By Mark Evans
A peek inside Costa Rica’s airline hotels
Airline hotels have become more and more popular in recent years. From the Boeing 747 hotel at Stockholm Arlanda Airport to the TWA Lockheed Constellation at New York JFK Airport. Some have actually been converted into hotel rooms while other hotels simply use the airplane as a theme to entice guests to stay at the hotel.
One of the very first was in Costa Rica at the Hotel Costa Verde. They helped start a growing trend when they took an Avianca Boeing 727 and turned it into a hotel room in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle. Purchased in 2006, the B727 has been available to guests since 2008. Located on the west coast near the town of Quepos, the B727 offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the Costa Rican coast.
The hotel did not stop there, however. They converted an Aeropostal Douglas DC9 to another room and recently converted a third aircraft. A McDonnell-Douglas MD-82 previously operated by UM Air.
All three have been beautifully renovated with hand-carved teak wood furniture and have an additional outdoor patio attached to them providing outdoor space for guests. Set on a hillside in the middle of a lush rainforest, they all offer majestic views of the sea, as well as local wildlife with sloths, toucans and monkeys living in the surrounding trees.
Another company in Costa Rica followed suit and also converted a B727 into a hotel room. Located a little further south of Quepos, near the town of Dominical, is a former Allegro Air Boeing 727. The Ricar2 El Avion bar and restaurant bought the plane and transformed it into a Suites Charter Boutique hotel.
This Iconic B727 rolled off the production line over 56 years ago in 1965, starting life with South African Airways. After 16 years he found a new home in Africa with Liberia World Airlines before crossing the Atlantic to Colombia in 1984. He flew with Avianca for another 7 years until he was retired from use. in San José in 1991.
Many parts were removed and the plane lay derelict for many years until the Hotel Costa Verde stepped in to save it in 2006.
First flight in 1968, this DC9 spent almost 20 years in Scandinavia with SAS. He then found his way to Venezuela with Aeropostal who then transferred him to his Costa Rican company, Aeropostal Alas De Centro America. It was stored in San José in 2007 and shattered into pieces. Hotel Costa Verde purchased the front part of the fuselage to make it a hotel room for the second plane.
The youngest of the peloton at just 37 years old, the MD-82 saw the light of day in 1984 with Continental Airlines. After a brief stint with Vanguard Airlines and a few years in storage, it ended with UM Air or Ukrainian-Mediterranean airlines. After a few years in Ukraine it returned to storage in 2009. It found its way to San José in 2011 where it was parked for several years, before being broken up in 2018 and transferred to a hotel.
The rear of the plane is presented as an exhibit next to the restaurant. Customers can climb the aft stairs and enter the fuselage. The forward fuselage took a bit longer to renovate but has recently become available to customers as an additional hotel room.
This Boeing 727 started life in Germany with Hapag Lloyd in 1979. After only 5 years it was sold to Ethiopian Airlines where it spent the next 5 years. He then spent the next ten years traveling with various airlines in Colombia, Spain and South Africa. Finally, he found a home in Mexico with Allegro Air in 1999.
Unfortunately, Allegro Air ceased operations in November 2003 and the aircraft was placed in storage in San Jose. Unable to find another airline, she finally found her new home as a hotel near Dominical in 2010.