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“Caution - some pros, but a lot of cons” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat

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Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Playa Hermosa, Santa Teresa 154, Costa Rica   |  
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Hotel website
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Hotel amenities
Special Price
30% off room rate
Ranked #12 of 25 hotels in Santa Teresa
needtotravel12345
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“Caution - some pros, but a lot of cons”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed September 24, 2013

I waited a couple of months before writing this review because I wanted to take a while to collect my thoughts about our very poor experience at Pranamar. I wanted to make sure to only highlight the major issues that still stand out though we experienced a lot of small issues during our trip as well.


I’ll start with the few things we did enjoy:
- Yoga - the included daily yoga classes were very nice. They were right by our villa and had a nice mix of guests and locals attending. Peaceful way to start the day.
- Breakfast – the food in general here was good and I appreciated the made to order breakfast (versus a buffet). However the prices were extremely high. And on top of that they nickel and dimed us for everything (example – we ordered eggs which were included for breakfast but had to order a not included side of bacon which they charged us $4 each every morning for the bacon)
- Calm atmosphere – this is a very peaceful place to relax due to laid back culture and lack of crowds


Now onto our issues:
- Room quality – I cannot say strongly enough how incredibly disappointing this was. We were there during green season and even with a discounted rate this was egregiously overpriced for the quality of amenities and accommodation. So frustrating. The bed linens were dirty, stained, and very cheap. The air conditioner is a unit on the wall that would turn itself off randomly (some due to total electricity outages). The main bathroom is outside which we found unappealing given the number of creatures around the property. The upstairs bathroom which we used as our primary bathroom even though it was inconveniently on another floor was gross. Outdated with very dim florescent lighting. Dead moths in the shower daily.
- Noise - There is no noise barrier in the villas due to a lot of screening for walls (some of which was falling off the wall in our house) so we could hear everything our neighbors were doing including the nightly sing alongs from the family next door lasting for hours. Sigh. Also we were woken up around 7:30 am one morning by guys slashing bushes right by our bedroom window with machetes which was terrifying. When they saw us look out the window they nodded and left, but not a pleasant way to wake up on vacation. They also had a small ladder with them which they had propped up against the area of our outdoor shower / bathroom so was extra thankful we decided not to use that bathroom for anything during our stay.
- Service – When we checked in and were completely freaked out after our drive to arrive, the front desk attendant was very insensitive. No help with massive ants in our villa (more details below). We asked the front desk to check our cabin regarding bats as there was something large flying around our living area ceiling one night but they just reported back they didn’t see anything. We also asked about the difference in prices on our bill as on the food menu and were answered with a shrug by the restaurant wait staff. There was a nice gentleman around the property during the days who would say hello but that is not enough to make up for the lacking customer service otherwise. I love the pura vida culture and attitude but in a customer service industry they need to be more mindful of resolving issues and providing answers for guests.
- Creatures– I know we are in CR. I totally get that. This was the last place of 5 we stayed during our trip and was by far the worst in terms of creatures, particularly in our room. Around the property there were stray dogs, snakes, spider, bats, and the usual CR bug assortment. In our villa we had massive (palm sized) moths, lizards, and massive (half an inch) ants that got into our bags. We called the front desk the night the ants were everywhere – they came and looked and said “well it’s wet out, they are just trying to find somewhere dry”… and left.

Other items worth noting:
- Arrival / departure – please please take care in how you plan to come to pranamar. We read their website ahead of time and the directions are focused on those arriving from San Jose. We however were coming from the northwest coast and since there were no directions online we forged our own path which was disastrous. We certainly take the responsibility here but while we were lost in the country side the front desk tenant was hardly helpful and stopped answering the phone after a while leaving us completely stranded in the middle of farm land with no one around to ask. We ended up driving on a dirt road full of potholes for ~5 hours including crossing through several rivers of which we had no idea how deep. We managed to arrive just before dark and would have been helpless if even 15 minutes later. Coming from San Jose is much easier including mostly paved roads and a car ferry. Proceed with caution here!!


