Topic Wiki

List of TR's:

Kosher Food/ Restaurants:

Synagogue:

Things to Do:

Hotels:

Getting Around:

Notes:


Author Topic: Costa Rica Master Thread  (Read 63161 times)

Offline gavhaller

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite + Lifetime Gold Elite
  • ******
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Posts: 750
  • Total likes: 2
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: Flushing, New York
  • Programs: Chase Visa Supreme, Avis Cadillac, Hyatt Vacation Club Owner, Disney Annual-Pass Holder, BA Avios Executive Corporate Shareholder VIP, Citi Platinum Status, Owner Of DFS - Discover Financial Services
Re: Costa Rica Master Thread
« Reply #120 on: February 24, 2015, 11:33:27 AM »
Going for July 4th weekend to Andaz Papagayo.
Whats the story with the weather that time of year- I keep reading mixed reports.
Also, is it busy that time of year? I feel like most folks fly to Miami or the Caribbean. Hoping it won't be packed.
Also if anybody else is planning for that weekend as well, let me know so we can have a DO.
I'll bring chulent :)

Offline Cw3323

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Feb 2012
  • Posts: 340
  • Total likes: 4
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 4
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: NJ
  • Programs: UR, MR, UA, AA, JB, HH.
Re: Costa Rica Master Thread
« Reply #121 on: February 24, 2015, 09:55:34 PM »
I'm at the andaz now till Thursday anybody else is here in the area?

Offline eliteflyer

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2008
  • Posts: 1452
  • Total likes: 41
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Costa Rica Master Thread
« Reply #122 on: February 26, 2015, 02:10:29 PM »
I'm at the andaz now till Thursday anybody else is here in the area?
Will be there in a little over a week. I've booked two adjoining rooms, one on points, the other on C+P, still hoping that a DSU will open up, but not overly optimistic given the spring break/high season timing.

Offline eliteflyer

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2008
  • Posts: 1452
  • Total likes: 41
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Costa Rica Trip Report with babies
« Reply #123 on: March 18, 2015, 04:07:59 PM »
We just returned from a 5-day  trip to LIR/Guanacaste. For now, a few data points about our trip with twin 1.5-year-olds along:

-We used 17,500 miles each to fly non-stop from EWR-LIR on Sunday morning, following the switch to daylight savings time. Despite the early hour and the clock switch the night before, everyone showed up for the flight, which went out completely full. Had we booked a bit earlier, I would have definitely opted for the JetBlue flight an hour later out of JFK which I had previously seen at about $240 per person each way.

-I emailed the Andaz in advance and confirmed that they would supplement the mini-bar fridge in our rooms with one additional fridge. They ended up putting in a sizeable fridge/freezer combo that accommodated our meals perfectly along with a commercial microwave stacked on top. They otherwise offered to store and re-heat meals for us at a cost of $20 per meal, which we declined. From past experiences at hotels, I prefer to be able to take out the meals and reheat them at my convenience rather than having to plan ahead and rely on hotel staff.

-We booked two connecting rooms one on C+P (7,500 HGP+$123 (including the tax and service fee)) and one for 15,000 points for each of the four nights months in advance . I really wanted to use a DSU, and inventory in standard Andaz suites was showing. Despite many calls to HGP and the hotel, I was rebuffed that C+P requires a particular bucket for DSU that was not available. I was offered to upgrade for $150 per night, but declined. As we moved closer to arrival, the hotel ended up selling out on suites for the week and all suites were booked, including one occupied by Rafael Nadal. At the last minute, I switched the second room to a points reservation, so total cost per night was 30K, less the 20% rebate currently running for Hyatt Visa members.

