been traveling in Costa Rica and only been able to access email occasionally. I will get to you as soon as I can, but I am going to need some time to try to figure out your rational for why you should receive a refund for more money than the difference in cost between the flight and boat and bus and the full amount your paid for the turtle tour. At the latest I will give you a substantive response by the end of the day, Monday, August 30.

Michael Kaye, CEO & Founder

Costa Rica Expeditions & Nicaragua Expeditions

Legendary Service*Unforgettable Memories®,

Richard Jewell

Dear Michael:

Thanks for the reply and the attention you are giving to this matter.

The logic on the cost of the trip is simply that what we were provided, in the end, was the 3D/2N tour – one way plane and one way boat/road.

Our additional expenditure was 8$ laundry and the ill-fated turtle tour.

Therefore it seems logical that we should pay 4x the 3D/2N price plus our laundry (with full refund for turtle tour).

The only reason we did not take the 3D/2N deal was that we were “buying” a final day of vacation in and around San Jose – but this turned out not to be the case.

As I mentioned previously, I think this settlement would leave all parties satisfied. We would be comfortable that we enjoyed the 3D/2N tour and paid the advertised price for it (plus our laundry). For your team this also works fine as this is the standard deal that I expect most guests take.

The above will also take some of the sting out of the mis-adventure on the turtle tour, and as I said we can all then consider the matter closed to everyone’s satisfaction.

Whatever, I very much hope that our comments concerning the turtle tour are taken on board as it would be so easy to get that one right.

With best regards

Richard Jewell,

Richard Jewell

Dear Michael:

Realizing you aim to close out on our case today I thought the attached summary might be useful (note there are three separate sheets). We trust you will find this helpful.

We are very much hoping for a good resolution from your side so we can put this to rest and feel that we have been treated fairly and correctly by Costa Rica Expeditions.

The trip was arranged while we were already travelling in country and perhaps all the information was not properly exchanged/understood between Priscilla and ourselves during that time.

I very much hope that our comments on the turtle tour are considered seriously and adopted where possible.

We look forward to hearing from you and to closing this chapter, whereupon we can add positive comment on our experience in Trip Advisor.

Yours sincerely

Richard Jewell,

Our Response

Dear Mr. Jewell,

I have now looked into the situation thoroughly and the short version of my determination is that you have requested virtually the right amount for the refund, but your reasoning is in part flawed.

We are in complete agreement on the turtle tour. Gerardo was getting extremely sloppy in the introductory part of the tour. My guess is that the reason that I had not heard about it sooner was that the experience of seeing the turtle nesting itself is so moving that participants forget that the beginning of the tour was not handled well We have already sent one of our training guides to Tortuga Lodge to correct the situation.

The total amount you paid for the Turtle Tour and the park entrance fees was $160.

The problem with your reasoning about the refund for returning to San Jose by surface rather than air is that you are comparing the global pricing of a package with the pricing of individual services, which is what you bought. There is literally no way to do this. Packages are priced in a completely different way than individual services. The fact that it turns out that the amount due you is very close to the amount that you are requesting is actually a coincidence.

The reason for the difference between what I originally though you were due and what you were actually due is that I mistakenly assumed that the figure of $110 that I was giving for the difference in the price between surface and air was a global figure for the 4 of you. It turns out it was a per person price. This means that refund due you for the flights is $440. We will credit your card with the total amount of $600. The credit can take as long as 3 weeks to appear on your statement. If it is not on your statement within 3 weeks, chances are it has gotten lost. Please let us know so that we can reissue it.

Before closing, I want to comment on your offer to post a positive review on Trip Advisor if you are satisfied with our response to your request for a refund.

In my opinion Trip Advisor is an extremely valuable resource for both travelers and responsible suppliers of travel services. The site gives travelers unprecedented access to usually reliable information, rewards good suppliers and punishes bad ones.

It is because I appreciate the value of Trip Advisor that I am concerned that a very small but increasing percentage of travelers are using the promise of a good review and/or the threat of a bad one as an argument to approve refunds. Inaccurate positive or negative reviews to reward or punish refunds make Trip Advisor less trustworthy and detract from its value for all concerned.

Fortunately we do not get very many of these situations, but when we do our job is to decide whether or not approve a refund exclusively on the merits. Often there are conflicting versions and taking everything into account we have to make the best determination we can on what to believe. A threat or promise regarding Trip Advisor to us is evidence that the guest really does not think that that the request for the refund stands on the merits. It does not mean that we should not give a refund that is deserved, but at best it creates a smoke screen (or should I say ash screen) that we have to work through to come to a fair determination.

If you are inclined to post on Trip Advisor about this situation I hope you will do so not to reward or punish us, but rather to help future guest make the best informed decision that they can.

These are not just my opinions. I am in pretty constant contact with colleagues who have similar businesses from all over the world and most of us have come to the same conclusions.

Please let me know if you have any questions and please excuse the frank comments at the end of this email.

Michael Kaye, CEO & Founder

Costa Rica Expeditions & Nicaragua Expeditions

Legendary Service*Unforgettable Memories®,

Richard Jewell

Dear Michael:

Thank you very much for handling our situation directly and taking note of the feedback we have provided. For us the matter is now closed (definitively once the administrative side is processed, but I have no concern on that score).

Apart from the Turtle Tour and the apparently much larger difference on cost between the tour and what we were being charged – this would not have been noticed if the flight back had operated! May I suggest that it would be useful for clients to have a choice of package between flight+boat/coach and flight/flight? I imagine that there are others who would rather pay extra to save the overland travel time?

On Trip Advisor, I have been an active member for more than 10 years. These days I review most places we stay. In Costa Rica we stayed in Tacacori Eo Lodge, Silencio del Campo (not reviewed), Conchal Hotel, El Pequeno Gecko Verde, Horizon Villas (Santa Theresa, not reviewed), Hidden Canopy (not reviewed) and Tortuga Lodge, over a 20 night visit to Costa Rica. The places not reviewed did not need any help from us! Others such as Tacacori, Pequeno Gecko are getting started and merited exposure so that other travellers such as ourselves would find them.

The reason I would review Tortuga Lodge (which also does not need much help) is to advise independent travellers that it is worth the trouble and cost! On our trips we usually have one or two stays that are “expensive”. In Bali, we stayed at Wakashira in the National Marine Park – absolutely irreplaceable experience. In Costa Rica it was Jen’s Hidden Canopy tree houses and Tortuga Lodge. We loved Tortuga Lodge and were more than happy to experience it where it felt almost like we had the place to ourselves. The review comments on the Lodge reflect our experience (apart from the turtles that you will rectify – offering boots when visiting Point 5 or higher in the Park would also be helpful, I think). From that list, you might consider offering high-end clients the Hidden Canopy option (if available J!) rather than your Monteverde Lodge... it is very unique in concept and location.

Two last points that might be worth adding as potentially interesting information. Our visit to Costa Rica (we drove a 4wd) came out at about 75$/day/person including the cost of travel Brussels-San Jose. All the places we stayed were really nice and we did most things (trecking and skytrek zip line in Arenal, white water in Rincon Rio Negro, horse riding, lots of surfing at Nosara and Santa Theresa, CORU park and Tortuga Island, night trek and bird watching in Monte Verde, and the trips at Tortuga (including 4:30AM crossing to see late turtles at dawn, and the walk along the beach to the village). While we visited Poas at dawn from Tacacori (on our first day), we missed our last day visit to coffee plantation... but have seen coffee elsewhere and enjoy Costa Rica coffee at breakfast here.

Once again, thank you and Costa Rica Expeditions for your help and cooperation and for the enjoyable stay at Tortuga Lodge. We hope that our feedback has been useful, one way or another!

If money was no object, I would certainly let CRE organize the trip. However we are stretching budget to make our trips and manage to do it well and at reasonable cost by booking the main air travel well in advance and using Trip Advisor and staying in small, independent places with one or two special places added to the mix. It works well for us, and we try to re-pay trip advisor by adding what we hope is useful comment for other travellers.

With best regards and wishes

Yours sincerely

Richard,

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Sep. 2, 2010 .nowhere could start to compare with the service and the people at Tortuguero
Hi Priscilla,

I want to thank you for your expert trip planning on the behalf of my family. We had so much fun in Costa Rica! The service was outstanding, beyond anything we could have imagined. Your employees are extremely calm and collected and make you feel really important. Our last driver, Mauricio, was outstanding. He took us to breakfast and then to the airport and we had such a nice trip. He was full of information.
I needed to call your offices twice for help in minor time changes to schedules that didn't make sense and was delighted with how easily those changes were made.
Tortuguero was certainly my favorite and it might have been a mistake to go there first, because although the service was outstanding everywhere, nowhere could start to compare with the service and the people at Tortuguero. It is at such a different level.
Our only disappointment was with the bungalow at Tulemar. Compared to the other places we stayed, it was not up to par. It was clean, but not in good repair. It was terribly dated and noisy from the airconditioning, the refrigerator to the doors. The curtains were falling down and the sheets and towels were threadbare. The receptionist asked me if I was please with our room and I told her I was not really. Within minutes, the customer relations person was with me, and suggested an upgrade to a different style of villa. I felt bad because I hadn't meant to complain, but she handled this so well. After we moved to a really beautiful room she came to check on us and brought a basket with wine and chocolates. The rest of our day and the second night were great. We enjoyed breakfast, drinks, and lunch at the beach restaurant. The private beach was wonderful.
Thank you again and a special thanks to all of your drivers and guides, who made our trip so very special. I want to recognize Norton and Herado in Tortuguero and Carlos in Monteverde, but by no means were they the only fabulous people we dealt with.

Sincerely,
Ruth Ann Scott
August 2010



Our Response

….I was very sorry to hear that the original room was assigned to you at Tulemar Bungalows was in bad shape, but I am delighted that when you told their customer service lady she reacted professionally and relocated you. As a result of a problem that we had there with a previous customer we have asked them to never assign the bad rooms to our guests, and she must have realized that they made a mistake by putting you there. I want to thank you for brining this to our attention, otherwise we would have never known. We want to make sure that our guests don’t have to be inconvenienced by a move or worse be stuck in those rooms without and option.

Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer

Costa Rica Expeditions & Nicaragua Expeditions
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Aug. 30, 2010 Lifetime memories---sea turtle nesting
Thank you for a wonderful trip!
 
Lifetime memories---sea turtle nesting, Arenal volcano exploding, the accomodations at La Tortuga, Arenal Nayara and Manuel Antonio were beyond our expectations!  Fabulous!  Everything was planned out perfectly, so that we did not have to worry about who or when someone was picking us up, etc.  The food at La Tortuga was excellent, and the service was awesome at every hotel we stayed at.  I would not recommend Grano de Oro for families, but it is a beautiful hotel with amazing service.  The flights were amazing and the pilots were great.
 
The kayak trip in Manuel Antonio was not good.  The description stated that it was a kayak trip through the mangroves.  In reality, it was a difficult ocean kayak trip across the bay to a beach and back.  No animals and some pretty tough waves.  The guide was wonderful, but we were expecting something similar to the kayak tour in Tortuguero.  We did not get to see any monkeys in Manuel Antonio.  The only other thing is please tell the customers (actually the hotel should) that Manuel Antonio park closes at 4 p.m., so that people do not miss the opportunity to visit the park.
 
We met some wonderful people on this trip, and we are so glad we went with your company.  We decided to use your company because of the great reviews we had seen elsewhere, and the National Geographic recommendation, along with the prompt responses from Luis Cubero regarding questions we had.  Luis was great, as were all of the employees of CRE that we met.


Thank you again.  It was nice to meet Michael, as well as his son, who was so friendly and had some great recommendations.
 
Dale, Beth and Nicole Whitlock
 
August 2010



Our Response

I’m sorry that you did not enjoy the kayaking trip in Manuel Antonio. It is quite different from the kayaking in Tortuguero. I checked the itinerary that we sent you and you’re right it does say that you are going kayaking in a mangrove estuary. I am guessing that what happened was that Luis Pablo mistakenly booked the ocean kayaking instead.

Do you drink coffee? If so I would like to make up the kayaking mistake by sending you a subscription to gourmet Costa Rican coffee. If you don’t drink coffee, would you like some chocolates? If so, please send me your mailing address.

Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer
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Aug. 24, 2010 I want to make a special point of singling out for praise the naturalist/guide you assigned for our trip…..
My wife and I just returned from our August 5-15 trip with Costa Rica Expeditions, and I’ve attached the completed evaluation form to this email.
 