In summary we unfortunately really did not enjoy our stay here. Good friends of mine recommended it but they obviously had a very different experience. We found the accommodations low quality, the poorest value for money of anywhere we stayed in the country, and would not recommend it.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
pranamar, Manager at Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat, responded to this review, September 27, 2013
Dear Guest,

Thank you so much for taking your time to express your experience at Pranamar. I am very sorry to hear that it was such a disappointing visit for you.
Firstly I want to say to all readers 2 things that we always want our clients to know before choosing Pranamar and any hotel from this part of the country. First, we are in the jungle. The “war” (if you want to see it that way) against bugs and all living creatures, is a lost one. We are never going win that one and we don’t really expect to. What we really would like is for our guest to be able to live in harmony with nature. We are very well aware that it is not for everyone, but we never try to mislead people into thinking that they are going to come to hospital-cleanliness kind of hotel when we are located in the tropics. If any of you are thinking of coming to Pranamar or Costa Rica during the rainy season and you have a problem with occasional bugs, please don’t come. Yes, there are ways to guarantee that there will be no bugs or living creatures coming near a villa, but that requires the use of very strong chemicals and that is a lifestyle and industry which we do not want to support.

Secondly, the roads. Yes, we are in a very remote area and the roads coming from the north part of the country, are terrible that time of the year. We strongly advice and recommend all our customers to come from San Jose for this reason. Some clients decide to take the adventure tour from the north, others decide to ignore our advice because they found a cheaper air ticket to Liberia. What I can guarantee is that we never recommend coming from the north. Please don’t do this unless you are a real nature and adventure lover with high orientation skills, because not even GPS works in that part of the country and you will not find a single road sign.

In your case, my dear guest, I am sorry these were part of your experience since obviously this part of Costa Rica is not for you. You mentioned that you came from the northwest and that this was the worst hotel you stayed at in terms of bugs. The north pacific part of Costa Rica is tropical dry forest. As you move towards the south, you get closer to our rain forest, and as the name suggests, the rain forest has thousands of times more living creatures than the dry forest. Meaning that the more to the south you move, the more wildlife you will find, being the Osa Peninsula the meca of biodiversity. Your last part of the trip was the one most exposed to nature.

I must apologize though for the behavior of our staff, if it is really true that they refused to help you in the attempt to clear the bugs and explain you about the menu prices. I will find out who the staff were that took care of you during your stay and conduct an investigation.

This is one of main reasons why we don’t recommend people driving from the north. When they arrive they are so miserable and angry, that it is very difficult for us to make them take a deep breath and calm their emotions and find inner peace. Again, please don’t come from the north!

We do offer free yoga lessons for our guest though, I am glad you liked them and I hope it helped you ease the pain.

The outdoor shower. It is designed for people to experience nature at its most. For those who don’t like it, we have a second bathroom which is indoors. Both are cleaned on a daily basis by professionally trained staff as any of you would expect from a hotel of this category. Unfortunately, the outdoor showers are a different world. Having leaves falling from trees is not something we can stop. Having rain water in the tub can’t be stopped either if a heavy rain comes and the drain was left locked, and certainly no one will want a maid checking on your outdoor shower every 2 hours.

I am sorry you found the price expensive even after the low season rate and the discount. There is not much we can do about that. I don’t think anyone will think there is a fair price to pay for something they fear, and you clearly fear and are disgusted by ants and moths, etc . I must say we do have very fair prices in our restaurant. As you experienced, it is a mission to get all the way here. Prices will never be as low as in the city, but I invite everyone to see have a look at our menus and judge for themselves. Yes, bacon and all side orders are at an additional…sorry.

I hope everyone can understand our point of view. Our hotel is not dirty. Bugs are not dirty. Nature is not dirtiness. We use all biodegradable products in our hotel. We have a water treatment plant to recycle water. We make all efforts possible to living in harmony with nature. For us, being dirty is supporting big industries that pollute our oceans and ecosystems with chemical cleaning products, bleach, fake ingredients like the DEET in the insect repellents, fossil fuels , artificial sweeteners, canned foods, etc. This is what we thrive for and hope that everyone that visits us gets the message and spreads it. It is the only way to go.

