Insights on Travel from Costa Rica Expeditions’ Founder Michael Kaye and his Expert Friends.

Tortuga Lodge Video

We interrupt the spellbinding saga of Yolanda’s and Michael’s return to Cuba to bring you the brand new Tortuga Lodge Video and ask for feedback.

This is the first version fit for human consumption. It is exactly 3 minutes long.  If you have the time, please take look and suggest ways to improve it.

Pointing out things that you really like and we shoud be sure to keep would also be nice, but what we really need is constructive criticism.

We’re not looking for praise.  We are looking for help.

We’ll send a bag of Connoisseur Costa Rican Coffee to the three people who send us the most useful comments.

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  • […] Comment by Alison Olivieri on 2011/04/22 at 8:20am […]

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      • At April 28, 2011
        2:30:51 am
        Chris Parrott said:

        Video – very calming and serene; makes you want to be there.
        Constructive criticism: you don’t need words on the screen to explain what the pictures already illustrate (A touch of luxury). But I think I’d like to see the creatures (eg) identified (words on screen?)- I can see it’s a monkey, a bird, a lizard – but I’d like to know more detail.

        I appreciate of course that this might detract from the overall “serenity” image you’re successfully conveying


        • At April 27, 2011
          6:19:46 pm
          Cheryl Schiarizzi said:

          Having visited Tortugero with my husband and 8 year old son, traveled to Arenal, and then to Punita Islita with your company, this video needs to focus more on the pura vida, the natural habitat/botany/animals of the rainforest and the sights we saw. Also, more on the lodge itself and the land there. How about showing the guests arrive off the plane onto the boat and cross the river onto the landing? I got the best sleep of my life there while it was raining. Can you show more peaceful scenes with great linens and the sound of the rain – can that be captured more? Also, I was very disappointed to see that the guests were mostly white and older. How about families? Children? More diversity in terms of ethnicity and age? Michael: I’m going to send you pix of my son in Tortugero at 8 years old to your email. Also, what about the Conservation practices used at the lodge. I know it’s hard…this is a beginning, but I know your people can step it up!
          Good luck with the endeavor. Cheryl Schiarizzi

          • At April 26, 2011
            8:30:54 pm
            Nancy Lee & John O'Connor said:

            Beautiful video overall. Wish we were there! Here are some specific comments:
            – The font is too harsh. We suggest a softer font like Helvetica or a serif font like good ole Times New Roman, which makes reading easier. The case of the words switch between title case and sentence case. It would be easier to read if it was consistent. The transitions of the text is a little abrupt. A more gradual fading in and out would be more soothing and in keeping with the scenery and music.
            – Similarly, the transitions between the scenes are a little abrupt too. More gradual transitions would better convey the unfolding and discovery that happens and the tranquility on the rivers.
            – The time spent on the frames of the turtles on the rocks (at about 55 seconds into the video) should be longer and perhaps increase the color contrast. During the first time I watched the video, I knew something was there but did not have time to figure it out. The turtles are pretty well camouflaged with the rocks. Granted I was watching on an iPhone with its smaller screen, but the video should work on all devices.
            – Tortuga Lodge is “never decadent.” If not decadent, then what is it? We think it’s part of the environment and a reflection of the place and community. The community aspect might be a good transition to the English school.
            – We think the scenes of the English school where Tortuga Lodge guests teach, needs more explanation. I knew what the scenes were about because I read about it in your blog. I suspect that those who do not know about the school would be confused. I had my husband watch the video because I knew he didn’t know about the school and he commented that it needs more background information in the video. We think that the school is such an enormous undertaking and benefit for the community that you should tell more about it.
            – Is the date of the Turtle Festival correct? It says November 2011, but there are scenes from a past festival. Was the festival in 2010 and the next one (2nd annual?) in 2011?

            We can’t wait to see the next version of the video. Hope these comments help.

