All the glowing Trip Advisor reports are accurate. The negative ones seem, well, a bit emotional, as if someone was overly tired and took a trivial event personally. We found the owners graciously helpful.
Free airport pickup (they pay the taxi) – you pay to go back to the airport. Don’t rent a car at the airport, it’s easier to have Pura Vida do it for you.
Renting a car through Pura Vida is trivially easy. Tell them what you want and the car gets delivered. When you’re done with it, just leave the keys at the B&B. Get a GPS or bring your own (see: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g291982-i813-k5188501-GPS_use_in_Costa_Rica-Costa_Rica.html)
There’s great security on the property – it’s a gated compound attended 24 hours a day and there are safes in the rooms.
Great location from which to base trips to other parts of the country.
Baggage storage between stays.
Beautiful rooms and separate bungalows. Every room has a patio with table & chairs (and a refrigerator). Every room is separate from every other room.
The lovely grounds have lush vegetation, orchids, and many flowering plants. Many plants are labeled. It’s like being in a small botanic garden. The owner knows a lot about plants. Ask.
There’s a view of Poas Volcano. It is highly interesting to visit – go with a guide and explore the plant life as well as the crater. It’s a large round green hill though, not what comes to mind when one hears “volcano”.
There’s a really nice, new supermarket (Auto Mercado) just a few minutes away. The bank next door to the market has an ATM that issues both colones and US$. The Auto Mercado carry-out person will call a taxi for you then wait until it arrives to load your bags. There’s a really nice wine section with a concierge.
Breakfast is very good.
Great staff. Jose, in particular, is a gem. Everyone except the cleaning and grounds crew speaks very good English.
Can arrange tours and very qualified guides.
The program the owners have encouraging guests to bring school supplies as checked baggage from the US and donate them to a local rural school is highly commendable.
At least one reviewer complained about the dogs. There are two large German Shepherds who hang around the grounds. They are both old and sleep nearly all the time. They would only be a problem if you don’t watch where you’re walking and trip over them. Fijarse donde pisa.
Make sure you pay cash in US dollars* (see below).
Road noise can be loud mornings and evenings – motorbikes, in particular, are a nuisance. Pura Vida provides really comfortable ear plugs.
No food at all other than the wonderful breakfast – the owners have opened a new restaurant about 30 minutes away and no longer offer an evening meal. You will have to take a taxi to one of the very few, but good, eating places in Alajuela. Don’t drive at night, especially after a beer or two.
*This is how many places, not just Pura Vida, in Costa Rica (and other countries) use VISA:
The business’ prices are quoted in US$.
The business’ VISA agreement (with their bank) only allows them to charge in Costa Rica colones.
The business uses a very high exchange rate for the conversion of US$ to colones.
VISA then uses a lower number to convert the colones to US$.
The price you pay is inflated by about 3%.
An example using the actual rates we encountered in January 2012:
Your bill is $500.
-- The business uses 519 CRC/$ to convert the $500 to colones (=259,500CRC).
-- VISA then uses 504 CRC/$ to convert the CRC back to USD (=$514.88).
-- You pay $514.88 for a $500 charge.
And…unless you have a Capital One VISA, you’ll pay another few percent in an “International money exchange” fee. So…because the business charges in colones, your $500 stay can cost you about $530.
It seems as if the businesses should charge in the currency in which they quote their prices.
See the link below for a discussion of ATM use:
Volcano suite may be noisier. The casita farthest from the road are quietest.
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
21 March 2012
Thanks for your excellent and detailed response - and we are listening to the critique at the end of the review on exchange rates.
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We have been charging the official exchange rate for all guest transactions. In addition we exchange colones for guests at the exact same exchange rate as many guests are here their first night and need some colones to get going. This is the same practice as you mention for other hotels you are familiar with. And our credit card machine only knows how to charge in colones, the local currency. However your review prompted us to relook at what we could do to remove any exchange rate confusion. We are after all a hotel that quotes prices in dollars but charges in colones. In part that is how some of the country operates, in part it is how we think of the culture of the country - "when in Rome" as they say - and we use colones for all other transactions in the country.
But as a result of your review we had a chat with the credit card company. We can't make our machine charge in 2 currencies but we are having the credit card machine reprogrammed to charge only in dollars. It is not difficult but we hadn't really considered it as all our activities here are in local currency. Thanks for reminding us that there are other perspectives in the world - and, of course, the reason for most of us to travel :-)
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC