United Airlines adds Seasonal Flights to Costa Rica

United Airlines Adds Two Nonstop Flights to Costa Rica

Source: The Tico Times

The Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) in July reported that U.S. carrier United Airlines will open two seasonal flights between Denver and Costa Rica from December to April.

One of the flights will arrive at Juan Santamaría International Airport, outside San José, and the other will fly to the Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, Guanacaste.

United Airlines Costa Rica

The new seasonal trips from Denver will operate Fridays and Saturdays from December 18 and April 30. (Courtesy of United Airlines)

The route between Denver International Airport and San José will operate once a week from Dec. 18 to April 30, 2016. The flight will depart from Denver at 10:59 p.m. on Fridays and will arrive at Juan Santamaría on Saturdays at 5:24 a.m. From San José, the flight will depart Saturdays at 7:19 a.m. and will arrive in Denver at noon.

The route to Daniel Oduber also will operate on Saturdays from Dec. 19 to April 30.

Flights will leave from Denver at 9:55 a.m. and arrive in Liberia at 4:15 p.m. Departures from Liberia will be at 12:30 p.m. and will arrive in Denver at 5:05 p.m., the ICT reported.

Tourism Minister Mauricio Ventura said the news from United is important for the country: “These new flights will boost the tourism sector throughout the country, but they also will expand opportunities for Costa Ricans to fly to this major U.S. destination.”

The U.S. is Costa Rica’s main source of travelers. In 2014, the country registered a total of 936,929 arrivals from that country, a 7.6 percent increase from 2013.

 

Lapa Photographed at Casa Lapa

The photograph below was taken by Nick Halverson in May 2015 from the backyard of Casa Lapa using a Nikon D5000 with a Nikkor 18-140 mm lens. It is of a scarlet macaw (or a lapa as they are known in Costa Rica).

There were four lapas eating the ripening almonds from the almond tree in the early morning. If you look closely at the photo you can see that this one has the almond between its beak. We planted those trees approximately three years ago and we now regularly have lapas flying in and eating.

Costa Rica lapa san buenas

Lapa (scarlet macaw) enjoying an almond behind Casa Lapas, Las Villas de San Buenas. (c) Nick Halverson

Costa Rica is the Happiest Country in the World…again

Costa Rica is the Happiest Country in the World

Costa Rica has once again been judged to be the “Happiest Country in the World” by the Happy Planet Index. The rankings are based on the following three components, and each is given a traffic-light score

based on thresholds for good (green), middling (amber) and bad (red) performance. – See more

1) Life expectancy

female surfer playa dominical smile

Costa Rica once again is named the Happiest Country in the World. 

2) Experienced well-being

3) Ecological Footprint

These scores are combined to an expanded six-colour traffic light for the overall HPI score, where, to achieve bright green – the best of the six colours, a country would have to perform well on all three individual components.

The Top 10 Happiest Countries are:

  1. Costa Rica
  2. Vietnam
  3. Columbia
  4. Belize
  5. El Salvador

As one can see, interestingly, four of the top five happiest places are in Central or South America. By way of comparison, the USA ranked 105th, Canada ranked 65th and France 50th.

For more information, and a full ranking of 151 countries, please visit their website here.

Everyone here at Las Villas de San Buenas, and the town of San Buenaventura, understands the happiness lifestyle. People of Costa Rica tend to be more relaxed and proud of what they have – not envious and jealous of others who have “more”. Although many Costa Ricans may not have a lot of “stuff”, what many Costa Ricans do have more of than other countries is a commitment to family and friendship.

This focus and commitment to family and friends is why Costa Rica continues to be a destination for people from around the world (and why we have had customers from eight countries!).

Costa Rica Most Popular National Parks

Costa Rica Most Popular National Parks

There are currently 50 national parks in Costa Rica, spread across the country, on both coasts and are varying in type as in the number of national parks. Some have volcanoes, others mountain peaks,  while many are located on the coasts housing amazing wildlife, marine life and plants.  For owners (and visitors) of Las Villas de San Buenas, the great news is that two of the six most popular national parks are quite close. In fact, Ballena National Marine Park is only 20 minutes away! According to an article by The Tico Times, Costa Rica most popular National Parks based on number of visitors provided by the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT), are as follows:

1. Poas Volcano National Park

Poas volcano costa rica

The crater at Poas volcano, in Poas National Park, is eerily colored due to the sulfur in the water.