In short, the trip was absolutely wonderful and we are completely impressed with Costa Rica Expeditions. We are grateful for the wonderful time, and for the memories we will carry with us forever.
 
I want to make a special point of singling out for praise the naturalist/guide you assigned for our trip: Diego Blanco is an amazingly committed, talented, fun and informative representative for your company and, indeed, for your lovely nation. He was truly remarkable, and we can not say enough about how incredible he was.
 
We saw more than we hoped for (Diego’s eye for finding wildlife is quite amazing), experienced more than we could have reasonable expected, and enjoyed every moment of our stay. Thank you!
 
Best wishes,
Ken White
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Aug. 24, 2010 This was our second trip with you guys and I must say my wife and I, both seniors, but I speak Spanish so I know what is going on, went very well.
Hi Mike:  Just briefly. The trip went very well, logistics perfect. This was our second trip with you guys and I must say my wife and I, both seniors, but I speak Spanish so I know what is going on, went  very well. Two very minor suggestions,  Huertas had  done all our planning and when he left the company you should have informed us rather than I finding out in an email to finalize  everything  ( more confirming). No big deal, Douglass was fine. The other thing we should have been told ahead of time that you were  sending the exit tax form which we paid, at the end. This way I would not have wondered if you remembered. Again it all worked out very well and I will recommend you. One final issue  We stayed near Jaco at el paso de las lapas at my initiative: They are great. El valle de las lapas or something like that, recommended by you had too many negative comments on trip advisor and Jose Huertas confirmed that they were not always  great-so I skipped them. Another place you put up people near Jaco, forget name but very upscale-I called and double checked”tienen una boda ese fin de semana?When they said yes I also discarded them because that usually is a mess for the non wedding party!! At the end I went with El paso de las Lapas because of Trip advisor’favorable comments which turned out to be true. The place is charming but not for people looking for luxury. “They even pay a taxi to Playa herradura which is of course where “Suenios” condos are—not my cup of tee, the latter but great beach and seafood restaurant ( el pelicano). We will definitely recommend you. Carlos  and Lois Hirschberg
 

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Aug. 24, 2010 I have told several of our friends here in California about this experience in Costa Rica and it never ceases to amaze anyone I narrate this story to.
Michael,
            Thank you for following up to see how our trip went. I have tried to highlight a few things in your questionnaire below but I want to make a special mention of a couple of folks and would really appreciate it if you could ensure that you or your management team reach out to these folks to thank them on our behalf.
 
First off – Luz was the one helping us plan the trip and helped us with the reservations for the hotels and she was fantastic – I was a bit leery since it is a little disconcerting when you do not see the person face to face especially in this instance when you are a thousand miles away – well, she was fantastic and made recommendations where we should go first, second, etc. I was thinking of doing it differently but decided to go with her recommendation on the order of places to visit – and I will tell you that after doing the trip – she was spot on – I was glad I followed her advice. In short – she was helpful and very patient with me as we planned out the trip – top notch!! Her recommendation to stay at Arenal Manoa was great and the kids just loved the place and so did we.
 
Our trip went like this – Arenal to Monteverde to Manuel Antonio. We stayed at the Monteverde Lodge – what a fantastic place and the staff was awesome – you have done a marvelous job in putting that team together. The entire staff was great and the service in the restaurant was fabulous – there, Diego was our man and he took great care of our family!!
 
But at Monteverde the one person that I was more than impressed by was the young lady at the front desk by the name of Pamela – she was great at receiving us but here is the real skinny about her:
At checkout – I forgot my credit card!! I only realized this about three hours out of Monteverde at a gas station – my first instinct was – I am screwed and if we have to drive back 3 hours and back we will really mess up the plan to get to Manuel Antonio that day since we did not want to be driving at night!! I was getting ready to call Visa and have my credit card cancelled and use my other credit cards – instead I called Monteverde Lodge and got Pamela – and get this - she was most apologetic that she let me forget my credit card (and not just that yes I had left it behind!!) and she had already started making arrangements to have my card delivered the next day to the place where we were staying at in Manuel Antonio (at the Buena Vista Villas – and it was serendipitous that just before we left I had asked Pamela to call them to confirm our reservations for that night and so she knew where we were staying and had the number to call – which she did to find out our villa number). The next afternoon before 4pm my family and I were at the pool and one of the folks working there came up and delivered the card to my wife – we were all incredulous and very thankful to Pamela – what a story!!! What an enterprising young lady and she told us that she had started working there less than two months ago. I have told several of our friends here in California about this experience in Costa Rica and it never ceases to amaze anyone I narrate this story to. So kudos to you and the team that you have put together and it was because of all of them there that we had an experience of a lifetime – not just in the pleasure of seeing the beautiful country of Costa Rica and the phenomenal flora and fauna but the hospitality of the people there – especially that of the folks in your outfit – so my heartfelt thanks to you and to Luz, Diego and most of all to Pamela!! Please be sure to pass on our appreciation to these special folks!!
 
Warm Regards
 
Keyoor Shah
 August 2010
 
 
What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
 
Everything!! Costa Rica is an amazing place – our whole family enjoyed the trip immensely – loved Arenal – the kids were completely fascinated to see the periodic ‘burps’ from the active volcano!! In Monteverde we saw sloths right on the property – I think we have about a 100 pictures of them – there was a baby with the Mom! And in the national park we saw a quetzal!!! Amazing – we never dreamt that we would see a quetzal!! The Monteverde lodge is incredibly awesome – just loved it. The kids really got into looking at the flowers, insects, birds – nothing was too small or mundane - this trip rates among the best ones we have taken as a family!!!
 
 
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had, based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?
 
Monteverde lodge is out of this world!! Could have stayed there for a month and still want to extend the stay!!
 
 
...and what fell short of your expectations?
 
One thing I would recommend you tell folks that are going to drive around Costa Rica on their own – MUST get GPS. Glad we did since there are no road signs off the main highways!!
 
 
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
 
Nothing – I am just glad that I stumbled over your website in trying to look up the Monteverde lodge!!! Luz was great!
 
 
 
 What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 
This I have said in great detail in the reply above. Diego at Monteverde Lodge restaurant and Pamela   (fantastic) at the front desk. And of course Luz – glad I followed her advise!!
 
 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 folks are the experts in Costa Rica – they are very helpful, patient and very knowledgeable about what they do and their recommendations on where to stay and in planning your trip – spot on – you cannot go wrong. You can rest easy that you have the folks that know the country well on your side – I am really happy that I went through them rather than a local travel agent in the US that has never even been to Costa Rica planning my trip- you should do the same!!
 
 Keyoor Shah
 August 2010
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Aug. 24, 2010 it was wonderful to see our son put to use his international experience and language skills.
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?
 
I was constantly delighted that while driving around Costa Rica everywhere you looked there were some flowers blooming. Your country is amazingly beautiful.
 
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had, based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?
 
I was really pleased how welcoming everyone was to us foreigners and how easy it was to function even without any Spanish. Everyone said it would be no problem and it wasn't. It was very easy to make our way around San Jose'  (Street signs would be nice though.)
 
...and what fell short of your expectations?
 
The lost Iguana Resort was not a good fit for our trip. We didn't have the time to use it's resort features.  And while the room had a outstanding view, it was very poorly lit. Also the food at the hot springs was, while over abundant, not up to the standards of the rest of our stay.  But I Reaaallly liked the hot springs.
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
 
Not much, it was a family trip, but it was wonderful to see our son put to use his  international experience and language skills.
 
 
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
 
Well there were some comunication break downs. But hey,  Marco Hernandez's wife did just have a baby.
 
 
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
Your attention to our requests and your reputation.
 
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 
No one disappointed us in any way. And I would commend or driver / guide to the Doka CoffeeEstate on his English and willingness to share information about Costa Rica and the region in general.  Also our driver to our hotel in Cartago make sure that we were in the right place and with a room before he would leave.
 
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.)
 
It's wonderful to have caring & knowledgeable people, like the Costa Rica Expeditions people, to take all the worries out of a beautiful tropical paradise vacation.
 
 
Kathleen Kress
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Aug. 18, 2010 For me the high point was watching with my daughters a female green turtle make her nest, lay her eggs, fill and hide her nest before returning to the sea
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?
 
Tortugero (starting with Tortuga Lodge) was the highlight of a perfect itinerary...in many ways I wished I could have spent our whole time in C.R. there.  On each of our carefully planned and executed outings (starting with early morning birding before breakfast in the Tortuga garden with Diego!) I saw beauty and mystery.  For me the high point was watching with my daughters a female green turtle make her nest, lay her eggs, fill and hide her nest before returning to the sea.  We've all given birth and there was a deep existential bond we felt with that turtle each time she fell back, breathless with effort, to recoup the primal energy to complete her task.
 
 
 
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had, based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?
 
There were so many details and extras at Tortuga Lodge, above all the warm and friendly staff and Captains.  It felt like a happy, respectful place. Diego exceeded ALL expectations; we could not have asked for a more thoughtful, knowledgeable, and responsive guide.
 
 
 
...and what fell short of your expectations?
 
 A few glitches, toward the end of the week at Arenal. 1) the bicycling was arduous and without beauty or interest   2) We had not noticed the absence of planned lunch and dinner on the last three days until we were 'dropped' on Thursday.  Thankfully, Diego seamlessly stepped in and scheduled stops and meals for us.  As a hard working professional AND housewife, I had counted on someone else taking responsibility for meals all week long; don't know how this fell through the cracks, but am especially grateful to Diego for making things right again in short order and with no fuss.
 
 
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?   No....
 
 
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?  Nothing.  We asked five companies for proposals, listing the size of our group (16) and the range of ages and interests.  I got back four 'canned' itineraries and one from Luis Pablo which showed an effort to respond to the specifics I had given.  I never looked back!
 
 
 
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?  Above...
 
 
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 
Diego exceeded expectations in every category; Luis, our driver, spoke no English but was friendly and diligent in his efforts to attend to our needs. (I was a bit anxious about his stopping mid-road, despite traffic in both directions on two lane roads to see wild-life...)  Olam who met us at the airport was terribly confusing about condensing our luggage;  we wished we had attended more carefully to instructions from C.R. Expeditions and less to American Airlines.  Perhaps your preliminary instructions could emphasize the need to pack lightly and concisely, so that travelers don't have to deal with the confusion of stored luggage, etc.
 
 
 
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.)  
 
Without reservation I urge you to contact Costa Rica Expeditions to inquire about trip planning.  Every detail was attended to thoughtfully by an extraordinary staff.
 
Molly Quinn Jones
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Aug. 18, 2010 ...give him the Best Guide award
Ladies & Gent:
 
Just wanted to share with you the following KUDOS from the Espys:
 
 
Meg McGriff North, CTC, ATC
Executive Vice-President
Brownell
A Virtuoso Member - Specialists in the Art of Travel
A member of the Tzell Travel Group
 
 



Anonymous

Hi Meg,

We have finally come down from the clouds. What a fantastic trip you put together for Collier's 60th birthday in Costa Rica. Truly, a "once in a lifetime" adventure. I can't say enough goods things about the entire trip. The hotel was better than advertised and I believe you could recommend it to anyone...exceptional room (wow, you should have seen the view, bathroom and outside shower), wonderful staff, great food. Scheduling was perfect...hot springs after waterfall rappelling, dinner on sight (and thank you for the wine); lovely lunch with a spectacular view after zip lining, walking through rain forest on suspension bridges; and how about a private dinner on our own boat with our own chef and staff, please tell me, what could be better? Not to mention, our excellent driver, Nino, Finally and most importantly, you were so right about Charlie. As you said, we were indeed fortunate that he was available...give him the Best Guide award. Not only is he knowledgable and great at his job, but we feel like we have a friend in Costa Rica. During the trip, Maurine and I were discussing a party we giving the week after we returned. Charlie offered to have the chef give us some tapas recipes. Within the week of our return home, Charlie got the recipes, had them translated and e-mailed them to us in time for us to use a few for the party. We all agree it was the "Best Trip" ever!
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Aug. 18, 2010 Well, you certainly know customer service!!
Natalie and Andres:

Well, you certainly know customer service!!  I will use you example at all
the other places that we visit that don't understand that!  We are in the
Holiday Inn Express at the Airport in San Jose (by the way, an excellant!!
place to stay....they know customer service as well!!)---free internet, free
shuttle every 10 min for 24 hours, clean rooms, great beds and pillows (!)
pool, food, everything anyone could ask for.  We leave tomorrow at 6:00 AM.

The hotel also has a LCD screen with all flight updates, just like the
airport.  

