A significant number of our guests are first time travellers to Costa Rica. Thus, we have listed the most common questions that we receive from guests in our telephone and email correspondence below. Of course, if your questions is not listed, or you need more information, please don’t hesitate to ask us!
General Costa Rica Questions
What is the exchange rate?
The Colone is a volatile currency and therefore is subject to significant changes in value. Check here for more current information: COLONES EXCHANGE RATE
Where should I get money changed?
Bank machines are VERY common throughout Costa Rica. Both credit cards and Interac cards are fine. We do NOT recommend getting money changed at the San Jose International Airport as they post very poor rates. This tends to be the same for purchasing Colones in foreign countries. Airport taxis will accept USD bills of $20.00 or less but you should expect Colones back as change.
Are USD, EUROS or CAD accepted widely?
Small bill USD are widely accepted throughout Costa Rica in the tourist sector. Euros and Canadian Dollars are not, though this is gradually changing. AS OF Jan 1st 2011, Hotel La Rosa will ACCEPT Canadian Dollars for all payments at the hotel!!! We recommend using Costa Rican Colones as your primary currency while traveling however as this is the National Currency of Costa Rica and the local people are very proud of it. Also, it is wise to always have some colones on hand just in case the vendor does not accept USD or credit/debit cards. You should expect to receive any change in Colones as vendors do not normally keep stocks of USD currency on hand.
What are the sizes of denominations?
Paper Costa Rican Currency comes in 1,000 colones, 2,000 colones, 5,000 colones, 10,000 colones and 20,000 colones. Next year the government plans to introduce the 50,000 colone note. As a rule of thumb, to get approximate USD value, simply remove the last three zeros and multiply the remaining numbers by 2 to get USD. Thus a 10,000 colone note is about $20 USD. This can be useful to ensure that you do not get taken advantage of while trying to work out the currency exchange!
What is the weather like year round?
Hotel La Rosa de America is situated in the driest part of the Central Valley of Costa Rica. At our hotel, one can expect sunny days from Dec thru April, moderate rain in May, sunny with periodic showers in June thru Aug, and moderate to heavy rain in Sept and October. November is a transitional month from wet season to dry season. Temperatures range from 16 degrees C at night in October to 30 degrees C during the heat of the day in March. Check HERE for up to date weather forecasts of selected Costa Rican Cities and Towns.
The Pacific Coast dry season mirrors the weather at La Rosa, however depending on location, the intensity of the wet and dry season can be much greater. Of course, being at sea level, the Coast is an average of 6 degrees C warmer, day and night. The Atlantic (Caribbean) side tends to be wet year round but does have a drier season in the September and October timeframe. Note, most of Northern Costa Rica actually is under the Atlantic weather pattern. Again temperatures here will be 6 degrees hotter then at La Rosa.
What are other tourist ideas that we can do?
There are SO many things to do in Costa Rica it is hard to know where to start! Immediately around Hotel La Rosa de America you can visit ZooAve, Poas Volcano, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Doka Coffee Plantation, the Butterfly Gardens, Barva Volcano and so much more. Due to our central location within the country (and near the major roads) many guests use La Rosa as a “home base” to branch out into the countryside on day trips. For more information please check here: TOURISM INFO. For those interested, La Rosa also offers discounted rates for guests wishing to book a hotel package combo. See here:PACKAGE COMBO
What are the roads like?
HA! Well, the “Dude, where is my transmission” road still exists however, to be fair, the road net in Costa Rica is rapidly improving. Roads are paved and in decent repair to most of Costa Rica’s major tourist destinations. San Jose, Arenal, Fortuna, Tamarindo, Samara, Jaco, Puerto Viejo, Manuel Antonio, Dominical and all the way to Golfito are paved and respectably maintained. Please note that access to Monteverde Cloud Forest is NOT paved for a minimum of 20 km depending on your choice of entry. Also the entire Mal Pais and Cobano area is not paved past Tambor and in the dry season this area can get very dusty. Road surfaces tend to be more “pothole strewn” in the wet season and one must keep an eye out for this!
Drivers in Costa Rica are also slowly improving. Strict annual vehicle testing is a must and the country has recently adopted a series of strict new driving infractions. If you speed or pass on double lines and are caught, you can expect fines of 240,000 colones or about $475.00 USD. Multiple tickets per infraction are common. Bribing of police officials is also common but this is not a policy we are in a position to endorse!
