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Hotel Highlights

  • All-natural jungle escape with free yoga and fabulous fresh food
  • Incredible spa treatments, including Watsu water massage
  • Jaw-dropping views of Banderas Bay

Overview

Not far from Puerto Vallarta, but so far from the beaten path, you can only access it by boat trip followed by mule ride, Verana, a Yelapa boutique hotel on the shores of the Pacific, is a swoon-inducingly gorgeous collection of thatched-palapa huts overlooking a dramatic vista of jungle and ocean. With in-water massage pools in the spa, cotton-canopied beds open to the balmy air, and a mouth-watering menu of fresh Mex cuisine, it’s the very last word in hide-away luxe.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Verana with us:

Your choice of a cooking class with Verana's chef or a wine-tasting session for two

Facilities

View Gallery
Verana hotel - Jalisco - Mexico

Need To Know

Rooms

Nine houses.

Check–out

11.30am. Later check-out times are subject to a charge.

Rates

Double rooms from $268.91, excluding tax at 19 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional service charge of 10% per room per night on check-out.

More details

Rates include tax and transport between the hotel and Boca de Tomatlan and Yelapa. Service is an additional 10 per cent and the optional meal plan is $95 a person a day, excluding drinks. Meals area also available à la carte from US$20 to US$45 a meal.

Also

As well as the expected range of resort activities, such as kayaking, snorkeling, and island-hopping, the hotel also has a tarot reader on hand, should you fancy dabbling in the spirit realm. The chef gives cooking classes too.

Hotel closed

6 June to 1 November.

At the hotel

Spa with soaking tub and Watsu massage pool, yoga palapa, gardens, library, free WiFi in the restaurant and in some rooms. In rooms: king-size beds, natural spa toiletries. The Stone House, Studio and Casa Chica have air-conditioning.

Our favourite rooms

We loved the lofty, arboreal setting of the Tea House, a Japanese style suite spread over a series of floating wooden platforms above the forest canopy. Although smaller, the Studio also raised our appreciative eyebrows with its pale bluey-grey concrete walls and natural-effect crackly pattern, huge wrought-iron four-poster, and whole wall of metal-framed windows that capture the pastel brilliance of the Verana sunrise. Mayan, the bedroom of which opens out onto a wide private terrace with staggering sea views, is one of the hotel’s most theatrical, and has an outdoor bathroom.

Poolside

The raw concrete pool is surrounded by a series of stepped terraces lined with orange loungers and parasols. The wall of one terrace has become an unofficial guestbook, where people have scratched their names and assorted declarations of love.

Packing tips

The hotel library is well stocked with books and magazines, so don’t waste suitcase space on reading matter. Outdoorsy clothes would be a wise inclusion if you plan on hiking or horse-riding in the jungle.

Also

There’s a five-night minimum stay in high season (November–June), and a seven-night minimum over Christmas and New Year's. Smoking is permitted throughout.

Children

Verana is far too romantic to be suited to under-16s. Extra beds are $70 a night.

Eco‐friendly

The hotel eschews all carbon-hungry electronic goods (no TVs, sounds systems etc) and candles are used in preference to the (mostly low-energy lights) where possible. Food is sourced from local producers (as were all building materials).

Food & Drink

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Verana hotel - Jalisco - Mexico

Hotel Restaurant

Breakfast and dinner are served on the terrace, lunch is enjoyed lazily beside the pool. The daily changing cuisine is authentic Mexican, varied with European or Asian dishes that meet the chef’s approval. Look out for Taco Night.

Hotel Bar

Smart, intimate, and chilled-out in the extreme, Verana’s bar sits alongside the restaurant and mixes chilli-infused margheritas that’ll send you to sleep with a smile (and a stumble).

Last orders

Dinner is available until 9.30pm, but there’s an after-hours snack menu. The bar keeps the tequila a-flow until gone midnight.

Room service

There’s no room service system as such, but you can request a candlelit romantic dinner in the privacy of your house.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Flip-flops and sun-dresses; it really couldn’t get more laid-back.