Our visit with Andres was superb.  Andres you will go very far; Natalie you
have an incredible employee.  I understand much more about your company now:
starting out as a river rafting group (we have done several things with
Mountain Travel/Sobek although I have not met Richard Bangs, I have read his
book!)  As I said before, the online survey that you have is OUTSTANDING.  I
have never seen anything like that from a company before, although as a
dentist I used something like that for all my new patients.  I learned it
from Selection Research Inc, in Omaha, Neb.
 
Anyway, your hospitality was first rate, and everything was spot on time and
perfect.  The garden walk and guide was superb, the wine and conversation
with Andres was also.  He spent alot of time with us.  The dinner was
fantastic, and the lodge is to die for.  We will definitely recommend it to
others.
 
We will probably return to CR in a few years after a few other places on our
list; we will contact you to give us a real custom tour....

Thanks......

Meg & Cary
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Aug. 18, 2010 This trip was our honeymoon. It was the perfect way to begin our married life together
What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?

 The waitstaff at Tortuga Lodge were friendly, attentive, and the food was delicious. I assumed that the meals were buffet-style, I guess just because they were included I jumped to that conclusion. But they were regular meals, with multiple courses, served to our tables. Each meal began with a salad, and sometimes also a soup, before the main entree was served. I was so happy to discover that the chef would always have a vegetarian option available, because that was a detail I had forgotten to look into prior to our visit. And there was always a dessert to look forward to. The absolute best was the passionfruit sorbet!
 Also, when we arrived on our first day, and often when we returned from our tours, there would be drinks waiting for us on the dock. That was a nice touch that made us feel really special.

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

 Our private turtle tour was like a dream. We were delighted by the picnic dinner, obviously prepared with great care by Wilmer and his crew. The ranger station was barely recognizable, it had been transformed by candlelight into the most romantic picnic location we could imagine. Dinner was fantastic, and we  hadn't even begun our adventure yet! Our guide, Gerardo, treated us like old friends, and, more importantly, treated the turtles and their habitat with great respect. We saw a number of turtles passing to and from the ocean before we focused our attention on the one we would observe laying her eggs. Words can't describe what it was like to be a part of that moment. We enjoyed every minute of our tour!!
 
...and what fell short of your expectations?

 We didn't realize, or else had forgotten, that we would not be able to swim in the Caribbean. I remember reading that the canal was not for swimming, but that the beach was nearby. We were disappointed to find out that the riptides and sharks made swimming in the sea unsafe. However, we were very pleased with the pool at the Lodge, so it didn't turn out to be a big deal. We spent hours laying in the hammocks by the pool, reading books and spotting lizards and toucans, and the water in the pool was clean and comfortable.
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?

 This trip was our honeymoon. It was the perfect way to begin our married life together.
 
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?

 There were so many things we wanted to see and do in Costa Rica, and it was difficult to narrow them down. We had to choose which parts of the country we would visit in the time we had, and we weren't always sure that Tortuguero would be on the list.
 
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?

 We really wanted to spend time on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, and when we read about the turtles laying their eggs at Tortuguero, our decision was made.
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?

 Gerardo was a fantastic guide. We had 2 tours included in our package, and he happened to be assigned to each of them. When it came time to go on our private turtle expedition, we requested him for that, as well. It was so obvious that he had a genuine respect for the land and the wildlife. And when we expressed to him that our only disappointment in Tortuguero was that we had not seen a sloth yet, he extended the length of one of our tours and brought us to a canal where he thought we had better odds of seeing one. We didn't, but his kind action meant more at that point than seeing a sloth.
 It's difficult to choose individual members of the waitstaff, because they were all so wonderful, but we will always remember Wilmer for the amazing job he did preparing and serving our private picnic, and Oscar, the bartender, for the time he took to make sure each Guaro Sour we ordered was just right!!
 There was also a groundskeeper named Geribe who was one of the most cheerful people we encountered during our visit. He was patient with my attempts to communicate with him in Spanish, and he was another staff member who was determined to help us see a sloth!
 We will always remember that the entire staff came to wave goodbye as our boat carried us away from Tortuga Lodge on our last morning.
 
What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?

 The grounds are beautiful, the tours are fantastic, the staff and guides are attentive and will treat you like family. Wildlife is abundant. It's a nice balance between feeling safe and secure and feeling like you are right in the middle of the rainforest. It is a wonderful place to have adventures and also get some rest... as long as you don't mind waking up to howler monkeys outside your window!
 
Thank you for an amazing trip. We will definitely contact you when we plan our next visit to Costa Rica, and we would certainly recommend you to friends who will visit in the meantime!
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Aug. 16, 2010 I do wish we had been booked into a zip line in the Arenal area, because it would have been great to go on the Sky Tram and Walk up near the volcano
 
Dear Nadya,
 
Thank you for the excellent job you did in planning our customized itinerary for a Costa Rica vacation for our family of four from Aug. 3 -- 11th. We really enjoyed our time in San Jose at the Grano de Oro, Tortuguero and especially at CRE's lovely Tortuga Lodge, and in Arenal at the very lovely Arenal Nayara hotel. We did lots of fun things in Manuel Antonio as well, but the Hotel Parador was a bummer because the only road leading to the hotel was being paved and was closed daily from 7:00 am to 3:00 or 4:00 pm. We loved having Aerobell charter flights take us everywhere. It was great arriving at a new location in the morning after a 35-minute fight, and spending the whole day there. We were so glad we didn't have to do drive 3.5 to 4.5-hours to travel between destinations in the country.
 
Grano de Oro in San Jose was a fine hotel, and the dinner our first night there was amazing, thanks to the Chef Francis Cassis. Apparently the hotel's restaurant is one of the best in San Jose.
 
Sylvia at Tortuga Lodge was a lovely and gracious hostess, and extremely helpful. The very knowledgeable nature guide there, Alberto, walked us through the gardens and rain forest behind Tortuga Lodge and explained so much of the flora and fauna. He was great!  My husband was quite taken with Janiver, the gardener, who showed Ray a poisonous yellow pit viper snake and a boa constricter. Ray used to collect snakes as a child, so he really enjoyed the snakes and even touched the tail of the pit viper, which drove Janiver crazy! We enjoyed kayaking with Norton through the canals and rain forest, and loved our nighttime turtle walk with Geraldo. The Caribbean Conservation Corp.'s sea turtle museum wasn't much of anything, but the video about the turtle preservation efforts was interesting. Our two daughters enjoyed the Word Adventure, teaching children how to speak English in San Francisco Village nearby. It was an eye-opening experience for them.  We also went offshore fishing with Roberto, who works at the lodge, and my daughter caught an 85-pound tarpon, which was fun for the whole family. The food at Tortuga Lodge was really delicious, and the pool was great.
 
We loved Arenal, and the Arenal Nayara Hotel and Gardens was our favorite hotel by far. We very much enjoyed hiking down to La Fortuna waterfall with our guide, Carlos, and swimming in its pools.  We were having drinks one night on the wine bar deck when the volcano exploded, so that was fun to watch. Our Arenal Hanging Bridges guide, Diego, was a fabulous guide, and taught us so much. He was just terrific. The Ecotermales (Hidalgo Family) Hot Springs were lovely, and dinner there was delicious.
 
We were unable to fly into Jaco as planned, because the airport there was too wet, so we had to fly into Quepos instead and drive 1.5-hours back to Jaco to go on the Vista Los Suenos zip line, which was fun and very well run. I do wish we had been booked into a zip line in the Arenal area, because it would have been great to go on the Sky Tram and Walk up near the volcano, but Los Suenos was fun anyway. Then we had to drive back 1.5 hours to Quepos to Hotel Parador. The hotel's road situation was a huge inconvenience, and I really wished we had stayed instead at the Arenas de Mar hotel, which had been our first choice. We loved our white-water rafting trip on the Class II-III Rio Savegre with H2O Adventuras. Our teenage daughters had a blast, and the guides, Mario and Diego, were terrific.
We also did deep sea fishing, which my husband had set up on his own, and caught the red snapper, 6 amber jacks, and a huge sailfish. That was a blast.
 
In addition to the bad road situation at the Hotel Parador, we had one other problem: the hotel forgot to do two bags of laundry that we left bagged up in our room at 6:30 am on our last day there. Unlike the Tortuga Lodge and Arenal Nayara, both of which cleaned our laundry quickly and returned it to our room around 4:00 pm on the days we needed that service, the Hotel Parador simply forgot to do our laundry. So I kept calling the front desk at 6:00 pm, 7:00 pm, 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm, wondering where our laundry was. It was finally delivered at 10:00 pm on our last night there. The Hotel Parador's room was OK, but not deserving of a 4-star rating, though its restaurant was nice, and the food and service manager, Eric, was very gracious in cooking for our dinner a large red snapper I had caught when we went deep sea fishing.
 
Costa Rica Expeditions did a great job booking our trip, our flights and our adventure and nature trips. This really was an eco trip to remember. We have many memories to cherish for a lifetime. Thank you so much, Nadya, for planning our trip and customizing it to our needs.
 
 
Sincerely,
Phoebe Eliopoulos and Raymond Cieisinski
 
 
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 walks with guides through the rain forest, the turtles hatching their eggs on Tortuguero, the Jesus Christ (basilisk) lizards walking on water, the beautiful flowers and fauna, the howler monkeys, Arenal volcano, hiking through the rain forest to La Fortuna waterfall, hiking over Arenal Hanging Bridges into the rain forest and all the nature information we got from Diego, flying over the countryside and realizing how rich Costa Rica is in natural resources, zip lining, and white water rafting.
 
 
 
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had, based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?     Costa Rica Expeditions met our expectations in the services, promises and safety it offered and the activities for which we were booked.
 
 
...and what fell short of your expectations? The room we initially were put into at Tortuga Lodge was NOT what was pictured on your Web site for a Deluxe room with a queen bed and two twins. The room was small, and all the beds were cramped together. This would have been a big disappointment, except that Sylvia, the receptionist, "upgraded" us at no cost to the "penthouse" which had two queen beds. This looked more like the picture that we saw for a Deluxe room on your Web site. You should make sure that your Web site pictures match what you promise guests. Because we were switched to another room, our stay at Tortuga Lodge was wonderful.
 
 
 Only the Hotel Parador  fell short of expectations. I really wish Costa Rica Expeditions had tried harder to get us into Arenas de Mar, which had been our first choice of hotel in Manuel Antonio. The unpaved road and blockages due to paving, and the forgetful housecleaning staff regarding our laundry, were inconveniences and disappointments. Next time I go to Costa Rica, I'll be sure to stay at Arenas de Mar on the beach instead of at the top of a hill on a one-way road.
 
 
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with? No, we all had a great time together. I think our younger daughter may have become a little braver, after having experienced the Class II-III white water rafting.
 
 
 
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us? Cheaper rates with other tour operators made us think twice about booking with the more expensive Costa Rica Expeditions.
 
 
 
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us? Nadya really understood our needs, listened to my concerns, and helped us plan accordingly as she customized our trip.
 
 
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?  Sylvia at Tortuga Lodge exceeded expectations, as did Antonio at Tortuga, and Diego with Arenal Hanging Bridges.
 
 
 
What would you say to a friend if you wanted to persuade them to choose us when they come to Costa Rica?  Costa Rica Expenditions is a great tour operator, with reliable subcontractors for exciting adventures and eco nature tours. They will make a vacation in Costa Rica pleasant, fun, exciting and safe.




Our Response

I am sorry to hear that you were disappointed with your experience at El Parador. The repairs to the road were a big inconvenience to many guests. Unfortunately the Costa Rican municipality advised the hotel that they were going to repair that road without sufficient time so that you could be advised ahead of time. The government is fairly well known for doing this kind of thing. We’ve even had them close down high traffic airstrips from one day to the next! For El Parador, it’s a mixed bag, on the one hand it’s a negative impact on their guests but on the other hand it’s such a relief to have the road fixed. I’m so glad that you and your family were such good sports about it and that you enjoyed your time in Manuel Antonio anyway. As far as the laundry goes, that is certainly annoying and unacceptable. Especially when you are traveling with kids. I’ll make sure that Alan Ortega, their sales manager is informed.

You say that you wish that Costa Rica Expeditions had done more to get you into Arenas del Mar. What makes you think that we didn’t do everything possible? We do hold blocks of space at this property, however, when you booked we didn’t have any available and neither did the hotel. It is in both of our best interests to have you at the best possible properties for your vacation and we make a big effort to do this. This is why I’m curious as to what made you think that we didn’t do our best?