Who should we rent a car from? Do we need an SUV?
Car and SUV renting can be a tricky affair in Costa Rica. Sadly, the vehicle agencies, especially the largest ones can often give poor service, incomplete quotes, or simply not honour the confirmed reservation when you arrive in the country. If you receive a quote, ensure that it includes ALL the taxes, unlimited kms, type of car/SUV, whether hotel drop off or airport pickup is included, license fee, roadside assistance policy, and most importantly if the mandatory 3rd party liability insurance is included. Note: SUV‘s are mandatory for guests planning to travel to Monteverde, otherwise the vehicle insurance will be voided in case of accident.
Hotel La Rosa de America started a program for our guests three years ago where we assist guests in the renting of a safe, quality vehicle – with correct pricing and a proper confirmation. Though we can not guarantee 3rd party service, our status as a major “client” for these preferred car agencies helps guarantee you better service. If you wish to use our car rental services, just let us know in an email and we would be happy to get a quote for you from one of the agencies whom we trust to give good service.
Is it safe?
Costa Rica is recognized as having one of the only long standing stable democratic governments in the Central and South America. This, in conjunction with the complete lack of a military has fostered a feeling of general contentment (Pura Vida!) and relative prosperity within the country. However, crime is definitely on the rise – especially in the major cities and by the airport. We do not recommend travelling unawares in San Jose, Limon, Puntarenas, or Alajuela – especially after dark. Also, ostentatious displays of wealth are not recommended. Petty crime tends to be greater on the Caribbean side of the country. Local police forces tend not to be as effective as what most guests are used to expecting from police forces in their home countries. Hotel La Rosa de America is actually located 7 km West of Alajuela in the upscale area of La Garita. This location is very peaceful and quiet, but of course, we recommend that travellers practice normal caution. Overall, one can expect the same level of crime in Costa Rica, as they would in the United States.
Is the food safe?
Costa Rica has a very strong Ministry of Health (Salud). This Ministry is responsible to ensure food standards and preparation/storage techniques are enforced throughout the country. Generally, all types of food is safe to eat throughout the country. This is a major benefit for guests travelling to Costa Rica over other “sun” destinations such as Mexico. Note: if you are in a very poor area or a very rural area, common sense applies. If the food looks or smells bad, don’t eat it!
Is the water safe?
Water distribution and production is regulated by another Government agency – AYA. This agency is responsible to the people of Costa Rica for ensuring adequate and clean potable water. For most areas of the country they do a respectable job. Areas recently flooded, or undergoing water shortages may experience questionable water quality. This can happen in the wet season in the Caribbean Low Lands or sometimes in the Guanacaste area. Water at Hotel La Rosa de America is of a very high standard and is drawn from resevoirs directly off the slopes of Poas Volcano.
Is there concern for Malaria or Dengue?
The more common of these two diseases in Costa Rica is Dengue. Both are carried by mosquitoes. The most exposed areas tend to be in the wet low lands of Costa Rica – specifically along the Caribbean. Areas recently flooded are also prone. Though one can get dengue anywhere in the country it is very unlikely and not a serious concern for the majority of guests. If you are planning to spend significant time in the rainforest/jungle or in an area of high concentrations of mosquitoes, we do strongly recommend an effective and PROVEN bug repellant. For more information on these diseases we recommend you visit your country’s Foreign Affairs/Consulate web page.
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Our philosophy as a San Jose, Costa Rica Airport Hotel is to provide you the smoothest possible entry and exit to and from a foreign country by answering all your questions, and to do our best to help you have the best trip possible in Costa Rica!
Hotel La Rosa de America Questions
Do you have parking? Is it secure?
Yes, Hotel La Rosa is a private hotel for our guests only. This means that only guests, staff, and authorized contractors/personnel are permitted on the hotel grounds. Both the hotel grounds and the parking area are physically secure, with controlled entry and visual patrolling 24 hours a day. Of course, it is recommended that your vehicle and all valuables be secured/locked at all times as Costa Rica is experiencing elevated levels of vehicle break-ins.
Do you have 24 hr check in?
Guests are welcome to arrive at any time of day or night. Check in is after 2 pm and check out is at noon. Reception opens at 7:30 am and closes at 10 pm. If you will be arriving late to Hotel La Rosa, or your flight into the nearby San Jose Airport is delayed, it is not a problem as we have a night concierge who will be prepared for your arrival and will be able to answer any questions you may have. If you arrive after 10 pm, then we ask that you simply complete your check-in first thing the following morning.
