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“Blissed Out on Pura Vida ... but know before you go!”

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Pura Vida Retreat & Spa
Ranked #12 of 27 Hotels in Alajuela
Certificate of Excellence
south florida
Level Contributor
102 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 100 helpful votes
“Blissed Out on Pura Vida ... but know before you go!”
Reviewed 23 June 2014

This review is a bit overdue, I stayed in January. But since I just booked to go back again, I thought it was time for a review! First tip ... don't expect over the top luxury. Do expect, clean, comfortable rooms, magical grounds, fresh, amazing food and complete peace. Also, when we were there they shut off the electric for a couple of hours in the day. Just normal energy saving thing, but be aware.

My sister and I shared a villa and it was very spacious with a nice patio overlooking the mountains. We could hear a little road noise, but no biggie. We were with a group of about 20 on a yoga retreat, and the room we practiced in (Lila Hall) was spectacular. We were on a Bikram retreat and the heat was a little inconsistent, but who cares, the view was that good!

Our retreat included three meals a day and everything was delicious. One protein choice with every meal, and a lot of vegan and GF options as well. Don't miss the smoothies and the ginger tea...SOOOOOOO good! (not included, but very reasonable) The gift shop there is also nice, with some affordable surprises: pretty yoga clothes, hand made cards, etc.

The resort also arranged for an aerial silks instructor to come in for a small group of us. It was amazing! The secret is to ASK! A lot is available here, but it's not always well communicated. So don't hesitate to ask. And don't miss the coffee plantation tour, and bring some coins or small bills for the adorable kids picking the coffee beans. It's an informational tour and very humbling. Check out the excursions offered; this is a beautiful country and if you can see a bit beyond the resort, it's worth it.

I can't wait to go back. The lush greenery, the hummingbirds, the sense of peace and joy ... it truly is a little piece of bliss that it is within reach.

Room Tip: The tentalows are a great budget option! There are TONS of public bathrooms so not a big deal.
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  • Stayed January 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
5 Thank tortugas2x
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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169 reviews from our community

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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (52)
Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Sarasota, Florida
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 June 2014

Just returned from a Kai retreat with Kelly Atkins set in this mountain top oasis of Alajuela...It was magical to say the least. I can't wait to go back next year.! The setting was breathtaking, the meals were both healthy and delicious and the treatments were among the best I've ever had. We danced the night away overlooking the twinkling lights of the central valley, laughed in the hot tub with new friends and marveled at the beauty of this incredible place...Try to hire Marco Abarca as your tour guide for the surrounding area...He is a riot!

Room Tip: We stayed in an Upper Kiva...Those views at night!
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Stayed June 2014, travelled with friends
Helpful?
2 Thank blazermazer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Columbia MO
Level Contributor
78 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 May 2014

This was the first yoga retreat for me so don't have any comparisons. Pura Vida is awesome! I stayed in a cabin shared with a roommate. There was plenty of room and a beautiful view. It is very easy to navigate the resort once you become acclimated to all the buildings. The meals were healthy and delicious. There is a pool and wi-fi available in the main buildings. The staff was wonderful, and there are many different types of body work/massage activities to enjoy. I would definitely recommend Pura Vida to anyone seeking a relaxing getaway.

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled solo
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Helpful?
2 Thank COMO1ColumbiaMO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
12 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 May 2014

Someone pinch me. This stay felt like a dream.

Pura Vida is located on the mountain side in the Cloud Forest of Costa Rica. During the day you have amazing city views below at night the clouds roll in and you feel like you're tucked away in a little world all your own. It truly is a magical experience. When the clouds roll away, you're left with a breathtaking view of the stars.

The staff is wonderful! Everyone there has such a calming and welcoming energy. The food is out of this world!! With vegetarian and vegan options at every meal, everyone can enjoy a wonderful meal. The food is local and organic. I am a picky eater and I had a wonderful meal each time! (My stay was 7 days, so that's 21 delicious meals).

The spa services are wonderful as well! Make sure to treat yourself to a massage or facial, you won't be disappointed.