            Nancy Lee

            • At April 26, 2011
              10:38:02 am
              Bob and Melanie Royer said:

              We felt the video did a good job capturing the essence of the Tortuguero experience in it’s entirety. It made us hungry to return. However, it did not do the lodge and its grounds full justice and we would agree with earlier comments that suggest including more shots of the lodge experience, if it is indeed your goal to advertise the lodge. Re the ESL (English as a Second Language) lessons, we think it should be clarified that participation in the program is a voluntary opportunity to mix with the culture. As a teacher, I understand the reasoning for the “hokie pokie” shots…this is a typical and nonthreatening way to reinforce language learning…everyone can l do it! We would include shots of flowers in bloom for the botanists. In response to a previous comment, we, too, did think about the hike out behind the lodge…but as day hikers, we would consider highlighting this activity as a bit unrepresentative of the lodge, because in truth, the hiking is limited. We think the 3 minutes was a perfect length. We, as travelers, look first to the overall experience of the region as primary, with accommodations as a secondary enhancement. However, others may look to the accommodations first, and for those who do, more detail regarding the lodge would beneficial. Best wishes…the video makes us want to pack our bags!

              • At April 25, 2011
                5:46:56 pm
                Cheryl Shnider said:

                I’ve been to Tortuguero and Tortuga Lodge twice now and I don’t think this video does justice to either one, although its a good beginning. If the subject is the lodge and this video is a marketing tool, I think that the lodge footage should come first. Getting to the lodge is an adventure in and of itself, whether you fly or take a boat. Perhaps shots of arrival at the lodge would be a good beginning. There was already some aerial footage but it should be presented as part of the adventure of getting to Tortuga Lodge. Being greeted at the dock with cold drinks was such a friendly gesture….it set the mood for the experience of staying at Tortuga. I would think that you want to convey the atmosphere of friendly hospitality. Someone relaxing in a hammock would also be a great shot. The grounds of the lodge are so gorgeous that its a shame not to include some footage of the flora and fauna right outside the doors of the rooms. I love the photo of the pool followed by the canalside dining tables but they need some happy people in them.
                Of course, Tortuguero National Park is the reason most people come to Tortuga Lodge and its majesty is well represented by the footage you included at the beginning with the kayaking and boat shots. Two birds in a row were the same color (was it an anhinga and a blue heron?) and the turtles were somewhat boring. The monkey was great. I would suggest including some more exotic birds/animals like iguana, Jesus Christ lizards, crocs with butterflies flitting about, toucans, colorful frogs, etc. The turtle section is wonderful but should be qualified by defining when nesting season is so people don’t think they can always have that experience.
                Overall, I would focus more on the lodge and on the local nature and less on the town and the festival. I also agree with others that Word Adventure should have less “air time”. Although its a great program, its not the main draw. Its a nice option while you’re there.
                Am I the only one distracted by the subtitles? I would prefer voice (with sounds of nature in the background).
                Good luck with this project Michael. I know you’ll take all these comments in the spirit of collaboration to convey just how magic a place it is.

                • At April 25, 2011
                  12:58:25 pm
                  Jules said:

                  Overall, I agree with many other comments posted here: definitely need to show more animals as we saw so much more than the few animals shown in the beginning segment. I also didn’t like the use of “never decadent” but can’t quite capture what I believe it is you are trying to convey in a couple of words: “tasteful elegance” perhaps. Definitely need to show more of the lodge gardens and rooms. Other than the restaurant and shot of swimming pool, I definitely don’t get enough of a feel as to how wonderful the lodge is.
                  Participating in the Word Adventure program was one of the highlights of our visit. I think it would be more powerful if you showed other kids involved in the Word Adventure interacting with the village schoolchildren. (The first adult was a little overbearing) There also weren’t any shots of the school, which I thought would provide good visual information for those thinking of participating in the program.
                  No need for the first “Children Learn” with the kid holding the frog as that is repeated shortly after in the next segment.
                  Another highlight for us was the boat ride to the lodge. I have experienced nothing like this and it was so exhilarating and fun that I would like to see this captured somewhere.
                  Good luck getting this just right!

