Is it that hard to book hotels?

Old Nov 30th, 2005, 05:28 PM
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Is it that hard to book hotels?

I'm going to Costa Rica in February for my Honeymoon. I decided to do everything myself - already booked the flight and am now looking for hotels to stay in. I am looking to explore the Arenal and Monteverde area but there are NO HOTELS!!! Every place I've called they say they are booked. The reservation forms on each hotel website sucks. I even make phone calls over there but no one wants to tell me whether they have rooms available over the phone, they want me to email them. Is it because all these travel agencies have the rooms booked up or is February just a really busy time for Costa Rica? I'm almost contemplating not going anymore this is so frustrating.
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Old Nov 30th, 2005, 06:58 PM
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Generally the time between our Thanksgiving and Easter is considered "high season" in CR and some more popular hotels may think they are booked out for certain times. Keep trying and don't feel bad about falling back on your 2nd and 3rd choices if necessary. Once you have something booked, don't feel bad about asking again at a place that claimed they were sold out to find that they now have space available. I think they prefer to do business via e-mail now and confirm reservations with credit cards. Be sure to take copies of relevant messages with you when you go. CR is very busy that time of year as many Ticos are on family vacations as well as visitors such as yourself. Good luck and have fun; I have no doubt you will eventually find suitable accomodations.
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Old Dec 1st, 2005, 05:51 AM
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Thank you for your response. That's what I thought that hotels are being "safe". I'm also thinking that a lot of travel agencies are tour groups are holding these rooms just for the sake of it. The only thing about going elsewhere is many hotels have very strict cancellation policies. Once you book, you are locked in for the entire duration, or they charge you 50% of the room anyways. I really don't feel like throwing that kind of money away. But thanks for taking the time to respond. I just needed to vent.
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Old Dec 1st, 2005, 08:07 AM
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Well, I understand your frustration. But unfortunately for you, yes, this is a very very busy month for CR. Typically getting your first choice in lodgings, you would need to book 4-6 months in advance for high season! Right it does seem unbeleivable, but CR tourism is growing by leaps and bounds. Plus many first time Costa Rica travelers, do not totally comprehend that the lodgings are typically small establishments with a few rooms, many times 5-20 rooms per lodge/hotel. So as you can imagine they do book up fast.

However, don't stop trying, there is something out there. Use the email forms, and wait very patiently! Send a follow up with a very nice note, explaining you understand that email is sometimes lost, etc., etc.

And if this is all just too frustrating, use a professional with Costa Rica travel experience. You still do the research, but leave it to them to take care of the logistics, transfers and arrangements. There are lots to choose from - off the top of my head here are a few to look at -

Pat Hewitt
http://www.truecostarica.com/index.html

Neta
http://www.costaricapackage.com/

http://www.costaricaexpeditions.com/

http://centralamerica.com/

And quite a few more that others have mentioned.
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Old Dec 1st, 2005, 08:10 AM
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Yes, it is that hard in February. I book group trips and I have to book the rooms 8 - 9 months in advance for that time of the year. Sometimes that's not even enough for the more popular hotels. I'm already booking for Jan. 2007. There's a brand new hotel in Arenal that won't open until December, so you might have luck there. I've been there, the rooms are beautiful and would be nice for a honeymoon. It's Arenal Kioro. You can find it on the web. Good luck.

BTW, a lot of hotels over there use a separate company in San Jose to handle reservations, so when you call, they really don't know if they have availability until they check with the reservation agent.

Pura Vida,
Sandy
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Old Dec 1st, 2005, 09:23 AM
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I was in Arenal last March which was supposed to be a busy time also. I came into town with no reservations but had no trouble in finding a simple room in town for about $35.00. It was clean, safe and in a good location. I spent the rest of my time on the carribian side and had no problems staying there either. I will say that my stays were not in resorts but rather in small family run places. I hope this helps and that you do end up going to Costa Rica.
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Old Dec 1st, 2005, 10:03 AM
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I agree with slofan, even if I didn't have firm reservations I wouldn't worry too much. Sometimes its just frustrating to have to run around and check out hotels when you want to be out enjoying yourself.
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Old Dec 1st, 2005, 02:50 PM
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Arenal and Monteverde are beautiful natural areas, and they are NOT all built up like Hawaii is...that is why they do tend to book up long in advance. I had the same problem you are having with finding rooms for Monteverde, and what I eventually got, I'm pretty sure, was the rooms someone else had cancelled!