Mario
GM.
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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Norfolk, Virginia
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 27, 2013

After a perfect week at Pranamar in Aug 2012 (see my review from last year, titled ‘Perfection!’, Aug 23rd 2013; read first, as this review simply adds on to last year’s review), I decided to return to Pranamar in Aug 2013 as part of a 30-person yoga retreat. I spent the entire year growing ever excited about my return, but as I got closer to the date of the Yoga Retreat, I began to worry that Pranamar would not be as magical as the previous year. Well, that was wasted time worrying!! Even at full capacity, Pranamar is still Heaven On Earth … and here’s why:

The location is unparalleled. Small bungalows (for up to 2 people) and villas (for up to 4 people) are brilliantly located within the natural flora of Costa Rica. Just yards away from the ocean front, the sounds of the surf and wildlife (birds with amazing songs and howler monkeys for starters) serve as a musical symphony for Pranamar’s unique setting.

The staff are nothing short of amazing! How do they manage to learn everyone’s name by the end of the first day? Your wish is their command, no matter how large or how small – from arranging ATV rentals to booking restaurant reservations, the staff at the Reception desk are always happily willing to help. The same is true for the restaurant/bar staff; they know you’re preferences and dietary restrictions by the end of day two (if not sooner). By the third morning, Melissa (so sweet and beautiful!!) had my steamed soy latte ready for me when I walked into the restaurant at 6:20 every morning.

The food is an epicurean delight!! Last year, I was an Omnivore and ordered off the menu at breakfast and dinner each day. This year, I returned to Pranamar as a Vegan, and found the food to still be fresh, delicious and imaginative (so many restaurants that do not cater to Vegans make very little effort for their Vegan menu options – NOT so at Pranamar). Since we were a large group, breakfast and dinner were served buffet-style – and we were a hungry crowd. If we ran out of something, the kitchen quickly refilled the platters. The variety offered was catered to all tastes – Omnivores, Vegetarians, Vegans, diary-free, gulten-free, etc. Not once during the week did I hear a single individual complain about the quality of the food, or the lack of food. Truth be told, I’m willing to bet some in the group gained a few pounds, although nearly everyone admitted it was the healthiest they’d eaten in years.

Our yoga retreat package included a one-hour massage. Again, everyone raved about their massage therapist (mine was Sonya – tiny, yet powerful!!). The location of the massage hut next to the beach entrance is pure genius; the sound of the waves were so mesmerizing that many of us ‘zoned-out’ or fell asleep while on the table. The massages were such a huge success that nearly everyone in the group booked a second (and even third) massage during the week.

The Yoga Shala is open on 3 sides, and sits about 60 yards from the ocean. With 2 yoga classes offered each day during our retreat, we spent a lot of time here. What yoga student doesn’t dream of hearing cues like ‘turn to the pool’, ‘turn to the ocean’ or ‘turn to the jungle’ while moving around the mat?!?

But here’s the BEST thing I can say about Pranamar – will I return for a third visit. ABSOLUTELY!!

Hugs and kisses to the Pranamar owners and staff; you have a true gift for creating the perfect vacation.

PS - as for the negative reviews you see here on Trip Advisor for Pranamar. Keep one thing in mind when you read them - some people are NEVER happy. 'Nuff said.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
    • 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.
Seattle, Washington
2 reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 21, 2013

I stayed at the Pranamar villas for a yoga retreat this August (2013). It was love at first sight upon arrival. The setting is beyond anything I could have ever imagined, a beautiful lush jungle setting tucks the villas and bungalows in a peaceful location. The ocean waves are heard from anywhere in the resort. I stayed in the Kula House (sleeps 7) and absolutely loved it! I also had my own bungalow for the last night, both accommodations were stellar. The showers were absolutely incredible in the villas, outdoor and very exotic feeling. The staff was one of the best services I have ever experienced, they were more than willing to accommodate on anything, including setting up any excursion or activity desired. Not only that but they were truly genuine people that shared their love and joy of Costa Rica with the guests. I really felt as if I was welcomed with open arms into the Pranamar family. I could go on FOREVER about how special this place was. I highly recommend whether you are a yogi or just looking for a relaxing vacation to swim, surf, play and explore, Pranamar has something for everyone.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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.
pranamar, Owner at Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat, responded to this review, August 27, 2013
Dear Happy Guest!
Thank you so much for this recent review. I'm delighted that you loved your stay and the MOST important thing is that you felt taken care of and that my beautiful Pranamar Family welcomed you with open arms! I do work with the best of the best!
So thank you for taking the time to share your experience and for complimenting the people who work at Pranamar. As the owner, i know that the most important part of a successful hotel is the authenticity of kindness of the staff.
Come back, come back, come back! Namaste!
Susan Money, Owner
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San Jose, Costa Rica
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 6, 2013

