Costa Rica is a land of diversity: its landscapes range from mountains, volcanoes, valleys and plains to beaches. Such variety is matched by a fabulous wealth of ecosystems. Fully 5% of all the plants and animals on the planet call Costa Rica home. Over 200 mountains and 760 beaches on both Atlantic and Pacific coasts make for a lot of exploring, and nearly 1/4 of all land is national parkland.
What do visitors do when they visit Costa Rica? They do everything they would do at any tropical vacation spot - and then again they do things they have never done before. After lounging on the beach, how about visiting a cloud forest? After sailing, you could kayak in the mangroves. After visiting the world's longest constantly active volcano (Arenal), why not bask in hot spring spas? After golf, try a jungle safari. After parasailing, don't miss flying through the rain forest on canopy zip lines.
After the excitement of whitewater rafting, relax in the calm of a butterfly farm. Whether your travel needs have you searching for world class or rustic, Costa Rica has a super natural combination. From conference centers in the jungle, to championship golf resorts, from lively Latin to traditional, indigenous and Caribbean entertainment - plus extraordinary hospitality - it all adds up to the "Pura Vida" (Pure Life) experience!
Regional Managing Director
Ligia is a native "Tica" who was born and raised in Costa Rica, was a student in the USA, worked in Mexico and now is home again as the director of IVI’s Central American operations in Costa Rica and Panama. Ms. Vargas’ experience as an American Field Service student gave her a good understanding of North American people and cultures. Later she studied communications and public relations at the Universidad de Costa Rica.
Her business career began in Cancun, where she gained experience with several positions in both tourism and government relations. Ligia's international experience included serving as an accredited consul from Costa Rica in Cancun. On the business side, Ms. Vargas was general manager for LACSA, the national airline of Costa Rica, in Cancún and Yucatan. Her 14 years in the Cancun area also included working as the sales and marketing director for 5-star hotels.
She returned to Costa Rica in 1995 to take advantage of Costa Rica's growing popularity as a tourist destination and start her own business there. She had developed a strong working relationship with IVI founder Jose Manuel Garcia, and in 1998 he asked her to launch an IVI Destination Management operation in Costa Rica. She agreed, and the success of their joint venture led to expanding their venture in 2009 to include Panama under the banner of IVI Central America Quest DMC.
Ligia credits her team's success to an emphasis on hiring the "best and the brightest" people she could find. From the outset, she recruited young Costa Ricans who were highly intelligent, had a high sense of ethics and morality, and were excited by the opportunity to work in a stimulating environment within the dynamic and fast-growing field of tourism. Ms. Vargas firmly believes that a team of people who can meet high performance standards is the only way for IVI to deliver the outstanding level of service the company's client's demand. In brief, Ligia and her team are trained and dedicated to keeping IVI’s promise to all clients: "We make you look GREAT!"
IVI Destination Management is in the “people business,” and Sonia Vargas is uniquely qualified for this special industry because she has a master’s degree in psychology. In addition to her people skills, she has an outgoing personality, and a great deal of professional experience in the hospitality industry in several countries.
Born in San Jose, Costa Rica, Ms. Vargas graduated from Costa Rica University with a masters degree in psychology. She began her career by practicing this specialty with juvenile delinquents for a Costa Rican social agency, and then moved to the United States to work with restaurants and hotels in the Los Angeles area.
Sonia then moved to Cancun to immerse herself in the hospitality industry. She worked with the Visa Viajes Inolvidables travel agency, the InterMar Caribe travel agency, BrazilianTravel Agency and Olympus Tours in a series of increasingly responsible sales and management positions.
Ms. Vargas joined IVI Costa Rica in 2005 as the business and planning manager, and now oversees these efforts for both Costa Rica and Panama.
In her leisure time, Sonia enjoys gardening, playing tennis and soccer, reading psychology-based books on the “human phenomenon,” and is a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team.
Local Attraction – Almost any adventure sports activity. Costa Rica has a very large number of choices to get out and experience the country’s beautiful scenery, but my favorite is a canopy tour. Sliding along zip lines high above a rainforest can produce a real adrenaline rush.
Recreational Activity – Tennis. I love this game. If you don’t have a tennis partner, give me a call. I’ll be glad to arrange a match for us, and we’ll have a lot of fun.
Restaurant – Mar y Sol, which means sea and sun. It’s a great French restaurant on a hillside with marvelous views of Flamingo Beach and the Pacific Ocean. It has a wonderful torch-lit terrace, and Chef Jean-Luc cooks like an angel!
Local Tour – Actually I prefer combination tours. There are lots of these, letting you experience different adventures on a single tour. During my favorite, the Hacienda Combo, you can do a canopy tour, go horseback riding, visit waterfalls and water slides, and relaxing in the thermal waters of a hot springs spa.
Local Event – Copa de Café, a big tennis tournament held in January at the Costa Rica Country Club. It attracts youngsters and amateur players from all over the world, and it has launched the careers of several of today’s top tennis stars.