You also mentioned wishing that you had done the Sky Trek in Arenal and been able to walk close to the volcano. I think I recall us talking about this on the phone the afternoon that we discussed your trip, but I want to clarify that we don’t book zip lines in Arenal due to safety reasons. We inspect most of the operations that are available in Arenal once a year but each time find compelling reasons to not sell them. These operations are either built incorrectly or run in a dangerous way, often both. There is no advantage to us in not offering them, we turn down thousands of dollars in sales every year, we don’t do it because the risk of a fatal accident is too high.

As far as hiking close to the volcano goes, this is also extremely dangerous. Given the activity of the volcano, we keep a respectful distance of 5 kilometers around the volcano. Many tour operators take guests on hikes and horseback rides to locations where you can see the burnt grass and touch hot stones, but the risk of a pyroclastic flow with poisonous gases is so high that we prefer not to run the risk. Several years ago a mother and her daughter with their guide traveling with a local tour company were killed by one of these avalanches of gas.

This is one of the tricky parts of doing an adventure vacation in a destination such as Costa Rica, making sure that everything you are going to do with your family is safe and that any risks involved in the activity are managed professionally. This is where I believe a company like Costa Rica Expeditions adds the most value to a vacation. We take all the hassle of figuring this out off your hands.

The question that we constantly ask ourselves when we are evaluating adventure activities is what would we say to the loved ones of a person that died while doing a zip line or a hike, after the fact? If we can’t honestly say that we evaluated the safety policies and procedures of the activity and found it to be as safe as it could possibly be, then we’d rather not offer it to our guests.

I was delighted to hear that Silvia at Tortuga Lodge was able to give you a free upgrade to the Penthouse at Tortuga Lodge. That room is the ideal room for a family.

Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer
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Aug. 14, 2010 ... the hotel itself had great views but was not comparable to your two hotels in warmth and quality
As you think about how we planned and fulfilled your Costa Rica
vacation...

all went well;
great employees, nice transportation;
great tortugero lodge


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


special `turtle celebration dinner'



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

special `turtle celebration dinner'



...and what fell short of your expectations?

the stop in Arenal (without own means of transport, hotel was a little
remote, the hotel itself had great views but was not comparable to
your two hotels in warmth and quality.)

In regards to the cloud forest tour, it would have been helpful to
have a choice of tours: sorted by interest and fitness level of the
attendees

We did feel that the staff in Tortugero did deliver a more memorable
experience in terms of arrival: welcome by staff waiting for us, no
documents to be filled out. Missed this in Monteverde Lodge.
We did though love very much the restaurant in the Monteverde Lodge.





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

nothing

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

convenience and expertise

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

all your employees were great to us

Daniela Tuninetti





Our Response

You mentioned the difference in warmth and quality between our lodges and

the lodge in Arenal. This is a comment that we get quite often and while

it's great to know that our guests love our lodges so much, we wish that

there was an option in Arenal that offered the same standard because we know

that it can be a bit of a letdown. You also mentioned that you thought

Tortuga Lodge delivered a more memorable experience than Monteverde Lodge

and I want to let you know that this is something that we are aware of and

are working on. Given the nature of Monteverde Lodge it's a bit more

difficult to have the staff greet all new guests and say goodbye to

departing guests, but we haven't given up. If we don't find something

exactly the same as staff waving from the dock, we should be able to

eventually come up something similar. I am delighted to hear that you

enjoyed the restaurant at Monteverde Lodge.

You mentioned that you would have liked the tour to the cloud forest to be

divided by physical ability. This is always the challenge when booking a

group tour, it's a bit of the luck of the draw. The best way to be sure that

you will be able to move at your own pace is to book a private tour. These

are of course more expensive, but if you don't think you are going to be in

a particular habitat again it can be worth the added expense to be able to

do the hike at your own pace.

Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer
-

Jul. 30, 2010 Maybe we could have done it a little cheaper on our own, but we could never have done it so beautifully and so comfortably.
Marco -
 
Its me the American who took forever to make travel plans to Costa Rica with a family of 5. It was a great trip. I know I am supposed to respond to your organization - they sent an email and survey, but I wanted to tell you first. You did a great job for us and we had a wonderful time.  Borinquen was heaven to me (I teach biology) and I didn't want to leave but the kids loved Tamarindo and being on the ocean. And those sunsets - fabulous!
 
I was really tough on you about keeping the budget small, I know. Now looking back we are amazed at all the activities we did for the price. Maybe we could have done it a little cheaper on our own, but we could never have done it so beautifully and so comfortably. Everything was so easy and so smooth - better than life back at home!
 
So thank you Marco. I will thank the company next, but you deserve it first.
 
Come see us in South Carolina! I'll plan it for you!
 
Ellison Robinson

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Jul. 30, 2010 We went horsebacking riding and it started raining but that made it even more fun.
What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?
 
The stay at Tortuga Lodge was fantastic.  We loved the boat ride back into the canals.  The variety of flora and fauna was stunning.  The stay at Volcano Lodge was wonderful...I never thought I'd be so close to an active volcano.  We went horsebacking riding and it started raining but that made it even more fun.  The national park in Manuel Antonio has spectacular views.
 
 
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had, based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?
 
How well Costa Rica Expeditions took care of us.  We really didn't have to worry about any details of our vacation.  We loved just going to the airstrip in Torteguero and Manuel Antonio and having the pilot waiting for us.  No hassle - we just climbed aboard and were off.
 
 
...and what fell short of your expectations?
 
Maybe that the extra day we chose in San Jose at the end was not really something that we would do again.
 
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
 
 My husband and I travel well together.  We had FUN!
 
 
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
 
We had to trust that the money we were committing ahead of time would be worth it.
 
 
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
We liked the on-line survey that pinpointed our needs.  We read about your company in Frommers travel guide and then did some on-line research to check you out.
 
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 
 Everyone was so helpful and friendly....and prompt!   That we were so well taken care of exceeded our expectations.
 
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 to have a carefree vacation go with Costa Rica Expeditions!
 
Jose and Donna Garcia July 2010
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Jul. 23, 2010 Viajamos 10'000km para descubrir la belleza costa ricense, le da uno pena perdersela por el apuro de un empleado.
Marco,

Acabamos de llegar a tortuga lodge, pero un poco decepcionados puest lo que deberia haber sido un recorrido en bote de 3h para descubrir la naturaleza se convirtió en una carrera de 1h15 para llegar lo mas pronto posible al Lodge. Fernando el conductor me comentó al salir : "vamos directo que les espera el almuerzo" y le respondi que no era lo previsto y teniamos planeado un tour de 3h para descubrir el canal. No hiso caso y se fué de frente al hotel sin parar aparte por un cocodrilo una sola vez. Viajamos 10'000km para descubrir la belleza costa ricense, le da uno pena perdersela por el apuro de un empleado. Cuando uno paga 1'500usd por dos noches se espera a otro nivel de servicio.

Por favor, avise que medida correctiva puede tomar.

Gracias,
Christian



Christian Wanner

No recibi ninguna respeusta a mi mail aqui abajo. Hablando con el encargado commercial de Expeditions el domingo (un señor espagnol), me prometió una toma de posición oficial de la compañia para el lunes. El resto de la estadia fué muy bueno, no me gustaria quedar con una mala nota de la llegada. El punto es que en el descriptivo decia que la ida a Tortuguero era un tour de 2 à 4 horas con llegada a fines de la tarde para disfrutar de la naturaleza y la realidad fué un transfer a todo dar de 1h15 con llegada à la 14h. Es una question de principio, propongo que tomen a cargo el tour en kayak que hice con los chicos el sabado (2x69USD=138USD) y lo crediten a mi tarjeta. Eso fué un bello paseo que compensa el que fallamos a la ida.

Le agradezco por su respuesta positiva.

Cordialmente,

Christian Wanner,

Our Response

Estimado Don Christian,

El día de hoy recibí copia de sus correos donde nos deja saber que nuestros servicios de traslado en bote de Caño Blanco a Tortuguero no fueron dados de acuerdo a la descripción que originalmente le enviamos.

Tiene usted toda la razón. Gracias por hacérnoslo saber ya que debemos cambiar la descripción de este servicio en nuestra base de datos.

Por medio de copia de este correo electrónico le estoy pidiendo a Marco que le acredite el monto del tour en kayak a su tarjeta de crédito. Esto normalmente dura de dos a tres semanas en reflejarse en su estado de cuenta, por favor déjeme saber cuando haya recibido el crédito.

Espero que haya disfrutado el resto de su estadía en Tortuga Lodge con su familia. Si tiene alguna pregunta o comentario, por favor no dude en escribirme.

Atentamente,

Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer

Costa Rica Expeditions & Nicaragua Expeditions
-

Jul. 19, 2010 really made our trip – the breadth of his knowledge…..
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
 
I frequently travel in the US and internationally, am generally comfortable managing my own travel arrangements, and had been to Costa Rica before so thought I could potentially save money by making my own travel arrangements.
 
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
We had used your services for a trip to Costa Rica five years ago and thought the service, the trip plan, and the naturalist guides were all just great.  I had a limited amount of time on this trip, had a set number of things I wanted to do, had certain items I had to plan around (including visiting a teen son in an immersion program outside Alajuela) and had limited time to make arrangements so decided to put everything in your hands.  Based on my previous experience, I was confident that you could deliver a successful trip.
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 
Our travel planner, Luis Pablo Cubero did a great job and our naturalist guide William (I regret to say I didn’t get his last name) was just phenomenal.  William really made our trip – the breadth of his knowledge, his command of English, his ability to engage easily and relate natural features of Costa Rica to familiar North American trees and animals, his attention to detail and initiative in addressing our needs – I could go on and on.  My husband and I are clear that if we ever come back to Costa Rica the first order of business will be to see if William is available to serve as a guide for us.  Our naturalist guide in Tortuguero added less value for us, in part because he did not provide as many comparisons to North American species and was not the easy conversationalist that William was, but he was fine.  We were scheduled for two different boat tours in the canal of about 3 hours each and we just didn’t see that the second one would add enough new information to be worth doing so just went over to the beach to walk along the Gulf.  (Again, I am sorry to say I don’t recall his name.)  
 
 
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’ focus on delivering a vacation that balances an authentic local experience, safety and convenience, and real learning opportunities at a fair price makes you a real value in travel planning.
 
Anne McCulloch



Our Response

I am sorry to hear that you did not enjoy your local guide in Tortuguero as much. I can certainly see how after having William link the species in Costa Rica to species that you are familiar with back home, it may have been a bit of a downer to have the local guide mostly point out wildlife and giving basic explanations. We should have offered you the possibility of having William for the entire trip. We often don’t include a Naturalist Guide in Tortuguero so as to stay within a specific budget. It’s hard to explain before the experience how much a naturalist will add to the experience.

Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer
-

Jul. 18, 2010 I have seen with the naked eye glowing rocks the size of school buses spit from a volcano,
Dear Michael,
 
This thank you note is long over due and I apologize for that! Myself, Linda Rainwater and my boyfriend Ellery Peterson had the pleasure of taking the Costa Rica Connoisseur trip April 24 to May 2, 2010 with Mauricio as our expert guide. I was lucky to be seated at CRE's table at last years Travel Mart and was given the trip as a generous gift. I wanted to thank you so much for that and to tell you we had the most amazing trip. I have sent customers to Costa Rica for many years, but had never visited myself. I now have the knowledge and the passion to sell it even more after our exciting and educational trip. I trust you hear this all the time, but I cannot say enough wonderful things about Mauricio. He is truly one of a kind and absolutely made everyone's experience one that I trust no one will forget. I look forward to sending our customers to you knowing they will be so well taken care of. I have entered a photo of Mauricio in Virtuoso's 2010 Travel Mart photo contest and hope it wins! I have attached the photo!
 
I have also included in this note a paper that Ellery wrote upon his return from the trip. I hope you enjoy reading about his experience.
 
