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“As "unzen" as possible: rude, graceless, unprofessional management” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Pura Vida Spa & Yoga Retreat

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Pura Vida Spa & Yoga Retreat
3.5 of 5 Spa   |   600 mts NW from Bar Apolo 15 | Pavas, Carrizal, Alajuela 1112-4050, Costa Rica   |  
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Ranked #8 of 30 Hotels in Alajuela
Flagstaff, Arizona
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“As "unzen" as possible: rude, graceless, unprofessional management”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed January 4, 2013

The single black spot of our eight day Costa Rican holiday: made so by incompetent and uncaring hoteliers.
To begin with, this property does not show up on GPS, or Google maps. After three hours of fruitless searching, we went to the airport and found the red cabs, and after some discussion, found one to follow to the property. Even he had to stop and ask. There are NO signs - and no parking on the grounds. Check in was further flawed by a manager who was more interested in the yoga bunny-of-the-day. Also, evidently, lighting the paths to rooms would be "unzen", but twisted ankles, are, of course, of no consequence. By the time we got to the food, the trout had sat under a heat lamp too long and was tasteless. The bartender, luckily, was a nice chap. Then we had to tear the manager away from his "friend" to get help with luggage, even though it was still during regular hours. The next morning, our tour guide for a whitewater rafting trip, couldn't find the place either. We couldn't reach them. The hotelier complained bitterly at being disturbed by his call - and by me trying to find the guide. Most innkeepers we encountered in CR (or anywhere) would have been up and trying to help us. Instead, he was barely civil, sarcastic and indignant at being woken. The grounds are lovely by day and do have a view. The cabin was clean and cute, Bring your own flashlights, and DO be convenient for them, and ask NOTHING, especially normal service, of the management.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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99 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (28)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Austin, Texas
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 11, 2012

We were greeted with fresh juice and had lunch waiting for us on our arrival. The staff was VERY accomodating and friendly. We practically had the place to ourselves so the staff to guest ratio was something I'll unlikely see again anywhere else. It was a little worrisome the resort was so empty because I want it to stay in business so I can go back!
-The rooms are simple but clean. I had some sugar ants but we made friends. I had room 201 with two single beds and the view of the mountains and city was phenominal.
-The grounds are lush with amazing tropical plants and flowers. The resort is surrounded by coffee fields so you can drink coffee and watch it being harvested at the same time. We enjoyed the few sunny hours a day by the pool and the cool nights in the hot tub after dinner. There are a few hammocks to read books in and a computer room for those needing to connect with the outside (me!).
-The included three meals a day were FRESH, healthy but very satisfying with soup, salads, fresh fruit, flavorful veggies, healthy starches and a meat protein option. The desserts were also made from scratch. The passion fruit cheesecake was our favorite! They also have fresh juices, smoothies and wine for extra charge.
-The spa treatments and therapists/healers are the most legit I've had. I've been to and worked at many spas and including some of the best in the US and these were out of this world. You can opt for a traditional swedish or try something more healing like watsu or "body talk." Everyone in my party had wonderful experiences with them. The prices are similar to US prices but also include taxes. They were VERY reasonable considering the quality/value. Honestly at times I wasn't even sure how you could put a price on some of the experiences I had. But they did and it was more than fair.
It is a bit untraditional because you go sign up for your treatments when you arrive on a board in the center of the property. Different therapists and treatments are available weekly. It's actually really nice the way they do it and if you need help or have questions the staff is available to assist.
-The yoga instructors were experienced and engaged. The yoga studios are unbelievable with lots of space and gorgeous views. I'd love to attend or even plan a yoga retreat here.
-It is close to the airport and San Jose, making it easy to get in and out and if you want to explore the city you can. I'd recommend the hot springs tour (but not the included lunch at the springs).
-We went on our own to Sibu Chocolate and arranged transportation via the hotel. If you like chocolate I'd recommend this trip as well.
-This is a great girls getaway or if you are on a solo or group personal journey go for it. It could be OK for couples but if participate in some healing treatments be prepaired to be emotionally charged. For most couples Id recommend this paired with a few nights at the beach as well.
-I'd highly recommend a minimum of 3 or 5 nights!

Room Tip: Room 201 has a GREAT view.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Columbus, Ohio
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 6, 2012

This is not your ordinary all inclusive vacation get away. Pura Vida is nestled in the rain forest, on the pacific side of Costa Rica. Once you enter the gates, you've entered a space of tranquility. The grounds are lushly green and not starkly manicured. The food is indescribable. Chef Marisol oversees a talented kitchen staff who turns out vegetarian meals that are so delicious, you wait, with mouth watering, for each one in happy anticipation.

