FAQs

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Why must I pay the full rental amount upon booking?

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We used to take deposits and let people pay their balances when they checked in. Unfortunately people would sometimes start their vacation in another part of the country, meet new friends and be having such a great time that they would not show up for the next part of their trip. It was a big problem when people didn’t show up because we only have a certain number of available room-days in the year to rent out, unlike hotels with hundreds of rooms.

We also wouldn’t have time to re-rent the property when people didn’t show up, which was particularly frustrating because we would have turned away other renters while holding spaces for the “no-shows.”

This is a common problem in the hospitality industry. What most places do is simply raise their prices to cover these losses, much like a supermarket or hardware store does to cover theft. But that sort of thing has always bothered me; I fundamentally disagree with what I call “making the good people pay for the jerks.” So we experimented with a variety of methods including a sliding scale for deposits, varying due dates for full payment, even a cancellation fee. Nothing worked well enough to resolve the problem without either us taking losses or other, good clients having to pay more for their stays.

So we decided to make everyone responsible for their own expenses. With the exception of bookings over $3000, we don’t accept deposits, just full payment to secure a rental. (Even with those we require the balance 90 days prior to arrival.) If need be you can give your dates to a friend or even sell it to someone else if you need to cancel, but it is yours regardless of whether or not it gets used. We encourage people to purchase trip insurance if they feel that there is a possibility of things going wrong or their having to cancel; not rely upon other guests to have to cover part of the cancellation.

This is not to say that we have not worked with clients in extraordinary situations, of course we have. However our policy has helped us to keep prices down and our properties almost fully booked. I am a very frequent traveler myself and completely understand the role that deposits play and the reluctance to pay in advance, so we’re never at all put off if folks decide that they would rather not stay with us. However I hope that this helps you to understand where our policy came from and that we will have the pleasure of having you here.

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Can I put a hold on my dates?

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We usually don’t confirm reservations until we have payment. This is because we’ve had groups in the past promise to pay so we turned away other requests and then for whatever reason did not pay, meaning we lost not only the original group but all the other groups we had turned away.

On an encouraging note, we currently do not have other inquires for that property on your dates even though we are getting inquiries about it every day now. We will let you know if this changes so that you have the first opportunity to book by paying the invoice with your card to secure the dates. In such a case we would be happy to refund the payment including all fees once the funds have hit your PayPal account and you have sent send the direct transfer.

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What is your cancellation policy?

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We are still a growing company so cancellations have a huge impact on our business and guests because we only have a certain number of available room-days in the year to rent out, unlike hotels with hundreds of rooms. We also wouldn’t have time to re-rent the property when people didn’t show up, which was particularly frustrating because we would have turned away other renters while holding spaces for the “no-shows.”

What most places do is simply raise their prices to cover these losses, much like a supermarket or hardware store does to cover theft. But that sort of thing has always bothered me; I fundamentally disagree with what I call “making the good people pay for the jerks.” So we experimented with a variety of methods including a sliding scale for deposits, varying due dates for full payment, even a cancellation fee. Nothing worked well enough to resolve the problem without either us taking losses or other, good clients having to pay more for their stays.

So we decided to make everyone responsible for their own expenses. If need be you can give your dates to a friend or even sell it to someone else if you need to cancel, but it is yours regardless of whether or not it gets used. We encourage people to purchase trip insurance if they feel that there is a possibility of things going wrong or their having to cancel; not rely upon other guests to have to cover part of the cancellation.

Due to the difficulty involved with scheduling property availability, all bookings are final and non-refundable. Re-scheduling is available at the Property Owner’s sole discretion and, if offered, will involve a 30% re-scheduling fee. Our policy has helped us to keep prices down and our properties almost fully booked. I am a very frequent traveler myself and completely understand the role that deposits play and the reluctance to pay in advance, so we’re never at all put off if folks decide that they would rather not stay with us. However I hope that this helps you to understand where our policy came from and that we will have the pleasure of having you here. For more about our payment and cancellation policies, please see the video under the Videos section.

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Why do I need to pay and security deposit and how does the invoice work?

