Hotel Review: Hilton Garden Inn Sabana San Jose Costa Rica, 21 March 2016

Hilton Garden Inn La Sabana

The Hilton Garden Inn Sabana San Jose is one of the newer hotels in San Jose, Costa Rica. It also happens to be one of the tallest buildings in San Jose. We stayed there for one night in March. The rate can range from the high-90s to low-200.

Check In/Check Out:

Check in was pretty rapid. I did online check-in, and pre-selected my room on the top floor (20th). When we got there, we were just given the keys to our room, even though we were a little early (noon).

Check out wasn’t slow, but it was a little bit odd – I filled in the paperwork for express check-out, but was still held up to do a standard check out. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t mind, but we were running late.

San Jose


In the Sabana business park, it’s near a number of coffee shops (Starbucks, Juan Valdez, Costa), and there’s a McDonald’s across the street. There are also a number of little bistros nearby. I’d say it was a good 45 min walk from the HGI to downtown San Jose. The walk is pleasant enough, so it’s not too bad. We took Uber back, and that was ~5 USD (or less – I can’t remember)

Hilton Garden Inn La Sabana


Contemporary. Think retro sofas, over-sized, hanging lamps, and grey-tiled bathrooms. Space wise, it was a little bit tight, but no complaints. There was also a mini-fridge, and a coffee machine by the entryway table. The bathroom was stocked with Neutrogena products.

Hilton Garden Inn La Sabana


They have a pool, which while awesome in theory, wasn’t exactly pragmatic. The winds made it a bit too cold to swim. Also, it’s probably a one-lane lap pool. The gym is on the small side of things, but the equipment is new. It also offers a great view of the national stadium.

Pool at Hilton Garden Inn La Sabana


As a Gold or Diamond member, you can choose the point amenity, or breakfast for two. We went with the breakfast, and it was excellent.

The buffet had quite a selection, and there were four hot items. The key to breakfast is – you had to read the menu on the table, where they have made-to-order breakfast items. I got an omelette, and the French toast. The French toast is amazing. Try it!

Breakfast at Hilton Garden Inn La Sabana Breakfast at Hilton Garden Inn La Sabana

French toast at Hilton Garden Inn La Sabana


We had an enjoyable stay, and would return to this property. The staff were friendly, and the property offered great views. The lobby also had complimentary coffee and cookies.


Hotel Review: DoubleTree by Hilton Cariari San Jose, 20 & 22 March 2016

DoubleTree Hilton Cariari

The DoubleTree by Hilton Cariari in San Jose Costa Rica is a four-star resort that’s located midway between the Juan Santamaria International Airport and downtown San Jose. The paid rates hover around mid-90 to low-100s. For some reason, the premium rooms were available for redemption at a discounted rate, so I redeemed ~21000 Hilton points for the first night, and ~23000 Hilton points for the second night.

Overall, it seems like a lovely resort property, with some nice green spots to chill out. However the pool was undergoing maintenance during our stay, so we didn’t get to enjoy the resort fully.

Check In/Check Out:

Quick and painless. I’m currently in the midst of a billing dispute with them with regards to them double-charging me for transportation, though.

Executive Balcony Double Room at DoubleTree Hilton Cariari


We got the executive double room. It is large, and has a coffee machine, which we didn’t use. There’s also a nice-sized balcony, but with the pool maintenance going on during our stay, it was too noisy for us to hang out on the balcony.

The bathroom is average size, but dated. The resort has seen better days.

Executive Balcony Double Room at DoubleTree Hilton Cariari


There are highs and lows. In the online check-in, we could designate some items we wanted in the room. We asked for a map and slippers, and we found these in the room after check in.

At breakfast, the staff was very attentive.

On the other hand, the first front desk agent didn’t tell us where the executive lounge is, so I couldn’t locate it the first day.

Welcome package at DoubleTree Hilton Cariari


The Gold and Diamond benefit is complimentary continental breakfast that was served in the restaurant. The hotel stuck with the rules of a continental breakfast. The pastries were delicious, and I didn’t quite feel the need to pay a $10 upcharge for a full breakfast.

Breakfast at DoubleTree Hilton Cariari

Executive Lounge:

Located above the front desk, it’s only open for select hours. They have hors d’oeuvres in the evening from around 5 – 8 pm. It’s hosted. The lounge itself is rather small, and probably had about four tables. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.

Evening Hors D'Oeuvres at DoubleTree Hilton Cariari


We enjoyed our stay. It’s a lovely property with a great location.

Costa Rica to USA: I LOVE Hobby Border Control! SJO – HOU – ABQ, 23 March 2016

Morning view from Junior Suite #1909 @ Hyatt Regency Albuquerque

I got sick overnight – puked out the contents of my stomach. The whole day was iffy, and that we had 3 different airports and dreaded US border control ahead didn’t help. I could barely stand up when we were waiting in line to check in at SJO airport, and was sitting on my roller.

