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“Pura vida is great!”
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 July 23, 2007

We recently stayed at the Pura Vida hotel the night before our departure from Costa Rica. The hotel was very conveniently located to the airport-- we were there in just a few minutes, no traffic or hassles. From the time we first contacted Bernie to inquire about availability he was amazingly responsive, offered many suggestions for travel and itinerary and we LOVE that Pura Vida is attempting to go beyond just tourist catering to try and help their visitors experience the "real" Costa Rica. Thanks to Bernie's suggestions we ended up visiting the Doka coffee estate for a really great and informative tour-- one of the highlights of our trip! We also LOVE that the hotel is as community oriented as it is-- Bernie and Nhi organize book collections to give books to schools and really do want to try and help their guests find an "authentic" experience.

The rooms were large, clean, and comfortable. The grounds were very pretty and the staff even got up early at 5:30 to provide us with a "to-go" breakfast the morning of our departure. The only slight downside is that you can hear a bit of traffic from the road-- but this quieted down significantly after 6-ish. Given the convenience of the location, the friendliness of the staff and the more than comfortable rooms we really can't recommend them highly enough.

  • Stayed: July 2007, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank JCMN_7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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694 - 700 of 767 reviews

Reviewed July 18, 2007

We stayed at Pura Vida upon our arrival in San Jose and our first experience was pleasant. Except for the fact 3 large german shapards run around the kitchen and eating areas. I felt this was not acceptable. Not everyonew wants to eat with a dog running around. Entry and lobby smells strongly of dogs.
Despite the dog issue all was fine.
When we were returning for our flight home we decided to stay our last night at Pura Vida. This room was VERY unpleasant. I was shocked. it was beyond dirty, walls and baseboards were rotten and filthy. There was a dead cockroach in our shower and I felt like I was staying in a roadside 1930's motel that had no renovation. Drapes were so old they were faded and actually rotten. Worst all after this disappointment . That night we were invited to join a dance lesson on the patio by an employee. After the dance lesson which we watched more then participate we were informed we owed $10 each for the lessons! When I spoke to the owner - she said it was not her problem and I must take care of it. We had no idea we were being charged for the lesson !
In the morning the breakfast was good and enjoyable BUT the room is so close to a neighbor that we were woke up at 6:00 AM by the neighbor making his morning coffee - we could actually hear him stirring the cup of coffee - really ! Then after hearing every move of the neighbor he started his car which was parked next to room with big ZOOM and noise he was gone - quiet at last , 7;00 time to get up!
We were treated rude and like we were a burden to the owners. My daughter saw them drinking alot, perhaps this is a problem?
I highly suggest finding another location to lay your head.

Stayed: June 2007
5  Thank jonil
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, 2007

This review, in our opinion, contains allegations that are not true. The details are below.

We have been very well reviewed on TripAdvisor and appreciate the service. There are 62 reviews since the first in May 2004. Where we have had problems, we have immediately investigated and resolved them to the best of our ability AND answered them on TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor tends to keep us on our toes. And we credit TripAdvisor reviews, as well as our staff and other guests’ input for our continued improvements in the property and our service.

We work very hard to please those who arrive on our doorstep any time of day or night.

The allegations by this guest were the result of the Pura Vida Hotel not interceding in a $30 transaction between the guest and a third party while on hotel premises.

The guest was charged $10 each for her party of 3 by a privately hired dance instructor for a dance lesson which they attended but had not been invited to. The dance lesson was part of a private party held on hotel premises but organized separately by a group of 16 guests staying at the hotel that night. The hotel did not hire the dance instructor nor did we participate in the event except to provide the space and dinner for the guests.

The guest's subject line "Rude owners with drinking problem - Dirty, no A/C room with bugs for $135!" is not true. We thank TripAdvisor for allowing us at least a response. Specifically on one easily verifiable fact the guest credit card receipt that night was for $94.61 for 3 persons including taxes, breakfast and internet usage. These charges were made in Costa Rican currency at the local exchange rate of 520 colones to the dollar charged to the guests’s credit card. The guests cost was in fact $94.61, not $135. All our prices are very clear on our detailed web site. This guest "fact" is not true.

As for the lack of air conditioning in rooms, the guest knew that we do not have or need A/C from the first night she stayed with us a week earlier (and she returned anyway). We never advertise A/C. A/C is not needed in this part of Costa Rica and at our altitude of 3000 feet. The hotel web site states ceiling fans are in all rooms and we provide layouts of each Casita on the web page "ROOMS". We take the guest’s decision to stay a second time at the Pura Vida Hotel (even without prior reservation for the night in question) as a sign that she was satisfied with her first stay.

As for the "rudeness" allegation, we were never “rude” to the guest in any way. Specifically my wife told the guest that she needed to talk to the third party whose services she had used and that we could not intervene. The guest alleges we were "rude" which is untrue and no example is cited by the guest. We told her we could not intervene in a third party matter.

The thing we take major offense to is the allegation of "drunken proprietors". This is outrageous and is not even something observed first hand by the guest - as in the guest statement in her review “My daughter saw them drinking alot, perhaps this is a problem?”. This is not true nor observed by the guest in her review.

This is a small hotel with personal service - we live on premise and interact with guests seven days a week, and are available 24 hours. Any irrational behavior on our part would have surely been observed by previous guests, a number of which have posted reviews on TripAdvisor about us. Even our three German shepherds have been reviewed very favorably in some of the 62 reviews posted. The guest knows we have dogs and many of our reviews talk favorably about other guests interaction with the dogs.