-We packed a Pampers box full of Pomegranate frozen meals, sealed cold-cuts and some zip-locked frozen food from home that our babies like. As mentioned up-thread, all baggage must be loaded through a screener at LIR on arrival. Our box was pulled aside, opened and after 5 minutes of consultation with another unofficial looking guy, they confiscated the home-made food because of “health concerns for our own well-being” and said that they were making a special exception to allow the pomegranate sealed meals and cold-cuts because we had ice-packs and it said “made in USA”. They said in the future, we should only bring in meat if it’s in a cooler and stamped by the USDA. I wouldn’t depend on that, as the whole process seemed haphazard. Interestingly, we pushed our stroller, which had 2  bags full of fruit, milk and other food in it, rolled right past the screener with no objection, so that’s a potentially good way to “smuggle” some select items in.

- We considered renting a car, but after running the numbers with the mandatory liability insurance that must be purchased in Costa Rica and gas, figured a cost of about $250-$300 total for the 5 day trip. We also considered that because we were traveling with babies, we were unlikely to go out on adventures every day. We contacted Maleku Tours, a family-owned tour operator, for our airport transportation and for one day tour to a volcano. I’m glad we did, as they were super professional and pleasant to work with, and the cost wasn’t that much higher than the rental car. Round trip airport transportation for the family in an air-conditioned shuttle van was $120 for the 30-40 minute trip. The Andaz charges more than twice that amount for their airport service. The tours ranged in price from $100-$135 per person depending on the trip. I would really recommend considering this if you only plan to go out once or twice, as it was really pleasant to just be driven by a knowledgeable, friendly person on a private tour. Plus, Eugenia, who runs the operation and took us on our tour, was really good with our babies and even baby-sat for them during a few parts of the tour (like the volcanic mud-baths and hot-springs) so my wife and I could enjoy them a bit on our own.

-As far as the hotel goes, the staff were all really friendly, but it often took multiple requests to get service and I suspect that many don’t really understand English, even if they say that they do. The property is very spread out and has several steep hills to get from building to building. Golf carts roam the property to pick up guests and can be called from the room/restaurants, though this wasn’t so practical with a stroller.  They placed us on a lower level set of rooms in building 6 with no elevator access from the main road, so we just left the stroller outside at the top of the stairs. For the Diamond amenity, I asked about a spa treatment instead of the standard 1,000 point/F&B amenity, and was offered an additional 30% discount on all massages at the spa. As it turned out, the spa already had a 20% discount on couples’ massages, so this “amenity” wasn’t as valuable as would appear at first glance. Still, when combined with spa-finder gift cards available from Costco at 20% off face value, the cost of treatments was pretty reasonable, and Mrs. Eliteflyer appreciated the amenity. People complain that food is expensive here, but I can’t comment on quality or price except to say that we enjoyed the fruit juices and fruit that was available at breakfast as a Diamond member.

-The property has several pools including an adult pool near our room, which we enjoyed in relative privacy on several afternoons while our kids were napping. The kids really liked the zero-entry beach-style pool with infinity edges and views of the bay and monkeys climbing in the trees. The beaches on the property are black-sand and will leave you with a muddy finish. On the plus-side, this meant that they were often empty, which was nice.  The property has a schedule of activities that are free, including a kayak tour that I tried one morning that was nice enough. For kids that are potty-trained, they have a free day-camp with some activities having a supplemental charge. They also offer baby-sitting at $30 per hour (seems to be per family, regardless of number of kids) with a minimum of 3 hours, which we used one day. The kids can hang out with a counselor at the camp room or in your hotel room.

-For our one day offsite, Eugenia at Maleku tours picked us up bright and early at 7:15am. We were running late getting the twins ready, so we invited her to enjoy the breakfast buffet (free for us as we had two rooms and diamond status) which she appreciated. We drove about two hours to Miravales volcano where we took a tractor-pulled wagon (instead of horse-back ride because of the babies) into the rain forest and walked through a trail and on some suspension bridges over water-falls that were pretty. It was much cooler in the rain forest, which was refreshing. (Temperatures were otherwise in the 80s and low 90s while we were in Costa Rica, though pretty dry). Afterwards, we rode back to a restaurant where we enjoyed our own sandwiches and fruit lunch, though lunch at the restaurant is officially included in the tour. We then walked to an area where you can see secondary volcanic craters bubbling with hot mud and cover yourself in warm mud and bathe in hot-springs. Eugenia watched our kids for about 30 minutes while we enjoyed the mud experience. Then, it was off to Liberia, where she showed us around some smaller neighborhoods, and we got a taste for the local culture and picked up some exotic fruit at a small market place to bring back to our hotel, including a dark green fruit with white flesh that tastes just like sour-sticks, that our kids loved slurping down. She dropped us back at the hotel at about 4pm.