Poas National Park is located near Cartago, one of the largest cities in Costa Rica, and now an extension of the San Jose metropolitan area. The volcano is still active and has an elevation of nearly 9,000 feet. It is easy to see the large, deep crater, and is a great place for photographers. They recently have added a visitors center, complete with a cafe.

2. Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park, is an easy 60 minute drive from Las Villas de San Buenas. Simply head north onto the Costanera Highway (Hwy 34) and in about one hour the turn off for Quepos/Manuel Antonio National Park will be on your left.

manuel antonio national park mono

Manuel Antonio is a popular destination for both visitors as well as Costa Ricans. It is one of the largest and most beautiful beaches in all of Costa Rica. With the Caldera Highway opening up in 2008, a trip from San Jose to Manuel Antonio is only 2.5 hours,.

Manuel Antonio National park was established in 1972 and is approximately 4,900 acres (1,984 hectares) in size.  It is one of the jewels of Costa Rica’s eco-tourism. The best way to see and experience the park is to hire a trained guide at the park’s entrance, and they’ll try and find sloths, monkeys and dozens of birds to show you.

From The Tico Times:

Foreigners flock here for a chance to live a day in a postcard-like setting. Manuel Antonio National Park’s beaches are the epitome of tropical perfection, the kind of place where the only distractions from the crashing surf come from monkeys swinging in the palm trees.

Morning is the best time, for sunny skies and to avoid crowds (only 600 people are admitted during weekdays; 800 on weekends). Hike to the third beach within the park; it may be the most spectacular beach in Costa Rica, with verdant, coconut palm-lined white-sand shores. Check out the tombolo, which is a deposit of sand built up by millenniums of crashing waves, connecting an island with the mainland. A trail will take you to the top of Cathedral Point, offering spectacular vistas of surrounding beaches and cliffs. The trail is steep and muddy; take care and go with a partner.

Snorkeling is excellent, as is observation of sea life. Sponges, corals, various crustaceans, algae and fish all share the coast. Dolphins and whales sometimes frolic off the islands, and at low tide you can see ancient turtle traps set by the local indigenous population over a thousand years ago.

3. Irazu Volcano National Park

Irazu is an active volcano located near San Jose (15 miles east) and during the 1960’s erupted for four years straight. There are plenty of tour operators that offer day trips to the volcano, although if you have a rental car, it is much more affordable to drive yourself. Be sure to wear warm clothes as Irazu is above the frost line and temperatures hover around freezing. Additionally, constant cold winds and saturating humidity, typically make this visit a short one (unless you’re used to the cold and have packed for it).

4. Tortuguero National Park

Located on Costa Rica’s Northern Caribbean coast, Tortuguero National Park, is best seen by boat. There are plenty of locations to rent canoes and kayaks so most and areas to hire local guides. tortuguero national park turtleThe name ‘tortuguero’ means ‘turtle catcher’ in Spanish. As you would imagine, based on the name, turtles are the main attraction here. Numerous species of turtles including green sea, leatherback and Hawksbill nest each year on the beaches here. If you are planning a trip to the Caribbean coast you could visit both Tortuguero and Cahuita in a couple of days.

There is an extensive network of freshwater creeks and lagoons where endangered West Indian Manatees can sometimes be seen.

5. Cahuita National Park

Cahuita National Park is located on Costa Rica’s Southern Caribbean coast. It is best known for the coral reefs near the shore. During the dry season some of the world’s best beach snorkeling will provide views of light yellow brain, elkhorn and blue staghorn corals, sea fans and gorgonians, in addition to more than 500 species of fish.

Off the shore approximately 300 meters is a living underwater habitat that is home to over 100 species of fish and 35 species of coral.

