Please read through the following information carefully for the last details about your surgery holiday. If there is any additional information that you require, please contact your GG Manager prior to travel.
You may wish to print this handy reference during your stay in Costa Rica. Click here to download and print this as a PDF document.
Care in Costa Rica
All clients travelling to Costa Rica will have a dedicated Client Service Manager.
Your holiday includes all airport and medical transfers, including follow up appointments. If you would like Dental, LASIK, or pampering treatments, your service manager will also assist you in making the appointments and transfer you to/from your appointments.
We will confirm all appointments during your holiday, as they will depend on your how you feel and your recovery. Please note that we ask you to give as much notice as possible for all appointments and transfers, as surgeons, dentists and other services are usually extremely busy.
Your service manager is contactable 24 hours for emergencies during your time in Costa Rica, and you can also call our office in Canada - we have extended office hours, including weekends and evenings.
Costa Rica Entry Requirements
US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and UK nationals do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days. An extension in Costa Rica can be organized on arrival. All visitors must hold an onward or return ticket and sufficient funds. An exit visa must be obtained from the Immigration Department for all passengers staying in the country for longer than 30 days. Passports must be valid for at least 30 days after date of entry for visa exempt nationals and for six months for those requiring a visa.
Costa Rica Immigration and Customs
When arriving in Costa Rica you will go through immigration, collect your bags, and then must pass through customs before you exit the terminal.
In the past, there have been "spot hand-outs" of customs forms on the airplane. The form asks you to declare everything you are bringing into the country. If you receive a copy of this form, list one line, "personal effects", with a value of question marks. If you have anything special or awkward, like scuba gear or a kayak or bike, list these separately, with question marks on the value again. Declare food or get rid of it before you arrive.
If you have more than 2 suitcases/bags per person, you will probably be stopped at customs. If you have any food (including fruits, vegetables, sausages, etc.) or substances which can be detected by sniffer dogs, you will be stopped.
When you get off the plane you will first be shuffled through the immigration area, where they will check your passport. Once through passport control go downstairs to pick up your luggage (there are free metal carts there to move your stuff about in the small baggage area). If you have more than 2 bags per person you will go through customs inspection; 2 or fewer, AND HAVE A U.S., CANADIAN or EUROPEAN PASSPORT they generally waive you past.
Even if you speak fluent Spanish, speak only English or some other language to make it clear you are not a resident. The customs people are really only interested in inspecting returning Costa Ricans who may be bringing back things from their travels. If an agent asks to inspect your bags, allow him to do so, but continue to "not understand" his Spanish. If you have things we've asked you to take down, don't volunteer these during inspection; they are "personal goods" because the guides will be using them during your trip.
AFTER CLEARING CUSTOMS: You cannot remove the bag from the area unless you produce the claim check. They really do check the numbers match, too.
Arrival and Pick up
After you collect your baggage and go through customs after customs exit by the right door and there will be a GG representative waiting for you. Look for our driver holding a sign with your name on it. He will normally be on the right side of the terminal door standing on the right hand side.
Please be sure to turn to your RIGHT when crossing the last double glass doors into the awaiting crowd outside. If by any chance your flight is delayed or there is any kind of problem with your luggage or for whatever other reason or if you happen to come out earlier or you can't find us in the sea of people arriving at the same time, please go toward your RIGHT where you'll find 4 public phones on the wall, if you don't see us, please dial the FREE NUMBER 110, wait for the automatic answering who will speak in Spanish, nevertheless, dial 1 and following any of these phone numbers: 2268-7771 or 2268-6133 or 2268-7472 and somebody will inform you what to do.
Please do not leave the airport area until we/you find us, if you are unable to locate our driver, please call your service manager who will give you their dedicated number prior to departure.
You may be approached by other drivers asking for you to get a taxi, just politely decline them, saying that you are being picked up. Take no notice if a driver says that your driver is late and you need to get a taxi, these drivers are just trying to get your business. Instead, please call our office or your service manager if you have any problems locating our driver.
It will take about 30-45 minutes to get to your hotel.
Depending on the time that you arrive, you will either be taken direct to the hospital for a consultation or to the hotel to check-in. Please check your itinerary although sometimes changes are made at short notice.
If you arrive before 3pm, you will be taken to the hospital where our manager will meet you and take you for your consultation and tests with the surgeon.
If you arrive late at night, then your appointment will be the following day. Your manager will call you late morning (so you can sleep in!) to let you know the time of your consultation and pick up.