The property is lush and full of so many different kinds of vegetation, they have an herbalist on staff that can make you anything you need (ie- stung by a bee? he has a compress for that). Also, the property is so safe and secure. I would stroll around after dark without a care in the world.

The rooms are cute. I was in a free-standing 'hut'/cabin with two twin beds and a balcony. They have different sized rooms with different amenities. Also, day trips are easily arranged to hot springs, waterfalls, town, etc.

I would recommend this property for health conscious zen-seekers.

  • Stayed November 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Jess P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Level Contributor
83 reviews
43 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 April 2014

I'll preface this by saying I might be a little spoiled; I've been to some really mind-blowing yoga retreats, which may have colored my perspective a bit.

Some aspects of Pura Vida were really enjoyable. I stayed in a Tentalow, and was amazed by how comfortable it was. I suspect it's more spacious than some of their basic rooms! The bathroom was only about 40 steps from my door, so really wasn't an issue not having a bathroom on hand. The tend had electricity, two chairs and a table, and most importantly, a giant comfortable bed with great bedding. I was very, very pleased with my room.

Also, I loved the food. In three days, I don't think they made the same thing ever. Each meal I was looking forward to seeing what new and healthy things they had created, and each time I was not disappointed. The food was a highlight, to me.

The grounds and gardens are well-maintained, and beautifully landscaped. They've done a great job creating their garden of Eden.

I was less than impressed with their spa services, however. I had booked a Lahlaland massage, and was told that she was running late, so to come back in 15 minutes. No problem, I came back at 10:40am for my 10:45 massage. By 10:50 she still hadn't arrived. 10:55am she's there, gets the room set up and comes for me. We started the service at 11:00am. She finishes and leaves the room at 12:05pm. I got up, got dressed and waited for her to come back. 12:15 she's back in the room, and she gives me her slip to sign for the service. She has it as a 90 minute treatment. I pointed out that it was only an hour, and she said that I had booked a 90 minute, from 10:45 to 12:15. Since she wasn't even THERE at 10:45, never mind giving me a massage, I wasn't sure how she figured she could still charge me for it. Also, since she left the room at 12:05, I don't count 10 minutes of laying there and waiting for her to come back should be "service" time. She did adjust to the 60 minute rate after I explained this, but I feel like I shouldn't have to have told her what time she began and ended at. Kind of negated the relaxation to have to argue at the end of it.

My second spa treatment was the Bali-Thai massage with Karina. She had me start on my stomach and did a massage that was similar to a Thai massage, or had some components of. That was not bad; I've had Thai massages all over the world (including Thailand!) and this was an okay version of it. The less-relaxing part came when she stopped massaging and starting waving a lit cigar-type stick over me. Had she explained that she was going to alternate between blowing smoke on me and holding the smouldering end an inch from my skin, I might have been prepared for it. However, without any warning to have something burning being held so close (and in some cases, close enough to cause pain and an "ow!" from me) was nerve-wracking. I did let out a few yelps, but assumed it would end soon. Nope. About 20 minutes of the smoke stick. I figure there was about 20 minutes of actual massage done, 20 minutes of the smoke stick, and then 15 minutes of "steam" afterwards. Didn't really feel like it was worth the money when I was expecting a proper massage and I left more tense than I arrived.

The yoga classes were good, well taught, though sparsely attended. In one case, I was the only one there! I missed the energy of having other people in the room, but I understand that some folks were there on a particular retreat and likely having their own separate classes. Not the hotel's fault, but was not quite what I've experienced at other properties.

Since the spa treatments were one of the things I was most looking forward to, I think my disappointments with them influenced how I felt about the rest of my stay. It was a good getaway, but not great, and while I enjoyed some aspects of Pura Vida, I can't imagine myself returning when I've had better elsewhere.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank RunCatchKiss
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Eduardo M, Manager at Pura Vida Retreat & Spa, responded to this review, 30 April 2014
RunCatchKiss, I am very glad most of you experience at Pura vIda was very enjoyable. We would like to further discuss your experience at Pura Vida´s Wellness Center. Please contact me to eduardo@puravidaspacr.com
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
11 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 March 2014

I have lived in Central America for almost 12 years now and know Costa Rica pretty well. I did a bit of research and asked around with all info and suggestions leading back to making the Pura Vida Spa & Yoga Retreat our choice for a quick getaway!