Top table

Almost every table on the terrace has a camera-friendly view of the Pacific, but elbow your way to the front to snag the most enviable.

Local Guide

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Verana hotel - Jalisco - Mexico
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Yelapa tends to be flooded with tourists during the day, but it's neverthless worth an afternoon's meander. The coastline to the south of the village makes for rewarding exploration by boat – Verana can arrange day trips stopping off at the fishing villages of Pizota, Chimo and Corales, and featuring snorkelling and fishing excursions followed by a freshly prepared ceviche on the beach.

Take a trip to the Marietas Islands, a wildlife sanctuary and marine reserve that's home to a dazzling array of sea life. Look out for giant manta rays, dolphins, humpback whales, and turtles on the boat ride over, and keep your eyes peeled for the blue-footed booby – other than the Galapagos, this is its only natural habitat.

Cathedral Falls, where there's a lovely deep pool ideal for wild swimming,  are within hiking or horse-riding distance of Verana.

Local restaurants

The village of Yelapa has a handful of basic eateries, but Verana's gifted chef rules the culinary roost in these parts. Do pick up a little something from one of the town's little pastry shops, though – the custard tarts are renowned throughout the country.

+ Enlarge
Sun-soaked shores of the Mexican Pacific

Verana

Zaragoza 449, Colonia Centro, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, C.P. 48300

Planes

Puerto Vallarta is the nearest airport. Flights come in from Mexico City and various US cities with Mexicana (www.mexicana.com), United Airlines (www.united.com) and American Airlines (www.aa.com), among others.

Automobiles

Reaching the hotel from the airport is an adventure in itself. From Puerto Vallarta take a taxi to Boca de Tomatlán (around US$35), where you’ll be met on the beach by the hotel’s private boat for a 30-minute ride along the stunning coastline to Yelapa. Here, hotel staff wait with mules to carry guests and their luggage to the property.

Other

A stay at the Verana is all about escapism and relaxation, so the hotel can be reached by boat and foot (or hoof) only.

Reviews

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Verana hotel - Jalisco - Mexico

Anonymous review

by Brett Erlich , Worldly witticist

You have to put in some effort to get to Verana – the Jalisco hotel can only be reached via a boat from the mainland and a mule ride through the jungle – but we’ve heard that once you’re stretched out in your cotton-draped king-size, looking out at the ocean, it is beyond worth the trip. As our plane lands in Puerto Vallarta, I look out the window and see a Home Depot. But…
Read more

Verana

Anonymous review by Brett Erlich, Worldly witticist

You have to put in some effort to get to Verana – the Jalisco hotel can only be reached via a boat from the mainland and a mule ride through the jungle – but we’ve heard that once you’re stretched out in your cotton-draped king-size, looking out at the ocean, it is beyond worth the trip.

As our plane lands in Puerto Vallarta, I look out the window and see a Home Depot. But the hour-long road to our water taxi in Boca outruns the megafranchises, and the half-hour motorboat to Verana claps the stress of real life off us, like sand off a flip-flop.

I'd thought Verana would be just another set of huts peppering the coastline, but as Mrs Smith and I arrive, it becomes clear this isn’t just another one of anything. A collection of nearly a dozen private cabanas, birthed from the minds of Hollywood set designers, Verana lies about 600 feet up a mountain, just outside the fishing town of Yelapa.

Our room is the Palapa, which I believe is Spanish for ‘one of those thatch-roof overhangs from movies where people wear palm fronds to cover their genitals.’

From its frangipani- and bougainvillea-flanked entrance we spy two beds, two enormous sun decks, a hammock – which Mrs Smith tries out immediately – and an open-air shower, which a passer-by on the path above could technically see into if he crouches down enough, but I reason if someone’s willing to contort himself that uncomfortably, he deserves a peek at Mrs Smith’s nipples. 

