This hotel was the best. As a solo female traveler, this hotel was a life saver. The owners made me feel so welcome and helped me plan my 3 week trip round Costa Rica. The rooms are brilliant, the...
After too many months without a blog, we have finally found the time to start writing again!
So far 2010 is proving to be somewhat of a recovery year in Costa Rica. Though most hotels and tourist businesses have suffered significant declines in revenue, and some have been forced out of business entirely, we have been very fortunate. Year 2009 was an excellent one for us and was the year where we saw our hotel transition from being the second choice for many guests arriving at the San Jose International Airport to being the primary choice for thousands of travelers needing safe and beautiful accommodation in the Central Valley of Costa Rica.
We have now entered the 2010 Low Season in the Alajuela area (aka Green Season) and are continuing to meet with greater than hoped for success. This success has allowed us to make hundreds of improvements, both small and large to our hotel in the hopes of being able to offer even better service to both new and returning guests alike.
These changes have targeted every sector of our operations. Continuing improvements in hotel structural services have occupied much of our time and resources, however we have also completed renovations to two more of our triple/quad cabins. Also, and just in time for the Dry Season, our Garden Staff completed the underground sprinkler system and got it hooked up to our well cistern. The difference this new sprinkler system has made to the lawn and flowers over the Dry Season has been remarkable.
La Garita is recognized as having the sunniest weather in the entire San Jose region. Therefore without these new sprinklers, the Garden would suffer without water for weeks.
One of the most exciting (and demanding) projects was the development of a new, more modern and more secure website. As of 27 May 2010, Hotel La Rosa de America launched a brand new website using the same URL location. http://larosadeamerica.com/ Though not all sections are 100% complete yet, it is fully functional. Improvements include a better presentation, more modern style, 100% SSL security on all pages and updated pictures. Be sure to check out the new Picture Gallery set to the beautiful reed flute musical adaptation of the famous Con Te Partiro. We will next be concentrating on the Tourist Information and Book Donation Pages. As always, questions and comments are welcome!
We just spent 3 weeks in Costa Rica. After reading Trip Advisor, I decided that Hotel La Rosa de America would be the best choice for myself, my husband and another couple travelling with us. Robert...
We stayed at Rosa de la America for one night, before departing Costa Rica. The location was great--about 10 minutes' drive from the international airport and walking distance from a couple of...
I spent 3 nights here on the tail end of my recent trip to Costa Rica. The gardens are lovely. The pool was clean, refreshing and attractively situated. Breakfast was pleasant. The staff are very...
We have spent 2 nights in this hotel when arriving to Costa Rica from France. We arrived at about 8pm after a very long flight and appreciated the short distance from the airport (in addition, the...
Quiet, clean and perhaps the best maintained B&B that we have found in the 15 years that we have visited Costa Rica. The owners of La Rose de America obviously take pride in their hotel. It is a short...
Now that the rains have arrived and the guests have for the most part left Costa Rica until the next high season, the time has come for our San Jose Airport Hotel to start all the large maintenance and improvement projects that have been delayed throughout this busy year. Hotel La Rosa de America has started this maintenance period by going on a major hiring campaign with the result of more than doubling our existing staff! We are proud to be able to do our part in the La Garita community by hiring both skilled and unskilled labour in this time of economic hardship.
Tourism throughout Costa Rica is sharply down both in numbers and in dollars spent per guest. Local newspapers have reported the decrease in tourists as high as 40% and the overall loss in tourist dollars spent as high as 60% over the last year. As predicted, this has had a major impact in all sectors of the industry but especially at the many coastal hotels.
On a positive note, competition brings out many great human qualities and in our opinion, this is occurring throughout Costa Rica with respect to tourism. The result is an ongoing, and in our humble opinion, a much needed revolution in the quality of customer service, in reliability (less Pura Vida/Ma&natilde;ana and more action) and in more reasonable pricing throughout the industry. Though there is significant pain being felt throughout the tourism industry at this time, we feel that once tourism rebounds in Costa Rica, the remaining quality establishments will be in a position to offer vastly better service to guests from around the World.
At Hotel La Rosa de America, we have managed to avoid much of the economic downturn. We are fortunate due to our sunny La Garita, Alajuela location. We are convenient to the one major airport – San Jose’s Juan Santa Maria International Airport, and to the many world class attractions all within easy day trips, and our hotel has experienced the busiest year in it’s 13 year history. We have received over 50 highly positive guest reports on the popular internet travel site Tripadvisor alone, all of which we are very proud of. We are grateful for all the continued loyalty shown by our many returning guests and for our new guests without whom, we would not be able to consider these new improvement projects.
Not wanting to take our past success for granted, we at La Rosa have taken note of all our customer comments, both the positive and the suggestions for improvement (yes there have been a couple!!) and this Fall, we will be implementing major improvements to our rooms, continuing with our upgrading of electrical throughout the hotel. We will begin switching from electric hot water to gas as much as possible as it is more efficient and better for the environment in Costa Rica. Projects currently underway include upgrading of telephone lines, increasing our high speed internet bandwidth from 1 Meg to 2 Megs, and a complete rewiring of our Cable TV so as to provide a clearer television picture within the rooms.
As always, no maintenance period would be complete without large garden projects. We will be planting a large laurel hedge down the one partially exposed side of the property with the aim of both beautifying the western end of the garden and to provide an even greater sound and privacy barrier for the hotel guests.
A number of other projects are slated for this fall and we will keep everyone up to date through this blog as the projects are completed. For now, as Hotel La Rosa de America enters it’s third year of new ownership, we would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has stayed with us in the past and to encourage future potential guests to give us a try.
