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3577 messages
active 21 mins ago

Holden Ketchum

I have lived in Costa Rica for six years and made it my home. My role is to help travelers connect to the activities and experiences that will bring them the most joy and provide lasting memories. Costa Rica is a unique travel destination and I hope that my clients will get to know its many qualities by making up-close and personal connections through the activities in their personalized trip plans.

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"I specialize in Costa Rican highlights. Additionally, I like to recommend unique places that are less frequented but offer peace and quiet for those looking to leave the crowd behind. I love sharing places where travelers can experience the biodiversity of Costa Rica, relax in peaceful places, and enjoy delicious food. Ask me where the best cheesecake can be found!"

How did you get involved in travel?

"I have been traveling my entire life. I have lived in multiple states in the USA (California, Texas, Florida, Alaska, Arizona, and Washington State) as well as other countries, including France, the United Kingdom, and Costa Rica. I completed my undergraduate degree in Paris. Being a student of history and cultural studies allowed me the opportunity to travel extensively across Europe: everything from modern museums and castles to ancient ruins and cave painting sites.
I began my new life in Costa Rica six years ago, and I have been traveling and exploring here ever since. I have worked in travel marketing as a way to connect people to the adventures and experiences that are available to them here in Costa Rica. "

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"My favorite place in Costa Rica is San Gerardo de Dota, which is a hidden cloud forest not far from Cartago. On a trip last year, as we were hiking through the forest, we saw a pair of quetzals in an aguacatillo tree. We sat quietly at the side of the trail and watched them eat their fill. Eventually, the male flew from tree to tree calling to the female. The usual light mist was falling, but the sun still sent sparkling rays through the canopy. The sights and sounds were incredible, and we were all alone in the forest with them. As an avid birdwatcher, this was unforgettable for me."

Holden is part of the following groups: Costa Rica Travel Agents
Top itineraries and travel advice

Favorite experiences

Río Pacuare Whitewater Rafting

Located along Costa Rica's Caribbean slope near Turrialba is a deep gorge considered one of the best river-rafting sites in the world. The Río Pacuare runs 67 miles (107 km) from the Talamanca Mountains to the Caribbean in the southwest of the country. Along the way, it passes through some of the...

Recent trip reviews for Holden

Pura Vida Costa Rica!
Costa Rica | Jan 23 - Feb 2, 2024

K
Kiko S.
Newark, NJ | Reviewed on Feb 10, 2024
Pura Vida Costa Rica! This trip would not be the same without the help of Holden/KimKim travel. It was our first time using a travel specialist and it has completely changed my approach to traveling. The itinerary created by Holden was perfect, just the right amount of excursions paced just for us. As an aging backpacker (lol) I'm used to cramming in as much as possible and hit the ground running, this trip fulfilled all my expectations and then some. We got a taste of Costa Rica, without... Read more

Pura Vida Costa Rica! This trip would not be the same without the help of Holden/KimKim travel. It was our first time using a travel specialist and it has completely changed my approach to traveling. The itinerary created by Holden was perfect, just the right amount of excursions paced just for us. As an aging backpacker (lol) I'm used to cramming in as much as possible and hit the ground running, this trip fulfilled all my expectations and then some. We got a taste of Costa Rica, without feeling overwhelmed and can't wait to go back! I'm still surprised that everything went so smoothly and completely stress-free, we just needed to show up to our reservations on time plus communication with Wilman, our local contact via Whatsapp was super helpful.

All the tours were great, ( Místico Arenal Hanging Bridges, Ocean Kayaking, Kuna Vela sailboat, Children's Forest Night Walk, Cloud Forest hike) the tour I enjoyed the most was the Manuel Antonio National Park Guided Hike with Luis, granted it was our first tour but our guide was so knowledgable and helpful, we saw more in 1km than I would have every expected; Arenal Hanging Bridges guide, David, was also amazing at pointing out animals/plants and helping with photos.

Hotel Reviews
Hotel San Bada Resort & Spa
Manuel Antonio

Pros: Wonderful staff, great location, breakfast buffet, swim up bar, quiet Cons: dated premise, spotty Wifi (at checkout the credit card machine went offline), our bathroom had soap scum and hair, common areas are hot, quiet (we were here on a weekday so the vibe might pick up during the weekend idk) Our meals were fine at the hotel, very nice and friendly staff. We also ventured out and can recommend El Chante (low key 80/90's American pop music), Morpho Beach Bar (walkable) and El Avion (nice sunset views in an old airplane hanger)

Authenticity & Character
Was expecting more from 4 star hotel
Location
Could not be easier getting to the National Park and beach.
Staff
Friendly and tried to be helpful
Cleanliness & Comfort
Casa Luna Hotel & Spa
La Fortuna

We spent most our time off-site but we did enjoy the volcanic mud spa massage and little walking trail. Location was convenient for us, we had parking, breakfast buffet was good, enjoyed the rainforest showers and birds from our 'porch'. Close by recommendations: El Chante Verde, Rainbow Chocolate tour, Tiquicia - town is a 7 min drive We went to Paradise Hot Springs at night, the front desk was able to rearrange a pass on short notice.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
El Establo Mountain Hotel
Monteverde

This place was a dream. Don't leave during sunset, the views are amazing. We had the honeymoon suite, which was huge and the balcony made my life. We only had the breakfast buffet, which was great, bustling during pre-tour hours and the good variety. Treated to a spa massage, amazing. Wish we had more time here to check out the indoor pool and canopy tour but next time! Note: Take the hotel shuttle or drive, everything is uphill; or walk, your calves will look amazing afterwards.