                  • At April 24, 2011
                    9:56:52 pm
                    Karen Jakobovits said:

                    Loved some of the footage of the river, wildlife and lodge. I definitely would eliminate the scenes with the children. It didn’t fit, and there’s so much other beauty in that area to show as a visual feast. When my friend and I visited, we loved traveling through the river’s inlets and seeing the unique wildlife and local flavor from that perspective. I’d include more of those shots to give a better feel for wonderful Tortuga.

                    • At April 24, 2011
                      7:09:13 am
                      Donna Colangelo said:

                      I entirely agree with Jim Poplack’s comments. I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning but it seems to get very busy toward the end. Hokey Pokey, Guest Learning and Turtle Festival doesn’t seem to coincide with the message of tranquility offered at Tortuga Lodge. I also wonder if “designed to reflect the PLACE” might be changed to a word in tune with the area ie community, region. One other little item. I think the word “decadent” is highly overused and might choose a word like “ostentatious”. All of the comments have good points but if taken to heart (like I know you will),its back to the drawing board for you and yours. Good Luck Michael – I know you listen to positive critism and will come up with a winner.

                      • At April 22, 2011
                        10:00:50 pm
                        Jennifer Fletcher said:

                        I agree that the video should be more exciting,given the amazing situation of Tortuga Lodge.Someone complained about “tourists in boats”: but boats are the only way to get around !
                        We need to see much more of the Lodge – there’s a terrific amount of wildlife in the gardens(crocodile, boa, macaws,etc)& wonderful plants & flowers & there’s a forest just behind it.Some of the rooms could be shown,too.
                        I also agree there should be much less of the school experience – I myself would like to see just some close-ups of the children’s faces,smiling.
                        Also a few pics of the Lodge employees & boat captains – Ticos are handsome & smiling .People are attracted by good-natured faces.
                        Some up to the minute young & vibrant Costa Rican modern music would be great & create a great ambience.
                        Have you looked at Roberto Miranda’s award-winning video on Costa Rica? I think it’s spoiled all others for me ! Is there any way you could use some of his shots?

                        • At April 22, 2011
                          9:10:43 pm
                          Barbara Klein said:

                          My husband and I have been to Tortuguero 4 times since 1995 and stayed at Tortuga Lodge 3 times, so we feel as if we know the area and your lodge quite well, so much of the video felt very familiar. However, if we were viewing this video for the first time, with no prior visits to Tortuguero, we don’t think we would really understand just how rich and diverse a destination it can be.
                          Your lodge is lovely, so more attention could be focused on the building, rooms etc. as well as the beautiful setting. Some explanation of what one can expect from a 2 or 3 day visit could begin with one’s arrival at the lodge by plane or boat. (We’ve done both and the journey was part of the fun, especially arriving by boat and leaving by plane). We saw a great variety of birds en route by boat, and that definitely was a wonderful introduction to what was to follow.
                          Seeing the wildlife by boat is, of course, a unique experience and integral to the visit. It would be nice to see more wildlife showcased in that portion….we saw boas, many species of shore birds, the Jesus Christ lizards and caiman to mention a few. (Too bad your night tours are no longer allowed as they were awesome). We also enjoyed hiking in the jungle when it wasn’t too muddy, and there we saw monkeys, different birds in the trees etc. We love the frogs and insects, and they could be included as well.
                          Of course the turtles are so important and more could be done with that segment; the science center has, or had, a great presentation on the work being done to preserve that population; it was impressive.
                          The town itself is quirky and interesting albeit small. We know the Carribean side of Costa Rica is Jamaican in flavor and population, so the music felt simpatico; however, if one doesn’t know that, it might be important to mention something so unique.
                          In general, we think doing away with the captions and including some verbal explanations might be more effective and inviting.
                          It’s unclear if you intend to limit the video to just 3 minutes; however, if so, maybe you are trying to cover too much. We think highlighting the finer points of the lodge and the diversity of the birds and wildlife are key to attracting visitors to Tortuguero. We wish you the best in this endeavor, and by the way, we have also stayed at your Monteverde lodge and the tent camp in Corcovado….enjoyed them all!