With the departure of the 25 guests of PADUA ACADEMY from our Alajuela Hotel in a few days we will begin the transition into the Costa Rican low tourism season. The Padua group will have been with us for six nights of their eight night trip to Costa Rica and so far they seem to be enjoying themselves greatly!
Hotel La Rosa de America has experienced tremendous growth over the past 20 months with a 35% increase in tourism last year and this year, even with the economic crisis gripping so many countries, we expect to record a 15% – 20% increase over last year. Naturally this is a good thing for the Hotel and our employees. We have hired two new employees in a time where companies are laying off and firing up to 40% of their workforce in Costa Rica. Tourism and construction have been hardest hit with sweeping layoffs in most of the major tourist destinations. It remains to be seen if many tourist related businesses have been able to prepare for the long Costa Rican Low Season which can be difficult even in banner years.
All this growth at our Alajuela Hotel has of course come at a cost. Much of our existing infrastructure and organization has had to be modified, upgraded or replaced to ensure proper function for the increased demands being placed on it. Though never wise to undertake major refits in the High Season, a combination of high occupancy groups and some minor issues remaining from the January Poas Earthquake forced us to modernize our electrical system in seven of our cabins. We were able to upgrade both above and below ground wiring, breaker boxes and associated electrical items in accordance with Canadian electrical codes which are of a significantly higher standard then the normal electrical work found in Costa Rica. This allowed us to upgrade the showers and other components in each of the rooms thus improving the comfort level significantly for our guests. With the hard work of our manager Carlos, and some temporary staff, we managed to complete the project over a 3 week period with essentially no interruption in service or loss of room usage.
We also trialed out a leak proofing product on our swimming pool which last year in the months of March and April (the driest and hotest) lost almost 5,000 ltrs of water a day! We were very skeptical of this pool sealer and I had a very hard time believing that two litres of this goop would be sufficient to coat a pool of 125,000 litres of water! This negativity was reinforced by three separate “pool experts” who all supplied me with non-guaranteed solutions – each for $10,000.00! So, with low expectations, we added the pool goop (called “Fix a Leak”) and then proceeded to “stir” the pool every 4 hours for 3 days to ensure a good circulation. Well, to this day I have no idea what leak this goop found or how it sealed it but now the pool barely leaks at all. Best of all, the pool goop solution cost only $100.00!!! Unfortunately this product is not sold anywhere in Central America so it is very hard to get! Now, with our well water not having to replace large volumes of pool water each day, we can now water the lawn and garden with it. Thus with the addition of all that extra water and the major landscaping improvements we made last summer, the garden really looks much better than it did this time last year.
Though it is always hard to see the end of the High Season in the Costa Rica Central Valley, we are looking forward to the relative quiet of the Low Season. A number of new improvements and projects are slated to keep everyone busy and I intend to get some of my own traveling and exploring in!!!
On January 8th 2009, a shallow Richter 6.2 earthquake rocked the local area. It was centered near Varablanca, on the slopes of Poas Volcano. Though the quake caused significant structural damage to buildings and services throughout the Poas region of Alajuela, the real damage was caused by landslides on the eastern slopes of the mountain.
Fortunately, we at Hotel La Rosa de America were relatively unaffected. Though the quake was powerful, the hotel structure was built quake resistant and we suffered only minimal superficial damage. However it was quite something to see 130,000 litres of swimming pool water still sloshing about 10 min after the quake subsided.
Unfortunately, not all were so lucky. Approximately 2,800 people were left homeless and there were many injured and some dead. The real numbers of dead and missing will not likely be accurately determined due to incomplete census data and as a result of the scope of the landslides.
Four days after the quake, we decided, as a hotel, to offer aid to the newly set up emergency Red Cross (Cruz Roja) stations near the worst affected areas. People were still being rescued when we decided to drive as far as we could to deliver our donations. The staff at the hotel put together 100 individual meals, and about 25 sets of bedding and bags of clothing. We managed to get as far as the town of Poasito, located at about 7,500 feet above sea level. A short distance past Poasito, the road showed significant damage and then it disappeared entirely over a new cliff. Even though tropical, in this area the night time temperatures are very cold for those without proper clothing.
We were quite impressed with the organization of the Cruz Roja. Costa Rica has no military and only a small police force. There are few emergency resources to draw from and virtually no heavy lift/helicopter rescue ability. This clearly compounded the rescue difficulties faced by the Cruz Roja until assistance came from Columbia and the USA. The over 3000 aftershocks (some of which registering a high as 4.8) have not made their job easier or safer either.
Fortunately, the epicenter of the quake was in a relatively unpopulated area of Costa Rica. Just 25 km to the south is located the densely populated Central Valley with over a million inhabitants. From a tourism point of view, the road north from Poasito via Varablanca towards San Carlos suffered catastrophic damage and may never be rebuilt. La Paz Waterfall Gardens is closed indefinitely as is the upper Sarapiqui River. The Sarapiqui sustained a series of huge landslides which plugged up the river causing significant environmental damage and halting river rafting, fishing and snorkeling activities on the River for probably at least a year. Fortunately, the Paquare River was unaffected and rafting operations continue there unabated.
This earthquake occurred virtually under POAS volcano. Fortunately, the volcano is still quiescent and shows no signs of becoming active soon. Poas National Park re-opened to visitors last week. Most other tourist attractions and facilities are back to normal now.
We sincerely hope that the 900 remaining families without shelter find placement within Costa Rica soon and that proper geological studies are done of the Varablanca region to determine proper slope stability in advance of any re-construction efforts. A repeat of this disaster due to lack of planning would be horrible indeed.