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Pura Vida Hotel
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Reviewed March 18, 2013

Pura Vida Hotel is the perfect introduction to Costa Rica, and the
best base camp for trips out to the other parts of the country. As
reviewer after reviewer has said: it is very close to the airport; the
gardens are beautiful, and you will spot your first mot-mot and
blue morpho butterfly without having to walk miles into the rain
forest; the casitas are comfortable and well-furnished, and having
your own refrigerator and coffee machine to make the superb Costa
Rican coffee is a much appreciated extra; the breakfasts and dinners are the best I
have had in Costa Rica and some of the best I have had anywhere in my
travels.

Berni is very knowledgeable about Costa Rica now and happy to
share his knowledge. One of the things that puts you immediately at ease with Berni is his dry sense of humor. In the materials he leaves in each guest house, you can read the blow-by-blow accounts of his experiences learning the ins and outs of Costa Rican construction workers and plumbers in the early days of his inn-keeping life. He's British (via the .com world of California) and his tales have a Monty Python-esque touch that can't help but make you grin and then burst out laughing!

My friend and I are probably some of the few people who come to Costa Rica for its crafts. We have traveled through Mexico and Central America collecting handicrafts. Our first visit to Costa Rica, before we knew about Pura Vida, we found nothing to buy! Our second visit, when we stayed at Pura Vida, with Berni's help, we found some beautiful things. Each casita is decorated with local crafts. Some have mirrors showcasing Costa Rican flora and fauna in
beautifully handpainted tiles. When we admired them, Berni and Nhi
helped us find the artist's house so we could buy some of our own. The
hotel sells masks made by the Boruca people. When we admired them,
Berni helped us arrange a trip to their village in the mountains to
see the masks and maskmakers for ourselves, and told us the best place
to stay. He arranged the four-wheel drive car we needed to get there.

What I find unique about Berni and Nhi is their support not only for
local artists, but for Costa Rican schools and conservation projects.
Pura Vida encourages its guests to participate in "Pack for a Purpose"
(packforapurpose.org) and bring a suitcase full of school supplies
(which, once emptied, you can then fill with local crafts to take
home). If you aren't making Pura Vida your first stop, you can leave the school supplies at
the airport, and he will pick them up. On one of our trips he had helped arrange for us to visit the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. When the five of us arrived in Alajuela with five suitcases of school supplies, he directed us to a project on the east coast of Costa Rica run by friends of his so we could meet them and deliver the school supplies in person. It turned out to be one of our most memorable experiences in Costa Rica, and we are still in contact with Berni's friends.

He is presently actively involved in the Ara Project, an effort to save a Scarlet and Great Green Macaw breed and release project that has lost its land--and working to get other hotels involved. He will be happy to arrange a tour--http://www.puravidahotel.com/activities-a-tours/the-ara-project.html. It is now the #1 attraction in Alajuela on TripAdvisor.

We are repeat guests and now arrange our trips around the availability of the Casitas and Nhi's incredible dinners! A trip to Costa Rica wouldn't be the same without some time at Pura Vida with Berni, Nhi, and their ever-entertaining family of dogs!

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with friends
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2  Thank zxccaq
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
alajuelanorth, Manager at Pura Vida Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded March 24, 2013

Thanks so much for taking the time to do so detailed a review. I know we will probably welcome you back in a few months.

I would hope that more visitors like you would take the time to explore the local culture (which is sometimes hard to find) and see the real Costa Rica and support more of the local artisans (which for you is almost a full time job :-)). Your efforts are very much appreciated here and throughout the country,

Berni
Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 14, 2013

My spouse and I had the pleasure of staying for a couple of blissful nights at the start of our first visit to Costa Rica in January 2013 and then fortuitously a night prior to our leaving in February. I find myself at a loss for words to adequately describe the lovely experience , the casitas and grounds were beautiful and the meals were exquisite. The staff were incredible ,helpful, friendly and faultless to a t and the owner operators, Berni and His beautiful wife Nhi were superb, people you wish you could be close friends with for much longer than a too brief visit. The friendly dogs completed the ambience of perfect pura vida. Having Berni arrange a car rental which was delivered to the hotel and left there on our departure removed what is ofttimes a stressful period at the start and end of a holiday, the choice of small, 4wheel drive suv as recommended by Berni being perfect for exploring CR, albeit a necessity on some of the more adventurous parts of our trip. Our only regret is not staying longer and using the place as a base to explore the Central Valley environs, hopefully next time.

Room Tip: We spent our first two nights in the Volcano suite which as its name implied had a great view of Poas from the large deck and windows as well as a panoramic view of the lovely grounds as it was on the top floor of the main building. 3weekslater had the Toucan Casita surrounded by lush vegetation down near the foot of the estate gardens, again just lovely .
  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank robbblack
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
alajuelanorth, Manager at Pura Vida Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded March 16, 2013

Hey there Rob, thanks so much for coming and spending the time to review us. We also enjoyed your stay here and your certain sense of humor that keeps life so interesting while sticking a smile on your face whether you need it or not.

I know you agree that life is too short not to find even the oddest things either interesting or really quite funny. Stay warm up in Jasper and say hi to your demiwolf!

We do appreciate your visit.

Berni
Manager

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Reviewed March 8, 2013

we tried to stay in the orchid room twice but Bernie upgraded us to the volcano and Tucan rooms each time we stayed for the orchid price. the complimentary breakfast is awesome! the rooms are in separate houses across the beautifuly landscaped Gardens within the compound. they do have four nice German shepherds that roam the property. the volcano and tucan rooms were very nice with safes and extra amenities. Berni and Carlos were very helpful orienting us to the new country and answering all our questions. Pura Vida!

  • Stayed: January 2013
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Thank DavidfromOregon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 6, 2013

After nearly a decade of the Pura Vida always being my first and last stop in Costa Rica, I feel qualified to highly recommend your visiting as well. A finer host(Bernie) and superb chief(wife Nhi) you will not find anywhere!
I have hesitated sharing my enthusiasm for finding this instant transition from my urban home in the United States to the calming of the rainforest grounds of the Pura Vida because if It is too well known I will have a difficult time finding a place to stay at the Inn. The dinner must be planned in advance so Nhi can find the freshest foods in the market today and turn them into a memorable meal presented just to you.
I have started bringing tours to Costa Rica to share its rain forest wonders and we always start and end our adventures with a stay and meal at Pura Vida. Bernie has been a good friend and a wealth of solid information in making our tours very successful. Thanks for everything.
Pura Vida,
Everett

Room Tip: All rooms are unique and provide good views of the beautiful grounds and privacy. Bernie has discovered many clever ideas to make each room more comfortable.
  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled solo
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Thank Costa-Rica-Sam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
alajuelanorth, Manager at Pura Vida Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded March 7, 2013

Thanks for the review and your continued returns and now your new birding groups. We do appreciate the support of our myriad of returnees each year. This year your group taught me some new things about the big migrations and involvement of organizations I didn't know of.

Life is all about learning. Thanks for coming back again and sharing your good vibes with us all at the Pura Vida Hotel,

Berni
Manager

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Reviewed March 5, 2013

Stayed here one night at the end of a 2 week trip around Costa Rica. Clean and well designed room with a view - Volcano Room. Was a little noisy in the morning when the traffic, dogs, and roosters started up in the neighborhood. Ate dinner at Jalapenos in Alajuela - excellent recommendation from Bernie, one of the owners of Pura Vida hotel. Bernie hooked us up with bag lunches for breakfast since the our flight was leaving early. He also had a reliable cab ready to go when we needed it! Thanks!

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank fionnbahr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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