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“Beautiful rooms and grounds, great hosts.”
Review of Pura Vida Hotel

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Pura Vida Hotel
Ranked #1 of 61 Alajuela B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed November 9, 2009

We stayed in both the Volcano room and Toucan casita on different nights. Both rooms were lovely and Berni was a gracious host the entire time we were there. Enjoyed a nice meal one evening and a were given a tasty to-go breakfast upon our early exit. Great place to start/end your trip. Cheers!

  • Stayed: October 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank halfspeed
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed November 8, 2009

I stayed at the Pura Vida Hotel with Berni, Nhi and Rebecca for one night at the beginning of my stay in Costa Rica and 2 nights at the end. It far exceeded every expectation I had, even after reading all the great reviews.

On both stays I was 'upgraded' to beautiful casitas in the much loved tropical gardens. Fresh, crisp white linen, huge comfortable beds, beautiful bathrooms, comfortable lounge areas and hammocks hidden away in private garden spaces...the Pura Vida had all of this. However, it was the personal touches that made it really something extraordinary; coffee makers in the casitas, ear plugs in the bathroom (the Pura Vida was the quietest place I stayed in whilst in C.R.), funny little notes and signs in the garden...this place has real character.

Berni took me on a walk of the garden and shared with me his knowledge and experience of the tropical flora -a highlight was being able to taste a fresh cofee bean. Everything written previously about Nhi's cooking is absolutely true. Gourmet fodder...foodies beware, if you stay at the Pura Vida you may never leave to see anything more of Costa Rica, it's that delicious! Rebecca was friendly, knowledgable and so happy to give suggestions about what to see and how to get there.

Berni arranged for me to have a private guide on my second to last day so I could see a bit more of the surrounded areas. Guston, my guide, was absolutely charming! Nothing seemed too much trouble for him and I had a wonderful day exploring the sights around Alajuela.

I would have no hesitation in reccomending the Pura Vida to anyone.
Location is ideal for arrivals and departures out of the International Airport (note: the international airport ISN'T in San Jose...it's in Alajuela where the Pura Vida Hotel is).

Thank you Berni, Nhi and Rebecca!!!!

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled solo
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Thank Heidi Q
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 29, 2009

We recently returned from our first trip to Costa Rica and I am already trying to figure out when I can return again. It is truly magical. Part of that "magic" was Pura Vida Hotel and Berni and Nhi.
Everything from the friendliness, the casita and the food was far better than expected. We spent the first week at Playa Conchal and only three days at Pura Vida. On my next trip, the majority of my stay will be at Pura Vida, which is an excellent base from exploring the area.
Berni was such an asset prior to arriving by giving us much information at the area, excursions and even a rental car!
We went white water rafting on the Pacure River which is not to be missed. Berni and Nhi also arranged a day and a half tour with Sterling, an English speaking guide who was wonderful, warm and knowledgeable.
The casita was gorgeous and relaxing and every need was meet without any fuss at all.
Now, for the food!!!! Better than the five star resort we stayed at in Playa Conchal! Nhi is certainly amazing!
Pura Vida is the place to stay and I can't wait to get back!

  • Stayed: October 2009, traveled with friends
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Thank reddingrn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 26, 2009

This review can not possibly add another superlative to the other reviews of La Pura Vida. Read the other reviews for details and gushy compliments... they ain't lyin'.
Ignore the grumpy, unsatisfied ones. If they stayed at this hotel and had a bad experience our guess is that they're ornery to begin with. (Just note the imbalance between rave reviews and "raving mad" reviews.) No one is perfect, but this place is pretty darn close to it. Berni, Nhi and their staff have it down cold as host, chef, travel guide, socially and environmentally conscious, friendly-service-oriented owner/operators.
We will be back and give them money. You should too.

  • Stayed: October 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank KHGD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 22, 2009

This was an excellent choice for our first and last day in country. Took a 5-10 min taxi ride to hotel. Our rental car was delivered at breakfast, all arranged by Berni. On the last day we just gave him the keys and he took are of everything. This place is amazing. I cant say enough about it. The only negative is we got spoiled on the first night in counrty and no where else compares to it. Staff was helpful and gracious. Rooms were clean, roomy, functional, with many extra special touches like magazines and ear plugs. Gardens were beautiful. Some on posts complained of noise as its near the street but after staying in the rainforest for a week (thats noisy, bugs, monkeys, dogs etc.) we didnt find the noise bothersome at all. We felt very safe and sucure. The food was simply amazing. That said all the food in CR was great but thier food really stood out. The chef could easily cook for any restaraunt in NY or LA. Great value. Highly recommend as a gateway for getting in and out of the city.