                          • At April 22, 2011
                            7:08:36 pm
                            Jim Poplack said:

                            Michael, the effect of the video overall is quite positive, but it seems uneven. Start is wonderful: wonderfully calming music, showing the area and its diversity. The transition to the lodge was similar: tranquil, sharing highlights of the lodge. However, I was looking for more than the one slide you included showing guests enjoying themselves. I want to see myself where I’m going to stay. I can do that by seeing others enjoying themselves. Also, you might consider altering the caption to: “Designed to blend into the surroundings (or environment).” Also, how about something on the quality/knowledge of the guides. It was the next section – on Tortugero – that seemed strangest, though, especially the 1-2 second blurb on the turtle festival. Ending (both of the festival and the music) seemed very abrupt and out of character with the previous portion of the video. Similarly, the transition to the adventure learning segment was quite different. Perhaps it was the shift from the upbeat music to silence then back to the same upbeat music. Also, you show a child – presumably a tourist – with the caption “Children learn” then move to the segment on teaching local children with the same caption – used twice. Once would be enough – after the “Guests Share” caption. This section is so different from the previous ones, but, then, perhaps it should be – the program IS different. The title of the section (“The Words Adventure”) didn’t seem to reflect what is actually happening. Alternate title might be: “Adventure Learning” since it’s an adventure for both the guests and the students. Final thought: consider adding a comment at the very end about the teaching – to set Tortuga Lodge apart: “To know Tortugero you have to commune with the rivers. At Tortuga Lodge, you can also share with the local children.” Nice work and Good luck!

                            • At April 22, 2011
                              12:10:49 pm
                              John said:

                              After two trips to the Tortuga Lodge, the only suggestion that I would have would be to add some footage (bytes?) about the grounds surrounding the Lodge itself. We spent quite a bit of very interesting time there observing the birds, flowers, gardens, etc.

                              • At April 22, 2011
                                9:34:44 am
                                Emily Le Moing said:

                                I loved the river and wildlife images at the beginning of the video but, like others, I was distracted by the music, which didn’t fit Tortuguero for me (I’ve stayed at your lodge); I would go with local music (and use it more softly) if you feel you have to have music but I preferred the parts of the video in which you used natural sounds of birds, the river, wind in the rain forest, rain… such sounds help the video get across what makes Tortuguero unique and magical in a way that music can’t. Capitalizing most words in the text is distracting; you should use caps in the normal way. I also didn’t like the typeface, which is really bland. Maybe you could use a color instead of white and find a font with more character. The shot of the tourists taking photos was, as someone else pointed out, glare-y and also made Tortuguero seem like a place where visitors would spend all their time in a group with other visitors, which isn’t the case, at least it wasn’t for us. One of my most vivid memories of Tortuguero is of kayaking: the splash of our paddles in the river, the sun on the water, the effort it took to paddle against a strong river current, and the gorgeous plants and animals we saw up close. These are things that stay in my mind and sum up what Tortuguero is for me. I liked the kayak images in the video but maybe you could somehow film a bit from the point of view of someone actually paddling. While I love the idea of guests teaching English and understand why you want to include it, I think too much of the video is devoted to that. I would have liked to have seen more images of Tortuguero village and its people. Also, I think that anyone who hasn’t been to the lodge would want to see more images of it and would like to see and hear (rather than just see a brief still image of) some of the wonderful, friendly people who work there. Instead of just lovely pictures of the food served in the restaurant, you could show someone serving the food and ALSO show what’s on the plates. I remember the gorgeous pool at the lodge, where as you swim you almost feel you’re in the river, and I remember all the orchids in the garden; someone who hasn’t been there wouldn’t get a sense of this beauty from the images of the pool and garden in this video. At the end of the video, images from the beginning are repeated; I think you could find other river images to end with rather than repeating. The text: like others I didn’t like the use of “never decadent” (and the image of the table that went along with this text didn’t give any sense of the lodge). Maybe you could say, “touches of luxury and true Tortugero hospitality” and include some video of the people working at the lodge. Maybe you could ask people who have traveled to Tortuguero and your lodge what they remember most about their trip. These would be the sorts of things the video should focus on. Thanks so much for sharing the video; it was a treat to travel back to Tortuguero for 3 minutes!!

