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Pura Vida Retreat & Spa
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Reviews (176)
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Reviewed August 18, 2012

I visited Pura Vida Yoga Spa and for the Mind-Body-Spirit retreat in July and I cannot say enough about this wonderful place. The grounds are stunning and respect for the environment is evident in everything from the layout of the buildings to the care given to the gardens to the food preparation.

My room was simple but superb. I stayed in a deluxe chalet. It was actually built into the mountainside. My door was sidewalk level but the rest of the building was actually suspended on supports over the side of the mountain. Two of the walls were entirely glass and one had a door that lead to a balcony extending further over the side of the mountain, so that entering my room, I actually felt more connected to the landscape than I did outside my door. Beyond my immediate spectacular view, San Jose could be seen in the distance. If this is hard to follow, it is because the experience was just beyond words. Bear in mind that there are other accommodation options, including tents and standard rooms with shared, separate bath/shower buildings. I’ve always had to balance a love of camping and the outdoors with my desire for running water, plumbing, and a comfortable bed. This room met these requirements perfectly. I’ve never felt so close to nature; yet convenience and comfort was always a few steps away at most.

The food was delicious and fresh. The salads and vegetables were creatively prepared. Chicken dishes were super moist and flavorful. The fish selections were decent, but less impressive than the veggie and chicken options. The staff was warm and friendly. The excursions were fun and the tour guides were engaging and knowledgeable. The Watsu massage was amazing. There was a perfect balance between activity and opportunity to relax.

One of the experiences that I found most memorable was the understated garden walk. This was not hyped at all, and was merely listed on a daily event calendar. I decided to go, basically expecting a brief, “Identify the pretty flowers” afternoon stroll. I could not have been more pleasantly surprised. Major kudos to Satya for patiently sharing her vast knowledge and deep respect for the earth’s bounty. She led me and another guest on a tour in which we saw, touched, and smelled plant after plant, some familiar and some less so. We touched and smelled Stevia and Patchouli leaves, which I had only seen before in bottled or packaged form. Satya showed us the proper way to extract aloe from an aloe vera leaf. I made a little swatch out of Citronella grass and later put it on my nightstand to ward off mosquitoes (not necessary as the elevation was so high that I never saw a mosquito). Before this, I never thought about where citronella in candles came from... factories? As we walked, someone from the kitchen staff came out to collect herbs and lettuce to enhance the evening’s meal. I never before so deeply felt the connection from earth to table. There were also butterflies everywhere. It was just magical, as close as I can imagine to a Garden of Eden.

The yoga instruction also deserves mention. The quality varied considerably, with the morning yoga being as good as any in my favorite home studios or on retreats led by yoga masters. The late day yoga was just okay, with a lack of clear instruction or safe sequencing of asanas. That said, the morning yoga classes made up for any shortcomings of the afternoon/evening classes. For this, all credit and deep thanks go to Leonardo. He taught the morning classes with clarity, intelligence, and encouragement. He challenged us and created possibilities that would not be available without his expert preparation and guidance. Translation? After struggling with Crow pose for twelve-plus years, I eased into it under his direction. For this, I will be forever grateful. By the last class, Leonardo led us through most of the Ashtanga Primary series. He provided modifications for beginning students and he challenged those of us who were ready to go deeper. He inspired a stronger dedication to my practice and I have taken this home with me.

I came to Pura Vida Spa to step out of my comfort zone, to see new things, to challenge myself, and to relax. I have found all of this and more. I returned with a renewed inspiration and confidence to deepen my yoga practice and a rekindled connection to and appreciation of this beautiful earth, and to life. I am so grateful.

Room Tip: There is some noise in the rooms from the valley below the resort (motorcycles and trucks coming up the hill near the resort, barking dogs). After the first night, I became accustomed to it and it did not disturb my sleep.
  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled solo
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4  Thank LoudWritr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MgratPuraVidaSPa, General Manager at Pura Vida Retreat & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded September 13, 2012

We are delighted to read your comment about the wonderful experience you had in Pura Vida. It gives us a tremendous amount of energy to keep doing what we love!
Thank you for taking the time to let us and everyone know about it!
Your friends at Pura Vida

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 17, 2012

This place is special. It is organized largely as a yoga retreat. I came for a conference (not yoga) and left relaxed and rejuvenated. I think that is their mission in life. It would be a disservice to try to capture all the little touches they have, but let me try to hit on a few. One- the staff is dedicated to ensuring you have a good experience. They try to honor all requests, and seem generally disappointed when they have to say "no". The food was excellent, and generally prepared along 'healthy' lines. Lots of fruits and vegetables, chicken and fish. I don't recall any beef being served during my seven days there. There are all types of accommodations. From 'regular' hotel rooms to tents. The tents however are more like hotel rooms with canvas walls than something you might see at your old Boy Scout camp. No TV's on property, no phones in the rooms. It took a day to get used to no TV, but I fell right in the groove. If you like gardens, you are about to fall in love. An amazing display and a very knowledgable staff that is anxious to share. I can go on, but won't. Just go. You will see for yourself . A note: there is a hotel in-town with the same name. Don't confuse the two. I'm sure it is a fine hotel, but you are looking for the Spa & Resort.

