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“Beautiful gardens, wonderful people and delicious food!”
Review of Pura Vida Hotel

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Pura Vida Hotel
Ranked #1 of 63 Alajuela B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 15 July 2009

I was one of a group of 16 celebrating my in-laws 50th anniversary. The main part of our visit was spent at Turtle Beach Lodge in Tortaguera. Our night of arrival and the night of our departure were with the folks at Pura Vida. I fell in love with Costa Rica, Berni, Nhi and staff were in part responsible for that wonderful experience.
Returning from Turtle Beach Lodge I expected was going to be anticlimactic for our group. Thanks to Berni & Nhi it was the Grande finale. Berni had worked with us to plan an unforgettable anniversary celebration for our last night in Costa Rica.
Nhi cooked a wonderful dinner…shrimp bisque, Moroccan chicken & creme brulee. After dinner they arranged for us to have salsa dance lessons and a professional photographer for family photographs. What fun!
Many sitting places to relax in their garden with views of the mountains, Humming birds, orchids, bananas, caladium, grapefruit, mangos …. Yes, I felt as if I were in Eden.
The rooms were colorful, spacious and comfortable. There is a library in the front office with reading material on Costa Rica and hammocks to relax.
The morning of our departure, Nhi fixed another wonderful meal. For breakfast we had tropical fruit and juices, bread pudding, homemade whole grain bread and Costa Rican coffee.
On this trip we met many people committed to the environment, to saving the rain forest and the wildlife that lives there. It was a wonderful educational experience and Berni had provided us with reading material so we could continue to learn.
For most our group it was our first trip to Costa Rica, I hope that we all have the opportunity to return. I think we all agreed that we would stay at Pura Vida again.
Thank you Berni, Nhi, Rebbeca and staff!

  • Stayed: July 2009, travelled with family
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2  Thank SouthCarolinaJana2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 29 June 2009

Our flight times (arrived at 8:30 pm and left at 6:45 am) made it impossible to get to & from our main location (Manual Antonio) on the same day without having a car rental. So we wanted to stay as close to the airport as possible, not spend a ton of money and someplace with at least a little bit of character (since we were spending 2 nights there). Pura Vida is a great hotel for this purpose. It's about a $5 cab fare to the hotel from the San Jose International airport (though it seems like a long ride). Plus the hotel covers your cab ride from arriving International flights which makes it easy because you don't have to exchange money right away. They have beautiful views of the volcano, amazing grounds to walk around and the rooms are really clean and comfortable.

  • Stayed: May 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank elisha333
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 June 2009

Our Costa Rica trip took us to several locations around the country, and we basically used this hotel as a stopover during our travels between our main destinations. However, it occurred to us while we were there that Pura Vida would be a great destination in its own right, and be a perfect launching pad for day trips in the Central Valley and to the area volcanoes, or just to relax for more than just one night in one spot. Berni was most accommodating and gracious, and being able to take a cab (with fare included in the hotel price) from the airport directly to the hotel, especially late at night which is when most US flights arrive, is very helpful.

The casitas were very comfortable with all the amenities, and charming decor. The grounds are very well-maintained, with a spectacular view northward toward Volcan Poas. We treated ourselves one night to a dinner prepared by Nhi, and what a treat that was!

The only knock on it, and it's really just a minor point, is that there are no stores or restaurants nearby, which is an issue if you don't have a car. The cab dispatch is nearby though, and cabs arrive quickly when called (meaning within 2 minutes in our case!). A recent review mentioned a 'dog smell', but we certainly didn't notice it, and we saw plenty of those aforementioned 3 dogs (which are very friendly, btw).

So all in all, this is an excellent hotel and a great value. It may be a little pricier than other locations, but it is clearly worth it.

  • Stayed: May 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Eric_the_Birdman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 June 2009

Pura Vida Hotel is overpriced, many other hotels in the area are better value, half price and includes a free shuttle to the airport. Hotel has a dog smell due to three large dogs on property. The owner has an attitude and does not represent the Pura Vida energy!

  • Stayed: June 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank travelkitty800
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 28 June 2009

Not everyone is a “dog lover”. There are “cat lovers” who may be “dog haters”. It’s a matter of personal likes and dislikes and there is nothing wrong with that. The Pura Vida Hotel has three friendly German shepherds named Max, Yagi and Lobo who live in the main Casa and roam the property freely. However, the dogs have been taught to never enter the guest casitas and they do not venture in. We also notify all prospective guests through our first email response that we have dogs on the property and there are photos of the dogs in “the Pura Vida Hotel Garden Photos” page of the hotel’s web site. There have been many positive mentions of the dogs from TripAdvisor reviewers who have stayed at the Pura Vida Hotel right here on this site.