We stayed in the AFrame's which are pretty private and comfortable located towards the back of the property. The grounds we absolutely spectacular and it was fascinating to walk around and learn about all the medicinal plants. It was a life changer for both myself and my fiance to have the opportunity in speaking with "Tin", the local expert!

We tried a few treatments and enjoyed every one of them, each being absolutely unique and one of the best we have both had. Neither one of us are "Yogis" per say however we completely enjoyed the energy the Pura Vida has and loved talking to others. The food was excellent and it was nice to have so many healthy options at your fingertips!

There is no question we will be returning! The Pura Vida Spa & Yoga Retreat is the best place in the San Jose area to include body treatments, wellness, yoga, views, comfort and food!

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Christen B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hinsdale, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
26 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 March 2014

I really like Pura Vida resort. I was here in '03 and '04 and finally got back again in 2014. In the last 10 years a few things have changed. The surrounding country side is a bit noisier, the roads are really good now and Pura Vida has a new herb garden. The most important things have not changed. There are 6 things to review. #1 Great service: the staff really know how to take care of you. They can accommodate your needs, help you make plans for outings other than the ones they offer for their guests. For example my husband wanted to golf one morning--they knew right were to send him. #2 The accommodations are clean, great light, good privacy and daily room service. #3. The food is fantastic. The kitchen makes gluten free (can't comment on cross contamination though), dairy free, vegetarian and meat recipes. A good variety. Long meal service hours and they will save you a plate if you are running late. Their café has a beer and wine bar, healthy smoothies and things like wheat grass drinks and can make cappuccinos, etc.... There is always tea, coffee available. Three more topics to review: #4 The spa---in all three trips I have never been disappointed by my body worker. They have all varieties of body work--sound healing, energy healing, watsu, massages, deep myofacial work, body wraps and facials. #5 the yoga: again, really good yoga teachers. When you are on the mind body spirit you will have a few different teachers during your stay. Some do slow to moderate, some do more athletic style. There are two classes a day. They also have more vigorous exercise, more like a calisthenics classes several times a day a few days of the week, my husband did that and liked it.
Lastly, the outings: there area variety of tours they provide for you during the week. I think I've done all of them and they are all worth doing. Costa rica has lovely scenic countryside.
At the end of my week there I am relaxed, calm, I feel nourished, like I have breathed well and absorbed a bunch of sunshine.
In my three visits I have done the mind body spirit (which was done as an all inclusive), next I did a workshop with a specific yoga teacher and my third trip there was another MBS but we rented our own car so we could go off and do a few things on our own (like surfing lessons in Jaco beach, or 18 holes).
Pura vida yoga resort and spa is a great place for a spa and sight seeing vacation.

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Liz T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Pura Vida Retreat & Spa

Property: Pura Vida Retreat & Spa
Address: Mts SW From Minisuper Pavas 800 | Pavas, Carrizal, Alajuela 20103, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Alajuela
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#3 Spa Hotel in Alajuela
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Pura Vida Retreat & Spa 3.5*
Number of rooms: 51
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
World-Class yoga instruction, acres of natural beauty, delicious healthy cuisine and spa services unrivaled in Costa Rica await inside the cloistered walls of this magical retreat. Tropical rain forest, active volcanoes, mountain cloud forests full of rainbows, breathtaking beaches and exhilarating white water rafting beckon the adventurer in you, all within a few hours drive of our eco-chic spa and wellness resort in the world's greenest country. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Pura Vida Spa & Yoga Retreat Hotel Alajuela
Pura Vida Spa And Yoga Retreat
Pura Vida Wellness Retreat Spa
Pura Vida Retreat & Spa Costa Rica/Alajuela

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