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“Very Mixed Bag”
Review of Pura Vida Hotel

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Pura Vida Hotel
Ranked #1 of 60 Alajuela B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Boulder, USA
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Very Mixed Bag”
Reviewed 6 August 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, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
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 review, 9 August 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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Houston
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 July 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, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank CharPHouston
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tallinn
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 July 2009

Ideal bridgehead for getting in and out of Costa Rica. The hotel is only a few minutes drive from the airport plus you can avoid the bustle of the capital. Taxi fare is included in the price but make sure you have Berni's (he is the nice gentleman who runs the place) instructions and phone number at hand when arriving to airport as the taxi business down there is pretty chaotic. Actually, it is good to have Berni's phone number at hand all times. We arranged the rental car through the hotel and when we had problems with the rental company (business culture down there is pretty chaotic as well), Berni was most helpful and actually arranged our transportation from Dominical back to the hotel for no extra charge. Now that's what I call hospitality. And the premises... its like the fabulous nature of Costa Rica in a nutshell. The really nice parts of it. True, the place may seem relatively pricey, but its worth it.

  • Stayed January 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank St_Patrik
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New Hampshire
1 review
Reviewed 17 July 2009

The owners and staff were a pleasure in every respect. Everything is done with an eye for a relaxed excellence. The accommodations were relaxing and comfortable, as are the grounds. The Hotel Pura Vida really captures all that the name suggests, “to pure life”. They have an incredible collection of different plants and trees on the property. The grounds are very private, surrounded by a wall, where guests can feel relaxed to enjoy the gardens and views.

The food was just as pleasurable as the accommodations. You get to dine in an open air dining room with views of the City below and the volcanoes in the distance.

The last item I want to mention, our trip involved a number of arrangements and accommodations that Pura Vida helped to coordinate and, in fact, to make a success for us. I really can not emphasize enough how much I enjoyed this place.

  • Stayed July 2009, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
Thank dcjoneshome
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
South Carolina
Level 2 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
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
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank SouthCarolinaJana2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cleveland
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
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
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank elisha333
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Fort Collins, CO
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
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
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Eric_the_Birdman
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

Property: Pura Vida Hotel
Address: Tuetal Sur | 4km North of SJO International Airport, Alajuela 20102, 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 60 B&Bs / Inns in Alajuela
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
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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