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“Comfortable, but noisy”
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 August 8, 2009

The hotel is located in a nearby neighborhood which I did not think was going to be so safe, but they have private parking and a gate. The bungalows were nice and confortable. The staff was very friendly. The breakfast that was included was delicious and just enough to get us started. It was located close to the airport which helped if you wanted to stay close by the first night or even your last night in Costa Rica. The only downfall was that it was a very noisy night. The cars and motorcycles going by at night were loud. Also there were a lot of barking dogs throughout the night and morning. Besides that it was a nice place to stay for our last night in Costa Rica. It was perfect for getting to the airport.

  • Stayed: August 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank hope2678
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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605 - 611 of 795 reviews

Reviewed August 8, 2009

We stayed here the night before departing and having a fantastic vacation. Coming from Manuel Antonio we were forced to spending a night in alajuela opposed to going straight to the airport. I found Hotel Pura Vida to be an excellent choice of hotel for one simple reason: It felt like a one day extension of our vacation, opposed to just a bed to sleep on before leaving the country. We were in the Rainforest Casita and were able to get the procrasinators rate of $85US. Having very comfortable lounge chairs, a hammock and porch overviewing a beautiful garden was a fantastic way to lull away the final hours of our vacation. For this price its a very good deal and I wouldn't hesitate to stay here again on future Costa Rican trips. Some of the odd negative comments I read talked about not liking the 'compound' like structure. You are not going to be this close to the airport without security needing to be a factor - and this allowed me to feel very safe. This is not a problem with the specific area the hotel is in, its just the way Alajuela is, and the reason why most travellers opt not to stay here or in san jose any longer than needed. (even small towns in CR have bars on the windows or fenced in). Roosters and dogs and motorists do make some noise early in the morning, I was able to live with it though for one night and was able to sleep fine. If you're a light sleeper, perhaps you may need ear plugs, but I doubt unless you're really staying FAR outside the city, noise will be somewhat a factor anywhere.

  • Stayed: August 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank bruuen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 7, 2009

Although my stay at pura vida was short (only one night), I was amazed by the well appointed rooms and by the hospitality of the staff.

The lobby in the main house is quaint and filled with interesting Costa Rican artifacts (pottery, coffee, etc. for sale). There are hundreds of books available to read, ranging from vacation escapes to the history of Costa Rican Women. If you're interested, Bernie (the owner) is happy to make suggestions.

The room we stayed in was lovely. Tile floors, very clean, well decorated. All of the details were thought out. I was impressed to see a scrub brush, towel, and plastic bag in the bathroom such that I could rinse off my mud stained shoes.

After inspecting the room, my friend and I were exhausted and hungry from our long day of travel. A lovely staff member cheerfully suggested we could order food and placed the order for us. Bernie was also kind enough for us to give him the keys to our rental car at the end of the stay and he "made the car dissapear" such that we didn't have to return into the airport ourselves.

In the morning, there was a delicious breakfast of beautifully arranged fruit, wonderful coffee, banana nut bread, and granola with yougart. (A much needed break from Rice and Beans.)

I would happily have stayed an extra few nights at the Pura Vida... it was a wonderful end to a wonderful trip!

  • Stayed: August 2009, traveled with friends
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Thank laura418
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 7, 2009

We were very delighted with the location ( yes we could here motorcycles). very welcoming staff. Bernie was concerned enough to come to Toucan Cabin to make sure we were awake. our breakfast was ready in bags ( thanks Bernie ), left for airport at 6:10 Am,Bernie called the cab ). We also met the queen ( Bernie's Wife), very pleasant and welcoming. I should have bought the " Costa Rican Spanish for 10 bucks, at the air port it was $16.00.
My wife,and both kids ( 14 and 11) were also very happy ).

  • Stayed: August 2009, traveled with family
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Thank lovecostaricadotcom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 6, 2009

Our family stayed prior to visiting Paos and Quepos. These were not rooms we stayed in, but small houses were clean, very comfortable, and well decorated. Berni helped set us up Estarling and Orland...both wonderful drivers that drove us around and happily discussed life of Ticos. Dinner was wonderful and Berni's dry wit and humor were well appreciated.
.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled with family
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Thank siesta4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 6, 2009

Unfortunately all the positive attributes Pura Vida has going for it are canceled out by the negative ones.
The casita we had was very pretty, clean, bright with lots of attention to detail, but we spent more time wondering about the issues the owner Bernie might have then enjoying the lovely house. The owner seems socially challenged, his favorite mode of communication is brusque, he appears to be in the wrong business having to deal with people on a regular basis.
The property was well kept and nice, but had the slight feel of a high security prison, due to the high fences, triple door, barbed wire etc. This went well with the owners reaction upon our arrival, instead of small talk or introducing himself to us, he took over the check-in from one of his (friendly) employees and said that we had to move our car, which we had parked in front of the hotel, immediately lest something horrible would happen. This sounded like the wide spread "Costa Rica is a dangerous place" paranoia, but later the owner felt inclined to strike the pose of the relaxed no-it- all, who has to "comfort" his anguished guests with remarks like "everything is easy" or "no bad things happen in Costa Rica, only strange things'" .
The location is convenient, very close to the airport, but on the other hand very noisy as well, cars roaring by all day and night.
Given that I read what a marvelous breakfast is served at Pura Vida, I was somewhat disappointed by our packaged breakfast (early morning flight) consisting out of a fruit salad and a cereal bar, I had hoped for something substantial like a sandwich.
We didn't mind the dogs.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled with family
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Thank sylvia_jung
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 August 9, 2009

At the Pura Vida Hotel we have tried to develop a “place we’d like to stay at on our vacation”. There are many components to accomplishing that – in no particular order they include well trained and pleasant staff, excellent amenities, the best food and a safe and secure environment.

