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“Pura Vida reflects the Pura Vida mindset of Costa Rica”
Review of Pura Vida Hotel

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Pura Vida Hotel
Ranked #1 of 65 Alajuela B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed July 1, 2013

Welcomed by Carlos, an immediate "old friend" his face framed by a huge smile, we were at once at home at the Pura Vida Hotel. This gem of an oasis tucked into the maze of Alajuela is worth seeking out. Our family ended a storybook vacation with 4 adult children in this magical enclave appropriately named, Pura Vida. Hotel?? Not like any "hotel" I've seen. The individual casitas were equipped to the max with every possible thought and detail to make the traveller feel especially pampered. For the dog lovers, Pura Vida comes amply equipped with resident canines who add to the homey feel. The compound embraces one with the safety and beauty of what we are reminded a family homestead should be. Lovely, Friendly, Familiar.

I think of our journey every day and cannot wait to return. I shall begin and end my next pilgrimage to Costa Rica, the country of magic, with Pura Vida Hotel & my new "old" friend Carlos shall welcome me once again.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with family
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Thank marciacarlsonpack
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 July 8, 2013

We, and Carlos, thank you for your excellent review.

Part of what makes a visit to a hotel is the hotel itself which is a bit like a vehicle. The other more important part is the guests themselves. You brought your good vibes to the Pura Vida and somehow they fitted us perfectly as we were the right vehicle for your family.

Thanks again for coming and we look forward to your return visit - there is a lot to see in this little country of ours,

Berni
Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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336 - 342 of 793 reviews

Reviewed May 31, 2013

...and have been staying there ever since. We are usually coming up from the southern part of Costa Rica for a last night before the flight out. Berni and the staff are always helpful and friendly.
We especially enjoy the dinners. In the old days the dinner was served only on Friday nights. Now they have it nightly. This boutique hotel and restaurant rarely serves more than 10 guests so the food is carefully watched over. One memorable occasion involved dinner of fresh salmon cooked to perfection, beautifully flavored vegetables and an eclair topped with cacao nibs. We were then informed that the guests sitting at the table next to us were the owners of the cacao plantation who were friends of Berni and Chef Nhi. It was their cacao nibs that were sprinkled on the eclairs. That is some attention to detail.
We have never had anything less than a great stay at Pura Vida. In fact we just confirmed another reservation today.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Frank F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 29, 2013

We spent 3 nights here at the end of our 2 week stay in Costa Rica. We were driving in from Manuel Antonio and the directions Berni provided were spot on, even in a country where road signs are virtually nil. We stayed in the Rainforest Casita which was a lovely, spacious suite with beautiful views of the garden. We decided to make an early morning go for the Poas Volcano our first morning so we had a "to go" breakfast prepared for us which we took up the mountain and enjoyed enroute. Our next two days we enjoyed the traditional breakfast which included an amazing fruit tray, fresh pineapple juice, yogurt with granola, and a type of bread pudding with rum sauce....yum! We also opted for dinner on our last night and Nhi gave us an incredible meal - definitely worth the $33 per person and a highlight of our trip! Talking with Berni, Nhi, and Carlos was wonderful...they are involved and caring and definitely want to ensure that you have an enjoyable time. There are shelves of Costa Rica guidebooks and we utilized them to make our plans during our stay, along with input from Berni, Nhi, and Carlos. We learned about the big Cartago "curse" and the chance the team had to break the curse and win for the first time in 73 years (sadly, they did not). It's that kind of thing that makes you feel like a part of the extended family - you don't get that in a big hotel.

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Suzski
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 28, 2013

This is a wonderful, central place to stay while in Costa Rica. It is a quick cab ride to and from the airport and the casitas are lovely and perfectly appointed. What makes this perfect though, is the wonderful care and information the hosts provide. Berni went out of his way to provide information on another area we wanted to visit, and his assistance with the Toyota car rental was seamless. He arranged to have the rental car delivered to the door of our friend's home in a town about 20 miles away. The Rental was exactly as promised and no surprises! Apparently this hassel free service isn't the norm in Costa Rica. If we didn't stay with friends ,we would use the Pura Vida as home base. This is our second stay and we will return.

Room Tip: Don't choose the Volcano suite for a Saturday night. It sits up high and every motorcycle in the...
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  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Barbara L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 26, 2013

A few months before a conference I was attending in Costa Rica, I learned that I would have the opportunity to travel a bit before and after the conference. Never having been to Costa Rica before, I started exploring the possibilities. After reading these reviews on TripAdvisor, I e-mailed Berni and -- even though I had not yet made any commitment to staying at Pura Vida -- he was generous with his attention to my questions and his remarkable knowledge of the area.

He provided a connection with Esterling Alvarado, a.k.a. Sterling, who was our driver and guide for the 'after' part of my traveling. (See separate review in Costa Rica Driving Private Tours.)

