January and February at Verana: Indoor-outdoor Spa and Luxury Whale Watching in Mexico

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January and February is whale watching season in Mexico, and there's nowhere better to view impressive humpbacks than from Verana, the luxury, 8-room, handmade spa hotel atop Yelapa, thirty miles south of Puerto Vallarta. "The humpback whales come to the Bay of Banderas every year between December and March to have their babies," says Verana co-owner and designer Veronique Lievre. It's the perfect time and place to go whale watching in Mexico.

The bungalows are part of an ongoing play between inside and out, past and present, privacy and community, nature and manmade.

January and February is whale watching season in Mexico, and there's nowhere better to view impressive humpbacks than from Verana, the luxury, 8-room, handmade spa hotel atop Yelapa, thirty miles south of Puerto Vallarta.

"The humpback whales come to the Bay of Banderas every year between December and March to have their babies," says Verana co-owner and designer Veronique Lievre. It's the perfect time and place to go whale watching in Mexico, not far from Puerto Vallarta.

Anywhere on Verana's lush, 5-acre property carved out of a swathe of jungle - from the individually designed guest rooms, from the swimming or watsu pool, the library or the Yoga palapa - you're likely to spy a pod of these gracious mammals or hear them blowing bubbles as they cavort in the Bay of Banderas below. Verana's Panga boat will take you out for a closer look on your private Mexico whale watching cruise. And, if you're lucky you might spy dolphin, manta ray and sea turtles too.

General Description Of Verana, The Remote Spa Hotel In Mexico

Carved out of a swath of hillside jungle, floating above the Bay of Banderas and embraced by the mountains of the Valle de la Sierra Oriental, rests Verana, a small, personal luxury spa hotel in Mexico. Verana is as unusual as it is remote. In its seventh season, which runs from November through June 5, the 8-room outpost never fails to enchant guests with its unique spirit of tranquility and exhilaration afforded by its chic yet rough-hewn design, dramatically juxtaposed by unadulterated nature on all sides, 24/7.

Location

Atop Yelapa located on Mexico's southwest coast sometimes referred to as the Costa Alegre, Verana is 30 miles south of Puerto Vallarta. Guests arrive by air daily via Puerto Vallarta International Airport, then taxi to Boca de Tomatlan beach where Verana's boat transports guests to Yelapa. After a short hike through the jungle (mules stand in for bellboys) the real adventure begins at Verana.

Design

Verana has just 8 guesthouses that dot the 5-acre property, lush with tropical plantings and fruit trees. All the guesthouses are unique in concept and feel. The most bohemian 'Palapa' boasts a traditional thatched roof, uneven rock floor, and no walls, leaving it wonderfully exposed to the jungle while the modern eye-popping 'Studio' is replete with George Nelson lamps, tiled floors and a huge bank of steel framed windows overlooking one of the largest bays in the world. As Architectural Digest's Kathryn Harris said, "The bungalows are part of an ongoing play between inside and out, past and present, privacy and community, nature and manmade." Each house has its own terrace with jungle and Pacific Ocean views and personal pathways that follow the contours of the landscape and lead to the communal areas of the hotel: restaurant, bar, pool, yoga room, library and spa.

Verana was conceived, designed and is solely owned by Heinz Legler and Veronique Lievre, a former movie set builder and set decorator respectively. Verana can safely lay claim to the adjective handmade. "Everything had to be brought up hill either by hand or mule," says Lievre who tricked out the rooms with an eclectic mix of found objects, artisan-made furniture, Mexican handicrafts, and simple lined modernist pieces and used a color palette inspired from the surroundings. "I wanted to create an environment that was harmonious with the natural setting, yet also functional and comfortable,' says Lievre. There's an unapologetic absence of traditional luxury hotel amenities such as high thread count bed linen, oversized flat plasma TVs, radios or 24 hr room service. Instead a mule plays bellboy and you're as likely to see a flotilla of yellow butterflies fly over the pool as be wakened to the sound of parrots or a braying donkey or fall asleep to the accompaniment of courting frogs and cicadas. This is the real privilege of being at Verana, the opportunity to observe and interact with nature first hand. "Verana is really about the outside setting with the option to go inside," confirms Legler.

