Stay Another Day
• Take a stroll through the Mercado Central, San José’s Central Market, which dates from 1880. Visitors can wander more than 200 shops and stalls to grab a chifrijo, a favorite snack of pork rinds and fried beans, and peruse the amazing array of local produce on display.
• Costa Rica’s tasty dishes (olla de carne, patacones, flan) can be found throughout the country.To get the deep dish on the country’s food and beverage, Foodie Tours Costa Rica offers customizable excursions, including a “farm to table essential gastronomy experience” and a contemporary cuisine program that showcases the creativity of San José’s chefs.
• Costa Rica is the world’s 13th largest coffee producer. Learn about the entire production process — and enjoy ample opportunities to sample java — during guided visits to a number of farms around the countryside. Top choices include Hacienda Espiritu Santo (phone: 011-506-4104-0500), a 600-acre coffee plantation near San Jose in Naranjo, where visitors can observe how farmers maintain and harvest coffee crops and learn how the process has evolved over the years. Also worth a visit is Finca Rosa Blanca, a self-described “coffee plantation resort” that offers boutique-style accommodations as well as an organic coffee tour; participants can pick during the harvest season, from October to January. After the tour, groups can relax on the outdoor deck as they sample a fresh cup, accompanied by homemade biscuits and cookies. The property also offers a seasonal tasting menu that features ingredients from Rosa Blanca’s own organic greenhouse.
• The country is also known for its scrumptious chocolates, crafted from locally grown beans. Rainforest Chocolate Tour in La Fortuna, near the Arenal Volcano, offers an interactive program that teaches groups and individuals about cocoa-bean harvesting and grinding, and developing organic chocolate. Desafio Adventure Co. offers a chocolate tour in the same region, with a visit to a plantation that sells cocoa beans to a woman’s cooperative. Desafio also has a program that combines a chocolate tour with a guided nature hike to the La Fortuna waterfall, where participants can swim in the gentle waters.
• For a whale of a time, catch a cruise to view the majestic mammals along the southern Pacific coast. Since humpback whales are present year-round here, it’s especially easy to plan a visit.
• Costa Rica is a nation that begs to be actively explored. For climbing and rappelling, Guanacaste and La Fortuna are the top picks, while Chirripo National Park — home to the second-highest peak in Central America, at 12,500 feet — provides an awe-inspiring challenge and equally exciting views. Ziplines let guests explore the lush canopy from a unique vantage point; there are a number of operators in various locations around Costa Rica, including Arenal, Guanacaste, Jaco and Manuel Antonio. Horseback riding is another fun way to immerse groups in this country's beautiful countryside — especially in Guanacaste, where ranches provide the perfect setting for saddling up. Contact the convention bureau to source outfitters and destination management firms that can arrange any of the activities listed here and below.
• Participants will find new ways to enjoy their free time in the Peninsula Papagayo resort area. In August 2018, a new program called Papagayo Bike Share launched, with a fleet of 60 electric-assist, GPS-equipped bicycles. Riders can make use of seven docking stations around the peninsula as they explore. In addition, visitors can take advantage of the new Papagayo Explorers Club, which allows participants to join expert guides — including biologists and naturalists — for only-in-Costa-Rica excursions like the Cacao Volcano Expedition, which includes a 4X4 vehicle ride through the nation's lowest-altitude cloud forest to the crater of an inactive volcano. Horseback riding and "underwater scooter" rides are among the additional offerings.
• World-class river rafting awaits along the Pacuare River, with excursions that can last several hours or several days, with ample opportunities to observe the local flora and fauna while navigating the rapids. Tubing is another way to experience Costa Rica's spectacular scenery and view wildlife, especially in Guanacaste, Sarapiqui, Manuel Antonio National Park and Arenal.
• Water-based fun also awaits just off the coast, with diving and snorkeling especially rewarding, thanks to the views of unspoiled coral reefs and colorful fish. On the Pacific coast, visitors can explore underwater caves and dramatic rock formations at Manual Antonio National Park, while on the Caribbean side, more than 120 species of fish and 40 species of crustaceans make their home along the coral reefs of Manzanillo Beach and Cahuita National Park, providing plenty of memorable snorkeling possibilities.
Volcanos and wildlife
Perfectly situated between the Arenal volcano and Lake Arenal, the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa is an ideal place for a nature-focused stay, with gorgeous views at every turn. Guests here can enjoy hiking along seven miles of trails as well as horseback riding and mountain biking through the dramatic scenery. Guests will want to keep their eyes open for abundant wildlife, including monkeys, anteaters and coatis, as well as 500 species of birds.
Up in the clouds
National Geographic calls it "the jewel in the crown of cloud forests," and with good reason. The postcard-perfect Monteverde Cloud Forest is lined with trails that make it easy for visitors to enjoy the scenery, while the Monteverde Wildlife Refuge offers after-dark tours that provide a fascinating glimpse of the region's nocturnal inhabitants, including tree snakes, foxes, sloths and monkeys.
Get lost…and found
La Senda Costa Rica is a farm/nature preserve/wellness sanctuary set on 74 acres in Guanacasta, where small incentive groups can take cooking classes and relax during yoga sessions. La Senda also houses an enormous labrynth where visitors can wander.
Pet the locals
Translated as "Land of the Strays," Territorio de Zaguates is a nonprofit rescue shelter for stray dogs in the mountains of Alajuela. Here, visitors can take part in a wide-ranging, no-kill effort to take care of more than 1,300 dogs — they can even go on walks through the countryside with the canine residents.
Hail a taxi
Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo recently debuted a new Nimbu water taxi, which takes guests to the new Andaz Beach House and is also available for private tours around the coastline.
This colorful country offers a wealth of cultural and historical activities. Plan your event to coincide with one of these traditional festivals (contact the Costa Rica Convention Bureau for more information):
• The annual Fiestas Zapote, which takes place in January, centers around a large-scale rodeo in San José.
• The pre-Lenten Limón Carnival brings lots of costumes, floats and music to the streets of the Caribbean port city of Limón.
• A celebration that takes place in two indigenous communities, the Fiestas de los Diablitos (Festival of the Little Devils) includes costumed locals re-enacting — through music and dance — a victory over Spanish Consquistadors. The event takes place in the southern Pacific towns of Boruca in December and Rey Curre in February.
San Jose, Costa Rica
Guest Rooms - 229
Meeting Rooms - 18
Largest Conference Room - 1,188 sq. ft.
Total meeting room space - 25,600 sq. ft.
Room Rate Range - $130-$250
San Jose, Costa Rica
Guest Rooms - 299
Meeting Rooms - 10
Largest Conference Room - 8,400 sq. ft.
Total meeting room space - 19,839 sq. ft.
Room Rate Range - $222-$460
San Jose, Costa Rica
Guest Rooms - 194
Meeting Rooms - 2
Total meeting room space - 10,649 sq. ft.
Room Rate Range - $85-$97