As it turned out, I stayed only one night at Pura Vida, the last night before I was to return home. It was -- as so many reviewers have noted -- a wonderful place to stay. It seemed a shame that I had only one night to spend there! Berni arranged for our 'last night in Costa Rica' evening out together, we had a wonderful breakfast, and the taxis arrived in good time -- and we got to the airport without a problem.

Next time I travel to Costa Rica I plan to arrive at -- and depart from -- San Jose Airport. And I plan to stay at Pura Vida on both occasions!

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank AnnS465
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 24, 2013

We enjoyed both our nights at the Pura Vida. Swinging in a hammock with a cold beer the night we arrived and enjoying a fabulous dinner the night before we left. The rooms were unique and inviting, the gardens lovely and the hosts accommodating. It is the perfect way to start and end your trip.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Tina T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 13, 2013

The Pura Vida is an outstanding place to spend your first or last night(s) in Costa Rica. It is a short taxi ride from the airport, yet is a small, tropical paradise of tastefully decorated, comfortable rooms and casitas set in a garden filled with orchids and other tropical plants. The breakfasts are positively amazing, including wonderful yoghert, fresh fruits, juice and delicious baked treats.

As other reviewers have mentioned, street noise is present, but the management provides earplugs, and the noise does stop around midnight; really, this isn't a problem.

Carlos, the manager, is extremely nice and helpful, answering questions, calling cabs, exchanging currency, and even whipping up excellent fruit smoothies on request.

Our only disappointment during our stay was the dinner. Maybe ours was an "off-night," but it was definitely not worth the $33/person price tag. First, we were seated at the hotel's designated hour and sat at our table for 45 minutes before the first food arrived. What was finally served was healthy and fresh, but *very* plain, simple fare...no sign of the fusion of Asian, Costa Rican and French influences, as advertised. Some other reviewers seem to have had a different experience, but based on our experience, we will always eat at the delicious (and inexpensive) Jalapeno's in downtown Alajuela (a short bus or taxi ride away) when staying at the Pura Vida.

Finally, if you have time, don't miss the Zoo Ave (again, a cab or bus ride away). All of the animals are rescued and kept in fairly natural settings. The fun is that you get to see many of the birds and mammals, up close, that you will be searching for in the rain forests...spider monkeys, howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, various wild cats, tapirs, etc.

Room Tip: The two rooms attached to the house have nice views and are very private. Casitas are set in the ga...
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank prado1122
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 May 26, 2013

We thank you for your comments and the nice words for our manager, Carlos. Also we'd very much agree with you that Zoo Ave is a worthwhile and memorable stop (even for people who do not like zoos). What is going on here is what zoos were supposed to be about but never really accomplished. We recommend it to all our guests as a way to get a good feel for the flora and fauna of Costa Rica in a very short period. Quite a number of the animals are seemingly "just visiting" running around wild near the cages.

Regarding your dinner comments: We do want to apologize if our dinner service was not up to snuff in your opinion. This comment came as a surprise to us in our 10 years of dinner service. We are sitting here a bit baffled as to what went wrong. We personally check with every guest during every dinner service frequently and there was no mention of anything being amiss. We take great care in planning our menu, shopping for each dinner, getting the freshest ingredients and accommodating any special dietary restrictions. We use all kinds of ingredients to create our special dinners - some nights other guests will limit our repertoire with their special needs such as gluten free, dairy free, no shell fish, no nuts etc etc - we have heard it all.

We are not sure what you had or if dietary restrictions caused you to think our "food was bland". We take great care in our dinner service as well as things like tonight's special menu and wine selection. Many guests on Tripadvisor have said it was "the best dinner of their trip".

We have had special needs some nights that are challenging and we are more than willing to do some special leaps to accommodate them which can put a crimp in our style. Also I should mention that we have only one sitting and all the hotel guests are served at the same time so other guests would have remarked if service was slow. To my knowledge we have never served a dinner 45 minutes late - and nobody has ever commented on that. We do however have fairly complex recipes, extensive ingredients and dinner is definitely not "fast food" service. This is a sit down gourmet dinner service available only to our guests with advanced reservations where each dish is prepared absolutely fresh.

So do contact us so we may refund your disappointment and we can also figure out which night and which dinner it was so we may not repeat it in the future. We thank you for taking the time to review us and hope you will contact us so we can understand better.

Berni
Manager

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Additional Information about Pura Vida Hotel

Address: Tuetal Sur | 4km North of SJO International Airport, Alajuela 20101, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Alajuela
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 65 B&Bs / Inns in Alajuela
Price Range: $99 - $192 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Pura Vida Hotel is located 4km north of the SJO International airport - we provide a free taxi pickup for international arrivals. Breakfast is included and an excellent dinner is available with reservations (or late meals for late arrivals). Touring services include car rentals delivered here, private vans and as much touring advice as you wish - we are experts on Costa Rica. We have arrangements with Toyota Car Rental for deals on car rentals. Our idea is simply that this is a place we would like to stay at when we travel. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Pura Vida Alajuela
Hotel Pura Vida
Pura Vida Hotel Costa Rica/Alajuela

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