Saying this place has a good view is like saying Steve Jobs had a good little business: the jungle crashing into the bay, the fishing boats moored in the inlet below, the river valley retreating around the bend, and farthest away, fog eliminating the border between sea and sky. It’s the view I’d expect in a screen saver – not from my hotel room.

Eager to explore, we hit the bar, where we find a cluster of couples from all over the States and Mexico. Together, we toast this escape and order delightful concoctions created by the friendly nomadic American mixologist, Danny, whose travels had taken him everywhere, including swanky LA cantina Malo, where he designed the drink menu. Dinner is beef, which pleases Mrs Smith, and wine is by the bottle, which pleases everybody.

Drunkenly stumbling up the stone steps to our bed, I gesture to where the staff has tucked in the mosquito netting, and convince Mrs Smith to mate with me before we drift off to sleep in the warm jungle air, to the jungle's birdsong.

At 4.30am, a crazed three-year-old girl shakes me awake, shouting ‘It’s here! AND IT’S ENORMOUS!’ The girl, it turns out, is an atypically frenzied Mrs Smith. And ‘it’, which now scampering into the darkness, is a coatimundi, a docile cousin of the raccoon, which has sneaked into our room looking for candy. ‘It’s a cat-dog! Make it die or something!’ I knew we were never in danger, but there will definitely be no sleeping after this, so we wait it out until sun-up, streaming comedy shows, courtesy of Verana’s complimentary WiFi.

First the sun comes, then the daily coffee and muffin delivery, and, finally, we emerge for Verana’s outlandish Mexican breakfast, which includes their take on chilaquiles (breakfast nachos) with optional face-melting habanero salsa, and delicate, delectable queso Chihuahua, which comes from the region, not the dog.

While many resorts push activities on you – and though Verana offers a literal menu of escorted tours and spa treatments – Danny seems just as comfortable suggesting destinations and letting us get to it ourselves. After a dip at a secluded beach off the path to town, we hit Yelapa, a town of folksy vacation rentals and rundown shacks, holding no more than a thousand people, and dozens of lethargic stray dogs, cats and sunbathing rock iguanas.

Our destination is Angelina’s, a cantina Danny recommended at the end of a line of beachside shacks. There, we meet a crew of international transplants including a Canadian mom and her brood, a hula-hooping hippie whose parents started Studio 54 and a bartendress whose golden tan might as well have been a tattoo reading: ‘No way in hell am I going back to Sweden.’ They prepare for the town’s St Patrick’s Day party as we eat impossibly fresh fish tacos and sip raicilla, the local agave moonshine, which ferments in underground ovens to infuse an unmistakable smokiness. Is it good? If you like swallowing a campfire. Is it strong? It put hairs on the hair on my chest.

Bellies full, we head home. If there were ever a place built to help you recover from a drunken hike up a mountain, it's Verana’s jungle spa, with its Watsu pool, aromatic soaking tubs and full-body couples’ massages. They offer everything from reflexology to hot rocks. I already knew this place was paradise, but now they are literally rubbing it in.

At dinner we meet an old friend: the monster that visited us in the night is really the resort’s mascot, Avocado, currently being fed avocado. It sounds like cannibalism, but it looks adorable. Spicily delicious jicama salad, grilled amberjack and a bottle of wine are followed by a far more relaxing sleep.

At the dock we meet the resort’s director, Kris, who carries the air of the Man Behind the Curtain. For pop culture buffs, think Jacob from Lost mixed with The Dude from The Big Lebowski. We chat about the town and this special luxury resort. He pokes fun at Mrs Smith’s aversion to iguanas (he was already mysteriously privy to this titbit). Upon departure, we don’t feel as if we are saying goodbye to a staff; we are saying goodbye to friends… who just happen to own an avocado-eating cat-dog.

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel with us, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Verana's Guestbook below.

 

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I loved everything: the jungle, the people, the views, the waterfalls, the rooms… It was all exactly as it should have been and more. I couldn't be happier!

Rating: 10/10 stars