Authenticity & Character
On a mountain, great sunset spot, close by Children's Forest
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Villas Sol Hotel And Beach Resort
Playa Hermosa

All-inclusive with great view of the bay. Very kid-friendly. We stayed in the hotel section, which had it's own parking lot, view of the bay overlooking the main pool and buffet restaurant (dinner/breakfast was fine but they ran out of food so sometime you were waiting) Staff was nice, my Spanish is rusty so they were patient and kind. Cocktails were inconsistent but it's free so not complaining. They have a lot of on-site activities (like movie night by the pool, dancing lessons) and beach shuttle. Note: need to go to the pool by the wet bar to trade in your towel card, open til 5pm. In the hotel, we didn't see elevators, it's not hard to navigate the stairs but just a note if you have heavy suitcases :) Driving in Entrance is split by two booths, one for Condovac on the left and Villa Sol on the right.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
there was hair and rubber bands on the bedroom and bathroom floor.
Activity Reviews
Manuel Antonio National Park Guided Hike
Manuel Antonio National Park Guided Hike
Manuel Antonio

Our guide, Luis, was so knowledgeable and set the bar pretty high for the rest of our trip. He balanced giving information, addressing questions, taking photos in a great pace. The tour walk is short in distance but I felt very satisfied in what we learned and saw. We spent some extra time in the park afterwards exploring the beaches and other trails, we definitely did not see much without Luis' trained eye :)

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Luis!
Transport
Ocean Kayaking & Snorkeling in Manuel Antonio
Ocean Kayaking & Snorkeling in Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio

I was nervous about kayaking the ocean waves but our guide was kind and patient, he explained the schedule and we were off! It was basically a straight shot to the snorkel area, we had good time, it was a bit cloudy but we saw some cool fish and starfish. Our guide tried to point out as much as he could but it was a bit cloudy and here was just some fish (at the time, and I was admittedly a little distracted with the low tide and avoiding rocks). The snorkel gear was basic and I couldn't get my life jacket out of the way (lol) but it was a good kayak, swim, fruit snack, and then kayak back, hop in the shuttle and drove to the tour's restaurant for casado lunch.

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Very kind and patient
Transport
Night Walk: Children's Eternal Forest
Night Walk: Children's Eternal Forest
Monteverde

Walking the dark trails were exciting, we loved the idea of being able to see the nocturnal nightlife. We saw a lot of bugs and an armadillo lol but it was still fun. Our guide had fun stories and good trivia facts. I enjoyed how the guides helped each other, communicated via radio and left sticks pointing to sleeping creatures. Wish we saw some more frogs and more animals but that's definitely not in the control of the our guide.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Sky Adventures Zip Lines
Sky Adventures Zip Lines
Arenal/La Fortuna

I'm terrified of heights and had to do the 7-course zipline! I would recommend the Sky Adventure Sky tram + Zipline tour, we had a nice ride up the skytram, where the guides made small talk about a little history of Arenal and some biodiversity facts. The only way down was going through the 7 ziplines (1 intro, 5 long, 1 short to the finish line), our group made it through fairly quickly and with ease. The guides did a great job distracting us during any hold ups or waiting on line. I felt very safe and comfortable, even when I was terrified. This was for sure a once in a lifetime experience for me, I even bought the photo package.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Driver pointed out a toucan and some monkeys. Zipline guides made it feel very safe and were friendly and patient (i'm sure they get the same nervous energy and did a great job being a patient and helpful). Office staff were a little short but there were a lot of people asking the same question.
Transport
Shuttles was clean, drivers were nice. It would have been helpful to have known in advanced that the shuttle back was different from the way there, it was confusing
Morning Sailing Tour
Morning Sailing Tour
Costa Rica

Kuna Vela was great time! The staff was helpful, they even took some photos on the beach and on the boat. Originally, when we booked it we thought we were going to a snorkeling site but with the recent rainstorms, they recommended going to Huevos Playa where we could check out the caves AND do some snorkeling. It was a great alternative. We spent an hour on the beach, checked out the cave (we didn't get to walk to the other beach but it was still good photo op and great timing cause after 45min there were waves and the tide was definitely coming in), they gave out some snorkel gear and noodles to float, some people saw a turtle, lots of fish. Then we took the dingy back to the sailboat, plenty of food, offered lots of drinks, relaxing sail back, saw some dolphins, flying fish, birds, birds, birds, and a manta ray.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Local specialist: Holden Ketchum
Holden
Holden Ketchum
Local specialist in Cartago, Costa Rica | Replied on Feb 14, 2024

Thank you Kiko, I'm glad to hear that the pace was just right for you. As an aging backpacker myself, I totally get it! 😀
I'm glad to hear we met your expectations and that everything ran smoothly and stress-free for you.
Thank you also for mentioning Wilman. His efforts have very positive results for all of us.
Sincerely
Holden