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Security deposits are a very common practice. Hotels and car rentals place a hold of several hundred dollars on your credit card in case of damage and house rentals are no different. We have more than a dozen properties in the area and are the largest, most professional vacation property rental company in La Fortuna. You can see from our more than 100 five star reviews, (several of which specifically mention the prompt return of their security deposits), that your deposit will only be used in the event of theft or damage. We have had issues in the past with damage when we allowed groups to check in without a security deposit so this is non-negotiable. Please let us know if you have any questions about this.

We use a separate invoice for your security deposit. After you have checked out and nothing has been found missing or broken, it will be refunded to you within 2 days, (depending upon when the cleaning lady cleans and inspects the property.) We use PayPal for this function as the refund includes all transaction fees, so you end up paying nothing. Also it allows you to be on your way instead of checking out and then waiting around for a couple of hours while the property is cleaned.

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Should I purchase trip insurance?

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If you feel that there are specific reasons why you may not be able to make your trip, then insurance might be a good idea for you. The vast majority of our guests never find it necessary with the rare exception of flight insurance. However, you should listen to your gut and make your own decisions based upon your degree of concern.

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Why do you suggest using a professional driver?

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I recommend using a professional driver for long distances and then renting locally only on days when you need a vehicle. This is because there is a “convenience fee” of $10-15 added to most rentals by the airport, and it is a waste of funds to rent a vehicle on days when you don’t need one. Also driving here is a bit of a challenge for those who haven’t done it before.

Other reasons include being able to keep a group together without risking separation, not getting lost with Costa Rica’s many un-signed turns and saving time and frustration: The process of renting a vehicle with a family in tow and all of your bags is not something to look forward to at the end of a long travel day. You have to get to the rental office, wait in line, check out the vehicle including walk-arounds, (take pictures of any damage,) etc. all before starting your trip. In the end driving yourself only saves you $30-40 once you pay for gas and the savings is not worth the frustration and wasted time in my opinion. Best to just walk out of the airport, be met by someone with your name on a piece of paper, get straight into the van and relax while you are whisked safely and directly to your destination.

We do not keep drivers on staff, however we have some excellent owner/operators with newer vans and English speaking drivers with whom we regularly do business and they are fantastic. They are a small, family owned and operated company and they are punctual, courteous, very knowledgeable, friendly and professional. More than 70 of our clients used them last month alone. So we can easily arrange for your transportation requirements with drivers who have proven themselves. Please contact us for a quote or to add transportation to your itinerary.

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What are the other transportation options?

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There is only one rental car company that has proven themselves and we recommend to our guests. Please contact us for a referral.

Or you can use a shared bus service like Interbus. They cost around $55 per person to go from Alajuela (SJO) to la Fortuna. I do NOT recommend taking the public bus! It will waste up to a day of your vacation and can be very hot and trying. Plus there is a fair degree of theft on them.

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Why I should book activities in advance?

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You definitely don’t want to wait until you get here to set up your activities. People make this mistake all of the time and end up wasting a day of their vacation being frustrated when they could have been having fun. Also there is the real possibility of the activities that you want to do not being available on the days that you have free to do them. Plus we can get you 5-10% off of almost every activity in the area because we refer a lot of people.

Some things have enough capacity that you don’t have to worry. Hiking in the Arenal volcano park is not something that you have to book before you get here and neither are some of the hot springs. However some things have set capacity limits. So while we completely understand the desire to “wing it” and occasionally do the same ourselves when we travel, we don’t recommend it here when it comes to booking things like rafting, zip lining, canyoning or our private horse/jungle/waterfall/lunch tour. For more information watch our video under Activities.

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Do I need to exchange currency?

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Dollars and Colones are equally effective at paying for things. The grocery stores and restaurants will show the total in both currencies. NEVER exchange money at the airport kiosk. The rates they use are almost criminal; in some countries such rates really are a crime! Check a CR bank website like Banco Nacional to see what the current exchange rate is. If you need to convert currency in CR, then do so at a gas station or at a bank.

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What is the airport departure tax?

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Most airports charge a departure fee that is included in the price of the ticket; however, in Costa Rica it is paid directly at the airport. When you are when you are leaving the country, make sure to go to the line for paying exit taxes BEFORE you line up to check in with your airline! This will save you up to an hour of wasted time, depending upon how busy the airport is. Some airlines have started to include the fee in the cost of the flight so check your ticket.

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