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Old 12-12-2014   #1 (permalink)
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Costa Rica trip

I don't have an actual trip report but I did just get back from Costa Rica. It was a work trip so I stayed in three different areas - Arenal, Guanacaste and Tamarindo. Lots of driving! I'm going to link to various photo albums, in case anyone wants to see. It's taking some time to get everything organized and uploaded so please be patient with me!

Here are the first three albums - from the Arenal area...

Arrival and Tabacon Grand

Arenal Kioro

The Springs Resort
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Old 12-12-2014   #2 (permalink)
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Added four more tonight, in the Guanacaste area:

The Indigenous and Riu Palace Guanacaste

Riu Guanacaste

Hilton Papagayo

Westin Playa Conchal
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Old 12-13-2014   #3 (permalink)
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Wow, what an amazing trip and thank you for all the photos!! I am still sad that my fav place has the wild animals in cages, one poor monkey chained inside a cage . But, that is one amazingly beautiful country!!! I want to go!!
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Old 12-14-2014   #4 (permalink)
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That is an animal rescue and sanctuary Sharon, it's not a zoo. The animals that are there - most of the animals were kept as pets, which is not allowed in Costa Rica. But the wealthy will pay a lot of money to illegally purchase animals and keep them until they get too big, they tire of them, they become aggressive, they get caught. Or, people poach them directly from the wild and try to keep them as pets. Whatever the case may be, the Ministry of the Environment and Energy will bring these animals to various wildlife preserves so they can be properly cared for, of which Club Rio is one.

Just few of animals were injured and whenever possible, they will return them to the wild. But for the ones kept as pets or bred in captivity - they can't be returned to the wild, they don't know how to take care of themselves. In another case, some of the crocodiles - they were taken because they were coming into populated areas (due to loss of habitat) and killing pets, livestock and endangering residents.

I don't like to see animals in cages either but they do a lot of good at this facility, they truly care for the animals and try to make their habitats as natural as possible. Without Club Rio, these animals would likely have been killed or set free only to not be able to fend for themselves.
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Old 12-17-2014   #5 (permalink)
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Shammy, Thank you for this report. I have been to Costa Rica a few times and have fallen in love with the little town of Samara.... This brings it all back.
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Old 12-17-2014   #6 (permalink)
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Glad it's bringing back memories! I'm in Jamaica right now so further photo uploads are on hold until I get back. But there is more!
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Old 12-18-2014   #7 (permalink)
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Ok, I'll just sit right here and wait...... No hurry!
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Old 12-18-2014   #8 (permalink)
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Hi Shammy !
We were in Costa a few years back. Stayed in Ajluaha? Something like that.For a poker tourney

I will never forget our trip to Arenal to get in the hot springs . Daylight going in was crazy ,potholes everywhere.

The trip back was- lets just say Im glad we made it. Nothing like going through the rain forest in heavy downpours,with dump trucks with one head light barely missing us around tight turns with zero visibility.

The hot springs were great ,but to cloudy to see the volcano.


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Old 12-20-2014   #9 (permalink)
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Alajuela. This is a province near San Jose. Didn't get there, we were in the Arenal area, Guanacaste and Tamarindo.

And yes the roads to the Arenal area are not the best, which is why they say don't drive them at night. After a 5+ hour flight, we boarded a bus to Arenal and should have been there with a speck of daylight to spare but...a tractor trailer bottomed out in a dip in the road, and it was a one lane bridge to boot. We sat there stuck behind this truck for several hours, well into darkness, waiting for a bulldozer to come push it out of the way. Right, no tow trucks and bulldozers don't move very fast so it took a good long while to get to our location. It was a 6 hour bus ride, right after a 5 hour flight. Ugh!

And we had a view of the volcano driving there but took it for granted thinking we'd see it (and photograph it) over the next few days. Bad move, the top was shrouded in clouds the remainder of th time we were in that area.
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Old 12-25-2014   #10 (permalink)
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Great photos Shammy!

How did you like the RIU Palace? We have given it some thought but I am not crazy about the new designs of the Palace level.
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Old 12-26-2014   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shammy View Post
That is an animal rescue and sanctuary Sharon, it's not a zoo. The animals that are there - most of the animals were kept as pets, which is not allowed in Costa Rica. But the wealthy will pay a lot of money to illegally purchase animals and keep them until they get too big, they tire of them, they become aggressive, they get caught. Or, people poach them directly from the wild and try to keep them as pets. Whatever the case may be, the Ministry of the Environment and Energy will bring these animals to various wildlife preserves so they can be properly cared for, of which Club Rio is one.

