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Verana, Serene and Secluded

Published Dec 2, 2008 - (Updated Aug 13, 2012)


A truly heroic feat to build, this primitive, chic haven on a remote jungle-clad mountain is an apt demonstration of imagination at its zenith.

Prior to building Verana, its European owners, Heinz Legler and Veronique Lievre, had long reveled in creating something out of virtually nothing, their careers spent building and decorating Hollywood movie sets.

So, in 1996 these talented artists chose this remote two-acre site above the beach town of Yelapa, 30 miles south of Vallarta, to build the vacation home of their dreams. Aware how vital to the outcome positioning is, they camped here frequently for a year before starting to build, soaking in the place to get a sense of where the sun rose and set, where the views were the most spectacular and so on.

And they weren’t afraid of hard work. Not only did all the materials have to come by boat, but with no road to the site, absolutely everything had to be carried up a winding trail on donkeys and people’s backs!

Starting with just a couple of rooms and a bar, they found they so enjoyed this creative process that they were continually tweaking the details and adding to it. So, their concept transformed into a fabulous one-of-a-kind small hotel, where others could also come to discover how simply beautiful life can really be.

Opening in 2000, today Verana is a member of the prestigious Mexico Boutique Hotels collection, consisting of the most intimate and uniquely luxurious accommodations in the country.

If you have a penchant for design innovation as well as delicious tranquility, you would be in your glory here, because everywhere one looks there is something novel to consider. And the surprises begin right as you arrive! A monumental piece of pottery sits next to the trail, unexpectedly, right after Verana’s little entrance door in the middle of the jungle.

Constructed with local materials, lots of stone and wood especially, the whole place is a subtle dance between indoors and out. Some suites actually have no walls! Yet privacy is assured, thanks to clever treatments like an effectively situated stand-alone door on a track, movable walls and a sole acrylic panel giving the nod to modesty at an outdoor shower. And what a privilege to be at one with nature while enjoying every creature comfort!

Just about everything handmade and put together in intriguing ways, Verana is as original as it gets, each of its eight guesthouses carved into the cliffs above Yelapa Bay a work of art. Their moods ranging from bohemian to minimalist to quirky modern – their color palettes inspired by their particular setting, some in earthy tones, some warm like a sunset and others brighter – not one of them is ho-hum.

Flooring runs the gamut of natural materials, from rock to ceramic tile to wood. And while most windows are open-air to take advantage of the climate and refreshing breezes, a couple of suites are glass-enclosed and air-conditioned.

Interior furnishings are eclectic, a fascinating mix of Mexican traditional, modern pieces, antiques, handicrafts and found objects, each room unique in concept and feel. All enjoy private bathrooms and spacious terraces with out-of-this-world views – the lights of bustling Puerto Vallarta visible from here a nightly reminder of just how different this reality is from that one – yet in terms of travel time, it’s only an hour away!

There are fresh flowers everywhere you look, indoors and out. And the turndown service of quality linens on comfy beds with mosquito netting includes lighting the many candles in your room.

Pathways to the hotel’s communal areas – the restaurant and bar, pool, spa, yoga palapa and library – follow the landscape’s natural contours. The main pool is spring-fed and an acid wash keeps it all very natural feeling. Restaurant and bar furnishings are high quality but basic, the views and the freshness of the food speaking for themselves. Mexican-with-a-twist, the menu focuses on healthy, organic local ingredients. And a well-stocked library ensures the intellect is also well fed.

When it comes to being pampered body and soul, the superbly situated and luxurious stone spa with its massage table and palm-edged Watsu pool – where you can be stretched and massaged while cradled in the water – is blessed with intoxicating jungle scents and sounds and views of one of the most beautiful bays in the world. And can you think of anything more romantic and relaxing than soaking in an open-air, petal-strewn bath surrounded by scented candles under a moonlit sky?

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