-We used 7,500 Avios to fly non-stop to MIA on Thursday. A few words of warning: 1) contrary to what you will read in many places, the mandatory departure tax is apparently still not included in the cost of your ticket, so we had to wait in line and pay about $26 per person (including the babies) prior to checking in. Then, at check in, we discovered that the Citi AAdvantage card free bag benefit only applies to “domestic” tickets (never realized this in the fine print before, particularly because we get free bags all the time on our AA trips to Canada). We had three bags, but I got them to waive the fee on one bag “for the babies”. Tweeting to AA was of no use, but in response to an instant message, Citi agreed to credit back the $50 in fees after I got home. Our flight to MIA was pleasant and had a light load, and a kind gate agent moved us up to a Main Cabin Extra row that we had to ourselves. We were grateful to all have global entry on arrival into MIA as immigration lines, including just to exit the baggage claim area, were atrociously long on a Thursday evening at rush hour, though we did have to wait for manual processing for the babies who haven’t been finger-printed.

-Ultimately, my impression of Costa Rica and the Andaz in particular is that, while enjoyable, it’s not worth traveling to with small children, as you can’t do most of the real cool hiking and ziplining anyways. Tickets tend to be pricey and there are added taxes, fees to factor in. That being said, if you can get a non-stop flight, as we did, it’s worth considering. The Andaz is a good value at just 15,000 points vs. $500 + tax and resort fee in high season, but is sort of isolated and service is choppy, and as mentioned above, the lay-out may not work for everyone.  The entire peninsula where it’s located is basically a high-end vacation/retirement destination for Canadians and Americans (and some Russian oligarchs, who’s yachts were parked at the marina near the hotel), so I would hardly consider it a genuine “local Costa Rican experience” if that’s what you’re in to.

Offline damaxer91

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jul 2008
  • Posts: 3164
  • Total likes: 48
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 6
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Costa Rica Master Thread
« Reply #124 on: April 28, 2015, 06:56:11 PM »
Apparently the Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo has a full kosher menu (requires 72 hours advance notice)

Food comes from the San Jose Kosher Center and is "Glatt Kosher, Bishul Yisroel, Pas Yisroel under the stricktest standards of uncompromised Kashrus. The Rav Hamachshir is the Mora D'asra of Costa Rica's Orthodox Community, Harav Gershon Miletski"

Prices are fairly cheap at $25 per meal for items like Boneless Spare Ribs, Cowboy Steak etc and include a side dish

Before ya'll jump on me for the Four Seasons being too expensive they have $400 rates in the summer

Offline insider

  • Dansdeals Gold Elite
  • ***
  • Join Date: Nov 2014
  • Posts: 150
  • Total likes: 1
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Brooklyn, NY
  • Programs: Ink Bold
Re: Costa Rica Master Thread
« Reply #125 on: May 04, 2015, 02:08:31 PM »
how can I search award for a direct flight to ny to costa rica on aa? they don't have non-stop filter. When I change dates, it doesn't show any non-stop flights. Is there a workaround?

Offline Marco Polo

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 10K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2012
  • Posts: 13608
  • Total likes: 9
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 104
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Costa Rica Master Thread
« Reply #126 on: May 04, 2015, 02:10:07 PM »
how can I search award for a direct flight to ny to costa rica on aa? they don't have non-stop filter. When I change dates, it doesn't show any non-stop flights. Is there a workaround?
Search on BA.com. Could be that there are no flights available.
Quaerite et Invenietis.

