Here are five secrets to getting the best deal on a hotel, condominium or even an entire house rental in Costa Rica. Book it like a Tico!
Secret number one, start your search with booking.com (a Price Line web site). Why? You will see a large inventory of lodging choices, most of which do not require a credit card to book. This is key, since if you change your mind, you do not have a problem. Contrast this to hotels.com (an Expedia web site), where you often are asked for a credit card, and once you give it, cancellation is costly. Same thing with Instant Book on AirBnB.
Secret number two, once you are on booking.com, ignore the ordering of “Our Top Recommendations”. This ordering is for the naïve. It is based on the business needs of the web site, not on your needs. Chances are the top listed lodgings simply pay a higher commission to the web site! Or, for whatever reason, generate more dollars for the web site. Good for the web site, not good for you.
Secret number three, order your search by “Review Score”, highest to lowest. It is amazing how few lodging options have high average review scores. Mark down those that do. You won’t normally find more than three or four lodging options with high scores. Note that the review score is an arithmetic average.
Click on the review score to see if the average is composed of a large number of scores of 9.5 or higher (out of 10) and a few low scores that may pull the average down, say to 9.2, or if the typical score is the same as the average score. To do this quickly, sort the scores by higher to lower, or lower to higher, and also by most recent. This is especially important if there are less than 50 reviews, since one low score can bring down a large number of high scores.
Secret number four, search again by price, lowest to highest. What you are looking for is an overlap between a low or reasonable price and a high review score.
Secret number five, use Google and contact the property directly. Tell them exactly how many people you have, whether you have a pet, and exactly what dates you are looking for. Since you already have narrowed down the list, this is easy. There should not be variances between the prices quoted, but sometimes there are.
Then, reserve and pay a deposit, by transfer, PayPal or credit card, to nail down your reservation. If you are looking at a peak reservation period, like New Year or Easter, consider nailing your reservation down first on booking.com
Written by Robert Irvin who is the developer and manager of The Oaks Tamarindo condominiums, which consistently maintains a User Review of 9.4 or higher on booking.com, and which lists units on booking.com, hotels.com and AirBnB. The Oaks Tamarindo realizes over 90% of Tico bookings through booking.com.
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