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In December of 2011, my wife and I planned our yearly trip to Costa Rica. We made reservations for the new year in Playa Guiones with a travel agency called Nosara Travel & Rentals. The agency is run by two expats named Heidi and Rick. We planned a 7 day/8 night stay in one of Heidi and Ricks luxury rentals that featured precious hardwoods, a weekly maid, and was patrolled by Security Pacific. Little did we know that we wouldnt even stay an entire day with Nosara Travel & Rentals.
On the surface Nosara Travel & Rentals seems like a great resource for vacationers...until you deal with the dishonesty and bad business practices of its owners.Heidi and Rick are NOT property owners- they are vacation property brokers. They help local property owners rent to people looking to stay in Nosara and Costa Rica. They collect a commision from the property owner on all transactions completed through their business. [continued below]....
To reserve our rental, Nosara Travel & Rentals asked for a CASH deposit of $1200 (half of the total due on the rental). They would not provide a contract or a formal receipt for this CASH ONLY transaction. They would not accept credit cards or checks. We received an email one month before our stay confirming they had received our cash deposit. This gave Heidi, Rick and their staff nearly 30 days to prepare the property for our stay. Instead, they took our money and gave us an unlivable, unsafe, and unsanitary rental.
Upon our arrival, the rest of the rental fee was required in CASH. In speaking with several friends who are business owners in Costa Rica, and with the Ministerio de Haceienda, we were advised that this practice is ILLEGAL in Costa Rica. Nonetheless, we agreed to Nosara Travel & Rentals terms and received the keys to our unit. The home was represented as a luxury rental. Upon arrival, we found it was far from it.
- We were told by the representative who brought us to the house that it had been cleaned that day. It clearly had not. When we complained to the broker, she insisted it had been cleaned the day before.
- A worm infestation was present in our bedding, on the floor and surfaces around the house.
- Our linens included stained sheets and pillows. The couches and daybed were also stained.
- The trash had not been taken out and the receptacle in the bathroom contained human waste from the previous renter.
- Surfaces in the kitchen, bedroom and living areas were covered in layers of dust and dirt.
- A chair broke apart into pieces once sat upon by my petite wife. Upon inspection, the chair had previously been broken and haphazardly glued back together creating a dangerous situation.
- The house did not have functioning hot water.
- The broker represented the property as a 5 minute walk to the beach. The actual walk was 20 minutes.
- We were promised security guards who would be watching the house at all times.
During the first and only night of our stay, two men appeared our doorstep around 1 AM.
When approached, they fled from the house on a dirt bike. We never saw a security guard during our time at the property.
Over $2400 in payment to Nosara Travel & Rentals for one terrible night.
Additionally, we had to secure another hotel reservation for the remainder of our stay. After checking into our new hotel we attempted to recoup all or at least some of our money from Nosara Travel & Rentals. We entered their office and spoke with one of the brokers. She said she would ask the owner if they would refund us our money then aggressively and rudely questioned us before asking us to leave her office.
We later received an email saying that the owner would not refund our money. After asking for reimbursement of the 20% commision Nosara Travel & Rentals received from the property owner, we were told to contact their attorney with any further correspondence about the matter.
DO NOT GIVE NOSARA TRAVEL & RENTALS YOUR MONEY! LOOK AT OUR PICTURES AND REMEMBER THIS STORY!
For your own sake, do not do business with Nosara Travel & Rentals. Its a shame that people like this move down from the States and conduct business in this manner. By only accepting cash payments for their transactions, they are leaving customers without recourse and, more importantly, they fail to contribute taxes that are needed to grow and support government programs, infrastructure and education in the local community.
If youve been affected by Nosara Travel & Rentals or any other shady rental businesses in the Nosara/Costa Rica area, do as we have done. Go to the local newspaper and tell them your story. Report your experience to the Department of Tourism or a local trade organization. Take legal action against those who have wronged you. In doing so, you will help put these businesses in their place and help the local community as well.
We love coming to Costa Rica. The people are so friendly and welcoming. In order to preserve the report between locals and visitors/expats, businesses like Nosara Travel & Rentals must not be successful. Help support the Costa Rican Department of Tourism and Pura Vida by only supporting reputable local businesses!