It is not the tourist in-season at this time of year in Costa Rica, and the hotels are empty. But still the hotel managers will not budge on the prices that they charge. It seems as if they would rather not receive any money at all than fill a double room for a few dollars less than the exorbiant rates that they attept to charge. There are not many other tourist here now and most hotels seem to be deserted. I do not understand. I would think that any person with a business would realize that when the demand for their service drops, as in Costa Rica outside of the tourist season, that lowering the price will raise the demand a little. These Ticos seem to completely ignore this business strategy. But I suppose my demand, my need, for a room is still as strong as it could be in even the bussiest time of the year. Maybe these Costa Rican hotel owners have a trick up their sleeve that I am not prepared for: they know that I am going to stay somewhere, and when I do, I will have to pay full price. I think they have me trapped.
Mira and I took a bus to Turrialba and began seaching for a room. This town is a big transfer point for tourist who want to go on rafting tours or some other such dollar driven adventure, and is therefore packed full of ramshackle hotels. We were told that we could land a cheap room here, so we set a maximum price at $10,which is oddly cheap in Costa Rica, and began looking for a hotel that would meet our offer.
As we expected, Turriabla was full of hotels, and most of them that we entered were seemed to be almost completely empty. We found one that offered us a 6,000 Colone ($12) room. I made a counter offer of 5,000, $10, and the hotel manager looked at me as if I were nuts. It seemed as if he was never really asked to barter before, and he rather shyly mumbled something about asking the woman in charge. It did not look good.
Mira told me that Costa Ricans do not barter. She told me it was not a part of their culture. I at first did not believe this to be true, and am only now beginning to realize that her information is probably correct. Every hotel manager that I made a counter offer to so far has flately refused it. To my surprise, it has not been possible for me to get anyone to budge on the price of a room. It seems as if they want the quoted price here, and are willing to leave an empty bed empty- and loose money- to get it. Maybe this will be different outside of the Central Valley and on the beaches.
In all my travels I have been able to coax empty (and full) hotels into lowering their prices considerably. I assume that most hotel managers realize that some money is better than none. Here in Costa Rica, they seem to play by their own rules.
The pocket book is hurting, better sell an article or something quick.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
Turrialba, Costa Rica
January 28, 2008