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TRUSTED TRAVEL EXPERT Costa Rica
A native Costa Rican who goes back several times a year, Irene masterminds trips to her homeland—as well as to the neighboring nations of Panama, El Salvador, and Nicaragua—that marry sophisticated luxury and ecological sensitivity. Together with her husband Richard, a well-regarded expert on ecotourism, they know which high-design jungle lodges, stylish beach resorts, and adventure outfitters truly prioritize not just comfort but a commitment to preserving the culture and environment. Irene is always eager to arrange meaningful one-on-one experiences with the locals. (You might even get invited to her mother’s home for a lesson in how to make tortillas by hand.) And her warm demeanor ensures that she’ll get to know you well during the planning process, so she can whip up special touches like an unexpected upgrade or a birthday surprise. Irene was also included in Perrin’s People, Wendy’s award-winning list of top travel specialists, which was published annually in Condé Nast Traveler magazine from 2000 to 2013.