The Pura Vida Hotel is unlike “many other hotels in the area” because we are not the “economy place to spend the night” on your way somewhere. Our guests come to us looking for a unique experience in lodging, food and trip planning. We provide gourmet dinners with advance reservations, farmers market tour on Friday afternoons; arrange for car rentals and trips with knowledgeable local English speaking driver/guides. We also provide services for those wanting a base camp for their tropical adventure. Our rates are posted on the Rooms page of the hotel’s web site along with a description of each Casita. We provide a free airport taxi service for international arrivals at the Juan Santamaria airport to make it easier on your inbound and to avoid confusions right after landing in a foreign country.

Although we try our darn best to provide the best accommodations and a unique experience for our guests, we cannot please everyone, especially people who may be unamused by “British humor” or dogs that roam freely on the property. So far the huge majority of our guests and those that keep coming back have been OK with that.

Thanks for the opportunity to respond.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 June 2009

Pura Vida Hotel was our destination prior to leaving Costa Rica. It's only 20 minutes from the airport. The hotel grounds are like a botanical garden. The rooms are beautifully decorated, the dinner cooked by Nhi was delicious, and it was a great way to end our weeklong vacation. While planning our trip Berni was extremely helpful in making suggestions and he arranged our incredibly wonderful driver, Sterling.

  • Stayed: June 2009, travelled with family
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Thank sara720
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 June 2009

We grabbed a taxi from the airport and were dropped at the hotel in short order. There was no waiting for a hotel van and Pura Vida even picked up the taxi fare. Berni (owner) showed us the gardens, walking paths, wifi, restaurant and had great answers to our many questions. I was fortunate that it was Friday when Berni & Ni (chef & Berni's wife) offer a tour of the local market to select the foods for the dinner. I tasted, smelled, and visually feasted on an amazing variety of foods that I can no longer pronounce. Ni only picked the freshest, unmarred produce and gently stored them so they wouldn't bruise. Ni is all about quality. That night I experienced truly fine dining at the hands of Ni with a party of our friends. We were all dazzled!!! Berni & Ni even joined us for an after dinner drink. Every patron there was smiling and seemed happy. That was a plus too. I slept like a baby to the sound of refreshing light rain hitting big waxy leaves just outside my window, and was awakened by birdsongs. What a place! What nice people there! I'd give them 5 stars anytime.

  • Stayed: June 2009, travelled on business
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Thank SpanishBeverly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 June 2009

Overall, our one night stay at Pura Vida was a very pleasant way to begin my first trip to Costa Rica. The website has a wealth of information about Costa Rica and you get a feel for Berni’s sense of humor throughout. Prior to arrival, Berni was very helpful and informative via several emails back and forth. I am a dog lover and looked forward to the three German Shepards which pretty much ignored us. The room (Volcano) was very nice; simple, pleasant and clean and all that we needed with beautiful views from the balcony. It was convenient being so close to the airport, but the only downside was night noise from the ‘city’; the barking dogs and motorbikes kept me awake, though my friend was able to sleep through it. AC was not provided or needed with the windows open but then we couldn’t shut out the noise. I am wondering though, if a room on the ground level, insulated by the vegatation, would be quieter and I’ll ask this question before going back. The gardens were lovely and provided many photo opts for me and a playground for a variety birds we saw. The shower was spotless and produced plenty of hot water. Both beds were comfortable. The staff provided very good service from the moment we walked in. We did not have dinner there, but took a taxi into town for some local fare, breakfast was ok. The fruit presentation was beautiful; plentiful and tasty, the muffin and parfait I thought were so-so. We went on a tour with Berni to a local school and I would highly recommend this. It was a great introduction to the culture and the children are just beautiful. As a side note, we had an exceptional experience with our driver/guide, Sterling, who is affiliated with the hotel. He gets 5 stars!

  • Stayed: May 2009, travelled with friends
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Thank golfngirl
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:
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Alajuela
Amenities:
Business Centre with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 63 B&Bs / Inns in Alajuela
Price Range: £75 - £137 (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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