By Sandy Zimmerman
(Photos by Sandy Zimmerman)
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 along the West coast because the
distances are so close.
I enjoy walking in order to really discover the delights ofeach city 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. There is an old Gramophone sitting on the end table next to Kennedy’s couch.”
Among the hotel’s other famous gueaasts 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.”
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 cafÈ, and gourmet room. I was happy to be able to have
their all-you-can-eaqt 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 kids’ 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 Web site.
The Gran Hotel Costa Rica is located in San Jose, Costa Rica.
You can enjoy 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.