This hotel is just the perfect place. The architectural design of the rooms is awesome and the outdoors showers are incredible. The pools are super comfortable and very near to the rooms, which is great. And if this is not enough, the restaurants has one of the best food in Costa Rica, everything we ordered was served perfectly.

Room Tip: Villa 6 near the pool is very well located.
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
pranamar, Owner at Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat, responded to this review, August 7, 2013
Dear Just Perfect.,

Well we think you are also "just perfect"...really, thank you for your lovely review and for your kind words, and most importantly: you were so much fun!
Don't be a stranger here, come back and visit and share your beautiful smile with all of us again.

Much love,

Susan Money (Owner)
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sao paulo
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 25, 2013

This review is rather late (I was here in January of 2012) but I was thinking of taking a nice beach holiday this coming December and thoguht immediately of coming back to Pranamar. I travel a lot and this will be the FIRST place I have been to more than once..which shows how much I loved it.

I will break my review up into 3 sections: Grounds, Food, and beach

Grounds: Absolutely stunning. Surrounded by trees you really feel secluded and tranquil here. It was so relaxing. The place is perfectly clean and landscapped. The Yoga studio is right in the middle of the grounds with a fantastic view of the ocean in front of you. The pool is a perfect size, 2 levels as serene as can be with trees providing shade from the great Costa Rican sun.

You walk further away from the bungalows and you come to a great sandy area with hammocks, a bar, and more great trees :) The hammocks were great -I read, napped, and best of all was alone the entire 4 days I was there. As in no one was in the hammocks exept me! I really felt like I was the only guest at the place even though there were other guests I met in the restaurant.

Further from the hammocks a few steps away is the beach. The sand and ocean were fantastic. The water was very warm, waves were great, and again I rarely saw other signs of life. Such a relaxing, 'exactly what a beach getaway should be' vacation. Looking from the beach towards Pranamar you see all the trees blending with the bungalows making this place a hidden gem.

Food: I will keep this short. Everything was absolutely delicious. Everything.

Beach: Well I already covered this but, again, was great. Not Caribbean tourquoise water, but who needs that when the water is warm and the waves are great and you are ALONE. :)

This place is definitely off the beaten path but so SO worth it. I am excited to come back! Thank you guys for such an amazing experience!

I didn't read the comments for the less than excellent reviews..and to be honest, I dont care to because those people are crazy. Nothing about this place deserves less than excellent.

Room Tip: I had a Garden Bungalow..not sure which one but I had an Ocean View and it was great. All bungalows...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
pranamar, Owner at Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat, responded to this review, July 27, 2013
Dear Incredible guest,

Wow wow wow! I think we need you to come work for us as our public relations person. Thank you for a descriptive, warm and loving detail of Pranamar. Honestly, as a hotel owner, you dream of reviews like this.

I do hope that you are able to come back and we can share a healthy smoothie together. We really appreciate you taking the time to write such a complete review!

Again, big thanks!

Susan Money, Owner
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Panama City Beach, Florida
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 5, 2013

My husband I were part of a surf/yoga retreat in Santa Teresa and Pranamar was where we stayed. We had the Garden Bungalow which was very spacious and there were days and nights when we really appreciated the A/C!

We visited in late June (the rainy season) and everything was green and lush. The grounds are beautiful and the landscaping is truly a work of art. The beach directly in front of the property is pretty to view, but it's unsafe to swim. You have to travel a bit north/south to go swimming/surfing safely. Not a pain at all, just something to be aware of...

The yoga shala was amazing! Lots of room to spread out and practice. It was unique to be in a pose and feel the cross-breeze and hear the local birds chirping.