Overall the trip and KimKim team were fantastic.
Costa Rica | Jan 17 - Feb 1, 2024

Marlynn
Marlynn M.
Florence-Graham, CA | Reviewed on Feb 05, 2024
Overall the trip was fantastic. We loved that KimKim chose five different locations throughout Costa Rica that fit our interests and desires for this trip. Each location was always a nice surprise and added adventure. We were never disappointed. We appreciated that Holden, Wilman, and KimKim team were always available to help if needed. Wilman was a great help, particularly during the first few days. We had to add a day to the start of the trip due to having to fly in a day early. That... Read more

Overall the trip was fantastic. We loved that KimKim chose five different locations throughout Costa Rica that fit our interests and desires for this trip. Each location was always a nice surprise and added adventure. We were never disappointed. We appreciated that Holden, Wilman, and KimKim team were always available to help if needed. Wilman was a great help, particularly during the first few days. We had to add a day to the start of the trip due to having to fly in a day early. That caused a hitch or two for the trip plan for the first couple of days but Wilman was always there to straighten it out with us. Overall, we were very satisfied with KimKim and all persons involved. We’ve praised KimKim to many of our friends.

Hotel Reviews
Rio Celeste Hideaway Resort
Bijagua

Fantastic from the casita we had, the pool, the food, the hiking trails. It was genuinely a hideaway for a moment in our lives. We had wonderful love-making here!

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Issimo Suites Boutique Hotel & Spa—Adults Only
Manuel Antonio

This was my (Ellie's) favorite place - the breakfasts were wonderful, the room was high above the sea from which we could see for miles into the ocean, service was wonderful, the room was spacious with a lovely little deck to sit on when we felt like we wanted to be outside. We had wonderful love-making here, too!

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Arenal Manoa & Hot Springs
Fortuna

Lovely setting outside the city of La Fortuna; we visited the community several times. The breakfasts were overly generous offerings with a beautiful view of a lagoon with dozens of white herons, our couple spa experience was fantastic, the grounds were beautiful. The staff was always ready to help and...we greatly enjoyed the Arenal Zip Line experience. and much more.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Senda Monteverde Hotel
Monteverde

This hotel was a different, but enjoyable, experience. The casita was hidden away nicely with a path to breakfast readily available. The views from the restaurant were good, but not spectacular. The food was good, well prepared, and excellently served by the wait staff. Our experience was fewer opportunities to explore the mountains without going a ways out of town, though Monteverde itself was an interesting place to explore.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Trogon Lodge
San Gerardo de Dota

This was the most unusual location and surroundings of any of the hotels. Trogon Lodge is tucked away 'way down' into the valley, with roads that required some careful attention for driving (7 kilometers off Route 2 on a narrow, curve-filled drive). Nevertheless, the location was well-worth it! Note that it was cold (relatively) since it sits at roughly 7000 feet in altitude. The dining room was very nice with excellent food. and service. A beautiful river, with many waterfalls, runs directly through Trogon grounds with several trails to explore along the river. The casitas are also located such that you will follow one, two or more trails to get to your lodging. In this sense, a person with handicaps would be challenged, but could ask for a casita most closely located to necessities. Trogon Lodge is also fairly isolated, meaning no gas station or other convenience stores are within 20-30 kilometers. We didn't need them, though we had some concern about having only a quarter tank of gas. Not a problem, since the nearest gas was 31 kilometers away and well within reach. Though cold much of the day, we thoroughly enjoyed the natural setting and our stay (2 nights)!!

Authenticity & Character
Location
As noted, well tucked away in the mountains!!
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
As noted, comfort is relative to the location. Given its location, it was very comfortable.
Activity Reviews
Big Arenal Mundo Aventura Zipline + Tractor
Big Arenal Mundo Aventura Zipline + Tractor
Arenal/La Fortuna

Amazing and fantastic, with a very helpful and entertaining crew!! This is a 12-platform zip line, one of which is a kilometer long in itself.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
All were attentive to the fact that our ages - 81 and 84 - were obvious. They were caring and helpful. We love the fact that one of the staff yelled from his platform to the next "here comes la abuela!!" (grandmother).
Transport
Transport was a wagon (open on the sides) pulled by a tractor. This took us much of the way to the first platform, but the climb was still significant beyond that.
Tapir Valley Nature Reserve Night Tour
Tapir Valley Nature Reserve Night Tour
Costa Rica

Excellent night walk!! Our guide was eager to show us all forms of frogs, snakes, birds! But the frosting on the cake was finding a Tapir (with four young ones) 'eating up the forest'. Yes, they feast on small trees and other fodder of the forest. We were able to get excellent video evidence of this experience.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Excellent and informative!
Transport
In a sense this is not applicable, since we drove to the location where the night walk started. One note - by the time the walk was over (about 3 hours) it was raining a bit and a fog had set in. Driving back to the Hideaway was a little treacherous. Fortunately, the road was busy and we were able to 'feel' our way back ok.
Rio Celeste & Tenorio Volcano Private Hike
Rio Celeste & Tenorio Volcano Private Hike
Costa Rica