                                • At April 22, 2011
                                  8:43:10 am
                                  Karen Hanna said:

                                  This is a great start! First, I would have some upbeat Costa Rican music in the background – you want to get your audience excited about the amazing life found in the Tortuguero area. You want to draw people here, and I would make the restaurant scenes more lively – have the chef or some of the staff interacting with the visitors who are having a glass of wine (or something). You need to really drive home the message that turtle conservation is critical in this area, and how Costa Rican expeditions is facilitating the efforts to ensure turtle populations return year after year. Volunteer efforts could show people helping with building construction or giving out school supplies. Kids playing in the pool would be good (if you want to attract families).

                                  Our visit to Tortuga lodge, and the evening candlelit BBQ and trip to see the nesting turtles was the highlight of all of our international travels during the past five years. This is truly a special place, and the video doesn’t capture the magic of the place, nor the warmth of the staff at the lodge. Lots of potential here – run with it! More vibrancy and enthusiasm is needed!

                                  • At April 22, 2011
                                    8:20:29 am
                                    Alison Olivieri said:

                                    The music in the first part doesn’t ‘fit’ with Tortuguero and it is too loud.
                                    Shots in the introduction, especially in the group in the boat, are glare-ridden, bouncing off of their hats.
                                    Text should either be all initial caps or consistently upper and lower case.
                                    Tortuguero is spell-binding; this video needs a little ‘magic’.

                                    • At April 22, 2011
                                      7:05:32 am
                                      Shannon Borrego said:

                                      How interesting to see the variety of opinions on the video. I agree with much of what Kristen says about the wording. The sentence about decadence is too abrupt and negative. I think you should either make Kristen’s change of “But not decadent”, or make a positive statement, such as “Unpretentious comforts”. The Words Adventure portion should be refined and shortened a little bit. How about:

                                      Children Learn
                                      Guests connect . . .
                                      Through words
                                      And play

                                      “Place of the turtle” could be changed to “Home of the turtle” without compromising the meaning of Tortuguero.
                                      I definitely agree that the Jamaican-sounding music is out of place. How about South American flute music for that part of the video?

                                      I love the nature footage; nature is the reason to travel there. If you want to appeal to families more, and you shorten the Words Adventure portion, you could insert another scene of children doing things–fishing with a guide? swimming in the pool? (but quietly, you don’t want to give the impression that children are disturbing other guests).
                                      The peaceful water scenes in the opening scenes are perfect; that truly expresses the beauty and essence of the area.

                                      • At April 22, 2011
                                        12:06:06 am
                                        Diane said:

                                        Started to watch and then video and sound stopped..- it just came back on- stopped again- keeps doing that.

                                        • At April 21, 2011
                                          2:59:32 pm
                                          Rod Yengich said:

                                          Unfortunately, the video does not attract me in any way to the Tortuga Lodge. There is practically no information on the lodge. There is nothing in the video that makes me beleive I will have any fun or adventure at the lodge. The music is lovely, but boring and uninspiring. Teaching children English is very noble, but not an activity that most travelers would spend thousands of dollars to participate in. So why so much time in the video? We travel for fun and adventure. Things that can be had in Tortuguero. A lazy float in a boatload of people all hoping to get a picture of something is quite unatractive. When I have traveled to Costa Rica in the past I have seen jaguires, mountain lions, wild peccaries, red eyed tree frogs and tons of macaws. Turtles, crocodiles, bull sharks, poisonous snakes, and more wildlife than I can remember. Your video shows none of this. We love to hike and explore! Is this at all possible from the Tortuga Lodge? Perhaps some photos or video of people actually doing something fun or exciting would be more appropriate. Or perhaps this video only targets retired people who don’t get around much. Yawn… I guess I’ll go watch some paint dry now.

