Designed with preserving its precious biodiverse surroundings in mind, Tanusas Hotel & Villas – settled in Ecuador in the last five per cent of tropical dry-forest worldwide – has naturally crafted rooms and thatched oceanfront villas, coddled by swathes of virgin greenery, set just steps from the Pacific. It offers a chance to connect with the Manabí province's culture and peoples (you can make the local toquilla straw hats and partake in pottery workshops), but also surfing, mountain-biking and whale-watching (from July to October) rev up a relaxed beach break here, and lush nature reserves nearby guarantee sightings of some of the 15 endemic species including playful howler monkeys. This sense of place extends to the kitchen too, where the chefs use unique local ingredients in rainforest-and-ocean-sourced cuisine – the paper parasol on top of this piña-colada-hued hideaway’s offerings.
Get this when you book through us:
A welcome drink, chocolate-covered fruit and two glasses of wine
25, including five deluxe suites and 10 oceanfront villas.
11am, but late check-out is available until 6pm, subject to availability and a fee (50 per cent of the full rate). Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £252.96 ($312), including tax at 22 per cent.
Rates include breakfast and a welcome drink.
CEO Dayra Reyes hires staff from the surrounding villages, and she’s embarked on a ‘green’ school project, to raise awareness about rainforest conservation and ethical harvests.
At the hotel
Private beach, 39-hectare forest with walking trails, lounge (with decor inspired by the colourful city of Montecristi), parking, bikes and surfboards to borrow, sauna, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: air-conditioning, ocean views, organic eco-friendly bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Set a short stroll from the main house, and shielded from prying eyes by palms and cacti, the Honeymoon Villa is the most secluded. Spend lazy lie-ins gazing at panoramic views of sprawling greenery from your bed. Hand-thatched fixtures add an authentic air, and a pair of ocean-view sunloungers accentuates the petite private pool’s deck.
Outside the main house, by the bar, there’s an ocean-facing pool and a large bamboo-shaded terrace. Stretch out on the sunshine-yellow sunloungers that surround them.
The spa offers essential-oil massages that’ll leave you as headily scented as the grounds. There’s also a sauna, steam bath and Jacuzzi to round off the pampering options. Be sure to book in advance.
A pocket-sized Spanish phrasebook if your Español isn’t up to scratch.. Don’t pack that Panama hat: handsome, locally made toquilla hats are sold on-site. A cache of GoPros ensures some action-packed holiday snaps too.
Baby cots (US$20) or an extra bed (US$40) for five-to-12 year olds can be added to rooms, kids' meals are offered, and babysitters can be hired for an extra fee with one day advance notice. The Two-Bedroom Villas are spacious enough for families.
Absolutely – Tanusas Hotel & Villas is set on a small section of the world’s last five per cent of dry forest land, so sustainability and conservation take centre stage. There are solar panels throughout and waste is filtered. Furnishings in-rooms and around the hotel are hand-crafted by local artisans, ingredients come from local farms, and the hotel owners have started community programmes focused on responsible food production, nutrition, education and protecting the environment. You’re also encouraged to take part in cultural activities, including lessons on the making of toquilla-straw hats, to ensure Columbian traditions are kept alive.
On request the Tanusas team will arrange secluded sunset apéritifs on the sand, torchlit picnics at Playa Bonita (with a bonfire to cosy up by), and campfires on the coast (with marshmallows for making s'mores).
A casual beach-chic look works well; layer it up with a light jacket once the post-summer sea breeze cools.
The hotel has two restaurants. In the main Tanusas restaurant, the chef’s Ecuadorian cuisine is seasonal sustainable and plucked straight from the source: forest-scavenged fruits, fish and crustacea straight from the nets and kitchen-garden goodies that showcase the Manabí Province, its unique cuisine, and farmers and fishermen in full flower. The thatched restaurant is coolly casual with sun-saluting views. For dinner, order up the 'picada montubia' (an array of local dishes: deep-fried fish in peanut sauce, chicken baked into cornmeal, patties stuffed with Manaba cheese), and deep-fried green-plantain empanadas filled with shrimp. Lunch is served here, and a generous buffet – with must-try home-made dulce de leche – is laid out in the breakfast room. And, on the beach there's the ceviche bar, where native flavours are boldly shown off in zingy dishes and there are chef demonstrations of how to prep picturesque plates.
