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A Hotel Out of the Past

September 21st, 2010 • by Sandy Zimmerman

(Photos shot by Sandy Zimmerman unless indicated.)

The plane lands in San Jose, the perfect place to stay and take one

day tours or to begin your trip around the country.

You can have breakfast on the East coast and, in just a few hours,

dinner along the West coast because the distances are so close.

I enjoy walking in

order to really


the delights of each


and was happy we were staying at the Gran

Hotel Costa Rica in the middle of the historic district.

When you first see the hotel, the unique neoclassic architecture

and park creates the feeling that you want to enter to see more.

Maria Amalia Piza, the Gran’s General Manager, explained, “This

is the oldest hotel in the country and was built in 1930.

We have some special features of being the only hotel with live

music during lunch and dinner.

We still have the furniture that was especially made for President

John F. Kennedy’s visit, now everyone can see them in the lobby.

Kennedy’s couch.”

Among the hotels

other famous guests

were: Alfonso Lopez

Michelse, President

of Colombia; Mauro

Saakes, President of

Lebanon; United

States Presidents Harry S. Truman and Jimmy

Carter, Julio Iglesias, John Wayne, “King” Pele, and many more.

Maria described their location.  “The hotel is convenient across

from the National Theater, near the museums, shops and

entertainment.  Guests do not have to rent a car or take a cab.

I think it is a great combination when you come to Costa Rica and

want to learn about the people and culture.”










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A Hotel Out of the Past

The lobby is elegant with its high ceilings, wood paneling, and spacious public rooms.  The large hand carved wooden dolphins sculpture attracts your attention when you enter.

Guests can choose from three restaurants- the cafeteria, outside terrace cafe, and gourmet room.  I was happy to be able to have their all- you- can- eat breakfast buffet in one of the ballrooms on the fifth floor.  What a nice atmosphere for breakfast and the views added to the experience.

We had a chance to eat a delicious three course dinner in the gourmet room, consisting of a seafood salad, steak, and Tiramiso for dessert. Families will be happy to see the kid's menu.

A unique setting for a wedding would be the open air plaza or their beautiful banquet rooms.  Maria's packages depend on your budget.  "With 120 rooms, the Gran is big enough to offer all services, but small enough to give personal attention."

Even though you are in the city, there are one day tours to the Veragua Rainforest and Adventure Park, the city tour, for nature lovers, try rafting, canyoning, the bike tours, or see the Arenal and other volcanoes.  There is so much to do!

For information, call the (800)-number on their website.   The Gran Hotel Costa Rica, is located in San Jose, Costa Rica.  Guests have the use of free internet as well as WI-FI throughout the rooms and public areas.  They offer 24 hour service, satellite television in all guest rooms, a gym, an ice cream parlor and drug store.  Their Standard rooms are comfortable but do not have a view while the Deluxe rooms provide a wonderful view of the Plaza de la Cultura. Suites are also available.

Costa Rica is called paradise

According to the Costa Rica Convention and Visitors Bureau, "The tropical jungles, rivers, and white beaches are reasons enough for National Geographic Channel to rate Costa Rica as the closest thing to heaven on earth."

Costa Rica won first place in the Tourism for All contest for sustainable tourism, at the Third Virtual Congress of Latin America Competitiveness Enterprise and Tourism.  Costa Rica boasts of having 25 national parks, 8 biological reserves, 58 wildlife refuges, 32 conservation areas and 15 wetlands.  Best of all, the beneficial exchange rate between the Costa Rican Colon and the US dollar gives us more for our money.

Entry Requirements

U.S. citizens must show a passport valid for 90 days from the entry to the country.

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