This was an event set up by KimKim (Serendipity Adventures) with us. We had a good guide (Ian). He was able to show us several spectacular bird events. The most exciting was seeing a Quetzal perched in a tree. Through the guides monocular, we took several pictures we will treasure.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Self drive with the guide in the car to direct us. Worked fine.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Guided Hike
Monteverde Cloud Forest Guided Hike
Costa Rica
Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Self drive from {{start_location}} to {{end_location}}
Costa Rica

This worked well. The first distance down the mountain (Route 606) was ok. The main route (Routes 1 and 324) were ok, too. Keep in mind that the infrastructure of Costa Rica is not as clearly developed as we in the US, spoiled as we are, are used to. Most of our highway routes were two lane, with a few four lanes now and then. In some cases, as when we went to Trogon Lodge, the 7 kilometers to the Lodge were very curvy and narrow. But, hey, it's part of the experience!!!

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Really not relevant to the category...
Transport
Manuel Antonio National Park Guided Hike
Manuel Antonio National Park Guided Hike
Manuel Antonio

This was a major highlight of our time in Costa Rica. The National Park is over the top, especially given that we had a guide who was informed, informative and responsive to questions. We learned much about all manner of wildlife. In addition, our guide was a historian of Latin America providing us wonderful detail about the creation and evolution of the National Park. Included in that, of course, was information about colonialism, the United Fruit Company and the history of America Central as opposed to Central America (the latter being the history with which many of us are familiar).

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Sunset Cruise Brisa Elegante Vessel
Sunset Cruise Brisa Elegante Vessel
Manuel Antonio

What's to say!! It was a genuine sunset cruise, on a 3-sail, wooden sail boat (according to our guide the only one in Costa Rica?). Food was excellent, staff, too. Opportunities for swimming and snorkeling were provided. Fun time and people!!

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Very attentive, conversational and informative.
Transport
Local specialist: Holden Ketchum
Holden
Holden Ketchum
Local specialist in Cartago, Costa Rica | Replied on Feb 05, 2024

That's awesome Marlynn and Elaine, it sounds like your trip was a resounding success! I'm so excited to hear that you saw tapir in Bijagua, that's a real prize! and a quetzal! How lucky you were on this trip.
I'm glad to hear that the hotels worked out well for you :)
This review, and knowing that you had a great time, makes me very happy.

Manuel Antonio/Monteverde/La Fortuna/Playa Hermosa
Costa Rica | Jan 23 - Feb 2, 2024

Chris
Chris G.
Newark, NJ | Reviewed on Feb 04, 2024
We had great excursions in all the areas of Costa Rica we visited. Some of the highlights were Luis guided walk through Manuel Antonio Park. We wouldn’t have seen 90% of the animals without him. Street art in Joca was also a great stop on travel day. Monteverde night hike was a great chance to see insects, bats and sleeping birds. Sky Adventures zipline in Arenal was amazing. The Mistico Hanging bridges with David was phenomenal. He was great explaining the different climates and spotting... Read more

We had great excursions in all the areas of Costa Rica we visited. Some of the highlights were Luis guided walk through Manuel Antonio Park. We wouldn’t have seen 90% of the animals without him. Street art in Joca was also a great stop on travel day. Monteverde night hike was a great chance to see insects, bats and sleeping birds. Sky Adventures zipline in Arenal was amazing. The Mistico Hanging bridges with David was phenomenal. He was great explaining the different climates and spotting animals (vipers, coati, howler monkeys and sloths).

Hotel Reviews
El Establo Mountain Hotel
Monteverde

Everything was amazing. The room, the view, the staff, the food…. The only negative is we didn’t stay long enough to explore the grounds, restaurant and pool

Authenticity & Character
Views are unbeatable, the spa is also amazing.
Location
Sunset views from the room and top of the property were great. Centrally located in town to access stores and restaurants
Staff
Friendly, courteous, helpful, friendly
Cleanliness & Comfort
Hotel San Bada Resort & Spa
Manuel Antonio

The hotel was nice and staff were great, but everything does feel a little run down. The pool wasn’t fully operational and wifi was spotty or out.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Access to the park can’t be beat and it is walkable to the beach. I would feel unsafe taking the access tunnel to the beach alone. But it might be better to stay closer to Quepos for restaurants and excursions outside the park.
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
The staff kept everything cleanly but the hotel feels a bit rundown. The pool fountains and hot tub were broken, the room door had large gaps, the patio door can be opened even when locked and a lot of visible tile/caulking repairs in the bathroom
Casa Luna Hotel & Spa
La Fortuna

Check in was easy and the staff was helpful in explaining how to get around town and in setting up a trip to a hot spring. Their spa, pool and breakfast were also great.

