We returned last night from five days at Verana. In many ways, words fail to describe our time there. But here goes. First, the getting there--to a place where time just about stops. You leave smoggy, jammed-up Puerto Vallarta in a taxi that takes about 45 minutes to the end of the road: a pleasant-enough, not much developed place called Boca de Tomatlan. The Verana panga (a smallish out-board motorboat) takes you another 45 minutes along the lush coastline to Yelapa, once a hippie haven but now definitely "discovered" by mostly budget travelers. OK beach, out-of-the-way feel, popular with daytrippers from PV.
From Verana's small dock, steps climb up, up, up. (Mules carry your bags, and you--upon request.) We were met--at a different landing place since the tide was unsuitable for the usual spot--by Kent, the affable resident manager, who guided us chattily along with stops to catch my 70-some-year-old breath. At reception or rather the bar, a few steps further along, Bernie, the new and enterprising barman, greeted us with cold towels, fresh lime-onade, and a variety of excellent salsas. (Bear in mind that nearly everything here is open, all or in most part, to the green and glorious landscape and the astonishing views. Doors are few. That's a major contribution to what makes Verana unique in our widely-travelled experience.)
Kent showed us up to our "room," the Jungle Suite, at the top of the hill (more steps!). It's more of an extensive, slightly Bauhaus-styled pavilion with 15-foot ceilings, an 18-foot glass wall facing the jungle,and another, equally long open wall into the great outdoors that our mosquito-net draped bed faced. Elegant proportion is everything--not surprising since the co-owner, Heinz Legler, is a skilled and deeply inventive architect. A large private terrace overlooks the sea, Yelapa, and the mountainous distances, and another terrace gives onto the green view of the jungle. (Note: Verana's website offers plenty of images of the landscape and the building-scape. They convey, absolutely, the feel of the place, and if anything understate the spirit and appeal of Verana.)
We visited several of the other eight houses. Each is unique in design, placement, and character. Each is delightful in its own individual manner. Heinz's wife, Veronique Lievre, is responsible for design and decorative elements, all restrained, evocative and perfectly suited to each location. No cookie-cutter, mass-produced, pseudo-luxurious stuff here, as in so many multi-starred resorts all over the world. Heinz and Veronique have created, literally from a steep jungle hillside, an "escape" that is definitely Mexican in feel, but with a sophisticated, semi-European flavor that avoids the fancy-pants, impersonal glamour of many Mexican resorts. Warmth, solicitude, attention to guests' wishes are ever-present but never intrusive.
Well, this is going on far too long. Guests can have as much privacy as they wish or be more social if so inclined. We enjoyed cocktail hour at the bar with others (we were the most ancient--other guests included a honeymoon couple from London, another from Dallas, young couples enjoying a break from their twins [two couples], an engaging, athletic pair from Santa Barbara, a guest from Russia.) Major plus: Heinz and Veronique were in residence, attending to details and playing the delightful hosts--as they are, for sure. The feeling was rather like that of a relaxed house-party.
Oh, and the food. All good. Coffee or tea and warm muffins brought to the suite each morn at 8. Ample, inventive breakfasts, good lunches at the spa, and chef Fabian provided fine dinners at the romantic terrace: terrific tuna tartare, huachinango grilled with chipotle sauce, a chile relleno with nut sauce, and so on. Candles everywhere. (We counted 24 in our suite each night, welcoming us to bed.)
Verana is much more than you may have heard, or read--even here. Not many get-aways can equal it. None can surpass it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located 30-miles south of Puerto Vallarta floating above the Bay of Banderas, embraced by the mountains of the Valle de la Sierra Oriental, carved out of lush Mexican jungle on a hillside rests Verana. It is as unusual as it is remote. Unique design that is rustic yet sophisticated. Designed for travelers with a sense of adventure and appreciation of tranquility and natural beauty. An indoor/outdoor Spa adds to the amenities of a luxurious getaway. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Verana Hotel Yelapa
- Verana Yelapa