Costa Rica is a Mecca for eco-tourists and soft adventurers alike. While on location at this year’s MLTUniversity in Minneapolis, MN, Travel Agent sat in on a seminar all about selling Costa Rica’s wild side.
Costa Rica is a Central American destination bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. The country’s diverse landscape makes it a hub for a diverse amount of travel experiences. Twenty-five percent of the land is protected as National Parks, and for a country that is about the same size as West Virginia, that is a considerable amount of space. There are 52 species of hummingbirds, and 10 percent of the world’s butterflies live there.
The country’s Guanacaste region is in the northwest corner of the country and touches the Pacific Ocean. This is the country’s resort area, and is most likely where first time clients are going to want to go. It is a center for soft adventure, including everything from zip lining and kayaking to eco-tourism and wellness. Costa Rica is also home to six active volcanoes, as well as 61 dormant ones. There are also rain forests and natural hot springs.
Where to Stay
The northern part of Guanacaste is brand-new in terms of development. The first resort that will open there will be the Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica. This resort is set to open November 1. MLT Vacations and Delta Vacations, however, won’t have it online for sale until January 1, just to be sure that all the opening kinks are worked out for clients.
In Guanacaste’s Papagayo Bay, agents may have already familiarized themselves with the Andaz Papagayo, which opened earlier this year and generated quite a bit of buzz in the luxury space.
Another top luxury option is the Four Seasons Costa Rica, which is going through a $35 million renovation that started in September. This will be done by November. Those who knew the resort before the renovation will be blown away by the transformation. Good to know: This resort features both bay and ocean access. There is also a pool for adults and a separate pool for families.
The Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa is a collection of bungalow-style accommodations. There are a series of renovations that will be done by November. Selling tip: Because the resort is bungalow-style, there are a series of paths that lead to the common areas of the resort area. Buggies take guests to and from the different locations on property. It is best to tell your clients that walking to and from the different buildings is a little tricky at night because the buggies come zipping around the corners very quickly. This may not be a problem for some, but just in case it is best to let them know.
A great adults-only property is the Occidental Grand Papagayo, which is an 18+ resort. It’s a boutique-style resort twitch an elegant, contemporary feel. The rooms have been recently renovated and, like the Hilton, the rooms are in bungalow-style.
The JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa is like no other JW Marriott. Instead of the classic marble-and-glass-style design that travelers have come to know of JW Marriott, the one in Costa Rica embraces the traditional hacienda-style of Costa Rica. The resort is in an exclusive, gated community that is only for travelers visiting the JW Marriott.
What to Do
Through Delta Vacations travelers have a multitude of soft adventure options when visiting Costa Rica. In the rainforested Arenal region, there is the Arenal Volcano & Hot Springs Rainforest Adventure, where travelers hike into the mountains, enjoy a light swim and a spa experience. This excursion includes two meals because it is a full-day tour.
There are also a slew of Catamaran Tours that include scuba diving and snorkeling. Lunch is included and for most there is an age minimum of 12 years old.
In Tenario, Costa Rica, guests can white water raft. Note: These travelers must be certified in levels III or IV. There are 15 miles of challenging rapids and the excursion includes lunch.
Fast facts: Travelers visiting Costa Rica cannot have a passport that is set to expire within six months of landing. There is also a $29 exit tax per person that can be paid by cash, Visa or Mastercard.