It was Rudyard Kipling who originally described prostitution as the “world’s oldest profession.” For millennia, men have paid women for the pleasure of their company. While prostitution is illegal in the USA and many other countries, today, men “of a certain age” seek exotic destinations, mostly in Asia and Latin America to explore the wild side of legal prostitution, escort services and low-cost female companionship. What’s surprising is how many of these men are combining a trip to the brothel with a trip to the dentist.
Welcome to the crossroads of sex and dental tourism.
While the numbers are vague, what’s clear is that almost every plane that arrives at Juan Santamaria airport in San Jose, Costa Rica has at least two types of travelers. The first type of traveler is the older single gentleman coming to Costa Rica to live a little dangerously. These men visit local pharmacies and purchase quantities of low-priced Viagra or Cialis, hoping to use at least some of it during their time here. Many make a bee line for the well-known brothels and hotels that cater to American men seeking a good time.
The other type of traveler is the dental tourist; mostly American and occasionally Canadian patients seeking affordable dental implants or full mouth restorations in Costa Rica. These patients are drawn by Costa Rica’s reputation for providing high quality dental care at a fraction of the price for the same care at home. These patients are here for serious dental care and they have prepared for weeks and months to find the right clinic for their dental experience abroad.
In recent months however, several Costa Rica dental clinics have noted an increase in male patients seeking to combine their planned sex tourism with some low-cost dental care. “Its not uncommon for us to provide treatment to several men each month, many of whom are subtly or not so subtly seeking some companionship,” says Patrick Goodness, CEO of Goodness Dental, a leading dental tourism clinic located in Escazu, an upscale suburb of the capital city of San Jose. “We operate on a ‘don’t ask…don’t tell’ policy with our guests. We request that our patients make their dental care a priority. Nothing should interfere with their dental care program. Patients that take their dental care seriously are welcome.”
Men seeking prostitutes in Costa Rica don’t have to look far. Prostitution is legal in Costa Rica, and there are an estimated 5,000-10,000 women involved in the trade. Most of the hotels that facilitate prostitution are located in downtown San Jose. While visiting these areas is generally safe, foreigners should be aware of scams or street workers. Some of these are transvestites or drug addicts who cannot get into regular hotels or clubs, so beware. Many well-known hotels for escorts and prostitutes in Costa Rica appear no different than any other hotel. The main difference is that after sunset, the bars in these hotels play host to scantily-clad ladies looking for a well-heeled gentleman to do some business. Hotels in Jaco and Tamarindo are getting in on the action, offering a bevy of beauties with the added attraction of the beach.
For men that don’t want to leave anything to chance, there are no shortage of websites promoting sex vacations or escorted tours of Costa Rica with the girl of their dreams. These sites connect men with high quality escorts for a price that is often 2-3 times more expensive than meeting a local escort at a popular hotel. The proliferation of these sites in recent years indicates that this practice is on the rise.
Men who choose to combine dental care with a pay for play sexual dalliance report that dental care offers them the perfect guise to visit Costa Rica without revealing their indiscretions.
“I’ve been wanting to come to Costa Rica since my co-worker told me about his crazy bachelor party here. I couldn’t just tell my girlfriend that I was coming to Costa Rica to have fun without her. Getting some much-needed dental care was the perfect cover for my trip,” says John, who would rather keep his last name concealed or obvious reasons.
Patients seeking quality dental care from reputable providers should plan to stay in the suburbs of Escazu or Santa Ana, near the best dental clinics in Costa Rica. While the nightlife may be located downtown, most will tell you that staying downtown near the “action” gets old quickly. “I had my fun before I started my dental care,” says John. I’m glad I did. Dental surgery is serious. It took me several days after dental implant surgery to get back to my old self. I stayed at the Holiday Inn in Escazu, and when I felt good enough to want to have some fun, I ventured downtown for a couple of nights before heading home.”
When asked about the future of sex, prostitution and dental tourism in Costa Rica, Goodness Dental CEO Patrick Goodness fell silent for a moment and then replied with a smile.
“You’ve heard of friends with benefits, right? This is dental care with benefits. We keep our focus on providing the best possible dental care for our patients, period. Our job is to give our patients a beautiful smile. What they smile about is their business.”