Room Tip: Research the room types. Ask questions. See above regarding tents, etc. Ask about proximity to the road. While generally quiet, some rooms get a lot of road noise.
  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled solo
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2  Thank Kegan36604
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MgratPuraVidaSPa, General Manager at Pura Vida Retreat & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded September 13, 2012

Its our mission in life that you leave this place healed, relaxed and seeing the world in a different way, so we can say mission accomplished!!
It makes us very happy that you had a great stay and that you apreciate the work of a whole group of people dedicated to their jobs with their hearts!
Thank you for letting us know about your experience,
Namaste,

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Reviewed June 28, 2012

We stayed in Pura Vida Resort for a week in June 2012, our room was the Lila Suite, excellent location within the resort, excellent view, very spacious with a nice "clear-roof" porch. The same owners have a similar facility in Tulum, Mexico, we have also stayed there and are very comparable, just that Pura Vida is located in the mountains of Alajuela near San Jose and Maya-Tulum is on the mexican caribbean riviera. Massages offered are simply outstanding, the Yoga facilities are breathtaking and service is very good all-around.

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled with friends
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1  Thank AJSC3636
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MgratPuraVidaSPa, General Manager at Pura Vida Retreat & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded September 13, 2012

Dear friends, Greetings from Pura Vida,

We thank you very much for letting everyone know about your experience in Pura Vida.
We hope to see you again soon so that you can enjoy one more day in Paradise!!
Your friends from Pura Vida.

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Reviewed May 24, 2012

I was in Pura Vida Costa Rica resort from May 12-19 on the 7 day retreat, travelling solo and desperate for a reprieve from my life situation. I got just that 100 fold! First off, all the staff is kind, relaxed, gentle, compassionate, generous, positive, human and caring. The wellness centre offers a wealth of treatments to mend a tired soul, all wonderful but most impactful to me given my state was the Watsu massage with Natalia, and the Omchu work with Olman. Both brought me to tears in a wonderful postiive way and I can't help but thank these gifted healers. Also Karina did miracles for my skin but I also sensed she operated from some innate wisdom as well. Having gone on the 7 day retreat, I thoroughly enjoyed the various excursions. Our tour guide Alejandro was delighted to share his extensive knowledge of the wilderness and made each excursion all the more exciting and interesting. I learned so much. I know what a Posion Dart Frog is and also how an army of ants create their home. Bewildering!!!
All in all I would HIGHLY recommend this resort if your tired spirit needs some attention. Our group was smaller that week but I loved my fellow travellers who I now consider to be friends. I feel like we arrived gray with hunched up shoulders and left full of colour laughing and filled with energy and perspective.
I guess the only thing that was a tiny negative was that I am used to very very intense yoga. The yoga here is much more gentle. It could be too that that was indeed a positive in the end. The energy received from doing yoga with the teachers at that location was amazing.
I do hope to visit again. Huge love to all the staff and keep up the amazing work!!!!
Nancy from Toronto

  • Stayed: May 2012, traveled solo
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6  Thank Nancy L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MgratPuraVidaSPa, General Manager at Pura Vida Retreat & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded May 27, 2012

Warm greetings from Pura VIda!!

Muchas gracias!!! Thats all we can say, Thank You!! Namaste!
We hope to see you again soon, and THANK YOU for letting us know how we are doing our job. This is what motivates us every day, knowing that you will leave happy, transformed, lighter, etc!
A big hug from your friends!!

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Reviewed March 27, 2012

I was there on a seminar. It was a nice resort, with great food. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Be aware, as I was shocked and not warned......You cannot put toilet paper in the toilet. It has to be put in the trash cans. This grossed me out, but I got used to it. It was the same way in the restaurants in San Jose. They do not have good plumbing. There is nothing to do around the resort. If you like a nice quiet place and some yoga, this is a great place.

  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled on business
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3  Thank Sherry E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MgratPuraVidaSPa, General Manager at Pura Vida Retreat & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded March 30, 2012

Thank you for your review, we very much appreciate your feedback. We are glad you had a good time and that you liked the food.
Concerns likes yours, about the toilet paper, are explained on every Orientation meeting every Sunday, and its one thing we make sure people knows about since this is an important issue. Actions are taken so that one day we can operate like you would like, for the moment we rather tell our clients than cause an environmental problem.
Lots of blessings and hope to see you back !!

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