The staff is centered on meeting your needs. They are helpful without being obsequious. They are willing to entertain any request and will go the extra mile in helping you arrange day trip and visits to local sites.

I've taken a culinary program here for the last 4 years. I'll be back.

Room Tip: There are no bad rooms. Talk with the reservations reps to select a room that work for you
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mauricio G, General Manager at Pura Vida Spa & Yoga Retreat, responded to this review, November 9, 2012
Let us start by thanking for your kind and rewarding comments, we really appreciate it and are fully committed to give you the best of us in each and every time you come back!!! Its always so nice to see you again!!

Culinary experiences are so deep and rich and can be lived so intense with Pura Vidas delicious cuisine and so vividly in Pura Vidas Holistic Gardens that it makes your experience a change in all senses.
Thanks again and many blessings, see you next time,

Your friends at Pura Vida
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Seattle, Washington
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 20, 2012

I was looking for solo yoga getaway and ended up meeting friends I'm sure I'll have for life! I did a 5 day package at the last minute and enjoyed much of it.

Pros
- lots of friendly people
- free wifi
- loved the healthy food
- so close to the airport (took a red eye, checked in and jumped right into a yoga class)
- lots of body work modalities to choose from
- lovely staff
- peaceful energy, beautiful grounds
- pool

Cons
- was not a big fan of the excursions (next time I'd skip these)
- not enough yoga classes!
- not near the ocean

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MgratPuraVidaSPa, General Manager at Pura Vida Spa & Yoga Retreat, responded to this review, November 9, 2012
Dear friend,

Thank you much for letting your thoughts get to us, we always appreciate the feedback from our guests so that we can improve our services.
We are also very glad to know that you made new friends, a beautiful part of your experience that maybe you were not expecting.
Blessings and hope to see you again in the future!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wanaque, New Jersey
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2012

I visited Pura Vida Yoga Spa and for the Mind-Body-Spirit retreat in July and I cannot say enough about this wonderful place. The grounds are stunning and respect for the environment is evident in everything from the layout of the buildings to the care given to the gardens to the food preparation.

My room was simple but superb. I stayed in a deluxe chalet. It was actually built into the mountainside. My door was sidewalk level but the rest of the building was actually suspended on supports over the side of the mountain. Two of the walls were entirely glass and one had a door that lead to a balcony extending further over the side of the mountain, so that entering my room, I actually felt more connected to the landscape than I did outside my door. Beyond my immediate spectacular view, San Jose could be seen in the distance. If this is hard to follow, it is because the experience was just beyond words. Bear in mind that there are other accommodation options, including tents and standard rooms with shared, separate bath/shower buildings. I’ve always had to balance a love of camping and the outdoors with my desire for running water, plumbing, and a comfortable bed. This room met these requirements perfectly. I’ve never felt so close to nature; yet convenience and comfort was always a few steps away at most.

The food was delicious and fresh. The salads and vegetables were creatively prepared. Chicken dishes were super moist and flavorful. The fish selections were decent, but less impressive than the veggie and chicken options. The staff was warm and friendly. The excursions were fun and the tour guides were engaging and knowledgeable. The Watsu massage was amazing. There was a perfect balance between activity and opportunity to relax.

One of the experiences that I found most memorable was the understated garden walk. This was not hyped at all, and was merely listed on a daily event calendar. I decided to go, basically expecting a brief, “Identify the pretty flowers” afternoon stroll. I could not have been more pleasantly surprised. Major kudos to Satya for patiently sharing her vast knowledge and deep respect for the earth’s bounty. She led me and another guest on a tour in which we saw, touched, and smelled plant after plant, some familiar and some less so. We touched and smelled Stevia and Patchouli leaves, which I had only seen before in bottled or packaged form. Satya showed us the proper way to extract aloe from an aloe vera leaf. I made a little swatch out of Citronella grass and later put it on my nightstand to ward off mosquitoes (not necessary as the elevation was so high that I never saw a mosquito). Before this, I never thought about where citronella in candles came from... factories? As we walked, someone from the kitchen staff came out to collect herbs and lettuce to enhance the evening’s meal. I never before so deeply felt the connection from earth to table. There were also butterflies everywhere. It was just magical, as close as I can imagine to a Garden of Eden.

The yoga instruction also deserves mention. The quality varied considerably, with the morning yoga being as good as any in my favorite home studios or on retreats led by yoga masters. The late day yoga was just okay, with a lack of clear instruction or safe sequencing of asanas. That said, the morning yoga classes made up for any shortcomings of the afternoon/evening classes. For this, all credit and deep thanks go to Leonardo. He taught the morning classes with clarity, intelligence, and encouragement. He challenged us and created possibilities that would not be available without his expert preparation and guidance. Translation? After struggling with Crow pose for twelve-plus years, I eased into it under his direction. For this, I will be forever grateful. By the last class, Leonardo led us through most of the Ashtanga Primary series. He provided modifications for beginning students and he challenged those of us who were ready to go deeper. He inspired a stronger dedication to my practice and I have taken this home with me.