06 00: God, I hate early flights. I hate them even more when I’m sick. On a bright note, Uber was on time, we made everything in good time. Check in lines at Southwest counter was long. Go early!

07 00: Thank god for the small mercies. Sitting at the SJO lounge, sipping hot tea, and just hoping the pain will go away.

12 00: I get a lot of anxiety at US border control. Hobby is one of the most painless experiences so far! I got through border control in record time.

16 30: Picked up rental car. Arrived at hotel. Day over. We did get a nice rental car upgrade to a Chrysler 200. The mister liked it. I have no feelings about cars. I did get told repeatedly not to accidentally shift gears, because the gear shift is a dial between us, and looked exactly like the audio volume switch. 😀

New Mexico

Costa Rica: La Paz Waterfall Gardens, 22 March 2016

La Paz Waterfall Garden

Yesterday evening, we obtained some tour brochures from the travel desk at our hotel. I actually generally hate bus tours, but unfortunately, we wanted to check out the waterfalls near San Jose, and short of renting a car, it wasn’t exactly accessible. The tours offered by the hotel travel desk didn’t work for us, as they all started too early, and were way too long. We wanted something that didn’t pack in too much, didn’t take too long (~5 hrs), and didn’t start too early.

Enter Anywhere Costa Rica. After a quick google, we found a tour that fit our description. I booked it online at around 4 pm, and by 5 pm, we got an e-mail confirmation that we’re booked for a 6ish hr tour that sets off from our hotel at 10 am. I highly recommend them – we paid US 88 per person all-inclusive, and I thought it was good value.

10 15: Guide is there, right on time.

11 15: Brief pit stop for coffee at a plantation (tres generracion, if anyone cares), while others who haven’t prepaid for the tour cough out their fees. I got a cafe con leche – it was ok.

La Paz Waterfall Garden

12 30: We were ushered into the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, which is a sort of nature theme park with a lodge. It’s a little tourist trap-ish, because basically, a tour operator built a hotel beside these gorgeous falls, and started an animal sanctuary. It was some sort of zoo/fall thing.

13 00: High carb buffet lunch was included. Nothing to report here. The bathroom sink tap was kinda cool.

Sink and tap at La Paz Waterfall Gardens

14 00: Lots of plants, animals, insects, and amphibians. The frog is pretty – and I don’t like frogs. Toucans are cute (if a little scary, when trying not to become a walking target of bird dodo)!

La Paz Waterfall Garden

15 00: Falls are dramatic. The falls alone are quite worth the trip.

La Paz Waterfall Garden

16 00: Back on the bus, and headed back to San Jose. Nap time! 18 00: Picking up bags from hotel #2 back to hotel #1, which is close to the airport, for our early flight out the next morning.

La Paz Waterfall Garden

Costa Rica: San Jose, 21 March 2016

San Jose

11 00: Time to move from hotel #1 (close to the airport) to hotel #2, which is closer to town.

12 00: I marched mister into town. It’s quite an interesting experience to visit a Latin America country with a Spanish-speaker.

San Jose

13 00: San Jose is quite different from the other Latin American capitals I’ve been – there aren’t as many signs of Spanish colonialism. Mercado Central was quite an adventure (not a super one). Too bad I wasn’t hungry at that point.

San Jose

14 00: Mister did enjoy some of the more elegant buildings, like the ornate architecture of the post office. We also walked into a cathedral, and mister was impressed.

San Jose

15 00: Ice cream break. There’s also a bike path going through San Jose’s downtown. Weather started looking nasty, so it’s time to Uber back to the hotel.

San Jose

Itinerary: That’s a Lot of Baseball, 17 – 27 March 2016

Thanks to two credit card sign-ups with Southwest, my US baseball plan will be funded by my stash of Southwest points. Beyond that, I also earned the very lucrative Southwest Companion Pass on 02 February, giving me the privilege of taking someone with me for free (well, just the $5.60 security fee and international taxes) from 2016 – 2017.

I have a rather weird itinerary for this trip, because my partner wants to visit his grandparents in El Centro, and he wants to watch the World Baseball Classic qualifiers in his hometown of Mexicali.

17 Mar: Seattle – San Diego – El Centro

18 Mar: El Centro – Mexicali – El Centro

19 Mar: El Centro – San Diego

20 Mar: San Diego – Houston – San Jose, Costa Rica

21 Mar: San Jose, Costa Rica

22 Mar: San Jose, Costa Rica

23 Mar: San Jose, Costa Rica – Houston – Albuquerque

24 Mar: Albuquerque

25 Mar: Albuquerque – Phoenix

26 Mar: Phoenix

27 Mar: Phoenix – Seattle