Thank you again.
Warm Regards,
Linda Rainwater
World Travel Bureau
 
Ellery Peterson wrote:
I have seen with the naked eye glowing rocks the size of school buses spit from a volcano, exploding into smaller and smaller pieces as they tumble to the bottom.  I have walked a cloud forest at night, hiked rain forests, and traversed hanging bridges which exposed incredible views of waterfalls, streams, and endless expanses of timeless beauty.  I have observed, undisturbed in their natural habitat, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, three-toed sloths hanging lazily from the treetops, caymans sunbathing on the river banks, armadillos, anteaters, blue-jean toads, as well as the beautifully patterned display of deadly poisonous snakes.  I have seen hawks, vultures, brightly colored toucans, parrots, hummingbirds, as well as over a hundred other species of birds pointed out to me by a birdwatching expert.  I have seen tarantulas patiently awaiting their prey, leaf cutter ants proudly marching their carefully tailored harvest to an anthill the size of my living room, richly colored butterflies larger than my hand, swarms of fireflies painting the night sky with streams of light, and a heavily armored beetle not much smaller than a soda can stoically marching his path unhithered.  I have heard the calls of howler monkeys echo eerily through the forest in the dim hours of the morning, defending their territory from rivals.  I have flown in a single engine aircraft to witness a display of sea, river, and jungle as far as the eye could see.  I have ridden a motorboat through rivers and tributaries, some so overgrown with ancient life they were but dark wet corridors through time.
And that was just the highlights.
-

Jul. 12, 2010 It is always a gift to spend some 1:1 time with a grandchild.
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 were fascinated by the diversity of climate and culture within one comparatively small country.  We were delighted that we decided to visit three different areas; Monteverde, Arenal, the Caribbean Coast and the Pacific Coast.  All the creatures, big and small amazed us.  Each day presented a new discovery to share with our grandaughter.

As each grandchild turns 11, he/she is given the opportunity to choose a trip.  The only qualifier is that he/she must give a sound reason for the choice.  Shea wanted an adventure trip involving animals and thrilling sports activities. She was surrounded by new foods, new sounds, faucets that she didn't know how to work, a new language, and the hospitality of a different country.  There is no better way for a grandchild and grandparent to get to know each other than rappeling down a rock wall and ending up soaking wet in a waterfall.  It was the BEST!

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

We had the honor of being escorted for the majority of our trip by Alex Lopez, our naturalist guide and Fernando, our driver.  We have traveled extensively from using two man tents across America to riding the Orient Express in Asia.  At no time did we have the service, knowledge and care that we received on our Costa Rica trip.  Fernando maneuvered some treacherous winding roads without difficulty.  Alex accompanied us during our ziplining, rappeling, horseback riding, Arenal, hanging bridges, mountain biking, hummingbird area, and then, sadly we parted ways at Manuel Antonio.  His English was impeccable and his personality delightful.  He shared his knowledge with enthusiasm and made his country come to life for us as he shared his life as a child growing up.  I am 63 and wanted to do everything despite my arthritis.  He was always within steps of me just in case I needed a hand or a shoulder to lean on.  Conversely,  he did not treat me like aging women but rather let me do everything I could without hovering.  I will never forget his kindness and his gentle assistance. My granddaughter is a very independent young lady and Alex was able to read her like a book.  He took a great deal of time with her and made it his goal to make sure that she spotted everything she wanted to see.  Shea and Alex would tease each other and they shared some good water fights.  During one activity, mountain biking, Shea became distraught because she could not get hang of mountain biking.  She left her bike and walked off up the hill.  She eventually decided that mountain biking was not going to defeat her.  She got back on and eventually got the knack of it.  I had to get in the car with Fernando but Shea continued another 7 miles with the support and camaraderie of Alex.  Fernando and Alex were available to us for even the most simple request.  (Shopping, restaurants, and of course, bathroom stops)

 

...and what fell short of your expectations?

Absolutely nothing!  The two mishaps that were mentioned in your e-mail were taken care of.

 

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

It is always a gift to spend some 1:1 time with a grandchild.

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

In the beginning of my planning process, I had decided to go with Costa Rica Expeditions.  When I first started to discuss the trip with Priscilla, I was  a little displeased with the amount of time it took for us to communicate.  I quickly realized that it takes time to make arrangements and I had to relax a bit.  Priscilla did a fine job and made every change and addition that I requested along the way.   

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

1.     Your reputation

2.    Your clearly laid out itineraries

3.    Your flexibility

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

                As mentioned above, Alex Lopez, our naturalist guide, was better than we could have ever hoped.  He made the trip unforgettable. It is my hope that he gets special recognition for his extra care and friendliness.

 

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.)

All I could do is share my positive experience with them.  Every location had its own charm, food was top notch, accommodations were superb, the country is a nature lover's paradise, getting around the country was delightful and comfortable and the adventure aspect was thrilling (and SAFE!)

Marylou Austin-Nichol

July 2010
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Jul. 10, 2010 we'll highly recommend you to our "circle" that is interested in traveling in Costa Rica…
You made it a wonderful trip...every person and hotel that you arranged for us was warm, professional, and engaging.  It would not have been the same trip without your assistance, and we'll highly recommend you to our "circle" that is interested in traveling in Costa Rica.  Our thanks, Janene & Dan Centurione
 

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Jul. 9, 2010 Thanks so much for all your suggestions as well as your patience in helping us define our itinerary and decide exactly what to do and see…
Hello Marco,


We returned from our trip last night and I wanted to take a moment to thank you for all the work you did to help make our time in Costa Rica wonderful!  The trip was a success from the beginning to the end!  All the hotels were beautifully chosen and the rooms were lovely.  The excursions were fantastic and every part of the trip ran smoothly.  All the transports were on time and everyone we dealt with was pleasant, friendly and helpful!  Thanks so much for all your suggestions as well as your patience in helping us define our itinerary and decide exactly what to do and see – it was a real pleasure.  Costa Rica is a lush, beautiful, diverse country and we loved every minute of our visit.
We will definitely recommend Costa Rica Expeditions to our friends.

Thanks again!
Ann Jactel and family
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Jul. 9, 2010 He simply exceeded every expectation we had.
Dear Marco,
 
This morning as I am sipping my Britt plantation coffee I thought it would be the perfect time to tell you what a wonderful vacation we had in Costa Rica. First, I need to begin with Mauricio. He literally could not have been any better. He simply exceeded every expectation we had. He was courteous, knowledgeable, charming and helpful during the entire time we were together. He participated in my kid's crazy car ride games, helped us learn a bit more spanish and taught the kids so much about class and professionalism just by his presence. And I know I would have NEVER seen the wildlife that was so dear to me without his patience and skill. I cried when we left him, he made such an impression!
 
We have never before taken a guided trip. We have traveled with our children through much of the world, preferring to make our own way. We approached this experience more nervously than other trips because it was going to be different. Had I known then what I know now, I would have relaxed about all of it. Every step of the planning that you did, Marco, was perfect. We felt able to both have adventures and to relax at the beautiful places you suggested. The itinerary was a terrific balance, not easy to accomplish.
 
We left Costa Rica thrilled with our trip, eager to return to see more, and to tell our friends that this is the way to see the country. Thanks to Costa Rica Expeditions, our dream trip was made a reality. Feel free to use any part of this letter for promotion, as I am your biggest fan! And I would appreciate if you would please pass this on to Michael Kay.
 
Thanks again,
Billee Hurley
July 2010
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Jul. 8, 2010 The guides on the nature tours gave us many insights into the fascinating world of the rainforest….
Dear Priscilla,
 
Now that we're back from our trip, I would like to thank you for arranging a thoroughly enjoyable vacation for us in Costa Rica.  From the time we stepped off the plane in San Jose, we felt very well cared for by all of the Costa Rica Expeditions staff.  All of the hotels that you booked for us were truly memorable, and all of the ground and air transfers took place as scheduled, without any problems.  The guides on the nature tours gave us many insights into the fascinating world of the rainforest, and with their help, we were able to spot quite a few animals, and came home with lots of great photos.  From the tour guides, to hotel staff, to the drivers and pilots, everyone was unfailingly friendly and helpful.  The few times we had questions about our trip schedule, either we or the hotel staff was able to find out the answers from CRE almost immediately.
 
Thank you for an amazing and care-free trip!
 
Laura Anderson
 
July 2010
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Jul. 2, 2010 But there were disappointments that had nothing to do with the weather or the natural inclination of animals to remain unseen
Dear Jose,

I tried filling out your evaluation form but it wasn’t working well for me—it didn’t allow me to say what I wanted to say so I am sending this letter instead.

First let me begin with what was great about the trip! Every guide, every driver, and all of the people connected with Costa Rica Expeditions that we met were fantastic! Sheila was a total delight! She is knowledgeable, thoughtful, caring and a lot of fun to be with. She was as accommodating as she could be and she was punctual as well. The drivers were all courteous and professional. All of our accommodations were terrific.

We loved the activities we did. The two who worked the zip lines were marvelous. Since I zip lined with my granddaughter in Alaska I know what it can be and the folks we had in CR were exceptional. We all felt very comfortable and confident with them.

Despite the rain for the entire excursion at Tortuga Lodge, we had a wonderful time. Fernando (I believe that was his name), our guide, provided us with great ponchos and huge umbrellas so we were as dry as could be. No, we did not see all of the animals we’d hoped to see, but we knew that was a strong possibility as it is rainy season in the rain forest! The young man at the front desk was really charming and helpful. My grandson didn’t decide until late so despite all of his efforts, Hannibal (again, I am not sure of the name) couldn’t get us out to see the turtles laying their eggs. As it turned out, that was fine as it rained. The flight from Tortuguero to San Jose was easy and pleasant.

Sheila arranged for us to stop at Sarchi which I hadn’t been sure about when we planned the trip; but she felt there was enough time to do it so we did. We had a wonderful tour of the Cloud Forest and a really nice lunch.

Arenal was the best. Our room had a superb view of the volcano and we saw lava flowing both nights that we were there. Rather than have us wait for transportation, Sheila and the driver (I forget who was driving at that time) waited for us to get settled in our room and then they took us over to the hot springs. This eliminated the necessity of our walking in the rain up to the reception area—quite a distance. This is but another example of how thoughtful she was. It’s a shame it was so late as it was dark when we arrived at the hot springs and so we couldn’t get pictures of how lovely the place was. But we had fun.

Our rappelling adventure was great too and once again, Sheila arranged things so we would not have to go back up the bumpy pot-hole filled road to our lodge to wait for the afternoon transport—they picked us up at the place we had lunch and took us to the Hanging Bridges. It poured while we were there but we had fun anyway.

We loved the facilities at Si Como No and again, drivers were punctual, professional and courteous. Our private plane to San Jose was great and we got to the airport with just the right amount of time to get through security without anxiety and yet not so early we would have to hang out there too long.

So all in all, it was a fabulous week. But there were disappointments that had nothing to do with the weather or the natural inclination of animals to remain unseen.

The biggest complain happened on the way from the zip lining experience to Tortuguero the day after we arrived. We were supposed to have lunch—it never happened. Sheila stopped and bought us crackers and a drink and in the boat there was a snack waiting for us but lunch never happened. Also we were on a pot-hole rutted dirt road for 2 hours which was unacceptable since there was a small airport directly across the river from Tortuga Lodge. If we’d been taken to San Jose and flown to Tortuguero, we would have been there in time for lunch and had time to explore the jungle on our own. Spending time traveling instead of what we came to do was really annoying. If flying us would have raised the cost, we should have been offered the option. That was poor planning.
Then the ride from Arenal to Si Como No was scheduled on the itinerary to be 4&1/2 hrs. But our driver told us when he picked us up that it would be at least 6 hours—and it was 6 hours. Well, that created another problem. Manuel Antonio National Park is closed on Mondays and because if the extra hours in the van, we got there too late to go on Sunday. Since we were leaving on Tuesday that meant we missed the park entirely. It’s not that we didn’t enjoy the beach and the pool but we had absolutely no opportunity go to the park. We can go to a beach and nice pool here without going all the way to Costa Rica.

So my two main complaints have to do with poor planning. Because of this we missed a ½ day (and lunch—which we paid for) at Tortuguero and we missed an opportunity to go to Manuel Antonio National Park because of the 6 hour drive and it was closed the following day. The offer of a bottle of wine as “compensation” is unacceptable. In all we missed a complete day of our trip—the ½ day on Sunday at Manuel Antonio and the ½ day at Tortuguero. Better planning would have eliminated this.

Would I recommend Costa Rica Expeditions to anyone else? Absolutely –as a matter of fact I already have. I wish more countries had companies like this.

Sincerely,
Marjorie Weintraub



Our Response

I was disappointed to learn that you had two unnecessary inconveniences on your trip and I will address each one of them. The lack of lunch on your way from San Jose to Tortuguero is of course unacceptable. What happened here is that originally you were scheduled to have lunch at the Aerial Tram, but it was then decided that you would continue on to Tortuguero earlier and the lunch was changed so that Tortuga Lodge would send a box lunch with the boat that was to pick you up in Cano Blanco. Unfortunately, the lodge forgot to send your lunch. This is a rare occurrence, but it does happen. I am very sorry for the inconvenience, I’m sure you were all very hungry! Of course we will refund the value of the lunch.

