Concierge.com's insider take:
Verana makes you work for its gorgeous views: You reach its aeries by climbing a steep hill or riding up with your luggage on a burro. But the solitude, the laid-back vibe, and the hand-crushed strawberries in your daiquiri make it worth all the effort. Movie industry pros Heinz Legler and Veronique Lievre chose this mountaintop on the south side of Banderas Bay as the ultimate setting for a rustic-chic escape constructed with local materials and a lot of imagination. They created the Palapa first, using it as their home while designing seven different casas. Decor varies from casa to casa—the Tea House has low beds on polished wood floors, the Studio has cantilevered window walls framing views of the sea—but all share a comfortably rustic vibe with rough-hewn furniture, pillowy beds, and a focus on bringing the outside in (think large windows, outdoor lounges, and more). Our favorite casa is the aforementioned thatched-roof Palapa, with dining nooks, an outdoor shower, hammocks, a large stone-floored terrace, and a net-draped bed on a platform overlooking the sea. Delectable meals (homemade yogurt with mango and granola, fresh-from-the-sea shrimp, spicy Thai beef) are served poolside or on the dining terrace. Outstanding therapists perform magic at two spas—one solely for hotel guests, the other a day spa with café for outsiders and guests. Activities include nature hikes to waterfalls and isolated beaches—and nightly cocktails with couples celebrating their honeymoon or engagement. Romance is inescapable here.—Maribeth Mellin
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