Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Costa Rica - A country where organic is just as important as stylish...

"...If we lose the battle against tropical deforestation, we lose the battle against climate change. Please join us in trying to save the rainforests - for the sake of our children and grandchildren..." (Prince of Wales - The Prince's Rainforest Project)

The Prince's Rainforest Project was launched at a WWF event in October 2007. Since then it has focused on two very specific aims. The first, to identify appropriate incentives to encourage rainforest nations to slow their deforestation rates. The second, to raise awareness of the link between rainforests and climate change.

As the maps above illustrate, Costa Rica is one of the few examples that managed to 'buck the trend' of global deforestation. Starting in the 1990's after almost two decades of having one of the highest rates of deforestation (when forest cover dropped to just 21% in 1987 - compared to 75% 50 years earlier) the government (backed by the people) luckily stepped in and launched a sweeping new policy to save the remaining forest and to encourage new planting. Today, forest cover has increased to 51%  proving that with the right policies in place and attractive incentives, deforestation can not only be halted but can indeed be reversed altogether. For more information please click on the link below, where you can download a fascinating online booklet -

At Pura Vida Ecolodge, ever since the beginning, one of our 'backbone' philosophies has been to try to take care of the environment just as much as our guests. We realized early on that there is a great bunch of people that want to travel in style without feeling guilty. Luckily Costa Rica provided us the perfect platform as it's a country where organic is just as important as stylish and the government plans to be the world’s first carbon-neutral country by 2021.

"...Leave the brashness and bling of resorts and hotels behind for a more natural, understated approach - and everyone benefits...

View of Pura Vida Ecolodge from the roadside above - showing the original 'palapa style' roof, the lush green valley, the flowing river Terraba and of course, the stunning Pacific ocean views... (Taken mid August 2012 around 10am)   

Pura Vida Ecolodge is a very special Jungle Villa: it has been specially designed to exist symbiotically with the surrounding forest, jungle and wildlife, the reserve's fruit trees and colourful plants are maintained using filtered greywater and instead of bringing in bottled water to give to our guests, we rely on the pure fresh flowing water of one of the many mountain streams in the area. The style, finishes and colours of the interior decor compliment the vibrant surroundings: airy open-plan living spaces which provide guests with ample comfort and luxury at the same time as feeling natural and organic - in a nutshell - Eco-Luxury.

The westward facing corner of the Jungle Villa's 'wrap around teak deck' where guests can enjoy dramatic view of both the Pacific Ocean, el Rio Terraba and the Pura Vida Ecolodge jungle reserve.

The Southwest view (from the front balcony) looking over the valley towards the Osa Peninsula and Panama (on the left) and the mouth of the Rio Terraba, the Pacific Ocean (and the Isla de Cano) on the right

Abundant foliage, plants, fruit trees and colours attract a wide variety of birds and wildlife to the retreat

Take advantage of our introductory PROMO prices (via AirBnb - link below) for the coming high season - beginning this December! Pura Vida!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Children are very welcome at the Jungle Villa!

I must confess, originally at the beginning of the 'conceptualization stage' all those many months ago, the first Jungle Villa at the PuraVidaEcolodge Reserve was indeed going to be exclusively for couples,  in fact we even NEARLY went as far to make it a 'NO CHILDREN' kind of retreat...But the truth is that after a lot of thought and consideration, we realized this really went against the ethos of what PuraVidaEcolodge is really about.

While it's all about relaxation and getting back to nature, it's also about fun, adventure and the overall Pura Vida Experience (hopefully by now, you've got this clear to mean 'pure life') - which with the combination of the Jungle Villa's location, its facilities and amenities and of course the fantastic adventures both on the reserve and on our doorstep surely EVERYONE is entitled to their piece of paradise!

Whether it's the kids first 'tropical' holiday abroad or whether it's the once in a lifetime trip that you've had planned ever since you were a kid yourself - PuraVidaEcolodge's Jungle Villa Experience is for you! Friends, families, couples and kids!