Regarding the option of doing the zip line and then returning to San Jose to fly to Tortuguero rather than going by land, this is rarely feasible to do given the weather. This time of year, we normally fly very early in the morning, this improves the odds of being able to fly in or out of San Jose and in or out of the outlaying airports. As a general rule, we would not schedule you to go first to the zip line at the Aerial Tram and then back to San Jose for a flight. If we were to recommend doing something like that, we would suggest that you fly in a twin engine plane or in a 208 Grand Caravan, we would also have to quote you a private charter plane, there are no shared options at this time of day, and the cost is quite high. Given your preference of the Intermediate price range over the Upscale price range, Jose did not offer you the option of the private charter. You say that you missed a half day of your trip arriving late at Tortuga Lodge due to poor planning, but in reality the day was all about the zip line (choosen because it meets the strictest safety standards) and our description of the logistics of this day is consistent with the reality of going to Tortuguero by van and boat.

You’re right that your itinerary says that it would take 4.5 hours to drive from Arenal to Manuel Antonio. Our Operations Department called Heiner your driver to ask him why it took so long. The reason that it took 6 hours is because the road from Arenal Observatory to the main Fortuna road has deteriorated considerably in the last few months and it is now taking twice as long to navigate. I understand that it was your intention to visit Manuel Antonio that afternoon, unfortunately you never told us that you wanted to do this tour. Had we known that you planned on visiting the park in advance, we would have gladly booked the services for you AND changed the order of your itinerary so that you wouldn’t be in Manuel Antonio on a Monday. The other thing we could have done was to schedule your departure from Arenal earlier giving you enough time to visit the park in Manuel Antonio. I’m very sorry that you were unable to visit the park. I hope you enjoyed your time at the beach in spite of this.

By copy of this email, I am asking Jose to refund the value of the forgotten lunch, this has a total value of $37.50. I would also like to know if you and your husband enjoy coffee? If so I would like to send you a subscription to gourmet Costa Rican coffee. If you don’t like coffee, how about chocolate? If you do like chocolate, would you prefer light roast or dark roast?

It sounds to me like the positives of your trip certainly outweighed the negatives, I hope that you will be able to either drink coffee in the mornings or have some chocolate after dinner and reminisce about your time in Costa Rica.

Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer

Costa Rica Expeditions & Nicaragua Expeditions,

Marjorie´s Response to Natalie

Dear Natalie,

Thank you for a very thorough response to our concerns. I just want to clarify one thing--Tortuga Lodge DID send a sort of lunch to the boat BUT we got there so late in the afternoon (well after 4) that "lunch" became a "snack" as it was well past lunch time. Please do not blame them. The folks there were really wonderful. Regardless what happened happened and we did have a wonderful trip.

As to the coffee--that is a lovely offer (we are already enjoying some Costa Rican coffee which we purchased while there) and look forward to having more of it (decaffeinated, please) and we thank you very much for that.

Yes, as soon as I get some time (we have taken another trip since our return and I am still trying to get settled in at home) I will get on Trip Advisor and let them know that we think your organization is fabulous. Not only did you provide us with wonderful experiences for us and our grandson (whose "present" the trip was) but you have responded very well to our concerns.

Thank you.

Marjorie Weintraub,

Fernando Vargas

Prueba de mensaje
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Jul. 1, 2010 Billee Hurley

Dear Marco,

This morning as I am sipping my Britt plantation coffee I thought it would be the perfect time to tell you what a wonderful vacation we had in Costa Rica. First, I need to begin with Mauricio. He literally could not have been any better. He simply exceeded every expectation we had. He was courteous, knowledgeable, charming and helpful during the entire time we were together. He participated in my kid's crazy car ride games, helped us learn a bit more spanish and taught the kids so much about class and professionalism just by his presence. And I know I would have NEVER seen the wildlife that was so dear to me without his patience and skill. I cried when we left him, he made such an impression!

We have never before taken a guided trip. We have traveled with our children through much of the world, preferring to make our own way. We approached this experience more nervously than other trips because it was going to be different. Had I known then what I know now, I would have relaxed about all of it. Every step of the planning that you did, Marco, was perfect. We felt able to both have adventures and to relax at the beautiful places you suggested. The itinerary was a terrific balance, not easy to accomplish. 

We left Costa Rica thrilled with our trip, eager to return to see more, and to tell our friends that this is the way to see the country. Thanks to Costa Rica Expeditions, our dream trip was made a reality. Feel free to use any part of this letter for promotion, as I am your biggest fan! And I would appreciate if you would please pass this on to Michael Kaye. 

Thanks again,

Billee Hurley

Elizabeth Macpherson, July 2010

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory? The entire trip will be a lifetime memory for all of us.  From the beautiful hotel in San Jose, our exciting white water rafting trip and special river side lunch, the lush jungle/forest of Tortuguero and the Howler monkeys, etc..  but if I had to pick one it would be the private dinner with our guide along the river in Tortuguero followed by watching the sea turtle lay her eggs.  Truly incredible and unforgetable.

What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had, based on our site or what you read and heard before hand? The level of service was incredible, as was the attention to safety.  We have very cautious kids, but because they felt so safe they did everything and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I also don't think that we were prepared for the beauty of the country and incredibly warm people who live there.

What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?  Nothing.  Marco, our travel planner, was fantastic.  He responded immediately to every email, made changes to our itinerary per our request and paid close attention to details.  We were incredibly comfortable and confidant that everything was being taken care of. 

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

 Both Frommer and National Geographic said Costa Rica Expedition was excellent, which directed me to you in the first place.  However, it was the professionalism of Marco that convinced us we were working with the right people.  We also had to ensure that some medication could be kept refridgerated throughout the trip and at each new location someone was always very aware of this and prepared to help us.  We have travelled quite a lot and I have never experienced such a high level of service.  We were absolutely impressed from start to finish. 

What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?  There was not a single guide, driver or any other Costa Rica Expeditions staff member that fell short, but rather everyone we came in contact with who was part of your company exceeded our expectations.  Our driver Alex was wonderful.  Not only did we feel very safe with him behind the wheel, but he also spotted a sloth and immediately pulled over, found a viper snake to show us and pulled over to get my son a coconut, which was something he had mentioned he really wanted to do.  Everyone at Totuga Lodge was wonderful, helpful, polite and very knowledgable.  Our naturalist guides Geraldo and Fernando not only knew so much, but made it very interesting for our kids.  It's not easy to keep 4 kids intrigued for 3 hours, but they loved every minute of our river tour.  Our white water rafting guide, Jorge, was so much fun.  He was also very capeable and made a trip one of the highlights.  Our naturalist guide, Luis, was excellent.  He took us to some great restaurants, gave us a very interesting tour on the hanging bridges and had some great stories that the kids loved -- he sure knows the history, the birds, animals, etc.. Everyone at Nayara Hotel in Arenal and at Buena Vista Villas in Manuel Antonio were all extremely attentive and incredibly pleasant.  I hope I'm not leaving anyone out, because everyone should be recognized.

Virginia Higgins, Junio 2010:

What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory? Everything!  We loved the country, the flora and fauna, the professionalism and friendliness of the guides, the drivers, etc. Lifetime memories include the little plane to Arenal, the Arenal volcano, the Arenal Nayara facilities, the hot springs, Monteverde (everything including food - special meal outside the best surprise ever for Jim's birthday), Hotel Grano de Oro- a gem, the Resplendent Quetzel, monkeys, poison frogs, hanging bridges, zip lines for me, butterflies!!!!!!!

What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?  Exceeded - everyone, especially Marco who arranged it for us; your questionnaire really got me to  focus on what I wanted and then Marco delivered.  Everyone was prompt, professional, helpful and NICE!

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

I have already told people and this is what I said.  If you want to go to Costa Rica, go to their website, fill out the questionnaire and figure out what you want to do.  Then, call or email and start the process.  You will have expert help, your trip will go perfectly, you will see what you want, and even if you pay a little more than you could do it you do it yourself online, you will get better service, feel more protected, and have qualified drivers, pilots, etc.  It is worth the price and Costa Rica is worth going to.

Marco Flores, May, 2010:

Marco,

I just wanted to thank you for a great trip. We had so much fun. We saw and did more than we ever thought we would. Costa Rica is a beautiful country. I think we chose the perfect weeks to go. Very light amounts of rain and the weather was great. We also really enjoyed the lack of tourists everywhere.

I cannot talk to my friends enough about CRE. You guys did a great job. We always felt safe and taken care of. We trusted each vendor and were very pleased with each activity and hotel. The guides were great. Very professional. All the drivers were great. They were always on time for pick up and drop off.

Having you guys handle our trip was great. It was our honeymoon and we didn’t not have to worry about anything more than what we were going to have for dinner.

We have been telling all our friends about your company and will definitely use you again when we return to Costa Rica.

Again, thank you, thank you

Sincerely,

Marco Flores

Celeste Marsh, April 2010:

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

 

Mary Ann Tanner, March 2010:

Dear Marco,

It was so nice to meet you in Tortuguero.  I just want to thank you for planning a wonderful trip for my family and me.  We had a wonderful time.  And since Costa Rica Expeditions owns the Tortuga Lodge I wanted to mention what a lovely place it is.  We did not fill out the survey at the end of our stay there, so I am hoping you can pass along our delight in staying there.  Everyone was so warm and friendly and helpful (even recovering my son's backpack from the airport in San Jose).  After we left Tortuguero and traveled through other parts of the country I realized what a special and unspoiled place Tortuguero is.  During every phase of our trip, all of the guides and drivers were wonderful.

Thank you, again. I hope you and your family are well.

Sincerely,

Mary Anne

Alicia Cabrera, February 2010:

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

   

Sally Taylor, January 2010:

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


- Sarah Olsavsky

Jul. 1, 2010 I felt as if they were personally invested in my vacation, doing all they could to make sure my vacation was as good as can be….
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 trip was wonderful, everyone at both Tortuga Lodge and Arenas del Mar were wonderful.  I felt as if they were personally invested in my vacation, doing all they could to make sure my vacation was as good as can be (including removing a scorpion from our room...yikes!!).  Everyone at Tortuga Lodge was especially charming....there were not may other guests there and we felt like we were part of their family.
 
Country is beautiful, people are beautiful.  I felt completely disconnected (in a good way).  Almost every other traveler we met had been to Costa Rica numerous times, it was proof to me that people really fall in love with this country and return again and again.
 
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had, based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?
 
 I was suprised by the genuineness of everyone we encountered....from the greeters at the airport, the drivers, the hotel staff.
 
...and what fell short of your expectations?
 
Nothing....(maybe the rain, just kidding!)
 
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
 
no
 
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
 
 Nothing.
 
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
 Recommendation by National Geographic
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 
 Marco was great, helpful and responsive.  He offered great suggestions and booked us in absolutely beautiful places.
 
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.)
 
Professionalism, responsiveness, everything happened on schedule and as it was supposed to without a hitch.  Made my vacation completely stress free.
 
Thanks again for your feedback!
 
Jennifer Joyce
-

Jun. 3, 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?

Everything about this adventure was great. From the timely pick up, to Ricardo are very nice guide who suggested we bring a change of clothes (thank you for that), to the ride itself and of course the breakfast. My husband can't stop raving about the Hot Chocolate. The trip was great, the water was running good, the food was great, even the detour we had to make was fine. I have to say that this was the best thing about our entire trip to Costa Rica. Thanks for the great memories and of course the wonderful CD full of 68 pictures.

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

Not sure if things surprised me per say, since I did go for the White Glove experience. I think in general the trip being so inclusive and just fun was great. We were the only tourists on the trip, the rest were locals, so that was sort of interesting.

...and what fell short of your expectations?

Nothing

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

No

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

Nothing

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

Reviews on your website specifically

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

I did however perceive that only two individuals from Costa Rica Expeditions really talked to us were Ricardo, Luigi and Ramon (to some extent). Not sure if there was a language barrier with the other guides on the tour.

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

No doubt about it, if they want to White Water Raft we will tell them to come see you.

Thanks again for your feedback!


- S. Perkins

Jun. 1, 2010 We appreciate the care packages and the extra effort your folks went to get us our delayed luggage.
Luis,
 
Thank you so much for coordinating a fabulous vacation! We had a great time!
We appreciate the care packages and the extra effort your folks went to get us our delayed luggage. It was a very welcome sight to see them when we got off the river! LOVED the hotel in Arenal and a bonus to get to see lava shooting from the volcano!! Got to see the quetzal and the three wattled bellbird in the pouring down rain in Monteverde so that was a success as well.  We missed most of the storm that had hit Manual Antonio but the sea was too rough and they cancelled the kayak/snorkeling trip. They asked that we deal direct with you for the refund.
 