Important information on Surgeons
Consultation cut off is 5pm, so for flights arriving in Costa Rica later than 3pm, your appointment will be the following day, even if the following day is your surgery day.
There is a possibility that surgeon time and even date may change occasionally due to emergencies or sickness. Post surgery appointment times can change as well.
If you come during the major holidays then please expect delays or lesser consultations than normal. You may check with your manager regarding the exact days for each year as it varies year to year.
Costa Rica is a Catholic country and its holidays are mostly church-related. Most businesses, including banks, close on official holidays. The country closes down entirely during the biggest holiday time, Easter Holy Week, but only during Holy Thursday, Friday and Saturday, by Holy Sunday, some services might be available, but don't count on it in remote parts of the country. Buses stop running on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Banks and offices are closed. And hotels and car rentals are booked solid weeks in advance as everyone seems to head for the beach. Avoid the popular beaches during Easter week. Most Ticos now take the whole Christmas holiday week through New Year as an unofficial holiday. Please view this list of statutory public holidays in Costa Rica.
On the day that you arrive, or the following day, your service manager will take you through your holiday - surgery, itinerary and other treatments that you would like.
Please use this time to confirm all details, times etc. as well as letting them know of other treatments or activities you would like to do so we can plan all appointments.
Your holiday price covers your daily room (and breakfast only if specified), and hospital nights for the duration of your stay. If you are travelling independently, we advise you to check-out of your hotel room during your hospital stay for best security and also to save costs should your hospital stay be extended.
Extended stay in the hotel or hospital, additional meals, beverages, laundry, tour packages, pamper rejuvenation services or personal car hire will need to be paid directly to the hotel or service providers.
It is necessary to take before and after shots of the areas that are treated. These photos are a requirement for the surgeon's and GG records, so we can document your results. They will remain completely confidential. If you don't want them taken, or prefer them to be taken with swimsuit or bra, let us know, but we recommend you have them taken, as it is good reference for you as well.
Medical Compression Garments
For your comfort and better support and results, we recommend you purchase a medical compression garment. These garments are recommended by the surgeon to give you the best results, as liposuction and abdominoplasty needs compression to reduce swelling and lumps and bumps.
These are not included in your package, as there are different choices for different procedures, and also because some people choose to bring their own brand or garment from home.
Our partner company supplies a very good brand - from the USA. These are lightweight and comfortable. The hospital will fit you with your garment, as recommended by the surgeon. The price of the compression garments depends on each patient and the type of garment and it´s paid separately from your package. The surgeons secretary orders them after the doctor has seen you. The tummy tuck garment costs about $60US and the face and breast garment costs about $30US each.
These garments are most important for liposuction and tummy tuck procedures. For breast surgeries, you can bring a sports bra (no underwire) from home.
Please make payment directly to the hospital either in cash or credit card.
Although Costa Rica is a small country in terms of area, there is a lot going on here in terms of weather in Costa Rica. With a climate that is diverse and varied, Costa Rica can be divided into several climatic zones, each of which are distinct and individual. Though generally classified as a tropical country because of its close proximity to the equator, Costa Rica has no real winter period, and the sun shines here throughout the year. With over 12 hours of sunshine a day, the sun rises at about 5 am and sets at about 6 pm consistently throughout the year.
In Costa Rica the average annual temperature is around 21 to 27 degrees Celsius or 70 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit and the coolest months of the year are November, December and January. The months March through May are the hottest months of the year, so make sure you protect yourself from the sun.
There is no real summer or winter in Costa Rica and the rainy season here lasts from May to November, with the months of December through April having little to no rain and September and October being the heaviest rain period. While the average rainfall in the country is around 100 inches, some mountainous areas get as much as 25 feet of rainfall on a yearly basis. It is also important to keep in mind that Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is rather unique and has its own microclimate. With tradewinds keeping the weather hot and humid most of the year, there is no real dry season out here and it rains very often.
Tips for packing:
- Don't pack much, the shopping in terms of artcrafts, coffee and wood pieces is great in Costa Rica and if you purchase too much, you will have to pay excess baggage
- Costa Rica is a warm and relaxed environment but it is recommended that you cover up with light clothing: t-shirts and long shorts, long skirts. Natural fibres and casual clothing is best, such as long cotton shirts and skirts are best to keep you cool.
- There is a laundry in the apartments, and room service laundry at your hotel.
- The hotel, and most indoors, are all air-conditioned, so you can dress up when you go out.
- Cover-up is necessary to keep scars out of the sun: hats, sunscreen, scarves.
- If you are having any face treatments, bring a scarf for your head and face and big dark sunglasses for the first few days.
Please ensure that your passport is valid for 3 months and over for entry into Costa Rica.
There is no requirement or need to have any vaccinations before you depart, and it is recommended not to have any unnecessary medications that may delay your recovery.
Costa Rican Culture (please read - important)
Costa Ricans are extremely friendly, full of hospitality, love to dance and jump at any opportunity to celebrate. Family-oriented, peaceful and fun loving. Combined with its amazing natural beauty, diverse landscape and unlimited fun, it's the Costa Rican people and blending culture that makes Costa Rica a perfect destination. Because of an overwhelming European influence, over 90% of Costa Rica is white or "Mestizo" (mixture) of Spanish heritage stemming from the Columbus explorations and Spanish conquests of the early 1500s.
Most Costa Ricans refer to themselves as "Ticos" or "Ticas" which are male and female inference. Ticos being male, Ticas being female. The words derive from "hermaniticos" and "hermaniticas" meaning "little brothers" and "little sisters". The Ticos and Ticas are festive and know how to party and celebrate. They are a peaceful, yet fun-loving people that know how to welcome travelers and vacationers.
However, you must be aware that their culture is different in some respects, especially in regards to the western understanding of time. You may find that they are not focused on specific appointment times, as they are people orientated rather than time orientated. Please be patient and understand that this is not a reflection on the quality, it is simply a cultural difference.
Along with this, your appointments may be changed at short notice, especially surgery consultations, due to emergency or extended surgeries that the surgeon may have to do. Do not worry about this as your appointment may just be delayed, not cancelled, and you will always get your consultation as soon as the surgeon becomes available. Most of our surgeons are accommodating and flexible; working at nights and on weekends, so you will always been seen, although not always given a specific time.
This flexibility is also beneficial to you, so you can make or change your appointment should you wish at short notice.
Before Surgery (advice from the surgeon)
Do not take Vitamin E, medication containing Aspirin (such as Motrin and Advil) which could result in excessive bleeding. Some dietary supplements - herbs, mixing herbal medications may cause similar problems.
It is important to stop smoking for at least 4 weeks before and 4 weeks after surgery. Smoking is known to delay healing since the blood supply to the skin is reduced. To minimize possible complications such as skin loss and big scarring, smokers must stop from using tobacco. Nicorette gum and nicotine patches release the harmful vasoconstrictor and cannot be used.
Do not eat or have any fluids the night before the surgery (you will be told by the surgeon what time you need to start fasting).
Preparation for LASIK
If you wish to have LASIK procedure, please remove your contact lens before the procedure. The recommended length of time to remove your contact lens is:
Soft lens – 4 days before consultation
Semi hard lens – 10 days before consultation
Hard lens – 2 weeks before consultation
Pre and Post Care for Surgery
There are treatments and supplements that you can take before and after your surgery to assist in healing, and reduce swelling and bruising.
Please read our information here for advice on how to prepare for surgery and the treatments that you can take to reduce scarring and swelling.
What to take for your Hospital Stay
Wear loose, comfortable clothing especially if you need to accommodate drains for body surgeries. For facial surgeries, try to wear buttoned blouses/shirts, so you don’t need to pull clothing over your head.
Bring with you:
• Toiletries: toothbrush and paste, towel
• No valuables, small amount of money needed only for snacks or drinks from hospital sundry shop
• Reading material – magazines, books
• Any medications
• Contact lenses or glasses
• Healthy snacks
• Bottled water (if you prefer to bring your own)
Currency and Payment
The unit of currency in Costa Rica is the colón, coins circulate in the following amounts; 5,10, 25, 50, 100 and 500 colones. Paper notes circulate in the following amounts: 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000 and 20000 colones.
As a general rule, it’s cheaper to convert money in Costa Rica than at home. While currency exchange will probably be available in your arrival airport, it’s wise to bring enough foreign currency to last for at least 24-72 hours.
When changing money abroad, try to go only to banks or casas de cambio that have at most a 5% margin between their buy and sell prices. If you want to check the exchange rate, The following link http://www.bccr.fi.cr/flat/bccr_flat.htm takes you to a page where the day's exchange rates from the various financial institutions are published. Please note that "Buying/Compra" is the exchange paid to you when you exchange US dollars for Costa Rican Colones, and "Selling/Venta" is the amount you would pay for US dollars.
Visitors are advised to bring US dollars or travelers checks; major credit cards are accepted in most shops, restaurants, bars, hotels, car rental companies, etc.
If you use traveler’s checks or bills, carry some in small denominations (the equivalent of US$50 or less) for times when you are forced to exchange money at poor rates, but bring a range of denominations since charges may be applied per check cashed. Store your money in a variety of forms. Ideally, at any time you will be carrying some cash, some traveler’s checks, and an ATM and/or credit card. All travelers should also consider carrying some US dollars (about US$50 worth), which are often preferred by local tellers.
Prices: All surgery and treatment prices quoted are in $US and for planning purposes only to assist you in budgeting. These prices are for standard, non-complicated cases, based on the information that you have given. Prices can change if you have not given an accurate picture of yourself, if you have not provided accurate medical information which will affect your surgery, or if you decide to change your surgery treatments because the surgeon feels a different procedure is more appropriate, at the time of consultation e.g. a more or less extensive tummy tuck. Please take into consideration that any different or additional surgery, nights in hospital, medications, personal nursing must be paid to the hospital at the time of care.
Payment: Full payment is required direct to the hospital after your consultation. Payment can be made in advance via foreign exchange , wire transfer or Credit Card. Your bank may impose its own credit card fees and/or currency conversion rates. Please contact your credit card issuer to find out more information about these charges.
If you are planning to pay by credit card, please check with your bank before traveling to Costa Rica that you have enough credit, and also inform them that you are traveling so they do accept the transaction.
This both smoothes the payment process and gives you peace of mind, and also ensure that your surgery goes ahead as planned. If payment in full is not made the hospital reserves the right not to go ahead with surgery. There are no fees placed on credit cards by the hospital, although your bank may impose its own credit card fees and/or currency conversion rates. Please contact your credit card issuer to find out more information about these charges.
Traveler’s cheques are generally not advised as they attract the highest fees. The hospital cannot change traveler’s cheques, but we can take you to a nearby bank to change these, but we cannot guarantee the fees and exchange rate that you will get. Cash gets a far better exchange rate, but credit card is the safest to take.
The prices are all inclusive of the surgical procedure, anticipated hospital costs and follow up consultations. Take home medication at the time of discharge is included in the package, however if you require any diagnostic tests or additional medication, including additional cream for applying at the surgery site, sleeping medication or hypertension or diabetic medication or antibiotics, please pay for these direct to the hospital. If you stay longer in the hospital than advised by your surgeon e.g. you feel more comfortable and secured with a night or two more in hospital, you will be required to pay for additional hospital nights.
Exchange rate: The final amount that you pay in your currency is subject to the exchange rate of the day. Please check the exchange rate regularly before departure to budget for your surgery. GG only offers an exchange rate at the time of booking, which may differ from the time that you make actual payment. The hospital and GG are not responsible for differences in exchange rates with what is originally quoted at booking to the time that payment is made.
Here is the link to the currency converter which you can check again.
Change only a small amount of money before your surgery, just to cover small expenses, your garments, and meals you want in the first days. After your surgery you can change more money at the hotel or in the shopping centres. Nearly everywhere takes credit card – Visa or Mastercard – for shopping, however you will need cash shopping in the markets or taking taxis or the monorail.
Please note that American Express (AMEX) is not widely accepted in the shops, except for major shopping malls.
Hospital Rooms and Upgrades
Your package price includes your hospital stay, in a single, private ward.
There are lots of other treatments that you can have throughout your holiday. Most prices for these are 50-75% of the prices that you pay at home.
If you would like a consultation, please ask your manager at your welcome briefing. Your service managers can make you appointments for:
• Skin treatments - Peels, Botox, Thermage, Laser
• Vitamin injections
• Optical - glasses
• Beauty - hair, wigs and hair extensions, waxing and laser hair removal, facials and massages, reflexology etc.
There may be a consultation fee charged for specialist consultations.
- You will be chauffeured to your appointment, but your Service Managers do not accompany to non-surgical appointments, only surgical.
- Before beginning any treatment, the specialist will provide you with a formal quote which you need to agree with before starting. If you don't get one, please request this. It is important to confirm the price before treatment begins.