Just few of animals were injured and whenever possible, they will return them to the wild. But for the ones kept as pets or bred in captivity - they can't be returned to the wild, they don't know how to take care of themselves. In another case, some of the crocodiles - they were taken because they were coming into populated areas (due to loss of habitat) and killing pets, livestock and endangering residents.

I don't like to see animals in cages either but they do a lot of good at this facility, they truly care for the animals and try to make their habitats as natural as possible. Without Club Rio, these animals would likely have been killed or set free only to not be able to fend for themselves.
Glad to hear they are doing this. Too bad people continue to stupidly try to keep them as pets. It def looks like a place I'd like now!
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Old 12-29-2014   #12 (permalink)
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Great photos Shammy!

How did you like the RIU Palace? We have given it some thought but I am not crazy about the new designs of the Palace level.
I think I would have liked it better of it wasn't in that new design. The colors are garish, the rooms have no personality, I am not a fan. The service in some areas was bad to very bad, other areas (like the lobby bar and buffet) it was fine to outstanding.

You know how Riu has that rule of lining up to make a la carte reservations each morning, and you can only make two days worth at a time? We weren't around to have dinner there except for one night, so I did try to make reservations for that night. When I got to the desk, I was told that the restaurant I wanted to go to was closed the night I wanted my reservation for, so I said I'll take any a la carte. I was then told sorry, all reservations are booked.

Come to find out, they had just one a la carte open each night, instead of just one closed. I've never heard of such a thing, not at any AI I've ever stayed at (and that's plenty, including many of the Riu Palace properties). There are only two seating times so needless to say, there is a very limited number of people that can dine in just one a la carte each night. There wasn't a reservation to be had for the entire week, not one. The vast majority of guests had to eat in the buffet for their entire trip. The plus for that, the food in the buffet was excellent. We did pull some strings and get into the gourmet restaurant that night and I wished I would have eaten at the buffet. Food was cold and not very good, drinks were warm (when you could get one!), service was terrible (when you could get service!). That was my limited experience with the one a la carte I was able to go to, I'd like to think it's not always that bad.

Anyway, I didn't love the hotel but I know that I have clients that would be fine with it. It's pretty much typical Riu Palace. I've been spoiled by staying in some really nice (adults only) resorts so this was a downgrade from that quality, that had something to do with it too. The pool area is quite nice. And the Riu Guanacaste next door is in the old style and was quite nice too, but lacks some of the perks of the Palace (like free wifi that works great!).

A better option for AI in this area would be the Westin.
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Old 12-30-2014   #13 (permalink)
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wow!!

Wow! Beautiful pics thanks so much for sharing!! I want your job!!! lol.. I 'm usually pretty excited if mine send me to a nice hotel in Dallas Tx!! lol....
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Old 01-01-2015   #14 (permalink)
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I think I would have liked it better of it wasn't in that new design. The colors are garish, the rooms have no presonality, I am not a fan. The service in some areas was bad to very bad, other areas (like the lobby bar and buffet) it was fine to outstanding.

You know how Riu has that rule of lining up to make a la carte reservations each morning, and you can only make two days worth at a time? We weren't around to have dinner there except for one night, so I did try to make reservations for that night. When I got to the desk, I was told that the restaurant I wanted to go to was closed the night I wanted my reservation for, so I said I'll take any a la carte. I was then told sorry, all reservations are booked.

Come to find out, they had just one a la carte open each night, instead of just one closed. I've never heard of such a thing, not at any AI I've ever stayed at (and that's plenty, including many of the Riu Palace properties). There are only two seating times so needless to say, there is a very limited number of people that can dine in just one a la carte each night. There wasn't a reservation to be had for the entire week, not one. The vast majority of guests had to eat in the buffet for their entire trip. The plus for that, the food in the buffet was excellent. We did pull some strings and get into the gourmet restaurant that night and I wished I would have eaten at the buffet. Food was cold and not very good, drinks were warm (when you could get one!), service was terrible (when you could get service!). That was my limited experience with the one a la carte I was able to go to, I'd like to think it's not always that bad.
I don't like standing in line for anything, so I have never done so at the RIU. I have tried a couple of the a la carte's, but thought they were generally mediocre. I am usually happy with the buffet's at the Palace, so we go that route most of the time. I have never heard of a Palace only having one a la carte open in the evening.

The only time I have ever found the service at a RIU Palace to less than exceptional was at the one in Punta Cana,so I would not return there. I very much enjoy the ones in Mexico and Jamaica.
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Old 01-03-2015   #15 (permalink)
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Just added more photos..

Tamarindo Diria

Four Seasons Costa Rica

Occidental Grand Papagayo

Villas Sol

JW Marriott
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