I must say everyone one we came in contact with from your company, as well as every company you contracted with, were first class. Every transfer, every driver and certainly every guide we had was fantastic. (Please forgive the misspelling of all the names) Walter and Moises on the river couldn’t have been more fun or professional. Diego was our guide at the hanging bridges and really knew his stuff.  Alex, Mo and Noel were wonderful hosts at the canyonning. I know Cissy would never had made it without the trust level Mo instilled into all of us! Carlos weathered the day in true spirit at Monteverde and turned a miserable day into a great experience. We enjoyed Andy for both our hike through the reserve and the estuary. Amazing the knowledge a 21 year old can have and the keen eyesight to spot the little things hanging and slithering through the forests! The drivers, Max, Anthony, Julio, Giovanni, Jorge were all very conscientious of our safety and enjoyment pointing out things of interest along the way.
 
I’ve got several people interested in Costa Rica and will certainly be sending them your way. Do I send them direct to you…since you were so helpful or direct to your website?? Will you please send me a copy of  the volcano warning that you had in our packet.  I’ve one person interested in staying  at Tabacon but remember the flyer said no to the springs although the hotel was ok. I thought it made good reading.
 
Again, Luis, thank you for all your help and effort in to making this trip such a special experience!
 
Cyndie Brake
June 2010
-

May. 30, 2010 Hi Michael

Hi Michael,

My grandson and I had the pleasure of meeting you at the Tortuga Lodge one morning at breakfast.

Wow, the questions are so big. I will try to condense my experience with your company.

First let me tell you I was there with my 13 year old grandson as a gift in honor of his bar mitzvah.

I found you through one of the tour books and when I went on your website, I was fascinated by your questionnaire. I filled it out and heard back rather quickly from Priscilla Jimenez. We started working on the trip together and she was absolutely wonderful. Answered alll my questions and addressed all my concerns.She gave me her recommendations and the reasons why. She also was open to my suggestions and together we planned an amazing trip.

Nothing in the process was unpleasant. In fact it became more and more exciting to think about what we would do and see. I am a seasoned traveler and always expect something to go amiss, but I can honestly say, nothing did. The trip was executed perfectly (and I rarely use that word) from the moment we arrived until we had to say goodbye.

Both Ethan and I did many new and fun things and we certainly learned alot. All of the people that work for you were wonderful. Frederico was our naturalist guide and he was amazing. He was wonderful with Ethan and we had many interesting discussions about all sorts of things and we laughed alot.

Our driver, George and our river guide, Geraldo were the best. They went out of their way to take care of us and give us the best experience possible. We were sad to say good-bye to them.

Frederico has a copy of my pictures and you are free to use what you like. I have recommended your company to all my friends.

Thank you for making this such a special experience for Ethan and myself. We loved everything that we did and everywhere that we went. If you want to know more, please feel free to contact me again.


- Phyllis Segal (April 9-19)

May. 30, 2010 I went on your website, I was fascinated by your questionnaire.
May 30, 2010

 
Hi Michael,
  My grandson and I had the pleasure of meeting you at the Tortuga Lodge one morning at breakfast.
Wow, the questions are so big.  I will try to condense my experience with your company.
  First let me tell you I was there with my 13 year old grandson as a gift in honor of his bar mitzvah.
I found you through one of the tour books and when I went on your website, I was fascinated by your questionnaire.  I filled it out and heard back rather quickly from Priscilla Jimenez.  We started working on the trip together and she was absolutely wonderful.  Answered alll my questions and addressed all my concerns.She gave me her recommendations and the reasons why.  She also was open to my suggestions and together we planned an amazing trip.
  Nothing in the process was unpleasant. In fact it became more and more exciting to think about what we would do and see.  I am a seasoned traveler and always expect something to go amiss, but I can honestly say, nothing did.  The trip was executed perfectly (and I rarely use that word) from the moment we arrived until we had to say goodbye.
  Both Ethan and I did many new and fun things and we certainly learned alot.  All of the people that work for you were wonderful.  Frederico was our naturalist guide and he was amazing.  He was wonderful with Ethan and we had many interesting discussions about all sorts of things and we laughed alot.
  Our driver, George and our river guide, Geraldo were the best.  They went out of their way to take care of us and give us the best experience possible.  We were sad to say good-bye to them.
  Frederico has a copy of my pictures and you are free to use what you like. I have recommended your company to all my friends.
  Thank you for making this such a special experience for Ethan and myself.  We loved everything that we did and everywhere that we went.  If you want to know more, please feel free to contact me again.
 
Phyllis Segal (April 9-19) 
-

May. 24, 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?

The flora & fauna that we saw. The friendliness of the local people & their pride in Costa Rica.

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

Hotels were all wonderful, all the pick ups were on time & the naturalist guides were great.

...and what fell short of your expectations?

Nothing.

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

Not really – married for over 50 years!

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

Fairly expensive. Our original plan was to arrange a self-drive vacation and make our own hotel reservations, etc. but we realized how complicated it would be. No regrets about our decision.

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

Probably reading excellent reviews of your services on the internet & then studying your website. We liked what we saw.

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

We were very pleased with all the people we met.

Thanks again for your feedback!
- Peter & Joyce Waterhouse

May. 24, 2010 The friendliness of the local people & their pride in Costa Rica.
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 flora & fauna that we saw.  The friendliness of the local people & their pride in Costa Rica.
 
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had, based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?
 
Hotels were all wonderful, all the pick ups were on time & the naturalist guides were great.
 
 
...and what fell short of your expectations?
 
Nothing.
 
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
 
Not really – married for over 50 years!
 
 
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
 
Fairly expensive.  Our original plan was to arrange a self-drive vacation and make our own hotel reservations, etc. but we realized how complicated it would be.  No regrets about our decision.
 
 
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
Probably reading excellent reviews of your services on the internet & then studying your website.  We liked what we saw.
 
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 
We were very pleased with all the people we met.
 
 
Peter & Joyce Waterhouse
 
 
Thanks again for your feedback!
-

May. 17, 2010 Marco,
May 17, 2010

Marco,

I just wanted to thank you for a great trip. We had so much fun. We saw and did more than we ever thought we would. Costa Rica is a beautiful country. I think we chose the perfect weeks to go. Very light amounts of rain and the weather was great. We also really enjoyed the lack of tourists everywhere.

I cannot talk to my friends enough about CRE. You guys did a great job. We always felt safe and taken care of. We trusted each vendor and were very pleased with each activity and hotel. The guides were great. Very professional. All the drivers were great. They were always on time for pick up and drop off.

Having you guys handle our trip was great. It was our honeymoon and we didn’t not have to worry about anything more than what we were going to have for dinner.

We have been telling all our friends about your company and will definitely use you again when we return to Costa Rica.

Again, thank you, thank you

Sincerely,


- Marco Flores

May. 17, 2010 It was our honeymoon and we didn’t not have to worry about anything more than what we were going to have for dinner.
May 17, 2010
 
Marco,
 
I just wanted to thank you for a great trip. We had so much fun. We saw and did more than we ever thought we would. Costa Rica is a beautiful country. I think we chose the perfect weeks to go. Very light amounts of rain and the weather was great. We also really enjoyed the lack of tourists everywhere.
 
I cannot talk to my friends enough about CRE. You guys did a great job. We always felt safe and taken care of. We trusted each vendor and were very pleased with each activity and hotel. The guides were great. Very professional. All the drivers were great. They were always on time for pick up and drop off.
 
Having you guys handle our trip was great. It was our honeymoon and we didn’t not have to worry about anything more than what we were going to have for dinner.
 
We have been telling all our friends about your company and will definitely use you again when we return to Costa Rica.
 
Again, thank you, thank you
 
Sincerely,
 
Marco Flores
-

May. 11, 2010 I was amazed at the jungle sounds (howler monkeys, birds...) that put us to sleep or woke us up.
What happened that fascinated, delighted, inspired, amazed or enlightened -- something that might become a lifetime memory?

For the Tortuga Lodge:
1.The stop at the banana plantation/packing center on the way to the boat dock was amazing!  I knew bananas grew in bunches on trees but I hadn't imagined that there are guys that go out in the fields and pull the bunches in to the packaging facility by tying the bunches to on overhead wire and tying the wire to their waists to then run the 10 or so bunches in!
Other lifetime memories?
 
2.I was amazed at the jungle sounds (howler monkeys, birds...) that put us to sleep or woke us up.  Usually, in the city where we live, we go to sleep and wake up to highway sounds from cars.
 
3.I had never slept in a space that didn't have windows to close!  How amazingly weird this felt upon arrival and how comfortable it felt after a day.
 
 
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had, based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?
The Tortuga Lodge was even more beautiful than we could have imagined.  It was a magical place.  We also very much enjoyed our one night stay at the Monteverde Lodge and Gardens.  It was a beautiful space.  We walked in the gardens and took a private tour, arranged by staff at the desk, of the cloud forest.  Samuel did an amazing job taking us out and sharing his knowledge of the forest...all in a complete downpour.  We had a fun time because Samuel made the best of it as did we!
...and what fell short of your expectations?
 I wouldn't say this was a shortfall -- but I am not sure where else to put such a comment.  The food at the Tortuga Lodge was AMAZING.  It was presented so artistically and tasted delicious!  I, at times, felt wasteful because the serving sizes (and number of things served for example: soup, salad, entree, desert if it was dinner) were generous.  I would offer that it might be an idea to check with the guests regarding desire to have each menu item (soup and salad or just one or the other) and whether they would like a full serving or half serving, so to speak.  We loved being surprised by what was being brought out for each meal and we loved the presentation!  But, I would have preferred to have been served one piece of pork with sugar cane speared through it, for example, than two pieces (oh, sooo delicious but I felt badly to have not touched the other piece).  My husband had no problem cleaning off his plate so maybe it is more of an issue for someone like me - a woman :)  Anyhow, we were so well fed -- Thank you!
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
 no...
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?
Costa Rica Expeditions was highly recommended in two different travel guide books we used to research for our trip.  When looking at the website , we thought it was well done in terms of providing information about the different tours, etc.  Also, the questionnaire one had to fill out with preferences seemed to gather the right information that would help guide the planner assigned to work with us.  We appreciated the quick response to our inquiry about a trip to Tortuguero and the fact that the suggested itinerary was so thorough without adding anything else that we didn't ask for.  Lastly, knowing that we could experience the trip to the coast in two different ways (bus/boat and then a quick flight back to save some time!) was an offer we couldn't pass up.  It seemed like an ideal way to learn about the country and the people.
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways
Jose Huertas answered all my questions promptly with enthusiasm.  Jorge (?) was very informative and friendly on our bus ride out to catch our boat to the lodge.  On our way to the boat, we stopped to look at an operating banana plantation, too, which was an unexpected treat.  I never knew how bananas were grown, picked and packaged!  Everyone at the Tortuga Lodge (Julian in reception, Herman/Maria/Wilmer in the restaurant, Jorge on the bus tour to Norton as our boat guide) were so warm and welcoming.  Julian was always ready to offer help (and a smile) while all the staff serving food/drinks were friendly.  Herman even greeted us with a cold, fruit water when we returned, a bit warm and overheated, from our jungle tour.  Norton dropped us off to walk along the Carribean after we returned from our jungle tour and then proceeded to wait for us so we wouldn't have to wait for someone to come over and pick us up across from 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.)
From the moment I sent an email inquiring about the Tortuguero Jungle Tour to the last transfer after we returned from the tour, I felt like we were taken care of by close friends who only wanted the best for us.  Everyone we worked with (Jose Huertas in planning the itinerary) to those who took care of us at the Tortuga Lodge (Julian in reception, Herman/Maria/Wilmer in the restaurant, Jorge on the bus tour to Norton as our boat guide) were so warm and welcoming.  The whole operation was well run and everyone we met were professional and helpful.
 
 
Thanks to all at Costa Rica Expeditions!  We had a truly wonderful visit and have many happy memories of our time at both the Tortuga Lodge and the Monteverde Lodge.  -- Dave and Marlene Engberg
-

May. 11, 2010 ...the best part of the trip was the Guide who had great knowledge of Costa Rica's wildlife.
May 11, 2010 7:13 PM

 
Dear Michale ,
 
I want to tell you that I had the most fantastic time on my trip and the best part of the trip was the Guide who had great knowledge of Costa Rica's wildlife. The experience of having a guide that informed me of all the wildlife and birds was amazing , your guide Mauricio is and absolute asset to your company. I have traveled all over the world and never experienced anyone that was so dedicated to making sure the client was taking care of and going out of his way to make this was a most wonderful experience for the customer. He is a gem and I will definitely be back to see Costa Rica with your tour company requesting Mauricio as my guide.
 