I came to Pura Vida Spa to step out of my comfort zone, to see new things, to challenge myself, and to relax. I have found all of this and more. I returned with a renewed inspiration and confidence to deepen my yoga practice and a rekindled connection to and appreciation of this beautiful earth, and to life. I am so grateful.

Room Tip: There is some noise in the rooms from the valley below the resort (motorcycles and trucks coming up...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MgratPuraVidaSPa, General Manager at Pura Vida Spa & Yoga Retreat, responded to this review, September 13, 2012
We are delighted to read your comment about the wonderful experience you had in Pura Vida. It gives us a tremendous amount of energy to keep doing what we love!
Thank you for taking the time to let us and everyone know about it!
Your friends at Pura Vida
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Mobile, AL
Top Contributor
244 reviews 244 reviews
44 hotel reviews
Reviews in 78 cities Reviews in 78 cities
112 helpful votes 112 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 17, 2012

This place is special. It is organized largely as a yoga retreat. I came for a conference (not yoga) and left relaxed and rejuvenated. I think that is their mission in life. It would be a disservice to try to capture all the little touches they have, but let me try to hit on a few. One- the staff is dedicated to ensuring you have a good experience. They try to honor all requests, and seem generally disappointed when they have to say "no". The food was excellent, and generally prepared along 'healthy' lines. Lots of fruits and vegetables, chicken and fish. I don't recall any beef being served during my seven days there. There are all types of accommodations. From 'regular' hotel rooms to tents. The tents however are more like hotel rooms with canvas walls than something you might see at your old Boy Scout camp. No TV's on property, no phones in the rooms. It took a day to get used to no TV, but I fell right in the groove. If you like gardens, you are about to fall in love. An amazing display and a very knowledgable staff that is anxious to share. I can go on, but won't. Just go. You will see for yourself . A note: there is a hotel in-town with the same name. Don't confuse the two. I'm sure it is a fine hotel, but you are looking for the Spa & Resort.

Room Tip: Research the room types. Ask questions. See above regarding tents, etc. Ask about proximity to th...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MgratPuraVidaSPa, General Manager at Pura Vida Spa & Yoga Retreat, responded to this review, September 13, 2012
Its our mission in life that you leave this place healed, relaxed and seeing the world in a different way, so we can say mission accomplished!!
It makes us very happy that you had a great stay and that you apreciate the work of a whole group of people dedicated to their jobs with their hearts!
Thank you for letting us know about your experience,
Namaste,
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Miami, Florida
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 28, 2012

We stayed in Pura Vida Resort for a week in June 2012, our room was the Lila Suite, excellent location within the resort, excellent view, very spacious with a nice "clear-roof" porch. The same owners have a similar facility in Tulum, Mexico, we have also stayed there and are very comparable, just that Pura Vida is located in the mountains of Alajuela near San Jose and Maya-Tulum is on the mexican caribbean riviera. Massages offered are simply outstanding, the Yoga facilities are breathtaking and service is very good all-around.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MgratPuraVidaSPa, General Manager at Pura Vida Spa & Yoga Retreat, responded to this review, September 13, 2012
Dear friends, Greetings from Pura Vida,

We thank you very much for letting everyone know about your experience in Pura Vida.
We hope to see you again soon so that you can enjoy one more day in Paradise!!
Your friends from Pura Vida.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Pura Vida Spa & Yoga Retreat

Address: 600 mts NW from Bar Apolo 15 | Pavas, Carrizal, Alajuela 1112-4050, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Alajuela
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#3 Spa Hotel in Alajuela
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Pura Vida Spa & Yoga Retreat 3.5*
Number of rooms: 51
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
World-Class yoga instruction, acres of natural beauty, delicious healthy cuisine and spa services unrivaled in Costa Rica await inside the cloistered walls of this magical retreat. Tropical rain forest, active volcanoes, mountain cloud forests full of rainbows, breathtaking beaches and exhilarating white water rafting beckon the adventurer in you, all within a few hours drive of our eco-chic spa and wellness resort in the world's greenest country. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Pura Vida Spa & Yoga Retreat Hotel Alajuela
Pura Vida Spa And Yoga Retreat
Pura Vida Wellness Retreat Spa
Pura Vida Spa & Yoga Retreat Costa Rica/Alajuela

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