Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Mexico & Central America
Reload this Page >

What would you expect from a small 'luxury' hotel in Costa Rica?

What would you expect from a small 'luxury' hotel in Costa Rica?

Old Jul 29th, 2004, 03:31 PM
  #21  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,194
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yes, we'll have ocean views! We paid a lot of money for that particular piece of property! It's on a hill and will be the closet hotel to the beach with an ocean view....at least for the restaurant and some of the rooms, but we're going to try and make all the rooms have an ocean view. It will depend on whether the architect can make it work, but we think it can.

Oh Iza, that breaks my heart too! But it takes SO long to get anything done...we meet with our first architect this weekend (he lives in Nosara but his daughter lives here in Austin and he's here to visit her) but we still want to talk to others and won't be going to CR until Aug. 19th to do that...and our lawyer says it's going to take 3 months or so to get 'permits' for our living condos, much less the hotel, so as my husband just said...your daughter could be 16 by the time we open. HA! Let's hope not! But seriously, it will probably be at least a year and a half...and at 14, maybe she'll look and act 16 and I won't tell if you don't!

In case you're all wondering why I'm asking these questions so early, lets just say I believe in planning, planning and more planning. I think it's necessary to do this hotel right and I want to make sure we budget to have everything to MAKE it right!

Thanks again!
Ally is offline  
Old Jul 29th, 2004, 03:42 PM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 5,541
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I guess I could live without a tv, I like to have one mainly as I travel alone and use it for company Ilove coffee first thing when I wake up...that said, in every hotel I've stayed in that does have coffee makers I never end up using them. I'm on vacay & want to be lazy on stuff like that! Someone mentioned something along this line....I'd love 'not the norm' tolietries, some bath salts, foot lotion for tired feetsies, etc., just small sample sizes, that would make an impression (on me at least!) I love the no kids rule; maybe take it a little further...post a sign saying anyone raising a ruckus mistakenly thinking they're in Cancun will be duct-taped immediately, covered in honey & will get an "up close & personal" tour of the all the nature in CR.
tully is offline  
Old Jul 29th, 2004, 03:55 PM
  #23  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 357
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ha - that's a funny thought/idea from tully! Maybe you could have a print out of the NYTimes (I know they do this at some Caribbean resorts & cruises of the main highlights - maybe you can download it online & print it out?) so people can catch up on their news that way instead of even a common area tv. It sounds like a peaceful place & a tv always brings people back to the reality of going home....you could deliver them to the rooms or have them in the lobby for people to pick up on their way to breakfast. This is fun helping you get ideas!
sclubb is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2004, 05:29 AM
  #24  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,194
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I've got to investigate the 'newspaper' idea as that would certainly be something else that no one in the area offers as yet....maybe the guy were meeting with this weekend will have some ideas as to why no one has done this yet.
Thanks all!
Ally is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2004, 06:40 AM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 163
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would add some ant traps, electronic bug repellents or some other such device to keep insects at bay.

Mosquito nets around the bed are good in theory, but we found them to be either claustraphobic (at Vista del Valle they just drape down without the support of a canopy frame making for a very small sleep space), smelly (at Bosque, the netting reeked of must and mould) or useless (at Bosque, there was no netting around the back of the bed, so bugs climbed up the wall behind our heads and jumped on the bed or simply flew in from behind). At Makanda, we finally found a mosquito net that did its job with little odor and a very large canopy frame.

I also expect a well constructed place that has no holes in the walls or floors through which columns of ants or termites could enter.

If there was a restaurant, I would expect them to be able to cater to a guest's special wants and needs (ie, 'grilled, not fried', 'salad dressing on the side', 'veggies instead of french fries', etc.) For an excellent example of this, visit Bosque del Cabo. I had a stomach flu while I was there, so for three days, three meals a day, I was served dry toast with peanut butter and banana on the side. At Tango Mar, on the other hand, no one had ever heard of peanut butter, it was impossible to communicate dietary preferences to the wait staff and we were stuck with the same menu with zero variation for five days.