Authenticity & Character
The spa is excellent, there is a pools, multiple hot tubs, and small hiking trail on premises. The landscaping is also very nice and makes you feel more secluded from the other guests
Location
Near town for restaurants and night life and they had two great restaurants (Chante verde and Dona Liz Pupuseria) walking distance. The rainforest chocolate tour is excellent and also walkable from the hotel.
Staff
Very helpful in making recommendations for activities and helping setup reservations
Cleanliness & Comfort
The only negative was being able to hear our upstairs neighbors through the ceiling.
Villas Sol Hotel And Beach Resort
Playa Hermosa
Authenticity & Character
Location
Shuttles or a car are recommend for getting around as the grounds are steep and roadways narrow for pedestrians. But the hotel does have a good shuttle service that addresses this. Great sunset views from the hotel/pool area overlooking the bay.
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
We needed to ask housekeeping to clean the room at checkin, the floors were still dirty and had leftover hair ties from the previous guests. But the bathroom and bedding/towels were fresh. No cleanliness issues aside from this. The lighting in rooms should be improved. There are small overhead led lights (2 above the bed headboard, and 1 in the entry) but I needed to use a flashlight to find items in my luggage after sunset. The hotel does not have an elevator, this was not an issue for us, but could be for others.
Activity Reviews
Ocean Kayaking & Snorkeling in Manuel Antonio
Ocean Kayaking & Snorkeling in Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio

Pleasant kayak and snorkeling experience with a snack and lunch included.

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Kudos to our driver making pickup/dropoff on the other side of the bay where the roads were narrow, winding and full of traffic.
Night Walk: Children's Eternal Forest
Night Walk: Children's Eternal Forest
Monteverde

It was nice to see and hear animals that are normally not visible during the day

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Sky Adventures Zip Lines
Sky Adventures Zip Lines
Arenal/La Fortuna

Great experience on the zipline, helpful guides and ground staff. Great views of the volcano and lake from the deck.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
You can stay for lunch at the cafe and enjoy the views. There is a schedule with shuttle times to plan your return.
Morning Sailing Tour
Morning Sailing Tour
Costa Rica

The crew was very nice, informative, and quick to offer drinks/snacks.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Monteverde Cloud Forest Guided Hike
Monteverde Cloud Forest Guided Hike
Costa Rica
Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Ian has an incredible knowledge of the forest, particularly the plant life. Would have preferred if he was a little more professional towards other guides/groups (they’re walking too fast and missed this orchid, he always takes groups too big to experience the forest, etc.)
Transport
Manuel Antonio National Park Guided Hike
Manuel Antonio National Park Guided Hike
Manuel Antonio
Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Luis was excellent at keeping the group organized, engaged and has an incredible talent for spotting animals and explaining their habitats and actions
Local specialist: Holden Ketchum
Holden
Holden Ketchum
Local specialist in Cartago, Costa Rica | Replied on Feb 05, 2024

Chris and Kiko, I'm glad you enjoyed the excursions across your long trip. It looks like you have some great photos of your adventures and that your birthday trip was memorable!

Given that we put the trip together at the la...
Costa Rica | Dec 23 - Dec 31, 2023

J
Joe M.
San Jose, CA | Reviewed on Jan 07, 2024
Given that we put the trip together at the last minute in peak season, they did a great job. Other companies told me that they were sold out and couldn't help us, but Kim-kim was able to put something together for us. Read more

Given that we put the trip together at the last minute in peak season, they did a great job. Other companies told me that they were sold out and couldn't help us, but Kim-kim was able to put something together for us.

Hotel Review
Hotel & Spa Poco a Poco
Monteverde Costa Rica

This is a larger resort property. It is large enough that they run shuttles from place to place. If that's what you're looking for, then I think this is a good place to stay. They are a little stingy with bottled water.

Local specialist: Holden Ketchum
Holden
Holden Ketchum
Local specialist in Cartago, Costa Rica | Replied on Jan 08, 2024

Thank you, Joe, I'm glad that we were able to make the peak season trip happen for you!

Great planners
Costa Rica | Dec 20 - Jan 2, 2024

S
Sidd B.
Glendale, CA | Reviewed on Jan 04, 2024

Got in touch with KimKim just 2 weeks before the planned trip dates. Holden was assigned to me to get everything planned. He was quick to respond and provided various options that suited our needs. KimKim was on top of their game. The team was available whenever needed - they were even able to change a few things while we were on the trip.
I would definitely recommend Holden for any Costa Rica trip planning.

Local specialist: Holden Ketchum
Holden
Holden Ketchum
Local specialist in Cartago, Costa Rica | Replied on Jan 04, 2024

Thank you Sidd! I'm so glad we were able to put together a last-minute peak season trip plan for you. It sounds like you had a great time and that is always our goal.

A Flawless Costa Rican Adventure :-)
Costa Rica | Nov 18 - Nov 25, 2023

Victoria
Victoria C.
Charlottesville, VA | Reviewed on Nov 26, 2023
I used kimkim to plan a Thanksgiving trip to Costa Rica with my kids and I could not have been happier with the experience. I'm a recent convert to travel agents, having used a local IRL agency to help me arrange a multi-week trip through Europe with my daughter last summer, and that was a great experience but very time-intensive and hands-on. I've been to Costa Rica on my own several times before, but for this trip, we wanted to hit several different destinations in a short time, so it... Read more

I used kimkim to plan a Thanksgiving trip to Costa Rica with my kids and I could not have been happier with the experience. I'm a recent convert to travel agents, having used a local IRL agency to help me arrange a multi-week trip through Europe with my daughter last summer, and that was a great experience but very time-intensive and hands-on. I've been to Costa Rica on my own several times before, but for this trip, we wanted to hit several different destinations in a short time, so it seemed like having some professional guidance would be a good idea; a friend of mine had recommended kimkim. I liked the idea of using an agency that was actually located in my destination, and being able to do everything online on my own schedule.