Offline insider

  • Dansdeals Gold Elite
  • ***
  • Join Date: Nov 2014
  • Posts: 150
  • Total likes: 1
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Brooklyn, NY
  • Programs: Ink Bold
Re: Costa Rica Master Thread
« Reply #127 on: May 04, 2015, 02:27:04 PM »
Search on BA.com. Could be that there are no flights available.
Thank you. I tried that as well, but no luck. Is it possible that they don't offer non-stop for award tickets?

Offline Marco Polo

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 10K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2012
  • Posts: 13608
  • Total likes: 9
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 104
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Costa Rica Master Thread
« Reply #128 on: May 04, 2015, 02:28:24 PM »
Thank you. I tried that as well, but no luck. Is it possible that they don't offer non-stop for award tickets?
They fly JFK-SJO direct. Only a matter of finding flights, which can be tough as they don't fly many often.
Quaerite et Invenietis.

Offline eliteflyer

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2008
  • Posts: 1452
  • Total likes: 41
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Costa Rica Master Thread
« Reply #129 on: May 04, 2015, 02:40:14 PM »
how can I search award for a direct flight to ny to costa rica on aa? they don't have non-stop filter. When I change dates, it doesn't show any non-stop flights. Is there a workaround?
AA/US does not fly non-stop from JFK to LIR (MIA, DFW, CLT are the only options) or or SJO (MIA, DFW, CLT, PHX are the only options)

Offline eliteflyer

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2008
  • Posts: 1452
  • Total likes: 41
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Costa Rica Master Thread
« Reply #130 on: May 04, 2015, 02:40:45 PM »
They fly JFK-SJO direct. Only a matter of finding flights, which can be tough as they don't fly many often.
They anounced that route back in 2010, but i've not seen it all lately. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/american-airlines-launches-nonstop-service-from-new-york-to-san-jose-costa-rica-89143817.html

« Last Edit: May 04, 2015, 02:44:57 PM by eliteflyer »

Offline gavhaller

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite + Lifetime Gold Elite
  • ******
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Posts: 750
  • Total likes: 2
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: Flushing, New York
  • Programs: Chase Visa Supreme, Avis Cadillac, Hyatt Vacation Club Owner, Disney Annual-Pass Holder, BA Avios Executive Corporate Shareholder VIP, Citi Platinum Status, Owner Of DFS - Discover Financial Services
Re: Costa Rica Master Thread
« Reply #131 on: May 06, 2015, 10:52:42 AM »
Can anybody specify details on renting cars in CR.
Not understanding the whole mandatory insurance thing.

Thanks!

Offline beeweegee

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Sep 2013
  • Posts: 1408
  • Total likes: 48
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 2
    • View Profile
  • Location: New York, NY
Re: Costa Rica Master Thread
« Reply #132 on: May 06, 2015, 01:53:09 PM »
Can anybody specify details on renting cars in CR.
Not understanding the whole mandatory insurance thing.

Thanks!
Basically, the law is that you can't decline insurance. Even if you have primary insurance with your CC.

Offline gavhaller

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite + Lifetime Gold Elite
  • ******
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Posts: 750
  • Total likes: 2
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: Flushing, New York
  • Programs: Chase Visa Supreme, Avis Cadillac, Hyatt Vacation Club Owner, Disney Annual-Pass Holder, BA Avios Executive Corporate Shareholder VIP, Citi Platinum Status, Owner Of DFS - Discover Financial Services
Re: Costa Rica Master Thread
« Reply #133 on: May 06, 2015, 05:29:07 PM »
That I understand.
But theres 4 or 5 different options.
I want to make sure I get the bare minimum and then use my cc for coverage, because, cdw isnt mandatory

Offline Cw3323

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Feb 2012
  • Posts: 340
  • Total likes: 4
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 4
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: NJ
  • Programs: UR, MR, UA, AA, JB, HH.
Re: Costa Rica Master Thread
« Reply #134 on: May 06, 2015, 05:56:53 PM »
I think you need to take the LDW only and the rest on your cc (but it's also not cheap)