We would also like to point out that the guest and her two daughters were on hotel premises for a total of about 30 hours (including sleeping time) during both stays. None of our previous guests – some of whom have stayed for several consecutive days and on multiple occasions – have observed a “drinking problem” because this statement is simply not true.

That particular night the hotel was full and we were very busy.

As far as room cleanliness goes, we have consistent TripAdvisor reviews for spotlessly clean rooms and gardens. The guest states in her review that “Drapes were so old they were faded and actually rotten”. This again is not true and we feel is triggered by her being upset about the third party charge again. The guest stayed in the Mariposa Casita that night. As soon as we got the review we inspected every inch of the Casita. 4 of the 10 curtain panels did have some fading as they are in direct sunlight on the front of the Casita. We have made a full set of 10 panels and they have been replaced. Their design may not have pleased the guest, but that would not make them “rotten” since none of the curtain panels had a single mark on them – except for some fading each panel was perfect. The allegation of "rotten panels" is just not true.

This review is all about a transaction between this guest and a third party who had been hired by another guest to conduct a dance class. Our guest got upset with us for not intervening. The other guest in question has already provided a statement of the situation that evening in the hotel and exactly what happened from her perspective to TripAdvisor.

In the meantime, we will do everything we can to ensure a positive experience to all our guests. We do our darndest to provide an environment guests will enjoy at the Pura Vida Hotel – something that most of the reviews already attest to. Our personal mission is to create a hotel atmosphere and environment that "we would love to stay at". We appreciate the opportunity both to respond and to improve our premises and services.

Thank you.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 15, 2007

Pura Vida Hotel is elegant, yet feels like home. We stayed in the Toucan Casita which was roomy, bright, joyously decorated and spotlessly clean. The Casitas are reached by a rock path which meanders down a hillside garden filled with specimen plantings, with a view across the valley to Volcan Poas. Our only regret is that we planned our stay for only one night. A return trip to Costa Rica will start at the Pura Vida Hotel.

  • Stayed: June 2007
    • Value
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Thank For_kids_books
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 21, 2007

Muchas Gracias "kids books" for the kind comments . . . and though we don't know who you are I'll bet you are one of the many kind guests who brought books for the local escuela. Where there was once nothing at all we now have an excellent working and well maintained library at the school thanks entirely due to guest donations. Thanks again! Berni

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 14, 2007

We stayed at the Pura Vida the first night of our stay in Costa Rica.
The taxi ride is about 10 minutes away through and then out of town. Upon arrival, three huge German Shepards rushed out of the doors and immediately sniffed our luggage. Given the fact the I wasn't used to this type of thing, I was alarmed. The large dogs had free roam of the place and frequently growled and fought with each other. If you aren't a serioius dog lover, I would think twice about staying here. Check in was a breeze. Berni showed us to our room- a volcano room. The room had the basics. We took a walk through the garden which was beautiful- especially at night. The showers only have one setting- which is cool/lukewarm. There are lots of travel guides in the lobby along with games and books for children. The breakfast was tasty. Fresh fruits arranged on a platter and a small chocolate loaf. The juice was sooo refreshing. Check out was easy, too. Since we only stayed here one night, we weren't here for a long time but from what we saw, the place was decent for a one night stay. There isn't much to see or do in Alajuela, so this hotel would be only for one night. There are hotels closer to the airport that probably have a safer feel and more modern accomodations.

  • Stayed: July 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
1  Thank AKAPearl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 17, 2007

This is one of the most pleasant Bed and Breakfast we have ever stayed at. They have these beautifully decorated little houses very clean and private for their guests. Bernie and Nhi are so warm and welcoming. On our arrival from the airport we were treated to sumptuous late nite dinner in the sweet garden resturant. Bernie is a very infomative host will help you with all your Costa Rica travels and insites. He is a wealth of information about the country and other places to stay and see.The staff they have, are very friendly and so willing to help you with whatever they can. I recommend this place highly, although we wish it could be our little secret. At the end of our trip we stayed another 2 nites and it felt like coming home before we really did have to go home. We can't wait to go back!

Stayed: May 2007
Thank ColoradoLovetotravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 12, 2007

My husband, 2 teenagers and I stayed here at the end of May for our first night in Costa Rica. We stayed in the Katydid Casita, which was perfect for the 4 of us, and the grounds are beautiful. My 2 boys kept themselves entertained playing with the dogs, checking out the different fruit, and hanging in the hammock. The dinner we had here was the best meal of our 10 days in Costa Rica. We wished we had stayed here our last night as well. We'll definitely be back.

  • Stayed: May 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
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Thank Addicted2Travel07
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 30, 2007

My boyfriend and I stayed at Pura Vida Hotel 3 times during our visit to Costa Rica (upon our arrival, midway through since my boyfriend had business meetings in San Jose and before our return flight). The owners, Bernie and Nhi, and their staff are very friendly and helpful. Bernie gave us excellent recommendations on places we should visit. The breakfast is delicious: fresh fruits and fresh juice, and Nhi bakes mouth-watering cakes or bread puddings to finish it off! We were in different casitas for each night. All are very clean, comfortable and also very spacious. You also feel very safe in this hotel. Don’t let the 3 big German Shepard dogs scare you either. I’m not a dog person and got scared when I first saw them, then realized that they don’t bother you.

Stayed: March 2007
2  Thank Aur0ra
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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