Everything about the planning process was super easy; after I entered the information about where I wanted to go and what kind of trip I had in mind, I was connected with Holden at Serendipity Adventures. Holden was quick to respond to all my messages, had lots of options to offer for lodging, activities, and transport, as well as practical advice that made a big difference in our experience. Every time I'd visited CR before, I'd always gone to Manuel Antonio; this trip was going to involve three new destinations--Arenal, Monteverde, and Esterillos--with activities in each and transport between; there were a lot of moving parts. Holden got everything set up for me promptly and stress-free, and when it was time to get ready to travel, he was engaged and available for all my questions and had reminders and suggestions ahead of traveling. And once we arrived, things could not have gone more smoothly: every driver was prompt and courteous, every reservation was handled, and everything was as we expected it, or better. Two of our long car rides were handled by Holden's ace driver, Alex, who is the dearest man and a delightful travel companion (in addition to being a champ of a driver, ferrying us from the airport three hours to our hotel in the wee hours of the morning); Alex went above and beyond to give us the best experience, even stopping at a roadside stand one afternoon to pick us up a bag of rambutans to snack on and teaching us how to eat them :-) And throughout the experience, from touchdown to departure, I had Wilman available by text with any question, concern, or random inquiry that crossed my mind. It wasn't until two or three days into the trip that it occurred to me I was texting Wilman a LOT, ALL the time (basically with every question my kids came up with), but he was always quick and cheerful in his replies. As a single parent traveling with kids, it can be really stressful to feel like everything is on you--all the planning, all the managing, etc--and so having a team like Holden and Wilman to take care of things frees you up so much to just relax and enjoy the time with your family.

We got home from Costa Rica last night and I am already thinking ahead to my next trip--Portugal, with my daughter. I will definitely use kimkim to plan that one as well, and hope I get a team as helpful and professional as the folks at Serendipity!

Hotel Reviews
Hotel Lomas del Volcán
Fortuna

Beautiful property with comfortable, well-appointed cabins situated at the foot of the Arenal volcano. Friendly, helpful staff, great food (I especially loved the Arboleda bar menu and its exceptional Costa Rican chifrijo), covered jacuzzi (soak with a drink while it rains), pretty pool area and great breakfast. Would've loved to have stayed longer and taken better advantage of the yoga deck, the hiking trail (wear good shoes, it's a real hike!), and the gorgeous grounds; will definitely stay again next time I'm in La Fortuna.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Gorgeous volcano views and proximity to many attractions.
Staff
Julián was a wonderful server but everyone we met was friendly and courteous.
Cleanliness & Comfort
Housekeeping was outstanding, nice in-room coffee service, and the products in the bathrooms are really nice.
El Establo Mountain Hotel
Monteverde

This is a gorgeous property staffed by friendly, helpful people, but the room itself fell short for me on a couple of measures. My three kids and I stayed in a family suite, which contained three beds--a full and a queen on the first level, and a king in the loft upstairs. I don't love this arrangement because nobody gets privacy--four people sleeping in one room is tricky for light sleepers and people who don't all go to bed at the same time. We were given a heads-up at check-in that the room contained neither heat nor AC; you're in Monteverde, it doesn't get very hot, and can dip quite chilly at night. I can never be cold enough when I sleep, so I wasn't worried about not having heat, but the room was pretty stuffy and the loft actually hot when we arrived--I suspect it hadn't been occupied in a couple of days. It did cool off once we opened it up, and by our second night the loft was very comfortable, but the first night not so much. Another complaint is that the room was *dark*--Costa Rica is known for its energy conservation measures, and of course Americans are spoiled with our expectations of bright lights and blaring AC everywhere we go, but once the sun went down (which it does in CR between 5 and 6 all year), this room was ridiculous. There was one mirror in the sleeping area, but it was practically useless because by daylight it was brightly backlit by the windows and by night it was too dark to see yourself; this left only the mirror in the bathroom for dressing and getting ready which, again, when there are 4 people gets complicated. Hot water can be a challenge in lots of Costa Rican hotels, and that was very much the case here, where basically one of us could count on a hot shower per day, even with long intervals between people. This hotel was also just missing lots of little touches--nowhere to put your suitcase (except the floor), no extra blankets or pillows, no key to the safe, not enough water glasses or coffee cups, or supplies to make everyone's coffee or tea. I'm sure all of these things could've been had by calling the front desk, but it's already necessary to call for a shuttle to get most places on the property (which is a mile long from end to end), so who wants to keep calling for blankets and a safe key? The lunch/dinner restaurant was good, pretty views and good menus, and our dinner server Carmen was lovely. My daughter and I headed over to the pool for a hot tub soak at happy hour after a long day of hiking, only to find there is no hot tub and the pool is not heated, so we bundled up in towels and watched the sunset with our drinks. Again--delightful young woman working the bar, good drinks, but how is there no hot tub in a place that gets so chilly?! I loved sitting on my deck with a cup of coffee and watching the clouds over the gulf of Nicoya in the mornings, and we saw lots of birds and small animals as well. The location is good, walkable to some restaurants and bakeries, close to town and attractions...just a little more rustic in terms of the actual accommodation than I would've preferred. But also not a bad value for what you get in terms of the whole resort.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
See above
Alma Del Pacifico Beach Hotel & Spa
Esterillos Este