I would also keep a library of books and a bunch of games for guests to borrow.

And, lastly, and to be a little different from the pack here, I vote for TVs in the room. Not everyone is so lucky to have the ability to disconnect from the world, sad as it may be. And don't discount that many unhabituated travellers come down with 'cabin fever' when they're far from the action with little else with which to occupy themselves.

We felt better being able to watch the news to keep in touch with world events. We also finished our books earlier than expected. When the afternoon rainstorms came in and we were in a remote location, we were glad that we could keep busy for a bit with a little TV.

MonaManuel is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2004, 06:46 AM
  #26  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 357
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
What if you had a few tv's available if guests decided to "borrow" one for the room - maybe those portable kinds with a vcr/dvd player - they're not so expenisive anymore. That way, they're not in the room for those who don't need them & you don't have to get one for every room. And, that way, too you could have a selection of movies as well. I like the idea of the books & board games especially if you opt for no tvs.
sclubb is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2004, 07:51 AM
  #27  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,194
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My husband and I discussed the TV or no TV debate last night. We have decided to have all the rooms 'wired' for TV, even if all rooms don't start out with TV's. So, yes, we will have some TV available in some rooms with the option of having them in all rooms with 'portable' TV's. As someone said, the TV in a 'common room' could very well disturb the 'ambience' we want to have.

As for the library, we will certainly have the largest! We have been joking about having to ship a 20' container just for books, games and dvd's. We have over a hundred dvd's alone, and too many books to count!

I don't think we'll be using mosquito nets as our construction will be sound, so as long as guest don't leave their doors open, bugs should not be a problem! Good idea about the bug traps around the restaurant, as it will be open air ...with a sea view of course! Will have to find a place to put them so it's not obtrusive to diners though.

Our menu will be VERY flexible, will have several options for every meal, as well as nightly specials.

Sound good so far?
Ally is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2004, 09:50 AM
  #28  
lvk
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,265
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Although I don't have anything intelligent to add (I may have some suggestions upon returning from CR next month) I have to tell you how much I'm enjoying this thread.

Ally, I can't wait for my kids to be grown, so we can check out your place!
lvk is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2004, 11:29 AM
  #29  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,194
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks Ivk, gald you're enjoying it! Let me know your thoughts when you get back, and I hope you have a great time!
Ally is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2004, 05:40 AM
  #30  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 31
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I second Ivk, have really been enjoying reading this thread as well...
I vote no on the TVs too. We only get two American channels up here (three when the weather cooperates), plus one out of Canada (one more if you count the french station), and that sometimes feels like too much...Plus I find that if there is a TV, especially with a dish or cable, no matter what the weather i get sucked in, and vaporize huge amounts of time, even on nice sunny days...if i had to choose between having a tv in the room or a cd player (like one of those little bose wave radios), i would opt for the music long before i opted for the tv.
as for the coffee, don't feel the need to have coffeemakers in the room. i think the coffee service to the room is a nice idea, or having the coffee available in the reception area for early risers. i never use the coffee makers in hotels, mainly because coffee making seems like work when i am on vacation (i know, kind of pathetic...)
kids, well, we don't have any yet, but i would agree that it is nice to go to a place that is quiet and provides a haven for people both with and without kids. i would imagine that some day i will be looking for such a place too...
sounds like your place will be beautiful, and even though i am only headed to CR for the first time, i am already making mental notes of where to stop on our next trip.
cheeseygirl is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2004, 07:26 PM
  #31  
GoTravel
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Ally, out of curiousity, has anyone in your family been in the hotel business?

Reason I ask is that I've been in the Small Luxury Hotel business and some of your amenities in a third world country will be a challenge.

I would highly suggest you provide the uniforms for your staff. They come to work in their own clothes and change at work and you all responsible for the laundering.