6. Ballena National Marine Park

Ballena National Park is close to Las Villas de San Buenas. The main entrance point is in Uvita, although there are other access points north of the Uvita entrance that also are available. Regardless of which entrance point used, the park is beautiful!

Ballena National Park uvita Whales Tail

 

This beautiful landmark, best seen from the air while flying to Palmar Sur regional airport, encompasses miles of protected beaches. During the while watching season migrating whales can be seen from the beach, or if you’d like, hire a local company to take you out on a boat to get closer.

Costa Rica Tourism Up in 2014

Nick Halverson Pam Bunte

Enjoying a drink at Tortilla Flats, Dominical, Osa, Costa Rica. International travel in Costa Rica increased 6.4% in 2014 (up by over 103,000 travelers compared to 2013).

The number of travelers traveling through Costa Rica’s two international airports increased by over 6% in 2014 compared to 2013. The Tico Times provided the following information. Not surprisingly the majority of visitors come from North America. In fact, North America accounted for 74% of all international visitors to Costa Rica in 2013.

Tourism Ministry officials on Thursday reported that revenues from Costa Rica’s travel sector last year totaled $2.6 billion, an 8.3 percent increase over the $2.4 billion registered in 2013, according to figures from the Central Bank.

Officials credited the 2,526,817 international arrivals registered in 2014, an increase of 4.1 percent over the previous year. That’s an increase of 98,876 arrivals by air, land and at ports, the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) reported.

Tourism Minister Wilhelm Von Breymann said that the arrival figures are generated by crossing reports from the Immigration Administration and the ICT.

Air terminals still are the main ports of entry for international travelers, and the country’s two international airports — Juan Santamaría and Daniel Oduber — registered an increase in arrivals of 6.4 percent, or 103,509 travelers.

According to the Immigration Administration, this is the highest number since 2008 when the international crisis hit the tourism sector worldwide and in Costa Rica led to a decrease of more than 100,000 arrivals in 2009.

Von Breymann noted that 67.5 percent of international arrivals came from North American countries, followed by Europe at 16.5 percent and South America at 6.9 percent.

“The ICT’s promotional efforts this year will focus on attracting more tourists from those markets,” Marketing Director Alejandro Castro told The Tico Times.

The U.S. remains the main source of travelers, and in 2014, Costa Rica registered 936,929 arrivals from that country – a 7.6 percent increase from 2013. Arrivals from Canada also increased by 7.5 percent, according to the Immigration Administration report.

“Our research told us that the U.S. has a potential market of 65 to 70 million citizens who want to travel abroad, and some 16 million would be interested in a destination like Costa Rica. So there is still great potential for us to increase arrivals from there,” ICT’s Director of Strategic Planning Rodolfo Lizano said.

By percentage, however, the region that showed the most important hike was Europe, which grew by 19.9 percent. According to Immigration Administration records, Germany, France, Spain and the U.K. are the main sources of travelers from that continent. The only drop was registered by South American travelers, which decreased by 18.1 percent “driven mainly by the FIFA World Cup that attracted tourists to Brazil,” Lizano said.

He also said that greater revenues were influenced by an increase in tourists’ average stay, from 11.6 to 12.1 nights. That prompted a hike in the average per-person spending from $1,252 in 2013 to $1,378 last year.

“These variables reflect Costa Rica’s leadership in the region as our figures actually can be compared with those of major destinations around the world. Our direct competition is not in the region,” Lizano said.

Asked if the opening of relations between Cuba and the U.S. and the boost of the tourism industry in Nicaragua would affect Costa Rica, Von Breymann said he does not believe those countries represent direct threats to Costa Rica’s tourism sector.

“Cuba is basically sun and beach. We have a much wider variety of tourism options here, and the country’s size gives tourists the possibility to visit many different destinations in a short period of time. As for other countries in the region, our main advantage is the experience and development of our tourism industry, which is many years ahead,” he said.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, regional countries such as Panama and Nicaragua last year registered average stays of eight days, while Cuba and Mexico reported 10 and 11 days, respectively.

