Students Travel to Costa Rica
By: Chef Instructor Kimberly Jones, CPCC, CECC
Chair, Professional Catering and Associate
Chair, Event Management & Tourism
Last fall, 24 students from Sullivan’s Tourism & Event Management and Hotel/Restaurant Management programs, with Chef Instructor Kimberly Jones, Chef Instructor Katie Payne and Assistant Professor Eddie Maamry, departed Louisville for Liberia Costa Rica in Central America. Costa Rica has become an increasingly popular destination for environmental tourism and is being developed as an eco-friendly leisure destination for everyone from the budget-minded to the luxury traveler. This trip gave a dynamic international learning experience to the students, given the diversity of the regions that were visited.
Arriving to an open air airport, the group cleared immigration and customs before being greeted by our tour guide and bus driver. Besides tourism, Costa Rica is an agricultural community and within minutes the bus passed through mango and banana plantations with aquaculture farms framing the Central American Highway.
Well-rounded travel experience
The journey was centered in the Guanacste Region in the northwest corner of Costa Rica. The students experienced the full flavor of the country with horseback riding and hiking trips to the Arenal Volcano, Lafourtuna Town, the Monteverde Rainforest, coffee plantations and Saint Elena Town. The group enjoyed accommodations at the Los Logos Resort, a luxury spa and hot springs heated by the Arenal Volcano. Leaving the resort, students crossed Lake Arenal, a manmade lake that is the primary power source for all of Costa Rica. Vehicles took them into the mountains and across the continental divide.
Plenty of local flavor
In the rain forest region, Sullivan students stayed in the Hotel Heliconia, an eco-lodge high in mountain. While there, they experienced Costa Rica’s Independence Day where at 6:30PM the entire country stops to sing the national anthem! The group celebrated with town locals at the elementary school across the street for some local culture. Many students enjoyed a thrilling experience on the zipline canopy tour high above the rainforest. While heading to the last stop on this fabulous trip, we saw howler monkeys, three-toed sloths, iguanas, and crocodiles, and were treated to migrating macaws and toucans as we approached the lowlands.
More adventures ahead
The last stop was the beautiful Allegro Papagayo Resort, an all-inclusive waterfront resort. After all the hiking and adventurous activities, the lounge chairs looked awfully inviting! On the final night, everyone enjoyed a sunset sail on Pacific Ocean for some whale and dolphin watching. However, while the sunset was beautiful, an unexpectedly fierce storm approached. Half the group made it back to the Allegro Resort but for safety reasons, the other half sailed to the Four Seasons Resort Marina. These experiences were learning adventures that taught students about tourism, guest safety and accommodation. The next morning, we headed to the airport with a new appreciation for a very small country full of heart and passion. It was safe to say that this journey was mucho gusto and a once in lifetime experience for this group of students. . . Pura Vida!
“Costa Rica is the most beautiful place I have ever been. There are tropical forests, beaches, and mountains everywhere! There are flowers the size of your head, and they are all in vibrant colors. We stayed on Arenal Volcano and some of us had the opportunity to take a horseback ride to a waterfall. If you looked straight ahead, you saw a gorgeous view of the volcano, and if you looked to either side you would find a hidden stream or a forest full of flowers. When we got to a point where the horses could no longer go, we made the rest of the hike on foot. . .and had to cross a rope bridge. . . . . It was definitely a little bit scary. But all of this was worth it. We got to swim in the cool stream, and the waterfall was phenomenal. It was the size of a skyscraper, and it was flowing over a moss filled, natural alcove. The water was cobalt blue, and you could see all the way to the bottom. I have never been anywhere more beautiful. After climbing back up, I have never felt more accomplished in my life. Our trip to Costa Rica was nothing short of an adventure.”
McKenzie Proffitt, Tourism & Event Management student