As soon as we decided that young families and indeed KIDS would be some of our special guests at the Jungle Villa, special efforts have been made (on all levels) to make the decks, terraces and pool areas as 'child-friendly' as possible. US (and European) regulation verandas have been stylishly incorporated into the balcony designs which are both safe and don't interfere with the guests enjoyment of the incredible and natural surroundings... 

But fear not, it's definitely not just about the 'younguns' as there are plenty of touches, finishes, furnishings and details for the dare I say it, older and more sophisticated ones among you... At the latter stages of completion especially, huge efforts were made with the interiors and materials so as to have the perfect combination between stylish and rustic, eco & luxury, sustainable yet contemporary, minimal yet homely...

Here are just a few of the final touches...

Both of the bedroom suites come with hand-made yoga mats, a perfect way to start the day on one of the private decks or  terraces.

There are a plethora of towels, sheets, blankets, throws, cushions and pillows all around the Jungle Villa, so guests don't need to worry about being comfortable, dry and warm throughout their stay

While most of our guests choose to wake with the animals and the morning sunshine, we appreciate that some of our guests enjoy a good lie-in, so we have dressed all of the bedroom windows with rustic and organic fabrics such as cotton, linen and hemp.

The walk-in 'rain' showers in both bathrooms are large and spacious, finished in antique chrome and are directly connected to the solar panel giving guests fresh hot water 24/7

Both en-suite bathrooms come equiped with perlato natural stone wash basins with the water faucets uniquely designed using organically treated bamboo

The kitchen units are designed with a rustic & weathered finish, which combined with bamboo handles and linen towels adds a real authenticity to the Jungle Villa 

An eclectic array of ornaments, bowls, carvings and appliances help to make the Jungle Villa feel very warm and homely

For more info on rates, reservations and availability please visit our profile on Airbnb:

Friday, 5 October 2012

Discovering the 1st waterfall on the PuraVidaEcolodge Reserve

Having recently returned from Costa Rica and our retreat, I wanted to share a couple of photographs of one of the waterfalls on the PuraVidaEcolodge Reserve. 

...When the construction of the Jungle Villa begun last December (can't believe almost a year has gone by already) a couple of local 'ticos' and I started to 'carve out' some nature trials around the reserve. With the Jungle Villa literally hanging over the jungle canopy itself, right from Day 1 of construction we could clearly hear fresh flowing water in the distance.

All those months ago, machetes in hand, we started to cut our way through the rain forest, roughly planning where the first 'nature trail' was going to lead. After a few minutes of winding through the jungle, ducking under heavy branches and hopping over ravines, the sound of water begun to get stronger. We were near... Fluorescent frogs hopping around our ankles, colourful butterflies floating around the surprisingly cool air (its probably a very pleasant 10 degrees cooler in the shade of the rain forest) and then the howler monkeys singing in the background, this is what jungle living was all about. We continued forward, turning one last corner...we had arrived.

The first waterfall on the PuraVidaEcolodge Reserve is like a split level 'catarata' with two small plunge pools. This particular photo was taken as the rainy season was about to really get underway.

In those first few weeks at the end of last year, we spent many days carving out the first nature trail. Because of the gradient of the terrain, it was necessary to put in quite a few steps, therefore making access really easy, whatever your age ;) We even put in a couple of 'puentecitos' (bridges) so you can either hop across the ravines or take the slightly more sensible 'engineered option'. Once at the waterfall, while just 3-5 minutes away from the Jungle Villa (depending on how many times you have stopped just to look at the plethora of colourful creatures you're bound to find 'en el camino' (en route) you'll see that you are really in the depths of the reserve...all that 'urban madness' and stress a long long way away...

Hopefully you can get a sense of the scale of the reserves first waterfall. I'd say its around 5 metres high, perfect for showering under! And if you're keen to continue the adventure, you can head 'upstream' to find the next one...