Also on the property is Bocavaldivia, a restaurant run by chef Rodrigo Pacheco, whose efforts in promoting and practicing natuve cuisine and traditional Manabí cookery and ingredients have been awarded by the Ministry of Tourism in Ecuador; and he was made a Goodwill Abassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. His food is sustainable, seasonal, authentic, and – importantly so – delicious. This is a dining experience that'll root you in the local culture and introduce you to whole new flavours, and there's no menu – instead you might start by fishing from the shore and heading out on a jungle trek to help gather ingredients, although you can just sign up for a surprise six-course feast if you'd rather Rodrigo do all the work. We recommend booking in advance
The small but sweet, citrus-hued bar – on the pool deck – is strung with kitsch pineapple lights and displays local handicrafts. Signature cocktails such as the smoked piña colada or 'Manabí a la diabla' (tequila, mango or passionfruit juice, lemon and jalapeño) are perfect poolside sippers, plus cervezas and regional wines. If abstaining, sip an iced glass of zingy Limonada del Coco. Or shake up your skills at a cocktail-making class with the skilled house mixologists.
Breakfast is served from 8am to 10.30am, lunch from 1pm to 3pm. In the evenings, dinners run from 7pm to 9pm.
From 8am to 11pm, burgers, grilled octopus, tempura platters, deep-fill fish sandwiches and home-made ice-cream can be whisked to your door.
The hotel is on a 50-acre reserve on Ecuador’s Pacific coast, flanked by dense verdure and a quiet beach in little-known Manabí province. Fishing village Puerto López is 40 minutes’ drive away, and Machalilla National Park lies to the north.
Eloy Alfaro International Airport is the closest, about an hour’s drive away. European flights connect via Quito or Guayaquil and direct flights are available from major US hubs.
It’s not essential to book a car as the hotel can arrange day trips and airport transfers. Ensure you have GPS if you do hire a car as signage is sparse. There are car-hire booths at the airport.
Worth getting out of bed for
The hotel’s 43-acre reserve has plenty for nature-lovers. Trek the three-kilometer trail through the reserve's bio-corridor, Garúa dry forest and mangroves – plus take a deep dive into the ocean's aquatic ecosystem – keeping your eyes peeled for the endemic species who have made the wilds their home. The hotel can also arrange trips to vast nature reserve Machalilla National Park, a 45-minute drive away, which comprises of pelican, albatross, twitcher-paradise Isla Salango for , and booby-populated Isla de la Plata (a sort of mini Galápagos) and protected forest – home to howler monkeys, ocelots, white-tailed deer, armadillos and more. You'll be privy to 500 meters of idyllic sandy shoreline, so you can frolic in the waves or bagsy a sunlounger. Bike through the trees, surf along the coast, take a whale-watching trip (from July to October), or scuba dive from Los Frailes beach, where manta rays and sharks hang out (you can take your PADI here too). The pottery workshop introduces you to native Manabí craftsmanship, and there are guided sessions on the making of traditional toquilla straw hats, tours through cacao plantations, and cookery classes.
Ever-changing dining is included in your room rate; trust us, you’ll want to savour every morsel of these chef-prepared meals. However, if you’re looking for something local head to Puerto Cayo for Manabi-favoured feasts at Cabalongaand fresh woodfired pizzas, served Wednesday to Sunday, at the unassumingly red-hooded Cabaña Roja.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this boutique beach retreat on the Pacific Coast and unpacked their ikat-patterned shawls and pan-pipes, a full account of their chilled-out coastal break will be with you. In the meantime, don your shades for a quick peek inside colourful Tanusas in Ecuador…
Tanusas' guava-hued, thathched buildings sit in a hallowed position on Ecuador's Pacific coast, amid the last five per cent of tropical dry rainforest in the world, and by 500 meters of soft sandy beach. As such, its sustainable to its core and very mindful of the rich biodiversity it's custodian of; activities reflect this, with treks through mangroves and cloud forest, nature walsk to spy 150 species of bird and native howler monkeys, and classes in the traditional crafts of the Manabí Province's people (such as toquilla-hat weaving). Spy humpback whales and manta rays in season and ride thrilling wave breaks, then sit down to a meal that takes you right back to the land, putting native cuisine front and center and using forest- and ocean-gathered ingredients.