We ended up at Alma del Pacifico a little bit unexpectedly after having to change plans for the last leg of our trip, but my hopes were high after viewing their website. As it turns out, the website does not do the accommodations justice--Alma is one of the coolest, most surprising and delightful little hotels I've stayed in. I prefer quirky boutique hotels to big chains, and Alma is absolutely a unique little property that I cannot wait to visit again--our two nights were not enough. The first great surprise came at check-in, when we were informed we'd been upgraded; instead of two regular beachfront villas, one of our rooms was actually a beachfront suite with its own private pool. Everything about the layout and appointments of these bright, airy rooms brought me joy, from the minibar area--each had its own sink, nicely stocked bar, generous assortment of snacks and coffee and tea supplies, plus glassware and silverware for all the available beverages--to the fact that each room had abundant seating, table space, a writing desk, and an assortment of fresh fruit. The bathrooms knocked me out with their size, spaciousness, and beautifully tiled open showers, which face sliding glass doors that open onto private courtyards so you can almost have the experience of showering outdoors--one of my favorite things 😂 These are the kinds of rooms you can stay a long time in, because everything you need has been provided. Each room faced the gorgeous Esterillos beach with floor-to-ceiling windows and a private patio with a table and chairs as well as lounge chairs. The suite also had a lovely little pool that we spent an afternoon in cooling off and reviving with coffee after hours at the beach (which is not to say the pool was cold--I hate a cold pool). In addition to all this, Alma del Pacifico also features two full size pools and a hot tub nestled amid gorgeous gardens--flocks of scarlet macaws passed overhead--as well as a spa that I regret not having had the time to visit. The restaurant has a great view of the beach, as does the bar where we enjoyed our second happy hour (we took the first poolside), and the food was delicious. I'm sorry not to have gotten the name of the young woman who was hostessing/serving on Thanksgiving night; we had a reservation for dinner but when we arrived, the live music was crazy loud and we could not hear ourselves think. I asked the young lady who seemed to be in charge if she could help us out and she promptly had us re-seated on the patio by the bar, where we ate our thanksgiving dinner under the stars at a much more enjoyable decibel level. The beach is not my favorite--we left one day for Manuel Antonio, which I love, and where we had booked a parasailing excursion--but it's beautiful and the sunsets are gorgeous. Just a different vibe, very quiet, not a lot of people, but if that's what you like then you'll appreciate the beach too. We showed up for the included breakfast with only 30 minutes til our excursion and were surprised to find it was not a buffet but a sit-down, order-from-a-menu situation--ordinarily a great surprise, except we were short on time. Not a problem, though, we told our server we were rushed and he got our meals to us in no time so we were able to enjoy a delicious breakfast before we hit the road. My booking was arranged by a travel agent so I googled the rates while I sat in the pool and could not believe how affordable this experience was. I was desolate to leave this hotel.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Local specialist: Holden Ketchum
Holden
Holden Ketchum
Local specialist in Cartago, Costa Rica | Replied on Dec 10, 2023
Victoria
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience of your Thanksgiving trip to Costa Rica with your kids. I am truly grateful for your kind words and the opportunity to assist you in planning this memorable journey. I hope it gave you the relaxation you were looking for and an unforgettable bonding experience with your family.
I'm thrilled to hear that you had a fantastic experience using Kimkim, and Serendipity Adventures, to plan your trip. Our goal is to make the...
Read more

Victoria
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience of your Thanksgiving trip to Costa Rica with your kids. I am truly grateful for your kind words and the opportunity to assist you in planning this memorable journey. I hope it gave you the relaxation you were looking for and an unforgettable bonding experience with your family.
I'm thrilled to hear that you had a fantastic experience using Kimkim, and Serendipity Adventures, to plan your trip. Our goal is to make the planning process as easy and convenient as possible, and I'm glad to know that you found it super easy not only to navigate the platform but to create a customized itinerary that suited your preferences.
It's wonderful to hear that you feel I was able to provide you with prompt responses and a wide range of options for lodging, activities, and transportation. I understand that coordinating multiple destinations can be challenging, but I'm glad that I was able to handle all these moving parts and ensure a stress-free experience for you and your family.