Finding the exact type of clothing may be difficult for them also. Check with an embroidery company here in the states about ordering cotton pique golf shirts with your logo embroidered on the left chest. Order tons of khaki pants from Dickies.

As far as bathroom amenities, they all come in hotel size (Aveda, Kiehls, Hermes, Erno Lazlo, etc). Call the manufacturer and ask them.

As far as televisions, have you all thought about theft? No kidding. Things we take for granted are luxuries to others.

What about island time? Most islanders don't punch a clock. Think about this and let your staff from construction crew down to the dishwashers know when you say 8AM, that doesn't mean 12Noon. Again, I'm not kidding.

Expect and plan on going over budget and way past your finish date with construction. It is just the way things work. If you plan on this, it won't throw you off so badly when it happens.

Good luck and email me at [email protected] if I can be of any help.

Island Magazine or something like that has an article on the trials and problems of building a resort in another country.
 
Old Aug 1st, 2004, 03:54 PM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 63
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ally, Can't resist jumping in on your interesting thread myself! My husband and I just returned from our first trip to Costa Rica with our 2 children (11 and 13) and in all our travels, we were totally, completely impressed with the bungalow we stayed in at Capitan Suizo (many, many thanks to Iza). I thought you mentioned along the way in a different post that you stayed there when they first opened, but now that you're planning the details of your own hotel, it might really be worth spending a night or two there again to check out their details. For us, it was just perfect.

The bungalows are spacious and incredibly comfortable -- the beds, the pillows, the linens. The bathrooms are luxurious, and the outdoor showers are exotic (with monkeys howling above as you try to rinse the shampoo out of your hair). Beautiful, elegant lounge chairs on the patio, and around the fabulous pool. Small fridge, no tv's (I think - if there was, we didn't even notice). I recall the restaurant staff wearing uniforms, always polite and attentive. The restaurant manager stopped by each table, day after to day, to chat -- and always encouraged the beautiful birds or racoons who were regulars to come on in for a treat. It was a major crowd pleaser.

MonaManuel wrote in a recent post about their disappointing time at Mikanda by the Sea in MA - and I realized that our experience at Capitan Suizo was the complete opposite .... even when we called for a plunger (as they had to at Mikanda) a staff person showed up within a minute or two - and tackled the problem himself. All in all, they have every detail imaginable thought of at Capitan Suizo -- if you have an opportunity, it might be worth spending a night or two during one of your next trips.

What an exciting adventure you have ahead of you! I look forward to leaving our kids at home for your grand opening! (You'll be booked solid just from Fodors!)
Golondrina is offline  
Old Aug 1st, 2004, 07:46 PM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,678
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I was recently in Australia and ended up buying a coffee press (aka French press) to make coffee in our room. It was really nice to be able to make our own good coffee and a coffee press is a really 'low tech' alternative to a coffee machine. (We've continued to use it at home.) We'll probably take it on all our holidays from now on!
SusanInToronto is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2004, 02:19 AM
  #34  
Iza
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 800
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Golondrina, glad you had such a good time at Capitan Suizo. We have been staying there since 2000 and every time, it is a delight. It must be one of the best run hotels in Costa Rica.
Iza is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2004, 10:46 AM
  #35  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,194
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi everyone, I was 'away' over the weekend but thanks to all that posted. I will be printing out this thread and making a count of what everyone wants!