Spa

The indoor-outdoor luxury spa at Verana is designed to maximize its jungle setting south of Puerto Vallarta. Like on the rest of the property, a carefully placed wall, door or planting ensures privacy and yet there is a delightful frisson because guests are essentially outdoors. The spa is carved into the rocks overlooking the Bay of Banderas and the jungle, surrounded by towering cacti and enhanced by the intoxicating smells of lemongrass and plumeria that grow nearby. In the massage hut you can enjoy Thai, Hot stone, and Swedish modalities. In the treatment room, also open to nature, potions whipped up daily from fresh ingredients grown on property such as avocado, coffee and papaya along with botanicals are used for healing facials, body washes and scrubs. The sublime art of Watsu massage (think Zen Shiatsu with some twirling while being cradled in water) is practiced in a specially designed pool heated to the same temperature as the body, the first if not the only one of its kind in Mexico. Plein air Japanese style soaking tubs are usually enjoyed under moonlight alone or with a partner.

Cuisine

Despite the remote location, Verana's kitchen, led by Yelapan native, Chef Fabian, creates 3 sublime meals a day. Every other day the Verana boat picks up supplies in Puerto Vallarta to help fashion the menu which is ingredient driven, organic where possible, and Regional Mexican in origin laced with international flavors and slickly finished with modern health consciousness. The day starts at 8:00AM with a tray of home made baked goods - sometimes brioche or croissants, other times pastries or cookies - coffee and tea in thermos flasks, delivered and left quietly outside the guesthouse door, if there is one!

Activities

You can be active,

You can be healthy,

You can relax

And you can relax even more.

There's whale watching or reflecting in the spring water pool with 180 degree views of the mountains and ocean, or lazing in a hammock reading a book from the library while waiting for an afternoon massage. If that isn't your idea of a perfect day, Verana offers an extensive array of activities and excursions, including ocean kayaking, fishing, bird watching, trekking jungle trails and to waterfalls and snorkeling. Yoga is offered daily and private sessions may also be scheduled. Built on the hillside near the pool, the floor of the yoga palapa extends beyond the incline of the hill to provide a sense of floating as you move through asanas and kriyas.

Honeymoons & weddings

Verana's remote and romantic setting has always drawn brides and grooms for their ceremony or just honeymoon. Special packages and a gift registry are available. While any of the guesthouses are perfect, the most recent addition, The Tea House is most popular. It's the largest and has its own plunge pool.

Rates

For two people (including three daily meals, taxes and boat transportation) range from $380-$610 per night, whale watching included. There is a five night minimum stay, unless availability permits otherwise. Casa Sin Tiempo, is a two-room guesthouse in Puerto Vallarta available for guests before or after a visit to Verana, or for a trip just to Puerto Vallarta. Verana's shuttle service to and from Boca de Tomatlan is available with a reservation. Rate is $150/night per room, including continental breakfast. Verana is also available for group and commercial photo shoots. For reservations or information, please call (800) 530-7176, or email ana@verana.com or visit our website at:

Verana, a small spa hotel in Mexico.

Relax, relax while whale watching

"Verana is an invitation to recall how simple and beautiful life can be," says Legler of his dream home expanded to dream hotel, open to anyone willing to venture there. If hotels are about an escape from the mundane, Verana scores off the charts - and remember the incredible whale watching in Mexico right now!

Whale watching at Verana small spa hotel in Mexico.

Verana, small private spa hotel at Yelapa, south of Puerto Vallarta

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For more information, contact:

Sarah Robarts

Ballantines PR

London/Los Angeles

LA office:

Tel: 310 454 3080

Cell: 310 570 7355

Fax: 310 388 6027

http://www.ballantinespr.com

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Verana
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