Many Americans are aware of Costa Rica as a destination for beaches, ecotourism, and bird watching; and a prime spot for adventure travel in general. Pleasant Holidays (tel. 800/742-9244;, which offers vacation packages to warm sunny destinations such as Hawaii, the South Pacific, Mexico and the Caribbean, recently added Costa Rica to its offerings. Pleasant Holidays is booking trips now for January 2008 departures and beyond. As we're entering into high season, which runs through April, you can peruse the new offerings from the company's luxury brand, Distinguished Resorts, which features more than 20 properties throughout the country in destinations that include Puntarenas, Guanacaste, San Jose, Monteverde, and Arenal; eight of them are all-inclusives. Some of the properties and brands include the Four Seasons in Guanacaste, Occidental Resorts, Barcelo Resorts, several high-end Marriott and Hiltons, along with Allegro Papagayo, Tryp Corobici, Cloud Forest Lodge. In sum, nearly 70 activities are available to guests. Continental, American, Delta, Frontier, Mexicana, Taca, United and US Airways have all partnered with Pleasant Holidays.

In celebration of this new addition to the travel family, some of the properties will provide amenities and incentives such as welcome baskets, buffet breakfast, reduced rates, and spa treatments. Specifically, a three-night, air-inclusive getaway to San Jose starts from $495 from Los Angeles or Miami; $625 from Atlanta, $645 from Houston and $649 from Dallas/Ft. Worth, and land-only prices start at $219 per person. The price is based on double occupancy and includes accommodations, hotel taxes, and the services of a Pleasant Holidays customer service representative. Transfers and activities such as sightseeing are also possibilities, but for additional fees. The properties range from three-star business hotels five-star luxury affairs. The lower end of the price range advertised in this special reflects the Tryp Corobici in San Jose, but if your idea of a Costa Rica vacation means that you're exploring rather than hanging out in the room, the room's level of luxury may not be a concern. The price reflects travel January 11-26, 2008.

It is also possible to book longer itineraries, but the three-night offer represents the company's introductory offer to Costa Rica. Also, the company says it can fly travelers from almost any departure city nationwide, but Miami, Atlanta, Dallas/Ft.Worth, Houston and Los Angeles are its primary markets. Right now, the special is so new that the company is still updating its website to reflect its departure cities, so you may do a search for a Miami departure to Costa Rica and not immediately find the trip we've discussed here. Don't panic. Call Pleasant Holidays and the details can easily be worked out.

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