The Pura Vida Hotel is based on a supremely simple idea - "the kind of place we’d like to stay at when we travel".
There is a Costa Rican commitment to peace and harmony that is also not coincidentally set in one of the most beautiful environments on the planet. In such a setting, it is perhaps not surprising that the national "hello” and "good bye" is the the local use of the phrase “pura vida” or “pure life" . Costa Ricans will exclaim “pura vida!” when they say hello or wish you well on your journey. Expressing “pura vida” to any Tico is sure to elicit a smile.
The Hotel “Casa” or main house is about ninety years old and was originally a coffee “finca” (farm). The land stretched down to the Rio Itiquis below us. On the horizon is the majestic Poas Volcano.
Arriving here as refugees from “civilization” in 2002, the old Pura Vida was “a bit too rustic for our taste”. With the help of our great staff we gradually converted the old Pura Vida Hotel into a country inn with comfortable guest rooms, bigger bathrooms, interesting garden. Improvements at the Pura Vida are continual.
Years later the coffee plantation is now a tropical garden with numerous fruit trees such as bananas, lemons, mangoes, star fruits, avocados, guavas, grapefruits, papayas and of course a little coffee plantation as well as a wonderful array of native species of flowers and plants. We added a heliconia patch, a herb garden, an orchidarium
and the occasional whimsy you might expect of an English garden. Many days you will likely run into some spectacular orchid (form some of the 100's now growing everywhere) coming into bloom just for your visit.
Your hosts moved here from Santa Cruz, California, Nhi via Asia and France and Berni via the UK and Europe. After years on the fringes of California’s Silicon Valley, we left a high tech world for a no tech world. This scenario is contributed to by frequent tropical thunderstorms, power outages as well as the curiosities of the Costa Rican bureaucracy and the delights of living in a “tiny market” ignored by much of the world. Perhaps because we have no street addresses!
We have essentially no mail, not much in the way of shopping and in many ways have left behind one set of dreams which we replaced with another way of life that bears no relationship to the way it was. Who could have IMAGINED life without a morning newspaper or a box of books from Amazon!
Born into a Cantonese family in Saigon, Vietnam, Nhi is your chef and brings a combination of French, Chinese, Vietnamese, Californian and Costa Rican cooking experience to your table. She is an ardent collector and tester of great recipes and an aficionado of Puck and Bourdain and the science of Alton Brown.
Much of what Nhi does is from her own taste experiences - a smell or taste from her grandmother’s Chinese kitchen in Saigon; a night out in Montmartre, Paris; a delicious fish soup in Brugges, Belgium; the unique tastes and textures of a dessert at the Waterside Inn in Bray, England; or maybe Dim-Sum at a multi-storied restaurant in Hong Kong. The end result is a creation born of many experiences melded to what we find fresh at the market today – the most important was her start in Grandma’s Chinese kitchen in Saigon. We hope you can join us for dinner.
Since my first visit here in 1983, Costa Rica had always been part of some unrealized future plan bordered by orchids, in a country at peace with the world. When the Pura Vida B&B appeared on our horizon, the puzzle bits seemed to fit into place. Time to make some changes, sell most everything and stuff what was left in a shipping container. Our initial efforts bore a close resemblance to the events that befell Norman Paperman in the classic innkeeper documentary “Don’t Stop the Carnival”.
Two enormously optimistic innkeepers went at the task trying to find ingredients for dinner while wondering if the old roof would hold on during frequent storms. Scene 1 Act 1: As they cut through the undergrowth that blocked the front door and ripped the inside out of old tired buildings, they had one crazy idea in mind: “Could this be a place we would enjoy visiting?” Much has changed since that day.
Some years on we hope you enjoy the hotel and its secret garden as much as we do. We look forward to serving a delicious breakfast and special dinners featuring a blend of fresh Costa Rican ingredients and our ideas - tasty stuff. We look forward to sharing our travels throughout Costa Rica and setting you on the good journey as you leave us the first morning and the start of your own adventure in Costa Rica. We look forward to meeting with you!