Will it be a problem if we have to leave really early?
No problem! Because we are close to the San Jose Airport, we get many guests returning to us who are needing a last night accomodation in Costa Rica. If you have an early departure, simply let us know when you arrive and we will provide you with a breakfast to go – usually by hanging a “go bag” off your porch chair late in the evening while you are sleeping! There is very little that is fit to eat at the San Jose Airport! Please note that if you are intending to depart early, we request that you check out prior to 10 pm. If you need airport transportation assistance, just let us know.
Is breakfast included?
Yes, a large tropical buffet breakfast is included in the quoted room rate. The hours for breakfast are from 7:30 am to 9:30 am. For those who just HAVE to have a coffee as they stroll the hotel grounds, we ensure fresh coffee is available by 6:15 am. If you need to leave before 07:30, please let us know and we will be happy to supply you with a breakfast to go free of charge.
Are there additional charges or fees?
NO! What you see is what you pay! The 13% tax is included in the quoted price as is breakfast. The 3.4% tourist tax no longer exists and should not be charged to any guest while they stay in Costa Rica.
Cancellation Policy: Our cancellation policy is probably the most generous in Costa Rica. As an airport hotel, we understand that travelers have changing plans and that trip issues occur. Therefore to avoid any cancellation charges all we require is notification from you prior to your arrival (even if it is the day of) that you will not be able to stay with us. If we do not receive notification, and we would otherwise have been able to sell the room then the charge is for the first night only.
Where are you located?
Hotel La Rosa de America is located on the border of the towns of Barrio San Jose de Alajuela and La Garita. This area is known as the Plant Nursery of Costa Rica due to the incredible climate enjoyed throughout the local region. A five minute walk in virtually any direction will bring you to multiple “Viveros” or Plant/Tree Nurseries. To get specific instructions as to how to find us, please click here: LOCATION
What types of currency do you accept?
We accept Costa Rican Colones (CRC), United States Dollars (USD), Canadian Dollars (CAD), VISA and MASTERCARD. Unfortunately we are no longer able to accept Traveller Cheques as it has become too difficult to reliably process these in Costa Rica. We are hoping to accept Euros soon but as of this time, we are not yet able to do so.
Are there restaurants nearby?
There are many restaurants in the local area. Though this is primarily a rural and peaceful neighbourhood, our Hotel is fortunate to be located in an area of old established haciendas and businesses dating back many years. Therefore many of the most popular Costa Rican restaurants are located within an easy walk of the hotel. Closeby there are also fine Italian, Seafood, Corn, Chicken and traditional Tipico options. At La Rosa, we maintain a local area restaurant menu book at the hotel and we will be more than happy to give directions and offer suggestions!
Is it really quiet and peaceful?
YES! Our hotel is consistently noted for being “an Oasis of calm” especially considering its proximity to the San Jose Airport. Guests should be aware though that Costa Rica is not a quiet country. Travellers can be deluged with any mix of traffic, engine braking from trucks, street vendors yelling their wares at 6 in the morning, or, if in a rural area, woken by barking dogs, roosters crowing etc!!! At La Rosa de America, we have spent signifcant time working with the local population to ensure that the area is quiet for our guests. Though we can not guarantee 100% tranquility, we CAN guarantee you will get 100% more sleep then if you were to stay in Alajuela or beside the San Jose Airport! Our hotel does not experience the problems of road noise, street vendors, or animals beyond the periodic barking dog. However the bird song at 6 am can be quite musical as there are a large number of smaller birds that call our hotel home. Please note that we do not have any resident parrots, macaws, howler monkeys or similar that are prone to VERY loud vocal demonstrations – usually early in the morning!
Do you have an airport shuttle? What is the best way to get to your hotel?
Hotel La Rosa de America does provide an optional private transportation service for guests needing transport to or from the airport. This service is contracted through ZAMAR 2000 SA, a Private Guide and Transporation Company. Guests can be met by a uniformed guide from this company at the exit of the San Jose Airport ARRIVALS area. The driver will be holding a Hotel La Rosa de America sign with your name on it. The company monitors the status of your inbound flight therefore if your flight is delayed, you can still expect to be met without having to call! This service costs $15.00 for up to 4 people. Extra passengers above the 4, cost an additional $5 per person. This service MUST be pre-booked through the Hotel and payment made cash to the driver upon arrival at Hotel La Rosa.