Go Travle- My sister worked at Lake Austin Spa Resort for about 4 years, starting in reservations and working her way up to the personal assistant to the owners and manager. She wore a lot of hats in her time there. She is the only one with 'experience' in the hotel business but knows and has seen a lot. As for the restaurant, my husband owned a couple of 'independent' convenience stores in the Austin Area, and they included full 'deli's. Not just sanwhiches but full breakfast, plate lunches and "specicals" and knows that business inside out, although we know it will be different in Costa Rica as far as getting supplies and such. Not to mention good help. With the 4 family members (myself, a Radio/TV Production Manager, (lots of juggling, stress and deadlines plus managing 5 Producers) my brother who's the computer/technical expert, my sister, who is now office manager for an Animal Hospital and my husband who sold his stores and is now an indepentent contractor who teaches law enforcment personel how to clean up clandestine drug labs (long story how he got into that line of work) we feel we can combine all our strenghts and know-how, not to mention strong determination to get this job done!
Since my husband is an independent 'contactor', he can pick and choose assignments which allows him the freedom of working...or not! He'll be able to move to CR once constuction starts so he'll be there to supervise all constuction, etc. He was the general contractor for the custom home we built here at lake Travis, so again, although we know how different it will be to build a hotel in CR, at least he knows something about construction.

So that's our life in a nutshell. Let me know if anyone has anymore thoughts on this venture of ours. The more input we have the better off we will be.
Thanks again!
Ally is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2004, 04:43 PM
  #36  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ally, you know I've gotta chime in! We've been in California for a week and out of touch. I can't wait until we can visit your hotel! What a neat idea to ask the Fodorites for opinions about what makes a great hotel!

My two cents: We are all about coffee when in Costa Rica (and at home), but haven't minded the places without coffee makers in the room as long as it is available by 6:00 somewhere on the property. We are usually anxious to get up and out of the room and into the surroundings!

Also, we haven't been to Nosara, but it sounds a little devoid of evening activity. In that case, TV's can be helpful. Especially when night falls so early!

We certainly wouldn't expect bathrobes with the price range you mentioned, but the idea of a small welcome basket is excellent!

I commend you on your new venture and hope everything will go smoothly for you. I am so excited for you! I know you will keep all of informed so that we'll feel as if we are right there with you! Good luck and best of wishes!
shillmac is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2004, 05:07 AM
  #37  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,194
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Shillmac, good to hear from you! I will keep you all informed as well as I can without being booted off the board for 'advertising'! I think I'm safe for awhile as we won't open until Nov. 2005 at the earliest!
Ally is offline  
Old Aug 5th, 2004, 08:21 AM
  #38  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ally, how is your sister? Hope her leg has mended well! She was very brave to venture to Costa Rica with a lame limb!
shillmac is offline  
Old Aug 6th, 2004, 05:43 AM
  #39  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,194
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Shillmac, you are so sweet to ask about Leslie. She is doing much better. She still has a limp and I'm wondering if she will ALWAYS have a limp! She has a Dr. appt. next week to determine whether she should have more physical therepy, or whether she can 'mend' on her own.
About CR, yes she was very brave to go but she has also stated it was 'the worse vacation of her life' because she just couldn't get around much. For example, we were at a 'beach' hotel for 6 days and she only saw the beach 3 times because it was just too difficult for her to get to it. And as you know, there are not a lot of 'handicap' facilities. Most of the restaurants we went to had lots of stairs and she would have to sit stoop down and 'crawl' up the stairs, or be carried. Same thing going down. She didn't get to walk up the hill and see the view from the land we purchased either! She is now dying to go back so she can really enjoy CR! We will be going back to check out some of the more 'expensive' hotels, for our 'market research' but don't think she can get enough time off from her job go back until next May! Poor thing. I'm trying to find a way to take her to Isla Mujeres for a long weekend in the next couple months, to make up for dragging her butt (and broken leg to CR)!
Ally is offline  
Old Aug 6th, 2004, 07:43 AM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Pobrecita! Have you been to La Finca Que Ama, Ally? I think Neta and Arbel had some excellent ideas regarding amenities at a small luxury hotel. You might get some good feedback by writing her at [email protected].

I am so jealous of you. . .I long to live in Costa Rica, but we are just so nervous about buying property there. We'd like to purchase something in the central valley, but property has certainly escalated in price all over the place! We are now thinking we would be content to rent for a couple of months twice a year. I love the USA, but it always breaks my heart to come home!
shillmac is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -