In the center of San José, only a few steps from the National Theatre, arises an elegant and majestic structure with vision and distinction founded exactly 75 years ago. It is the Grand Hotel of Costa Rica, the country's cultural, architectural and historical heritage and reference of excellence for hotel quality. It is the only hotel that proudly takes the name of our nation: Costa Rica.
Its lines inspired by European Neo-Classical norms, its omnipotent volume, its careful appearance, and its impeccable maintenance boast its existence. Since 30 October, 1930,the hotel has exhibited, in such fine taste, the culture, the architectural beauty and the quality of services that has been for many decades the temporary residence of great personalities of all times and from all over the world.
A refuge of legends, the history of the hotel is not only legendary, but until today a testimony of old San José, that which was called at one time, the "Little Paris" and which enchanted tourists, local and foreign with its European style and simplicity, excellent manners, refined tastes and sensibility of its guests.
From the great European cities came excellent instruction and a refined taste for the arts. These visitors recreated the greatness and pleasures of Europe in our country.
And now, since 1897, the National Theatre, a splendid replica of the Theatre of the Paris Opera in the tranquil city of San José, a true joy of the crown of great structures and capital monuments that have been rising in those decades as if only the sky was the limit and nothing seemed impossible.
In an age where only bed-and-breakfasts and discrete hotels existed, the need for accommodation for the most distinguished of foreign visitors was clear. Dr. Luis Paulino Jimenez Ortiz had been a doctor for the United Fruit Company and had treated passengers of the Great White Fleet (ships that transported bananas and also all types of passengers) saw that Costa Rica did not have lodging with the level of comfort of the great hotels of other countries.
So he had a vision and the courage to start off on a great adventure which was the construction of a world class hotel in a country that had never seen one. To cover the cost of the project, he sold the "Finca de Isabel" and covered the rest of the expenses with a loan from his brother.
Impressed by the proposal of Dr. Jimenez Ortiz, the government of the President Cleto Gonzalez Viquez met with the founder and owner of what would be the Grand Hotel of Costa Rica, and decreed it before the Constitutional Congress of the Republic of Costa Rica the 22nd of November, 1928, by means of law 34.
This law-contract foresaw a series of fiscal benefits and the authorization to build the hotel over the Arcades of San Jose, property of the state, was an honor conferred to the contractor as proof of the faith instilled in him. In return, the doctor compromised to make himself available to the state, completely free of payment and during a period of twenty years, two whole apartments would be made available to guests of the state to foreign delegations of extraordinary character.
Also, the Grand Hotel Costa Rica sealed its destination with the golden grain and promise to serve only the highest quality coffee produced in the country.
This search for excellence and the elevation of the name of Costa Rica, its products, services and people, was always a fundamental part in the philosophy of the hotel. A complement to the project, and one which brought dividends for many years was the construction of the highways to Poás and Irazú, to encourage the inflow of foreign tourists that have made the Grand Hotel Costa Rica a founder in the development of tourism in our nation.
The Grand Hotel of Costa Rica has never cut corners on quality. Today, in the celebration of 75 years since its inauguration, the President of the Board of Directors, Lic. Eric Gutierrez Rojas has had the honour of delivering the plaque that declares the hotel as national historical-architectural landmark of our heritage conferred by the Ministry of Culture, which has been authorized by the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism. Thus, giving a new star which confirms exquisite attention and quality in all of its services.
The first great hotel, first in being constructed under seismic regulations, the Grand Hotel Costa Rica stood out as being a five-floor hotel when in those days no building exceeded two floors. With 120 rooms, located in front of a small plaza where the figure of the First Chief of State of Costa Rica, Juan Mora Fernandez, is proudly displayed, and diagonal to the impressive National Theatre. Since its creation, the Grand Hotel was destined to be converted not only into a historical site displaying the magnificence of Costa Rica that conserved the visionaries of the times, but also in the symbol of its capitol and as an important part of its history.
Two days before the official inauguration, a select group of invited guests was welcomed inside the hotel to attend a dinner, preliminary to the Grand Opening Ceremony. Through those doors, those first visitors were welcomed with open arms to a world of beauty and elegance without parallel. The precious woods, the bronze trim of the windows, the statutes, the mirrors, the exhibits of art, so many elements that stirred up the first exclamations and centuries of admiration.
A curious and emotional public waited outside of the hotel. Some had tried to visit on various occasions but were asked to be patient so that the personnel could attend to them in the best way, the day of the inauguration. That is the way it was Thursday 30 October, 1930. The newspapers presented their chronicles and the whole of society cantered its attention on the great event.
The inaugural celebration of the Grand Hotel was more than a milestone in the annals of Costa Rican social life. It represented in its heart a just tribute to all those great men and women, illustrious and distinguished, of the nation between high government functionaries, the Bank, the Diplomatic Corps, among coffee growers, importers, the business community, doctors, lawyers, professors, engineers, among artists, musicians, poets, and writers. So many people filled up the hotel. People on whose shoulders rest a good part of the social, cultural and political foundation of which Costa Rica rests today.
In celebrating the 75th anniversary of the hotel, any visitor that passes by the hotel would be surprised to realize its true travel through time as the building still has the beauty and majesty that it had at that memorable date, Thursday, 30 October 1930, when its beginnings surprised, for the first time, those delighted visitors.
The Arcades which decked out the entrance of the wide vestibule and whose corridors pointed out the exquisite coffee of Costa Rica were giving welcome. Constituted as a marvellous complex which integrates the height of its floors with the Art Arcades. That is what the Grand Hotel has converted at this privileged point in the centre of the capital.
The Arcades with marvellous imported lamps, railings of classic design, gardens bordered with forest flowers and with the restaurant capturing the best view toward the facing of the National Theatre, now exhibiting artistic expositions which blend with the aesthetics of savouring a gourmet coffee under a delicate umbrella while admiring the rescue of the original designs of the floors.
Between the walls that enclose the exquisite history to its illustrious visitors and lodgers, and that sumptuous architecture, is found a balance a perfect balance between the old world and the modern one, a door toward the two centuries between which crosses a bridge. The best of the modern world, with a sophisticated training centre, a comfortable gym and an internet room with the best equipment and technology, coexists in perfect harmony with the art, the music, with the decoration of classic style and with the sweet and seductive atmosphere of the hotel.
The pride of the President of the Board of Directors, Lic. Gutierrez Rojas is that today, as it was 75 years ago, the hotel represents the seal of quality and category.
It is said that accommodation in the Grand Hotel Costa Rica makes the guests acquire a certain air of distinction. But, even more, each day dozens of people, attracted by the classic beauty of the National Theatre - the site of San Jose which is most pleasant and most visited by tourists - find themselves among the maximum exponent of culture and the finest jewel of hospitality exclaim in unison the phrase, that has lasted over the years, "What a beautiful theatre!" "What a stunning hotel!"
During the year 2005, the Grand Hotel Costa Rica has carefully developed a dream and has made known the concept of "Culture Tourism".
A series of social-cultural activities of great importance and interest (expositions of painting and the reopening of the Arcades Gallery Coffeehouse) would not have been possible without the objective vision and support of a team that has been able to extol the name of the hotel and of our country.
The hotel has become to be known what in reality it is: a hotel with history and culture of great national value. The Commemorative Act of the 75th Anniversary is a clear opportunity in the evolution of our hotel. Today, one more footprint is marked in the history that enriches day by day and one more stage of development is initiated that deserves a wider passage toward efficiency and efficacy with national and international tourism.
Congratulations Grand Hotel Costa Rica for your 75th Anniversary! Jörn Malek and The team of 1-CostaRicaLink wishes you the best of and all the success you deserve. To see more pictures about the hotel, or make a reservation, please click here.
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