Other options for transportation include the ORANGE Airport Taxis. These taxis should cost no more than $13-$14 dollars and can be pre-paid at the taxi kiosk located to the far left of the ARRIVALS exit (as you exit) Red Taxis also frequent the San Jose Airport however they are not authorized to transport guests. You may be able to secure one of these but we don’t recommend it unless you know where you are going. Ensure they use their meter as the cost should not exceed 5,000 colones ($10) or so depending on traffic.
Please keep in mind that commission based activity is very common in Costa Rica and guests can be “scammed” by individuals seeking commission. Taxis are some of the worst. We recommend you simply plan what you wish to do and then ignore any “alternate” suggestion of accommodation or activity that the driver wants you to do. We virtually guarantee that he is receiving a commission – often 20% or more of the total bill for his recommendation. Keep in mind that the recommendation is NOT in your best interest but in the best interest of the driver. At La Rosa, we DO NOT condone this activity, nor do we offer commissions to taxis for guests!
Do you have a pool?
Yes we have a large, continuously maintained, sparkling clean pool. The pool is shaded at one end and the rest of the area is suitable for lounging or sunbathing. As the deep end of the pool is over 2 metres (6.5 feet) deep we ask that all guests exercise caution especially with young children who may not be excellent swimmers. The entire pool area is quite private and bordered by giant ferns and palms.
How can I send my credit card information to secure the reservation?
We require a credit card to secure a reservation. We never pre-charge your card so you are absolutely welcome to pay in cash or traveller cheques if you wish. To send this information securely, we suggest you visit our SSL encrypted website and navigate to the RESERVATIONS PAGE. The card details can be entered into the large MESSAGE BOX simply as free text. Once we have received your reservation request and your card details, we will send you a CONFIRMATION email usually within 24 hrs. Of course, if you prefer to phone or fax us directly you can do so. Our phone/fax number is (country code) + 506-2433-2741.
Can I do day trips from the hotel?
YES! Absolutely! Some of Costa Rica’s hidden gems are located within an hour’s drive of Hotel La Rosa. Poas Volcano, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, ZooAve, the Butterfly Gardens, Doka Coffee Plantation, Cafe Britt, San Lorenzo and San Luis Zip Lines, river rafting on the Pacuare River (Class IV) Irazu Volcano, Lankaster Gardens, Sarchi, Arenal and any number of hot springs, waterfalls etc are only a request away! For more information check out our TOURIST INFO PAGE. To take advantage of special Hotel La Rosa pricing, don’t miss our HOTEL PACKAGE deals!!
Can I store some luggage or belongings? Is there a charge?
Yes, we have limited luggage storage at the hotel. As long as the amounts are reasonable, this is a free service for our guests. Please understand that the hotel will protect guest luggage in the same manner as hotel property however, we can not be liable for any loss. Storage of vehicles is not normally possible due to limited secure parking.
Do you have security boxes? Do we really need them?
Most cabins have security boxes. At this time, the suites do NOT have them. Alternately, if you need a item secured for a time, the hotel can, free of charge secure your valuables. However, we recommend that guests not carry large sums of cash, jewerly etc. At La Rosa, we have not had any problems and the community in which we live has low levels of crime, however that is not always the case in other areas of Costa Rica.
How far from the airport are you?
We are 7 km from the airport if you come via Alajuela, or if by highway, about double. However, distance in Costa Rica is not measured in kms, miles etc but via time. We are between 10 and 15 minutes from the airport – depending on traffic. We are happy to help assist you to and from the Airport by booking airport transfers with ZAMAR 2000 SA should you need them.
Are our hotel grounds really as pretty as I have heard? After all, it IS an airport hotel?
No!! They are MORE pretty then you have heard!! The Owner lived on the property for a number of years and it was his passion to live in a beautiful, peaceful, private tropical paradise – without the need for air conditioning! The year round climate of La Garita is generally considered among the best in the country – in fact, in the World, as reported by National Geographic Magazine. This has allowed for ideal conditions for grass, fruit tree and tropical flower growth. The gardens are originally Italian Architectural designed, and uses the azure blue pool as the centerpiece with the cabinas all along the edge of the property – looking in towards the centre. At La Rosa de America, we take great pride in our gardens. A significant amount of hotel resources are used to maintain them in pristine condition for our guests to relax in and count the multitude of birds!