Boutique Travel - June 27, 2016

Verana: The Definition of Retreat

By Jade Moyano

Ever wonder why beauty doesn’t always come across in images? That’s because feelings are non exchangeable. Some places just need to be seen and experienced in person. Verana, a handmade hotel situated in Yelapa, Mexico, is one of those places. Aesthetically stunning, the hotel is even more special when felt.

Built, designed, and envisioned by Heinz Legler and Veronique Lievre, founders of BoutiqueHomes, Verana not only reflects the elevated taste level of its owners, it also reflects the idea and purpose often times discovered when traveling somewhere very remote. With nine distinct and intricately designed homes spread around a hilltop property with perplexing ocean views, Verana was handmade to foster relaxation, privacy and retreat.

The creative couple has been developing concepts, building, and decorating homes and movie sets for years, so when they founded the invite-only vacation rentals site Boutique Homes, it was just natural that it would become the go to source for design-forward vacations. This is how I came across Verana, their first development project.

“We built one house first, then a second one for friends and it slowly developed…. Vero wanted a pool so we built a pool. And then a kitchen. There was no plan for a hotel, it grew organically” says Heinz, who has been coming to Mexico for a few decades now.

Arriving to Verana isn’t easy, which makes it even better in my eyes. Once in Puerto Vallarta, take a taxi to Boca de Tomatlan which takes about 25 minutes, then one of Verana’s boats picks you up for another 30 minute journey, this time via a beautiful coast. Once at the property, be prepared for a mini hike through the jungle. Drop your bags with staff, who kindly place them in baskets to be carried up via a donkey.

As you get higher up, the view becomes really spectacular, so much that you will forget that you are climbing a set of about 100 steps. Paulina, Verana’s massage therapist, will be waiting for you once you make the final push to the top rewarding you with a gentle backrub. At Verana, every effort put towards arriving comes with a reward. I almost went all the way down and up again just to get another massage.

The spirit of the adventurer is put to the test here, and the place attracts a certain type of traveler as you spend 90% of your time outdoors. “One must be open to adventure. It normally takes people a minute to loosen up here. In the beginning it was unusual for guests to want to sleep with no walls or no curtains, but now they are more open to the idea”.

My private casita had walls, but some of the other bungalows resemble tree houses, with minimalist decor and lush vegetation as the background. Tastefully decorated and detailed to the T, the stone house in which I lived for a few days even had a writer’s desk outdoors facing the ocean. Way to inspire someone…

Veronique and Heinz traveled extensively around Mexico and the US to find unique vintage items and furnishings, therefore every corner brings a surprise. An outdoor library with books in multiple languages is available for all, in addition to organic skin products which come as gifts.

Needless to say, Verana is unique. It will not only make you turn inwards, it will also reassure your appreciation for simplicity and rawness, and ignite your sense of adventure. 

To find more places like this, visit BoutiqueHomes which now features over 1,600 properties all around the world, ranging from architectural masterpieces to cabins and sustainably-built abodes.

Photography: Jae Feinberg