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Courtesy of friendly, helpful van drivers, you can be at the AIrport Hotel Kelsterbach’s tidy, simple, economical location ten minutes from pickup outside the terminal.

This is a hotel for small- to medium-sized meetings, quick transport, and reliable but budget-priced economics.

A Greek and an Italian restaurant are a short walk way in a pleasant residential area.

It’s not easy to find affordable short-term lodging near one of Europe’s principal airports. The Airport Hotel Kelsterbach won’t disappoint.

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SJO as she is called was my home airport for many years, so this review of its single, well-hidden VIP lounge may be nudged from stark objectivity by a certain affection for the place.

In spite of the wide spectrum of airlines that now services Costa Rica’s capital city, none of the major North American airlines has a dedicated VIP lounge. You’ll need credentials with a Latin American airline, like Panama’s COPA, or a bolt-on agreement like Priority Pass, my favorite for international airport lounge access. (more…)

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Rarely does an anthology of original documents of historical value mingled with insightful interpretative essays come together as a coherent work. Steven Palmer and Iván Molina, against those odds, have put the ball in the back of the net with just such a book. (more…)

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Conveniently located off the ring road that encircles San José’s urban chaos and snuggled up next to the landmark Law Faculty (Facultad de Derecho) of the University of Costa Rica, the Hotel Ave del Paraíso is a jewel that is easily overlooked.

The Adamski family has converted a sprawling old home with its attending jumble of buildings into a boutique hotel that can only be called enchanting. A superb pricing policy makes this my hotel for business and pleasure when in San José.

Each room is expansive and distinct. High ceilings, an old home’s surprises, and attention lavished upon the engaging ceramic floors make the Ave del Paraíso worthy of many repeat performances.

A passable breakfast in the Costa Rican style comes with the room. Restaurants, the large San Pedro Mall, and the University are all within walking distance. Taxis are easily available just outside the gate. The only downside I’ve experienced is that traffic noise on the circunvalación begins at the crack of dawn. Turn up the ceiling fan and you might not notice.

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Some years back, while living in Costa Rica, I found the Hotel Grano de Oro a fine place to take guests for a nice dinner. During a recent business trip, I decided to stay for a night at this constantly improving establishment, whose only deficit is its rather seedy location on the east side of the country’s capital city. I hasten to add that security around the hotel itself is top-rate and so the neighborhood should not be considered a show-stopper.

An elegant new dining room and a set of new rooms has added to the Grano de Oro’s charm since I knew it as a dinner guest. The price was right and I was upgraded to a superb, beautifully appointed deluxe room.

This hotel and the Hotel Ave del Paraíso, across town, now become my two favorites for business travel to Costa Rica’s Central Plateau, especially when the alternatives are so often the familiar chains that are the rather colorless bread and butter of business travel in less exotic places.

Staff was friendly and attentive, the restaurant and room service fare were respectable, but the charm of the property itself is the real winner here.

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When the principal airline of the tiny Central American country of El Salvador some years ago began acquiring and organizing the assets of carriers from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Peru, it was a boon for air travelers in the region.

I have flown Grupo Taca (as the airline is now known) many times with only positive experiences to report. A gradually increasing number of North American destinations makes this airline comfortably accessible from the United States and Canada.

Grupo Taca’s superb lounge in Lima, Peru’s airport is not to be missed. Now that long-delayed improvements at Costa Rica’s Juan Santamaría International Airport have passed from the ill-fated hands of Alterra Partners to the Houston Airport System, one dares to hope for improvements in the small lounge facilities there. Taca’s flagship hub in San Salvador has always been more than adequate and anchors the three-hub operation up and down the Americas.

There are now many air carriers serving Costa Rica and the region. North American-based travelers ought not overlook the considerable advantages offered by less-known airlines like Grupo Taca and Panama’s excellent COPA Airlines, with its über-convenient Hub of the Americas and handy cooperative agreements with OnePass and Continental Airlines.

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I travel often on business and am not frequently surprised by unexpectedly positive experiences in a chain hotel. A recent stay in this north-of-Seattle venue was a pleasant exception.

Although I do not know the history of the property, it appears to be new or to have been recently renovated. All rooms, including the fireplace-provided Great Room at the entrance, the dining area, and the restrooms are spacious and well lighted. Parking is ample and the gorgeous drive north from Seattle was worth the trip by itself.

Boeing’s ‘Future of Flight’ tour begins a stone’s throw away. Don’t let this confuse you, however: this Hilton Garden property is not near the Seattle/Tacoma Airport (SEATAC).

Best of all, the price was significantly below what I would have anticipated in a region notorious for high hotel rates. I plan to stay here again:

Hilton Garden Inn Seattle North/Everett
8401 Paine Field Blvd, Mukilteo, Washington, USA 98275
Tel: +1-425-423-9000 Fax: +1-425-423-9005

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