All the best
Faith Fairbrother
-

May. 10, 2010 Jose: My family and I just wanted to thank you for the best trip ever!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jose:  My family and I just wanted to thank you for the best trip ever!!!!!!!!!!!!  We had a fabulous time in Costa Rica.  The hotels and the activities you set up for us were just perfect.  The transportation was outstanding.  The drivers, vans, planes, etc. were always there when you said they would be.  The people were so helpful and polite.  Everything just went so smoothly.  We loved Tortuguero, Monteverde, and Arenal and were so happy we did all three places.  If you ever want touse us for a reference, we would be happy to give you an outstanding recommendation.  I will tell all my friends who are thinking of going to Costa Rica, to use you and Costa Rica Expeditions.  Thanks again,  Jane Pokorney
-

May. 10, 2010 All people were caring and exceeded expectations
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 the real jungle - it was like being in Disneyland but it was real and unpredictable.
 
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had, based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?
 
Service was impeccable, Beautiful surroundings, Amazing food.
 
...and what fell short of your expectations?
 
Absolutely nothing!
 
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
 
No
 
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
 
Nothing
 
 
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 Trip advisor ratings
National Geographic rating
 
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 
All people were caring and exceeded expectations
 
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 the best if you want a carefree vacation -you will be well taken care of
 
Thanks again for your feedback!
 
Hugh & Kathryn,
-

May. 9, 2010 First off Pricilla was awesome as our travel advisor.
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?
 
Wow!  The whole trip was the trip of a lifetime.  We have put off going to CR only because we only get 1 week of vacation at a time....but I finally said lets just do it.....and I am glad we did.  First off Pricilla was awesome as our travel advisor.  I am someone who likes to read about and be informed beforehand about what I want to do, where I want to go etc.  But I trusted Pricilla right off the bat, and I am glad I did.  Her reccomendations were spot on.  The Wildlife we saw was amazing(and I know we would have not seen half of what we did if it was not for the fantastic guides),  We talked with other travellers throughout our trip, and I know, noone travelling with other groups had the experiences we did.......Of course we were fortunate that the weather was unusually good the whole time we were there, even in the cloud forest.  I think the Quetzals in the Monteverde Cloud forest was exceptional that we saw one, but we saw many that day!  Also, our stay at the Arenal Observatory Lodge, while not luxourious was our favorite hotel.  The grounds are beautiful......and we had full views of the volcano all 3 days!  The sound of the volcano(and site of it from our bed) at night lulled us to sleep.....quite unusual, I have never seen anything like it!  Oh and we just loved the river Safari float......we saw so much wildlife on this leasurely float....it was just awesome.....monkeys, sloths, all kinds of birds, crocodiles.......and we just loved the visit with Don Pedro, both he and his two daughters were just charming....we were sorry we had to leave.

What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had, based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?
 
Our guides were the most wonderful, knowledgable people.  We always felt we were out for a great experience.  Diego at the Arenal Hanging Bridges, Jaime for our safari float, Carlos on the night walk and Samuel for the cloud forest.  One of the most wonderful things about them was they were truely just as excited as we were when we spotted something!  Their love for their job was evident.
I am so glad that with Pricillas help we decided not to do the canopy, instead doing the hanging bridges....much more wildlife to be seen and time to see it and I am also glad that we chose the float instead of "rapids".

 ...and what fell short of your expectations?
 
The one thing that we did that I would not reccomend was the horse back ride.  Don't get me wrong, it was a good ride, and we got to see a sunset, just not much wild life and we were in such a large group(I think there were about 20 people on the ride) and we were toward the end, so if the people up front got to see more, I don't know....


Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
 
Nope, still love my husband....my favorite travel partner

What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
 
I almost did not even inquire because I had heard that you were more expensive.  And while that is true, I knew I didn't want to skimp on the activities and we wanted quality guides.  Pricilla fortunately worked with us to help get the cost to a manageable level.  It was money well spent.

 What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
Your reputation and customer service.  The fact that you work with the hotels and activities vendors so you know they have your seal of approval.  Knowing if something went wrong, you were just a phone call away.

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

 
All the guides(see above) were awesome!  But I do have to say that Samuel(in Monteverde) was even more exceptional......In all my years of travel, I have not experienced that level of dedication and attention to detail.....he was just phenomenal!  Pricilla our travel expert.......the staff at the car rental agency....they were awesome....they even programed the destinations into our GPS before we left.  I have never had that kind of service anywhere in the world when we have rented a car, and certainly not in the US.
The staff at all the hotels, restaurants etc were very attentive and went out of their way to help us.

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

You need to book with CR expeditions!  Their reputation as the best is no joke.  Every step of the way from the intial inquery to getting back on the plane to go home, you will be well cared for.  Don't be put off by the cost, work with your rep to make this a trip that matches what your finances and dreams allow.  They are the real deal!
 
Thank you again CRE for an awesome vacation.....my husband who is easily bored was not bored one minute(even though 2 of our hotels did not have TV).....we can wait to go back, and you know you will be the first people I contact.  I do have lots of amazing pics that I would love to send......do you want them emailed individually?
 
Thanks again.....Denise and Mike Buonocore
-

May. 3, 2010 Marco was great in helping plan the 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?
 
I travelled for 5 days of our 15 day trip alone with my first grade son.  I was able to enjoy Costa Rica and the special time on my own with him without worrying about travel plans, hotels etc.  I completely trusted the planning you did and was right to do so.  Everything was so organized, fun and smooth that my time with my son was just about us and Costa Rica.
 
 
What surprised you by going beyond the hopes you had, based on our site or what you read and heard before hand?
 
The hotels you selected were great - just perfect for what we wanted.  I also was really happy with how incredibly organized and timely everything was yet we never felt pressured to rush.
 
 
...and what fell short of your expectations?
 
One of the tours you organized for us was described as "a canapy tour.  Try to see all three kinds of monkeys!"  It sounded perfect for a 7 year old.  However, the tour was actually a horse back ride and ziplining.  Which I didn't think was appropriate for his age.  We went on the tour despite my reservations, and had such a fantastic time, we went on the same tour again that same day.  So, the complaint is not about the tour, but rather about disclosure.  The description was way off.
 
While we enjoyed our activities emmensly, I would have liked some options that were more off the beaten path.  We could easily arrange tours of the frog/butterfly/snake places in monteverde on our own.  But I bet there are some amazing explorations that would have been more tricky to find and schedule on our own.
 
Another issue was the travel times between places.  I would have prefered to leave first thing in the mornign so we could get to our destination in time to do something that same day.  Leaving late morning or midday is disruptive in that the morning time is too short to do anything before you leave by the time you arrive it's too late to get settled and do something.
 
 
Did the trip change your feelings about those you traveled with?
 
Nope - I loved them before and love them know.
 
 
What issue beforehand almost decided you to not travel with us?
 
It took a while to get back to me with the first draft of the itenerary.  I understand that this sort of thing takes a while but I would have liked to know you were working on it.  So, even if it wasn't done, and email stating "We're working on your iteneary now and are just waiting for some more information before we can send you  something to review."  It would be nice to be notified       that you had not forgotten about me.
 
 
What were the few most important things that decided you to go with us?
 
All my guidebooks refered to you with praise.  They used words like "trustworthy" , "most reliable", "most established".
 
 
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?
 
Marco was great in helping plan the trip and the woman who worked the night shift at Monteverde Lodge who came to our room and caught a scorpian for me is my hero.  Also, the restaurant staff at Monteverde Lodge were lovely - they set up a table in the garden specifically for our family and another family for a last breakfast in the cloud forest.  It was very special and above and beyond what was expected..
 
 
Diane J



Natalie Ewing

…I went into our data base to see how we describe the canopy tour at Borinquen and you are absolutely right. This is a terrible description! I’ve asked our date base girls to fix this right away. I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the experience in spite of the surprise of having to unexpectedly get on horses and then zip line rather than view nature in the canopy at a leisurely pace. Thank you for brining this to our attention.

You also mentioned the timing for moving from one place to another and that you would have preferred early morning departures rather than mid-morning transfers. I think what happened here is that we failed to ask you what you would prefer. Over the years we have been accused of getting our guests up too early and since you were traveling with your 7 year old son, I’m sure our Operations Department decided that you probably needed a bit more time to get going in the morning. I haven’t figured out exactly how we are going to do this, but your comment points out that we need to ask rather than assume….

Natalie Ewing

Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer

May 07, 2010
-

May. 3, 2010 Our pilot, David, was fabulous!
Everybody we worked with at Costa Rica Expeditions,
We think back on our trip and feel so lucky and so blessed that everything worked so seamlessly!  You all should feel proud to work for a company that takes pride in the service they give and enjoy giving it.  The friendly people, made us feel comfortable.  Walter, kayaker extrodinaire, our river guide (I'll butcher his name if I try to spell it) he was so nice, professional, kept everyone happy and safe!  Luis (van driver), Miguel at Tortuguero was so nice and friendly and knowledgeable, the special dinner our last night in Tortuguero was so neat!!  Issac our biking guide, and Carlos the driver for the bike ride, were both so nice!  Special People!!
Our pilot, David, was fabulous!  I know I am forgetting some names but I thank these people especially for being such genuine, good people!!  You made our trip, really!
     We had many amazing moments!  Definitely rafting the Pacuare, Kayaking in Tortuguero so many beautiful flowers, birds, reptiles, monkeys etc., the bike trip around Lake Arenal, the hot springs, ( I only wish we saw some red lava at night) but we did see it tumble down in it's smokey path during the day.  The hot springs!
Those were are highlights!
          What took us beyond was the service and how well everything was lined up and precise and taken care of.  No hassles...perfectly planned!
Manuel Antonio fell a little short of our expectations.  Maybe because everyone was so nice and kind up to that point.  Manuel Antonio was more touristy and we did not enjoy it as much as the rest of our trip...however we did like Tulemar and the beach there!
     The trip made me proud of my 12 and 13 yr olds!  They were open to new things, open to the new foods, people, animals etc.  They had some very physical challenges rafting and biking and they were awesome!  Very proud of them and thanks to the guides that were encouraging and motivating!  Happy that my husband really relaxed!  Pura Vida!!!
     I already mentioned our favorite people!  Walter, our river guide, Manuel kayaking, Issac our biking guide, and our van drivers were so nice and helpful!
     I would tell a friend:  If you want to go somewhere new, warm, exciting, beautiful and experience adventure while feeling comfortable and safe doing it, go through Costa Rica Expeditions.  If you want no hassles, kind people, precise timing and flow of activity then sit back and enjoy the ride Costa Rica Expeditions will take you on!  You won't be disappointed!
Thank you to all of you!  Keep track of your people!! Good people are hard to find!!!
Thanks again for the experience of a lifetime!
The Lapp Family
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May. 2, 2010 The staff at Tortuga Lodge made my wifes 60th birthday better than she or I could have imagined.
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?
 

My wife Lynda and I enjoyed so many things about our trip but I was struck by the sheer beauty and diversity of Costa Rica. We also loved the abundant wildlife and all the friendly people that we came in contact with.


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

The surprise was how well read aknowledgeableledgable the guides were in  so many different areas.


...and what fell short of your expectations?
 

nothing really, the only time we really had any problem was a 3 hour wait at the airport in San Jose when we were heading to Puerto Jimenez.
 

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

No


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?
 The fact that Cre had been doing this so long, and all the different options that were available to us. When we got home and told friends and coworkers about our adventure they could not believe our stories and they loved our photos.
What Costa Rica Expeditions people exceeded or fell short of your expectations, and in what ways?


All of CRE people were outstanding. Just to name a few guides Luis, Miguel,and Mauricio these three guys no how to make you feel at ease and it was great to just listen to each of the them. The drivers were all polite and professional. The staff at Tortuga Lodge made my wifes 60th birthday better than she or I could have imagined. As we enjoyed our special dinner that night she kept repeating " I feel like I'm in a movie". I would like to thank Jose for setting the trip up and for making her day extra special. I would also like to mention a few others at Tortuga. Julian, Ionish,Harry,and I cannot forget Heraldo our naturalist. Outstanding in every way. Hopefully I did not scare them to terribly when I showed them the photo of the Fer de Lance that i took right behind the lodge.


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 them if you want a first class trip of a lifetime please check out CRE you will be forever glad you did!

Thanks again for your feedback!

 
 STEVE LOEHR



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