After working for years to provide a safe and secure place to stay near the international airport, it is unfortunate that our efforts to ensure guest security be labeled as “the slight feel of a high security prison” and “socially challenged”. We will do all we can to ensure a guest’s safety and security and that guests vacations are not marred by a preventable theft or an avoidable accident – while on our watch.

This guest had arrived in a rental car and had not been briefed on the standard precautions by their rental car agency. They parked their car outside the hotel, which is a street corner with no sidewalks and where buses make wide turns. They also left all their belongings unattended in the car. This doesn’t work in any city on the planet.

When I discovered that the guests had left everything in the car, I asked them quickly if they would mind either having one of them go out to stay with the car or bring the car into our compound. We provide guest parking inside the hotel compound which has automatic lighting, electric gate and convenient access to the guest Casitas. It is obvious that this guest took our intention to safeguard their belongings in a disturbing way. The neighborhood around the hotel is generally safe, guests have had no problems.

As an aside, most of the kids in our area have benefited from the school library built through by our guest’s donations over the years. We hope to have a positive effect on the behavior of the next generation in the village who appreciate the involvement of our guests at the school.

The Pura Vida Hotel has a well reviewed breakfast served from 7:30am to 9:30am (with many TripAdvisor reviews and photos). For guests who need to exit prior to 7:30am, we provide a “breakfast to go” which comprises of a healthy selection of fresh fruits, an orange juice and a granola bar. We need to balance the probability that this food will be eaten standing at the airport counter so the food needs to be portable, contained and bagged to avoid spillage and accidents. The Pura Vida Hotel is located 10 minutes from the Juan Santamaria International Airport and hence we get a lot of late arrivals and early morning exits at 4am or 5am. Unlike the local Hampton Inn, we are a very small hotel with 6 rooms and 7 staff. We do not have 24-hour kitchen.

So far, we have found this “breakfast to go” as a solution to a 4:30am breakfast to catch the 6:30am flight so at least our guests do not go hungry to the airport. We’d like to hear about your experiences of breakfasts for early exits at other airport hotels (if such a service is provided?). We are constantly seeking ways to improve our guest services and appreciate new ideas.

Anyway, regardless or our differing views regarding this guest’s situation, I am sorry that this guest took my reaction in a negative way and “spent more time wondering about the issues” than enjoying their stay with us. However, we will not become complacent when it comes to our guests’ safety and security. Our only goal is “happy guests” who’d be happy to refer their mother-in-law to us, or as has happened in one case, left their mother-in-law with us – safe and secure.

Thanks for the feedback and helping us to improve our services.

An interesting development: Costa Rica has passed sweeping new traffic laws which will go into effect September 2009. The new laws cover the gamut of issues that Costa Rican drivers have become famous for. They include stiff new penalties for drunk driving, speeding and the condition of your vehicle. Of particular interest to guests visiting Costa Rica is that starting September, noisy motorcycles being driven at high speed will be targeted and if necessary removed from the roads. Hotels all over Costa Rica are watching this development with a smile.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 26, 2009

I loved our stay at Pura Vida Hotel. The grounds were absolutely beautiful and the rooms were very comfortable and romantic. The nights were cool and comfortable as well as surprisingly quiet. The hotel meal was delicious and they catered to our vegetarian desires. The hotel had extras that I did not expect like candles, a limitless supply of coffee as well as a cork screw! Rebecca was the most helpful staff we found in all of Costa Rica. She really went out of her way to assist us - even more so than our "boutique hotel" in Manuel Antonio. Berni shared great stories with us and was a gracious host. It was very convenient getting to the airport in the morning. Our next trip to Costa Rica, we will definitely spend more time at Pura Vida and schedule some day and overnight trips from the hotel. I HIGHLY recommend this hotel (unless you allergic to dogs of course). But you will pretty much see a dog or cat in every restaurant in Costa Rica. And when they say NEVER leave your bags alone they mean it! We learned the hard way, that you must have someone in your car with your bags. Take turns using the restroom or buying food/drinks on your way to the hotel. Even if you think no one is around, don't get lax! We think the sweet little lady cooks got our bag because the place was empty. Oh well, it makes for a good story! And also if you drive, yes you will get lost and will more than likely have road delays. Do not try to keep a tight schedule!

Stayed: July 2009, traveled as a couple
Thank CharPHouston
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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 - $191 (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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