Corporations Eyeing Costa Rica Rentals for Meetings and Incentives

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Financial pressures and industry trends boost exposure for boutique meeting venues.

Costa Rica has long been a popular destination for incentive travel, company events and business trips for both U.S. and Latin America-based corporations. Beach resort destinations like the Paradisus Playa Conchal and San Jose meeting locations such as the Real InterContinental and Ramada Plaza Herradura are well accustomed to handling these large corporate groups.

It is no secret that these hotels and other chains worldwide have been hit hard by streamlined corporate budgets. Under pressure to cut costs, companies are allocating less money for international travel, conventions and incentive trips. A new trend is emerging to adjust to these economic pressures. Instead of skimping on quality, money-conscious corporations are limiting their guest lists, which once reached upwards of 300, to more elite incentive-based trips for 30 or less.

What the Costa Rica lacks in terms of large-scale resorts and convention centers, it makes up for with an abundant supply of boutique hotels and luxury rentals. These properties are positioned to benefit from this trend by offering small meeting venues with amenities like audiovisual equipment, event planning and personalized service. Guests still include executives and top employees and clients; they just have to work harder to earn the invitation.

Such incentive groups seek a combination of business facilities, convenience and recreational activities. Golf, eco-tourism, shopping, and cultural or adventure tours are the top requested activities, all of which are plentiful in Costa Rica. With a tourism industry eager to find new sources of revenue, many small hotels and vacation rental operators in Costa Rica are already onboard to cater to the boutique business venue trend.

Case Studies

A Texas-based medical company recently hosted a 5-day reunion with 10 employees along Costa Rica's north Pacific Coast at Villa Buena Onda (, a private, all-inclusive, 7-bedroom ocean view property. They chose the property primarily due to its convenient location 20 minutes from the Liberia international airport, its size, scalable rates and full-time staff.

The group hosted daily meetings at the villa's second story, open air lounge with the Pacific Ocean as their backdrop. Despite the unique location, they still had access to meeting necessities such as wireless Internet, whiteboards and a projector. The privacy of the property allowed them to host their discussions in an informal atmosphere, promoting the flow of ideas. All the while, the full-time staff catered their all inclusive meals, drinks and snacks, permitting the group to focus completely on their meetings.

Villa Buena Onda Concierge, Dayana Villalobos, said that the Texas group was the third to host business meetings at the villa, while two other corporations hosted incentive trips. "The difference between the two is a very fine line" Villalobos said. "Both incentive groups and the companies that hosted meetings treated their time at the villa like a working vacation, enjoying private excursions and special activities for the employees in-between informal meetings."

For larger groups looking for a private business trip at a great deal, residential clubs like the Reserva Conchal in Guanacaste ( ) and the Los Sueños Marriott in Playa Herradura both offer privately owned rental condos. These have access to restaurants, golf courses and other 5-star club facilities. At Reserva Conchal, guests can reserve conference facilities seating up to 80 people, while still maintaining a boutique and personalized feel by renting separate condos in the same building or complex.

Locally-based multinationals are credited for starting the trend by utilizing the country's tourism infrastructure to their advantage, rather than sending top employees to Mexico or all-inclusive destinations that specialize in catering to groups of 200 or more. Airfare prices and health risks compelled many of these companies to turn their sights homeward. As a result, the local rental industry learned to embrace this niche market, and companies in major U.S. cities with direct flights to Costa Rica like Dallas, New York and Miami soon followed suit.

For information on Corporate and Incentive Travel to Costa Rica, contact:

Joan Borreli

Business Travel Expert
1-800-606-1860 xt. 207
Costa Rican Vacations


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Claire Saylor
Costa Rican Vacations
1-800-606-1860 ext. 104
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