                                          • At April 21, 2011
                                            2:47:17 pm
                                            Kristen MacQueen said:

                                            Michael, I love the nature/river images. You might consider adding a little more on the actual lodge (which I myself am curious about). Text-wise, here would be my suggestions (edits are in the text below):

                                            Tortuguero National Park (maybe put this at the top instead of at the screen, see below for add’l suggestions on this theme)
                                            The Essence of Tortuguero is Rivers
                                            Rivers are Tortuguero’s Roads
                                            Rivers are Tortuguero’s Soul
                                            The Tropical Rainforest
                                            Sun, Warmth & Humidity…
                                            Combine to create the greatest biodiversity on the planet
                                            Tortugera Lodge (move to the top of the screen as well, to provide separation for what I perceive to be the “sections” of the video)
                                            Designed to Reflect its Surroundings
                                            Touches of Luxury
                                            But Not Decadence
                                            Tortugera Village (move to top of the screen as well)
                                            Place of the Turtle (I’m not sure if I like “Place” but couldn’t think of anything else to replace…)
                                            Accessible only by boat and light aircraft
                                            Green Turtle Festival November, 2011 (move to top of the screen)
                                            Where the Floats REALLY Float
                                            Where Life Begins
                                            And Children Learn
                                            The Words Adventure ((move to top of the screen, also think maybe this needs more explanation or a different term for the average audience – I’m your fan so I know all about it, but not everyone does)
                                            Children Gain Knowledge
                                            Guests Share
                                            Children Discover
                                            Guests Engage
                                            The Essence of Tortuguero is Rivers
                                            To Know Tortuguero…
                                            Commune with the Rivers

                                            You can save the coffee, the edit suggestions are free! We are still working on the chocolate & coffee you kind folks left behind in Cuba!

                                            • At April 21, 2011
                                              2:40:43 pm
                                              Katherine Mayo-Sorensen said:

                                              This is overall a nice video, but what I would do to improve it are the following things:
                                              In the beginning, when showing the serene river sights, I would eliminate the tourists on the river boat tour. It mars the serenity of the place. There are plenty of people shots later in the video.

                                              I question the use of the Jamaican music in the segment around Tortuguero Village. It doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the music.

                                              And, finally, there is some script stating “The essence of Tortuguero is Rivers” I would NOT capitalize rivers, it should have a small “r”, not a capital “R”

                                              The feeling of the video is very welcoming, and makes me want to plan another trip to Costa Rica! It is a very nice video, and I especially like the wildlife-monkeys, birds, turtles. Keep up the good work!

                                              • At April 21, 2011
                                                1:54:16 pm
                                                Don Denison said:

                                                What brought us to Tortuga Lodge was the chance to see the rain forest and the animals. You show them but you could show 5-10 times as many animals in the same amount of time. I think the video was a little “slow”. Maybe you are trying to incorporate the pace of life. But for most of us traveling on vacation we CAN relax at a faster pace. Show more birds (toucans, macaws etc.), colorful frogs, caiman, river otters. Don’t show one young turtle heading to the water, show hundreds. In today’s world we want more action; even if we are relaxing!

                                                • At April 21, 2011
                                                  2:58:43 pm
                                                  Kristen MacQueen replied
                                                  to :

                                                  Good points on the colorful animals, and suggestions for adding in even more. This would back up the biodiversity theme expressed in the text early on in the video.