After surgery, it is completely natural to have a couple of 'down' days. The day following your operation is usually a low day because of the effects of anaesthesia or medications. A lot of our patients experience times of depression and of sadness or anxiety during in the recovery period. This is not surprising as you may be bedridden, bruised and swollen. Also, the period of adrenaline prior to surgery is now gone, so some people are drained after the anticipation stress goes. Also, you may have expected to feel and look better immediately. These feeling are completely normal.
Every person differs with their pain and discomfort, but most people will have a hard couple of days immediately after surgery. There are some remedies that can help you feel better again. Drinking plenty of water helps greatly with recovery, as does the herbal supplement "Arnica". It is important to get moving as soon as you can.
Finally, just being aware that you will go through these feelings will make you better able to cope in the situation, so if you feel depressed, understanding that this is a "natural" phase of the healing process helps tremendously. If you need extra support, speak with our support team, or your surgeon.
GG Warranty and Disclaimer
Most clients feel quite nervous before they travel and they start to relax when they see the quality of the hospital, and also meet our team, surgeons and nurses.
In general, if you have realistic expectations about your surgery, if you understand that some side effects are usual eg. scarring, swelling and pain, and if you also have a healthy body opinion, then you will be pleased with your surgery results.
Preconditions and Risks:
Please be aware that all surgery carries a risk, you must be aware of these risks before embarking on any type of surgery. Please read about surgery risks here.
Terms and Conditions:
You must take the risks of the outcome of the surgery, as GG are an organizer of tours. While every effort is ensured that care is taken, we cannot be responsible for service providers or surgery outcomes. Please do read our Terms and Conditions which you will be asked to sign prior to surgery.
There are no surgery cancellation charges if you decide not to go ahead with surgery, but if you decide to cancel or return home early, there are some fair cancellation charges:
• All accommodation bookings must be paid in full, 14 days in advance of check-in date. Bookings not paid for will be cancelled with the surgeon and accommodation
• Where a cancellation is received in writing over 14 days of arrival; a penalty of 5 nights accommodation will be forfeited + bank and/or credit card fees. Otherwise, if you choose to rebook at a later date, the payment will be a credit towards your holiday, the cancellation fee will be waived and the balance put in credit towards the next booking
• Where a cancellation is received in writing within 14 days of arrival; a penalty of 7 nights accommodation will be forfeited + bank and/or credit card fees. Otherwise, if you choose to rebook at a later date, the payment will be a credit towards your holiday, the cancellation fee will be reduced to 1 night forfeit and the balance put in credit towards the next booking
• Where a cancellation is received less than 48 hours before the time of arrival, or in the case of a ‘no show’ the full accommodation charge will be forfeited + bank and/or credit card fees. If you choose to rebook at a later date, the payment will be a credit towards your holiday, and the cancellation fee will be reduced to 3 nights forfeited and the balance put in credit towards the next booking
• Once travel commences, there are no refunds with accommodation should you want to upgrade or downgrade, or if you decide to return home early. We will assist you with changes and transfers to your booking, however there will not be refunds.
Interested to tell your story?
As you are probably well aware, embarking on a surgery holiday is fraught with nerves and anxieties, and most people love to read past accounts of people who have travelled with us on a surgery holiday.
We would appreciate it if you could answer some questions about your experience so other people can read your story. You are able to change your name, but you would need to agree to the publishing of your before and after photos (which you can select, no nudity is required). Your story and will only published to the Gorgeous Getaways website, and sent out to people who are interested in booking a similar surgery holiday. Your details will not be given or sold to any other company without your prior consent.
This offer is based on selection, as we only can offer this to a couple of people per month, but if you would like to apply for this, please let your manager know when you arrive on your holiday.
Payment is $100 after your story has been submitted with follow up photos when you have returned home. You may submit your story here.
Please make important note of these contact numbers and give them to your family and friends:
Gorgeous Getaways Canada Office: 1-800-680-0594 or 1-780-757-7772
Villa Le Mas: 1(506) 2289 3767
Chetica Ranch: 1(506) 2268 7771
Hospital Hotel La Catolica: 1(506) 2246 3000
Casa Lima: 1(305) 964 6017
Casa Conde: 1(506) 2227 4232
Hotel Bougainvillea: 1(866) 880 5441
Aurola Holiday Inn: 1(506) 2523 1000
Hospital CIMA: 1(506) 2208 1000
Hospital Cliníca Uníbe: 1(506) 2297 6300
Hospital Hotel La Catolica: 1(506) 2246 3000
If you have any more questions prior to travelling, please contact your manager or
Click here to download and print this as a PDF document.