ICT officials highlighted that another advantage for Costa Rica is its lodging capacity, as the country currently has 45,531 rooms, a figure that exceeds by far Panama’s 22,768 rooms and Nicaragua’s 11,189, according to World Tourism Organization figures.

Regarding the ministry’s plans for this year, von Breymann said officials have detected a strong potential in specialized types of tourism such as fashion, health and wellness, sports and events. He said officials are hoping to speed up construction of a National Convention Center, a key infrastructure project to attract event-related tourists.

Costa Rica Travler Arrivals by Air (2013, 2014). Source: Costa Rican Tourism Board and Immigration Administration

All data in ‘000s.

North America: 1.082 (2013) 1.162 (2014) Increase of 6%

Europe: 237 (2013) 284 (2014) Increase of 20%

South America: 145 (2013) 119 (2014) Decrease of 18%

Asia-Middle East: 31 (2013) 35 (2014) Increase of 12%

We made a terrific choice!

We made a terrific choice!

The Madrigal family from San Jose, Costa Rica, recently spent a week in Las Villas de San Buenas. After their stay they wrote the following review of their stay.

————

We decided to go south Costa Rica for our year end vacation. We’re from San Jose and we all decided to skip the road to Guanacaste as this time of the year is hectic.

We rented this house for the final week of December and first days of January and we really had a great time here. First of all the road is in in great condition. Directions to the house are also really easy to follow. We were a group of 7 people, 3 couples and a friend. The house has 3 bedrooms, all with their private bathroom. Hot water of course and even a Jacuzzi in the master suite.Costa Rica home rental
Kitchen is in perfect condition, large refrigerator, dishwasher, stove and microwave. Laundry room with washer and dryer. Living room with Sky TV and all others with a DVD player.

The gardens and pool area are exceptional, the ocean view is amazing and we really spent our days there! With a cool breeze and birds singing everywhere.
The property is located in San Buenaventura town, close to beaches, national parks and waterfalls

Now, we really didn’t find any cons, however I must say that the house is listed for 8 people and the house has only 3 bedrooms with 3 beds (for 6 people comfortably accommodated). The other two must sleep in mattresses in the floor so you have to make some room for them in the bedrooms. Not a big issue for us.
Booking process was excellent and Nick the owner, replied every single email in no time.
If you’re thinking for a vacation in south Costa Rica, this is a great choice, you’ll have a wonderful time here!

Southwest Airlines nonstop flights to Costa Rica increasing

Original source: The Tico Times

Southwest Airlines could start offering service to San José, Costa Rica, from Houston, Texas, as early as October 2015, according to a statement from the company on Thursday. San José is among six destinations for which the airline is seeking permission to serve in Latin America, along with four locations in Mexico and Belize.

southwest airlines planeThe Dallas-based airline filed applications with the U.S. Department of Transportation to offer daily, nonstop service from its new $156 million international concourse at William P. Hobby Airport in Houston to Cancun, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, and San José del Cabo/Los Cabos, as well as Belize and Costa Rica. The “Love” Airline already plans to offer service between Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Juan Santamaría International Airport starting in March 2015.

“Service to Mexico will be the cornerstone of our international operation at Hobby and the four cities we are announcing today provide exciting travel and business options for consumers. Adding Belize to the Southwest network and growing our Costa Rica service continues our expansion to international destinations where our people and consumer-friendly policies can deliver as no other airline can,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines Chairman, President and CEO.

The airline already offers flights to Aruba out of Houston and additional service elsewhere to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Aruba, the Bahamas and Jamaica.

Southwest Airlines starts daily service to Costa Rica in March

Original source: The Tico Times

Southwest Airlines Costa Rica

Southwest Airlines and the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) confirmed that the discount carrier will start daily service to Juan Santamaría International Airport outside San José from Baltimore, effective March 7, according to officials at a press conference Wednesday morning. southwest airlines logo

Southwest Executive Vice President Robert Jordan said that customers can expect fares as low as $130 one way from Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and that the company’s discount reputation would hold true abroad with fares on average 30 to 40 percent lower than their competitors.