The water is both cold and extremely fresh, and  we think you;ll find that the nature trail with its intense 'Jungle Experience' really compliments the 'Eco-Luxury' of PuraVidaEcolodge's Jungle Villa. In fact, it's a larger waterfall about  2km's upstream where PuraVidaEcolodge's water supply comes from...Que rico!

Back from the waterfall, just one more short 'hike' up the hill and back to that book in the hammock, sun-bathing on one of the terrace's bean-bags or perhaps another dip in the infinity plunge pool...This is the life...Pura Vida!

My special thanks to all of you that helped make this dream and vision come true...

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Our very first online review...

Now that PuraVidaEcolodge's doors are officially open and the guests are starting to arrive, 'pocito a poco' our little Jungle Villa is starting to build a reputation... Just in time for the fast approaching 'High Season'.

Check out below, our first online 'review' - recently posted on Air BnB.

...Having just come back from what can only be called a 'Pura Vida Experience' in Costa Rica and being completely new to the 'Air BnB' community, I thought I should do my part and write my first 'review'

As the guidebooks say, Costa Rica really is the Switzerland of Central America because of its comfortable lifestyle, peaceful democracy and overwhelming natural beauty. I was lucky enough to book a reasonably long stay at PuraVidaEcolodge - it was a half-work/half-play kind of trip. The Jungle Villa where I stayed prides itself on the new & unique concept of 'Eco-Luxury'...I think the place has only been open a few weeks, but it has the perfect location for those of you that want to escape the 'urban jungle' and live for a few days right on top of a real one! Half the house hangs over the jungle canopy while the other half is orientated towards the Pacific Ocean, westerly facing, catching some spectacular sunsets...Inside, it's both quirky and comfortable, spacious and the designer obviously likes bamboo and other local stones and natural finishes. Beautiful indoor rain showers (with solar powered hot water) were a winner and the place has clearly been designed so that wherever you are, you have splendid panoramic ocean or jungle views.

Costa Rica has a 'Disneylike' cast of creatures – ranging from howler monkeys to toucans, and every colour butterfly you can dream of – and given the location of the retreat, all these and more are relatively easy to spot. Having a 4by4 was a must and gave us the opportunity to get off the beaten track and experience some real hidden local treats. Playa Tortuga, just a few km's up the coast is one of the best beaches I've ever seen - I swear it felt like I was the first person to discover it! As a surfer, the waves are prime, the surrounding beauty is staggering and the very chilled pace of life, seductive.

The concierge service were great, helping us with local tours and we had a great day trip to Cano Island, diving in the morning and eating on the boat and whale spotting all afternoon. We also visited Corcovado National Park AND Manuel Antonio.... Very special places indeed.

What else is on tap I hear you ask? The question is what isn’t? For the more active travelers amongst you can surf, hike, horse-ride and spot wildlife for starters. The incredibly varied topography means you can cruise the cloud forest one day, visit an active volcano the next, and finish relaxing on a hot sandy beach or indeed back at the Jungle Villa with a cold beer in the infinity plunge pool, watching the sun go down.

Adrenaline junkies have a myriad ways to make mothers worry – among them zipping through canopy lines hundreds of meters long, plunging to the depths of the Pacific Ocean where the reef sharks reside or riding the rough surf of Playa Ventanas, deep sea fishing or even catch a round of Golf at the Zona Sur's new San Buenas. In a nutshell, choice and variety name the game.

I think we probably spent half the time just taking it easy at the PuraVidaEcolodge 'reserve'...Personally I started my days watching the sunrise and doing some yoga, followed by breakfast  on the jungle terrace watching the wonderful world slowly coming to life. At 8am an overflowing fruit basket would arrive (organized by the 'concierge' service), if only I could start all my days like this...I want to go back ;)

'Pura Vida' indeed...Highly recommended! (Henry Vargas, New York)

Sunset colours...