KimKim, Costa Rica and Serendipity - Pura Vida - Amazing!
Feb 13 - Mar 4, 2023
This is the first big trip that my wife and I have done in quite a while. Traveling to a new country was new for us and a little bit in our stretch zone. We heard about KimKim so my wife contacted them and they connected us with Sergio and the Serendipity Tours team. Sergio worked dynamically with my wife, discussing our goals for the trip which was to start on the Pacific Coast and to work our way across Costa Rica and end our trip on the Caribbean. The two of them spend weeks going back and forth until we were felt good about all of the many recommendation that Sergio made. Serendipity is an excellent name for the travel company because that is what we felt like at each turn of the bend as we made our way across Costa Rica experiencing the country and the amazing accommodations and destinations that Sergio arranged for us.
As we made our way across the country I kept saying to myself and to my wife, I have no idea how we would have done this without Sergio. It was an amazing experience. The planning of the trip was outstanding but the engagement of Sergio's team partner and the trip coordinator Charlotte was absolutely amazing. Working with Charlotte was like having a on demand administrative assistant with us through out the trip. Any consternations that we might have had traveling in a foreign land were assuaged constantly by the incredible accessibility that we had with Charlotte thought-out the 3 weeks.
At times we truly felt like we had to pinch ourselves to make sure what we were experiencing was real. We are so appreciative of her support throughout the trip.
Regarding Costa Rica - the people are amazing, the country is drop dead gorgeous and the wild life is incredible. Pura Vida.
The resort and the staff were pure Pura Vida. I am so glad we started out our Costa Rica adventure at Santerena. It was an amazing introduction to the beauty and culture of the country. The Staff was so personal and so attentive that we felt very sad when we left them to continue our Costa Rica adventure. We loved the Mediterranean type village they created that the hotel was located in. There were wonderful hiking trails that elevated along the pacific with magnificent views. If you wanted more of a challenge there were additional hiking and biking trails immediately off the hotel and resort property. There were only two things that I would say negatively, the first is that there are very serious rocks under the water immediately off the beach. There are posts that designate where you can swim away from the rocks, but no one told us about them. I learned the hard way and injured my foot. My wife was so concerned that she did not go in the water. It was not until our last day that we found out about these obscure markers that indicated the non-rocky portion of the water. The additional thing is that no one told us that there was a terrace and pool on the roof of the hotel. We kept commenting to ourselves that we wish there was a pool like the other close by resorts that we walked by. There were no indications of a pool at our resort and no one gave us an orientation. We did not find out until we got home.
Our room was beautiful and the hotel was very responsive to all of our requests. It is in a beautiful location but only accessible on a pretty deteriorated road which is not atypical of the roads around Monte Verde. The grounds are lovely and it has very nice pool and two hot tubs. The included breakfast was very satisfactory and again the dining hall overlooks beautiful grounds. What was the most memorable event was Mateo and white faces monkey that shows up for breakfast daily and who enjoys the banana's that we feed him by hand.
Hacienda La Esperanza was an incredible part of our Costa Rican experience. We did not know what to expect when we drove up the the hacienda. At it turns out, the Hacienda is owned by three families that purchased what is now the Aquiares Coffee Farm, the largest coffee farm on one block of land in all of Costa Rica. We were quickly greeted by Diego Esperanza, the son of one of the owners of the farm who gave us a fascinating history of the families and the farm which was founded in the 1800's by an Englishman. The three families purchased the farm in the early 1970's and use the Hacienda as their residence when they are in town. Diego brought in a professional chef to train his staff in the culinary arts. Circumstances worked out where our we had our first dinner at the Hacienda instead of going into Turrialba. It was one of the best meals that we had while in Costa Rica and as a result we enjoyed most of our meals there. I would compare Hen, who is the resident chef to any of the chef's that we experience in the Hudson Valley where we live. This includes many restaurants that were started by graduates of the Culinary Institute of America which is not far from our home in the Hudson Valley. She is amazing. Two of the very special things that we enjoyed at the hacienda were an incredible birding experience guided by our Hacienda host Wilman. Wilman is an expert on birds of Costa Rica and the gardens outside the doors of the hacienda were filled with beautiful species. Wilman is also an expert on coffee and coffee farm operations and gave us a tour of the Aquares coffee operations including part of the farm that butt's up against the hacienda property. Wiman was an amazing host and we were sad to say goodby to him, Hen, and Maria who took such good care of us while we were there.
In fairness to the Laguna lodge we really did not know what to expect. It was one of 7 lodges that we stayed at over the 3 weeks we were in Costa Rica. We did not realize that the guide who greeted us at the boat transport that was going to take us to the lodge was to be our primary contact while we were there including our guide for the 3 expeditions that we were to experience, two of which were very good; the nature boat ride through the canals and the night walk on the property. I was a little disappointed in the lodging at the resort. It did not have any air conditioning and was a little too rustic and cramped for me liking. I was very surprised when no hot water came out of our bathroom sink only to find out that they do provide hot water to the sink, only the shower. While you are at the lodge you were pretty much restricted to eat there unless you can get some water transportation to the village of Tortuguero. The food was adequate and it was nice that it was included. The good news is that the resort is right on the Caribbean. The bad news is that the rip tides are so dangerous that you cannot swim there. Since this was one part of the Caribbean portion of our trip we were disappointed. On a positive note, the resort has a beautiful pool that was right outside our cottage. Also, I get the impression that people come here primarily to see the wildlife. I saw a number of people walking around with their single lens reflex digital cameras with telephoto lenses, telescopes and binoculars. Nature lovers will not be disappointed if that is the primary goal. Jonathan, our host and guide that the hotel provided did a good job keeping everything organized. He was also a very good guide.
Hotel Banana Azul was our last stop in Costa Rica before headed back to San Jose to catch our plan and fly home. It was the perfect way to end our three weeks of touring the country. We spent 3 wonderful days at the resort and it was a great place to wind down before we went home. Our room with a dipping pool was beautiful. Luna who greeted us at the reception desk and who gave us our orientation was delightful and incredibly helpful throughout our stay. The restaurant on premises was excellent and as a result we ate most of our meals at the resort. The grounds and facility were beautiful, just what you would expect for a Caribbean resort. The resort had its own beach club and is one of the few resorts in Puerto Viejo that is right on the beach - no crossing roads to get to the water. The only disappointment were the very dangerous rip tides in the ocean. Apparently September and October are the only months when the water in this part of the Caribbean are safe to swim in.
The Studio Hotel was our last stop during our 3 week stay in Costa Rica. We stayed there the night before we caught our flight back home. The hotel is beautiful and the restaurant on premises is outstanding. I cannot say enough about the restaurant help. When we arrived at the hotel my wife was sick with a stomach virus. I cannot begin to accurately describe how caring and helpful the staff was at the restaurant. They could not do enough to help my wife including making a special chicken soup for her since she could not eat anything. The hotel was the essence of the Pura Vida spirit that we experienced in Costa Rica.
Armor Arenal is one of the top experiences in terms of resorts and accommodations during our trip crossing Costa Rica. The room is gorgeous and we took advantage of the private hot tub on our private deck overlooking Arenal Volcano. I cannot begin to express how over the top the staff is at Armor. From the moment you pull up to the reception area until you leave they provide an extraordinary Costa Rican experience with all that Pura Vida means. We truly were sad when we had to leave because of the wonderful people that work there and share their incredible hospitality. The stay at Armor Arenal is one of the the best memories that we have from or Costa Rican adventure. Additionally, the breakfast they serve is outstanding and the we highly recommend the restaurant for all of their meals.
Hi David! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. We are thrilled to hear that you had such an amazing trip and we were able to provide you with exceptional service and support throughout your journey. We hope that you have many more wonderful adventures in the future, and we look forward to being a part of them! Pura Vida!