Category Archives: all-inclusive vacation

All-Inclusive Vacations Rock!

 PURA VIDA!

“Pure life”, or “Enjoy the good life”, either definition explains the local phrase. It works as either a greeting, or a parting phrase, and can be sprinkled liberally around your conversations, much as Uff da, works in Minnesota. It must be accompanied with a smile, which isn’t difficult since you’re wishing such good fortune on people when you say it.

Riu Guanacaste in Costa Rica offers a wonderful experience, starting from the minute you enter their open air lobby and register for your stay. The resort is beautiful, decorated with fascinating local arts. This is a driftwood planter, and the greenery grows from small burlap sacks tucked into nooks and crannies.

Ocean view standard room

We were thrilled to be able to take our eleven-year-old granddaughter with us, and our room faced the ocean, visible past the beautiful grounds. We had two beds, a large closet and chest of drawers, a modern bathroom, and most importantly, air-conditioning. The bathroom included a bath, and two sinks in front of a long mirror. Tucked in the closet was a programmable safe, large enough for passports and a really small lap-top. A mini refrigerator was stocked with mixers for the four large bottles of alcohol suspended above it. I wish I could tell you what kind they were, but we are not drinkers. Except for the Imperial beer in the fridge, we didn’t drink in the room. But for those who do, there’s an ice machine on every level.

Angie was one of our favorites!

The staff are professional, very helpful, and extremely pleasant. Whether you are enjoying stretching exercises on the beach, playing water volleyball, getting a lesson in scuba diving in the pool, touring the kitchens, enjoying a beverage at any of the bars, winning at Bingo, or eating your fill at any of the eating facilities, the staff of the Riu Guanacaste make your experience enjoyable.

Roxana Herrera Aroya with my wife.

We were particularly fond of the main buffet which provided fresh fruit, and a wide variety of delicious local dishes. The cheese bar called me, while my wife enjoyed the fresh fruit more. Our granddaughter explored the ever changing dessert table after every dinner. If you’re lucky, you’ll be placed in Roxana Herrera Aroya’s area, and be served by a pleasant young man named Christian.

My granddaughter and me

One night my granddaughter and I broke from tradition and tried the Japanese restaurant. Also served buffet style, we enjoyed delicious sushi and a Peking duck. The noodles were delicious, as were the delicate desserts. I especially enjoyed the delicate flavor of the mandarin orange ice.

Let’s face it, it’s fun to dress up, and from five o’clock on through the night you’ll find almost everyone has donned their long shopped for, and finally found, resort wear. The unmarried and looking crowd show off their finery by walking along the main path down to the beach, hanging out at the open air bar, or by crossing the street to attend the casino or discotheque (opens at 11p.m.)

Kid time on the main stage

Every night there is entertainment on the main stage, beginning with a segment of games, songs and dances where kids participate and compete. This is followed by another half hour of American, Canadian, or Central American songs performed by local talent.

Performing Rolling in the Deep
Go, Greased Lightning, go!

From around 8p.m. until 10ish, a different show is performed each night of the week, and is repeated throughout the season. This year we were treated to a magical night of a tribute to Michael Jackson, and an exciting version of Grease.The dancers are very professional, and they get the crowd going. By the time they got to ‘Greased Lightning’ the audience was singing right along.

Snorkling, a first!

 If you take the tours (for which you pay extra) you might find yourself zip-lining, or soaking in volcanic mud baths, or traveling up and down the river in search of wild animals. A wealth of opportunities are available. I, at the age of 57 and being significantly overweight, enjoyed my very first snorkling experience. Paddle a canoe, or ride a ski-do. Ride a horse along the beach, and listen to the Howler monkeys in the trees.

And the animals! Oh the animals of Costa Rica are magnifico. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing photos of some I was lucky enough to capture on film. Pura Vida, until then.

Costa Rica, Baby!

There are many things an author can do to improve their skills. Some of them include being positive, diligent, and keeping your butt in the chair. Those are the things that keep us writing.

But what about the depth and breadth of our stories? For that you need to interact with people and places new to you. Meet people from other cultures, and cheerfully learn from them. Visit other lands and see how your world and their’s differ. Embrace the similarities between peoples, and celebrate the unique qualities of every culture you can. Be an ambassador for your country, but more importantly, gather friends from around the world. Share stories, explain jokes, try new things, and push your comfort zone until it expands willingly.

In other words, travel.

My wife and I (I just love saying that) like to save our money and go somewhere every year, when possible. With the economy the way it’s been lately, that’s been easier said than done. But we found out about *cue heavenly choir* all-inclusive resorts. In the past, we’ve always been conscious of costs, constantly monitoring our remaining resources and anxiously going cheap to be sure we can cover everything.

All that changed when our daughter won a contest and we ended up at Riu Guanacaste, in Costa Rica. Once we’d presented our photo ID’s, we locked up our wallets and passports in the room safe, and never worried about money again until just before leaving. Gifts, souvenirs, and tips were all we spent money on. Everything else had been prepaid. Talk about relaxing!

Now, I’m a self published author, and retired school teacher. My wife is also retired. Our income is not great, and I won’t lie, the resorts can be a little pricey. That’s why it’s important to book early, and get a good travel agents who will look for upgrades. We travel non-stop from our snowbound hometown directly to Costa Rica. No switching planes, and far fewer chances for lost luggage. The hassle factor is less than a three. The shuttle is there waiting for the plane, and within an hour we were checking in at the resort, sipping on fresh mango slushies in the very sultry air.

Thus began a vacation unlike any I’d ever known before. I felt as if I’d stepped onto the Love Boat, or Fantasy Island. Everything was exquisitely clean, the staff professional, and the accommodations, while not luxurious, overlooked the grounds leading out to a full sea-view. It was a major upgrade from our typical hop from one over priced hotel room to another.

From early in the morning until late at night, planned activities for both adults and children were available, led by friendly staff members. We were encouraged to stretch on the beach (which we declined) and to tour the kitchens (which we happily joined). Water volleyball had it’s own cove in the huge swimming pool, as did a corner that was used every morning to give free scuba-diving lessons. Bingo, an entertainment we haven’t had time for lately, offered small bottles of local rum, t-shirts, and coffee mugs to daily winners, and it was free! You only get one card, but that’s usually all you need.


And then there was the food, and the drinks, and the entertainment, and too much for me to include in just one post. So I’ll see you tomorrow, same bat-station, same bat-channel. POW. And yes, there are bats in Costa Rica, little tiny ones that prefer mangoes to blood.