The bar/kitchen staff are GREAT and the meals were scrumptious! As retreat participants, our meals were pre-planned and were, for the most part, very healthy. I'm a healthy eater normally so I found them to be delicious! I looked forward to the banana pancakes every morning and my husband loved the coconut-crusted french toast. The fish was so fresh and some of the vegetarian options were so creative!

The front office staff were very accommodating. We needed help with a refund and also adding tips and cab fares to our overall bill. They made it easy for us!

If you're considering a surf/SUP/yoga retreat at Pranamar, be sure to visit Vajra Sol Yoga Adventures' website and their FB and tripadvisor pages to get a better perspective. It was an experience we'll never forget!

Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
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North Carolina
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
28 hotel reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
59 helpful votes 59 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 4, 2013

My family rented Pranamar for a wedding last year and I was so pleased with our visit. It was already a very special location for the bride and groom and I am happy to say it lived up to the hype they created.

We were in a bungalow with our baby that overlooked one of the pools. If you are traveling with young children, just be aware that they can walk right out the door into the pool. I watched my child like a hawk, but we all really enjoyed having the gorgeous pool literally steps from the door. The bed was comfortable in our bungalow and our bathroom was unique and had a great
decor. The upstairs bedroom had a balcony to overlook the property and a shower. Wifi was very handy and reliable in the bungalow.

Also, I didn't do any spa treatments on the property. I just saw a massage area, not a full spa. I did go down the road to Flor Blanca (spelling? ) which I believe the owners of Pranamar created and then sold. The spa there was incredible! Highly advise a visit.

Also, I do need to mention that in our case, the window curtains in some areas of the villa didn't give full privacy. One curtain in our bedroom kept falling and the same for our living room area. Also, the noise from the pool and yoga area travel directly into the room. I don't know how it would be if you were traveling and not into yoga, but since we rented the entire place we always knew when to expect things. Also, yoga is one of the reasons people go to Pranamar, so if it's not your thing, don't go. Also the roads to get to Pranamar are quite bumpy. Be aware if you are traveling with more fragile people. I was pregnant at the time and my family chartered a helicopter to get me and another pregnant relative back to the airport based upon my doctor's recommendation. I was in my 1st trimester.

Getting to and from the property back to SJO can be somewhat of an ordeal. My advice is to charter a helicopter and pack light. We had several relatives who had to take a very bumpy ride to a regional airport and then a flight to San Jose. Several people said the flight back to San Jose was a bit scary. "Like flying on a school bus." I think that driving from SJO to a ferry and then doing a ferry crossing, then driving to the property is another option that I would not recommend. I think it would take forever and you would lose a lot of vacation time that way.

To sum it up, the property is beautiful. Food was delicious and the beach was serene. The staff were all very kind and it was a pleasure to meet the owners. I know we will be back at some point and look forward to delicious meals, relaxation and the sunsets!

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 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.

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Additional Information about Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat

Address: Playa Hermosa, Santa Teresa 154, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Santa Teresa
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#10 On the Beach Hotel in Santa Teresa
#11 Romantic Hotel in Santa Teresa
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat 4*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Costa Rica’s Premier Ocean Front HotelPranamar Ocean Front Villas and Yoga Retreat, an intimate, consciously designed oceanfront hotel recently built on the spectacular beach of Playa Santa Teresa, offers guests tropical beauty and nature in an exotic and friendly ambience. Along with world-class surfing and our top-quality Yoga classes, numerous activities and adventures await you.Immerse yourself in the beauty and ease into nature’s rhythm as Pranamar’s experienced and caring staff take care of all the details, making sure your vacation is perfect.Our hotel offers a variety of accommodations to fit your needs and desires: our luxurious two-storey villas built around a free-form saltwater pool have private lounging areas, tropical gardens and boast spectacular views, while the ecologically-constructed bungalows offer tropical simplicity with sea breezes, spacious decks and views of the ocean.Pranamar’s beautifully designed open-air restaurant and tea lounge specializes in healthy, delicious cuisine using organic fruits and vegetables, local fresh fish, seafood and organic meats.We invite you to step into the rhythm of nature, breath in the energy of the sea and discover... PRANAMAR!!! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Pranamar Villas And Yoga Retreat Hotel Santa Teresa
Pranamar Villas And Yoga Retreat Costa Rica/Santa Teresa

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