Neta at La Finca Que Ama helped me. But I'm afraid she might be out of town, so you might not get an answer from her. She and Arbel own La Finca Que Ama, a unique retreat in a nice quiet non-touristy area. (See reviews for La Finca Que Ama on tripadvisor.com) We spent 1 night there in between Monteverde and Manuel Antonio. Anyway Neta helped me find rooms in Monteverde when they were booked. (As I mentioned I'm pretty sure I got someone else's cancellation!)

If Neta is out of town, try Hotel Le Bergerac in San Jose...I didn't stay there because we decided not to go into San Jose, but I did some research and thought they were a good place with a good reputation, and they have a travel agency that maybe could help you booking your trip. Someone has borrowed my costa rica books so I don't have their web-site handy.

Someone on this board also recommended Andrea at www.bestofcostarica.com I was in touch with her and almost decided to use her, but I just like the fun of booking the trip myself! You can find more info on bestofcostarica on this web-site.
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Old Dec 1st, 2005, 02:59 PM
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travelbug, have you tried the Lost Iguana resort in Arenal? That's where we stayed and we loved it. Just wondered if you tried e-mailing them.
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Old Dec 1st, 2005, 03:10 PM
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travelbug, I had to look up the web-site for the Lost Iguana resort in Arenal. It's www.lostiguanaresort.com

I wouldn't make the long, rough drive up to Monteverde without having reservations in advance. I recommend a minimum of 3 nights there due to the rough drive up. I loved it and plan to return someday.

Did I mention that Manuel Antonio is more built up, and therefore has more rooms available? You might consider going there. The beaches in the Manuel Antonio national park are very nice, although as far as the rainforest goes, I preferred Arenal and Monteverde areas.

If you need a nice room within a 20-minute taxi ride of the SJO airport for your first night, I recommend Hotel Bougainvillea, which has a beautiful romantic garden and nice pool and sauna, would be nice for a honeymoon yet still very inexpensive at $80 for a double room. We stayed there for 1 night and wished we had more time there. They have a free shuttle into downtown San Jose but we didn't have time to take it, if we had more time we wold have gone downtown for some shopping and dancing to the El Pueblo mall area in San Jose. YOU have to pay for your ride to and from the airport, but considering you are only paying $80 for your room, that's fair. They also have good food in their restaurant.

OH, the Hotel bougainvillea by the way is way more beautiful than the photos you see on their web-site, I don't know why they don't put better photos on their web-site. We have some beautiful shots of their garden, maybe we should send them some better photos! The hotel is actually in Heredia, which is sort of between the SJO airport and downtown San Jose.

Good luck!



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Old Dec 1st, 2005, 05:23 PM
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Thanks everyone for their responses. I have tried:
- Tabacon
- Lost Iguana
- Arenal Observatory Lodge
- Arenal Lodge

My first choice was Tabacon and they are all booked. The rest of the hotels are also booked up. I am looking at the map on arenal.net and Arenal Observatory Lodge and the ARenal Lodge seems to be the best hotels to stay in if you want to see the lava flow. Right now, Arenal only has room for 2 out of the 3 days I need. I just sent an email to Arenal Kioro. They are expensive, but it looks very beautiful, so thanks for the recommendation!! I am ready to contact Pat Hewitt, whom many people recommend. I learn from next time when I got to Costa Rica!!!
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Old Dec 2nd, 2005, 12:56 AM
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My niece and new hubby just returned Tuesday Nov. 29 from Costa Rica honeymoon. They saw lava flow from the Lost Iguana resort in Arenal and got photos of it (digital camera) which I just saw.

We stayed at the Lost Iguana in June 2005 and also saw the lava flow.

Of course there's no telling when the direction of the lava flow will change, or when the volcano view will be obscured by clouds.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2005, 08:10 AM
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I FOUND A ROOM AT ARENAL!! Thank you SO MUCH Sandy for recommending Hotel Kioro to me. They are able to accomendate me for all 3 nights!!! Now I'm looking forward to my trip to Costa Rica!! YEAH!!!!!!!!!
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