I heard that you had a great time swimming in the waterfall, and I hope that the parasailing was a super success. I hope that you enjoyed the upgrade at Esterillos and the Alma del Pacifico. They even said you were a lovely family!
I'm delighted that everything went smoothly during your trip, from the prompt and courteous drivers to the well-handled reservations. It's great to know that Alex, one of our exceptional drivers, went above and beyond to make your journey even more enjoyable. His thoughtfulness in stopping at a roadside stand to pick up a bag of rambutans for you and teaching you how to eat them truly reflects the level of service we strive to provide. What a great detail, and I’m happy that it’s a good memory for you.
Lastly, I'm grateful for your kind words about Wilman, who was available throughout your trip to address any questions or concerns you had. We believe in providing excellent customer service, and I'm glad that he was able to assist you and ensure a seamless experience from touchdown to departure. I’m sure he didn’t mind all your questions. In fact, I’m sure he will be glad to know that all of your children’s questions were answered. Yours as well!
Thank you once again for choosing Serendipity Adventures and Kimkim for your Costa Rica adventure. It was a pleasure assisting you, and I'm thrilled to hear that you had a memorable and enjoyable trip with your family. I'm happy to hear that you will use Kimkim again to assist you in planning your next adventure to Portugal with your daughter. Rest assured, Kimkim will strive to provide you with the same level of helpfulness and professionalism that you experienced with us in Costa Rica.
Thank you!
Sincerely,
Holden Ketchum

We had a fabulous time in Costa Rica!
Costa Rica | Oct 6 - Oct 14, 2023

Alicia
Alicia O.
Seattle, WA | Reviewed on Oct 15, 2023
We had a fabulous time in Costa Rica! We couldn't have done it without KimKim to help plan it! Everything was seamless, from the car pick-up, all the hotel check-ins, the excursion pick-ups, and even the car rental return! Holden was amazing helping us every step of the way! We absolutely loved the Tabacon Resort and the hot springs. We had a perfect afternoon spent in the spa with an amazing amount of rain coming down while we were getting messages in a covered hut! Then we rested in our... Read more

We had a fabulous time in Costa Rica! We couldn't have done it without KimKim to help plan it! Everything was seamless, from the car pick-up, all the hotel check-ins, the excursion pick-ups, and even the car rental return! Holden was amazing helping us every step of the way! We absolutely loved the Tabacon Resort and the hot springs. We had a perfect afternoon spent in the spa with an amazing amount of rain coming down while we were getting messages in a covered hut! Then we rested in our room for a bit and had one of the best meals of our life and the hotel restaurant. The seven course meal with the wine pairing was a perfect way to spend our anniversary! We had a blast on the white water rafting trip and saw so many cool animals. The driving in Costa Rica took a bit to get used to, using Waze was a great tip. I would not recommend driving at night in the rain though. I think the only part of the trip we could have skipped was the guided hike in the park. We did see a lot of beautiful animals, but it pushed our long drive day into the night and compounded with rain and inexperience driving in Costa Rica was bit scary for us! Once we go to the beach and the Banana Azul the weather was much better and we had a great time snorkeling and wondering around beach towns. We absolutely loved the the BriBri Chocolate tour, the family that we visited was so welcoming and we enjoyed seeing how simply and happily they lived. Our tour guide was also very informative and made us feel comfortable visiting their home. We enjoyed all the museums in San Jose and loved visiting the La Paz waterfall garden! We loved all the effort that was put into making our trip so special. We especially loved the anniversary decorations at the Hampton Inn the night we arrived. We couldn't be more happy and relaxed after a fun trip!

Hotel Reviews
Hampton Inn & Suites San Jose Airport
Alajuela

We have never seen a hotel room decorated so amazingly for our anniversary! There was a hand written note, balloons, heart shaped confetti, towels folded into swans and wine! They really went over the top to make our anniversary special! The airport shuttle was so helpful to have and worked out so well for us! I would highly recommend this hotel!

Authenticity & Character
They went above and beyond to decorate our room for us!
Location
It is so close to the airport and the shuttle makes it so easy to get back and forth!
Staff
They were so genuinely sweet and helpful!
Cleanliness & Comfort
Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa
Fortuna

This is one of our favorite resorts we have ever stayed in! The staff was so genuinely sweet and helpful, the grounds were absolutely gorgeous and the room was new, beautiful and clean! We also had two of the best restaurant servers we have ever had in our lives! We also had a fabulous experience in the spa! It rained a ton while we were there and it only added to the fun of the experience!

Authenticity & Character
The people were so helpful, sweet, authentic and lovely!
Location
The hot springs make this location so amazing! I have never seen such an amazing garden and pool setting!
Staff
Davie was our waiter and he was one of the best we have ever had in our lives!
Cleanliness & Comfort
We loved the beds, pillows and the all extras like the beautiful razors and toothbrushes!
Activity Reviews
Sarapiqui Nature Hike at La Selva
Sarapiqui Nature Hike at La Selva
Costa Rica

It was a beautiful park, but for us the timing was not great!

Whitewater Rafting on the Balsa River
Whitewater Rafting on the Balsa River
Arenal/La Fortuna

We had a blast! It was so much and one of the highlights of our trip!

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
BriBri Chocolate Tour  & Waterfall
BriBri Chocolate Tour & Waterfall
Costa Rica

We had so much fun on this adventure and I'm so glad we did it!

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Local specialist: Holden Ketchum
Holden
Holden Ketchum
Local specialist in Cartago, Costa Rica | Replied on Oct 17, 2023

Thank you very much Alicia, I am so happy that you had a great celebration for your anniversary. I'm glad that you appreciate the effort that was put into making your trip special, but remember, we did it together!