  • Stayed: October 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank palapas_rule
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 20, 2009

My husband and I had the pleasure of staying at Pura Vida at the beginning and end of our trip. The rooms were really nice,very clean and comfortable. We enjoyed the big dogs running around and our day trip from the hotel to Poas Volcano.. Everyone that we met that works there was really nice and very helpful. Berni is doing so much to help the local school children and we think that is really cool.

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank karmagrl108
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 October 22, 2009

Thanks for the nice review. I want to expand a little on the topic your raise about working with Costa Rican public schools and your visit.

Schools in Costa Rica work differently than what you may have experienced. One aspect we (and our guests) work with is the severe shortage of books - the esential unaffordability of a $15 text book in an economy that is supported by $2 an hour wages.

There are many reasons for the shortage of books and the lack of a reading habit that is an indirect spin off of the culture. Yet this is a culture that is more committed to their children than most. And a culture that is proud of it's history of pacifism, healthcare and literacy. How is it possible to have one of the highest literacy rates on the planet (around 97%) and almost no libraries and few books? But how do YOU define literacy?

The good news is that Costa Rica is currently ranked #1 in a 2009 survey of primary school enrollment.

But what has that gor to do with literacy? Here it essentially means the child can "read and write". But when mandatory schooling stops at age 15, when there is a very low graduation rate and no books what is the likelihood that you will later bump into Kafka or Marquez or understand what a 48% interest rate really means on that first refrigerator you buy?

How will you grasp the significance of the precedents for the Geneva convention or even the history of evolution.

Kids can and DO graduate from school life with very little access to books. They are just too expensive and take a beating in the wet and creature filled neo-tropics. For the last few years we have had good success cajoling our guests to bring some books for the kids along with their luggage.

These books have been donated to Escuela Tuetal Sur which is located in a small modest rural community just north of Alajuela.

We also lately have been working donations for the Escuela Poasito (destroyed in the Jan 8th 2009 earthquake epicentered near the village on the slopes of Poas volcano). Our focus at Poasito school is to find old laptops people no longer need and get a computer lab started as it is so much harder to find the correct books.

These are "almost" typical public primary schools - kindergarten through age 12. Tuetal Sur school has 350 children this year and Poasito has 250. If we get books more suitable for older kids, these are now going to Colegio Tuetal Norte - the closest high school about 1km from the hotel. The colegio has 510 children this year and a library with less than 300 old tattered useless books.

The education and literacy issue is a complex one but here are a few local factoids. In Costa Rica, the government (MEP - Ministry of Education) provides the teachers but the neighborhood must find ways to house them (build classrooms, assembly areas, toilets and the like).

Most schools do not have libraries and there is no funding for such. The children are fed their main meal of the day for the equivalent of 25 cents (US) or about 140 colones. The schools have very few supplies (by comparison to what you may be used to) and in many poor rural neighborhoods the parents are unable to afford to help. Kids drop out of "colegio (high school)" early or do not graduate in part due to the inability to afford books and uniforms.

Thanks to the efforts of the school staff and the help of some of the gringo visitors a library is now an active part of school life at Escuela Tuetal Sur. Poasito has a couple of laptops and computer supplies and luckily a local high speed internet connection but as yet no internet access.

Both schools are "model schools" in many ways but most of all through their management. The directors of both schools have a tremendous commitment to education, are leaders in their villages and are held up as models for schools for many miles around. They make a very interesting visit for anyone interested in education.

To date our guests have donated many books as well as a large amount of school supplies. Contact the hotel for a list of the things that are needed. You'd be very welcome to deliver them yourselves to either school. Escuela Tuetal Sur is 1km from the hotel gates and Escuela Poasito is on the slopes of Poas Volcano on your way back from visiting the volcano park. We'd be happy to introduce you to either. Thanks again for visiting and taking time with the kids - the future stewards of the national parks and reserves you'll be visiting this trip.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 19, 2009

Within a few minutes drive of the airport Pura Vida is a hidden gem - a quiet hotel, excellently run by a caring team. Excellent, clean accomodation and superb breakfasts, what more could one ask for? A great place to start your holiday after a long flight.

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled with friends
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Thank DilkushaBude
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 20102, 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 61 B&Bs / Inns in Alajuela
Price Range: $88 - $158 (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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