Baltimore daily service will be on Boeing 737-700 jets with a capacity of 143 passengers, according to a statement from ICT. Jordan said that customers could connect to 60 destinations on 200 daily flights out of BWI.

President Luis Guillermo Solís, center, meets with Southwest Airlines Executive Vice President Robert Jordan, left, and Tourism Minister Wilhem von Breymann on Wednesday to discuss new flights to Costa Rica. (Courtesy of Costa Rican Tourism Institute)

The discount carrier also plans to start offering direct service from Houston Hobby Airport sometime in October.

“We have millions of current customers in the United States, and we can see where they want to travel, and we can see – based on their requests – that Costa Rica was at the top of their list,” said Andrew Waterson, Southwest vice president of network planning and performance.

“Our international expansion in the first phase is geared toward tourist destinations, and San José represents a different kind of tourist destination – not just a beach, but also business and visiting relatives travel. So, Costa Rica looked like the best fit for our market,” Waterson added.

Tourism Minister Wilhem von Breymann said that the new routes would help bolster Costa Rica’s relationship with the United States, the largest single source of visitors to Costa Rica. According to the ICT, 90 percent of U.S. tourists arrive in Costa Rica by air and spend an average of more than $2,200 per person, per visit.

Tourism industry representatives have been increasingly concerned about the rising costs for travelers in Costa Rica, but Waterson said the country continues to provide greater value than many other destinations.

“There are many countries, many islands that have a great beach, but you can’t leave the hotel. Costa Rica offers a diversity of visiting nice beaches and hotels, but also of seeing more of the country in a safe manner, and that’s priceless,” Waterson said.

President Luis Guillermo Solís said Southwest’s announcement and his intention of opening a direct flight to Costa Rica from China were part of a larger policy to make Costa Rica more connected to the wider world. The president added that the announcement was once again proof that Costa Rica is an attractive, reliable market for companies to invest.

Southwest already offers international service to Aruba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Service to Belize City is expected later in 2015.

Fans of the carrier’s distinctive cattle-call boarding policy can look forward to seeing the same queues here in Costa Rica, Waterson said.

“We can’t wait to show you that Southwest hospitality,” Jordan said.

Diquís spheres to be declared UNESCO World Heritage site

Diquís spheres to be declared UNESCO World Heritage site — The Tico Times.

Pre-Columbian spheres of Costa Rica

Finca 6 in Palmar Norte is one of the four archeological sites in the Osa municipality in Costa Rica’s south Pacific that will be added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The decision was finalized early this Pre Columbian stone spheres costa ricamorning during a meeting of the World Heritage Comittee in Qatar. The four spots — Finca 6, Grijalba 2, Batambal and El Silencio — are home to Costa Rica’s largest collections of pre-Colombian stone spheres, knows as the Diquís spheres. Discovered in the 1930s by the United Fruit Company, the spheres orgins and purpose have remained a mystery to archealogists for decades.

Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times

From The Developer:

For anyone who has visited Costa Rica’s Osa region (Southern Pacific) it is likely that they saw at least a couple of pre-Columbian spheres of Costa Rica. What is less known, is that these spheres are only originally found in the Osa region. If you see a Pre-Columbian spheres of Costa Rica outside of the Osa region, it is completely out of place and has obviously been moved.

When these spheres were first discovered many were destroyed by those who found them as they were rumored to have gold in the center of them. There are fewer than twenty known spheres that have not been moved or disturbed from their original placement by some long gone indigenous group.

Finca 6 is only twenty minutes from Las Villas de San Buenas. We provide directions to our guests and clients. Contact us for more information.

My Costa Rica Vacation Video 2014

Costa Rica Vacation Video (June 2014)

The following video compilation is from our most recent trip to Costa Rica (June 2014) when the rest of my family came to Las Villas de San Buenas. My kids absolutely love it here in Costa Rica. The highlights always include daily dips in the swimming pool, running and playing in the Pacific Ocean at Playa Ventanas and going horseback riding on the property.

Come on down and make your own memories here! Contact us today to let us help you plan your Costa Rica trip.