When Camino Travel does the first inspection of a property, we are extremely careful and even picky. We watch the details, measure distances, times, the trails, the paths, everything has to be checked.
We do not value our properties for what it says in any reviews website, or just asking friends. We go, we try, we taste the food, walk the trails, and sleep on the beds. Sometimes nice… Sometimes not as much.
Looking at a property is never enough.. you have to live it in order to fully recommend it!
Last Sunday, we started an inspection trip with Dora Fernández, one of our Product Department girls.
Basically the idea of doing inspections is to check a hotel (Or tour… or both) and see that everything is all right for our passengers. In this occasion we had to find a hotel that could complement another that is not giving us all the dates we require for our clients. And so! A process starts! And it is a very detailed one.
This time we are visiting a hotel that we are to use for the first time.
As we started our trip, the first thing to define is the route we are taking… Not a usual one. It is not a matter of “the best road” or the “shortest cut”. We have to see which is the route that our passengers will drive through, and go on that route. Never mind it gets us out of the way! A correct inspection loses its purpose if we do things because we like to do them this or that way. We have to walk on our passengers’ shoes and see the country though their eyes.
So! The route that we had to take is the “Costanera”… Going from Manuel Antonio to the next spot.
Dora is an accountant… For her numbers and exact things are very easy… While, I am a writer, and used to be a tour guide. I am creative and a bit spaced out. We make a great team!
We made one quick stop for a snack on the way, and then as we were driving by the Quepos entrance, work started.
She pulled out her file and asked me to write the mileage and time.
You see… We have to do both! We have to see how much is the bus going to spend, and how long the passengers are going to be sitting.
So we measure points, from Quepos to the crossing of Dominical, from the crossing to Perez Zeledon city, and from there to the hotel. We measure the paved roads, and the dirt roads. It is a very detailed issue that we have to be especially attentive to.
As well, as we got to the dirt road of the hotel, we have to check if the buses fit in here, and if they have space to turn around in a needed case.
On my side, I am taking pictures of the road, seeing how picturesque is it, and checking the life systems and change in types of rainforests that we are doing. As we have to provide our customers with a real nature experience that is as diverse and rich as Costa Rica itself.
As we arrive to the hotel, we check how easy it is to walk from the parking lot to the reception, we value what happens in the case of rain. And we check to see all possible “What if’s” on the groups.
In the case of this hotel the reception is easy to get to, no stairs, a restroom at the very entrance. (Good!)
The restaurant is quite big for the hotel, chairs are comfortable and the view to the gardens is great. There is a second floor with a balcony that has a much better view and where birders will enjoy their hobby very much.
As soon as we arrive we were welcomed by the manager and the rest of their staff. And of course the first question was if we were hungry.
Rain was coming and so we decided to do the first part of the inspection as early as possible.
There are two types of rooms, one closer and the other ones a bit away. We were to stay in the ones a bit away. And so, we inspected the ones nearby first.
Dora was looking as details such as the room spaces, the bathroom space and the cleanliness. I was looking at the reading lamps, the mattresses, the pillows, the blankets and the amount of electric outlets; as much as the view from the room, the amount of light or the areas to simply rest and read a book.
As we went to the other rooms, we looked at the places to drop off the luggage, the walking areas and the parking space for the bus. Together with all the details we saw in the first rooms.
We came back to the restaurant and ordered lunch. We contemplated details such as the time they took to bring the food and of course its flavors! Ingredients are also a big part of this! Not all passengers can eat everything and it’s important for the hotels to have things like a vegetarian menu or delectated or non-gluten products.
It was already 5 p.m.
So we retired to our rooms, and both, in our own styles lived the experience of the hotel. I noticed the amazing amount of birds that you can see from the windows… And the sounds! For Dora, it was more of a how soft the comforter is, feeling safe, and how cozy the room felt.
As I said… We make a great inspection team!
I could see the passenger doing exactly what I did in this “off time” before dinner… Simply sit and read!
As we went for dinner, the chimney was on and there was a nice cozy feeling in the restaurant and bar of the hotel.
Next morning, we went very early for the grounds and tours inspection. As this hotel specifically has so many activities we decided to go on a 4X4 golf cart to see as much as possible. We walked the trails, visited the gardens and saw the magnificent views.
We measure time and how difficult or easy some of the areas were. In this case, there are both. There are very easy flat trails and there are some vertical pathways (Especially those that lead to waterfalls). We checked also if rubber boots are needed or not and in my case I looked at the biodiversity of the visited forests.
By the time we came back for breakfast, we were starving, yet…completely satisfied with all we saw and lived.
Not only the hotel was perfect for Camino Travel’s passengers, but also the grounds are super well maintained and we will probably provide some business to a Costa Rican non-touristy community.
Later on in the day, when we were driving to the next hotel we were to inspect we discussed for hours about the pros and cons of the hotel we just visited. What it needed to fix, and what was super important to continue doing. May people really think that going on an inspection trip is simply relaxing and enjoy… But far from it, it can be a very stressful, tough job. Not all hotels are as nice as this one, and in some cases we have to spend more days in an area looking for the hotel we need.
Now, negotiations will start with this hotel. And hopefully we will be using it soon. In this case as I am saying… we were lucky the hotel is gorgeous, the area is perfect and they are efficient… Not always the case.
And this is how, you can be sure your packages are recommended out of the hand of experience… As soon as we start using the hotel, the sales people will go see it, as well as operations. You can rest assured… We do know what we are talking about!