The Internet is overloaded with a million options on where one should stay while getting away. And too often rentals aren’t quite what they seem – the adorable abode you were promised online is actually miles from where they claimed, and has some weird smell you can’t pinpoint. So, what if the place you rested your head was so incredible it was actually the destination in and of itself? What if the dream rental home was, this time, even better in person? Created and curated by Veronique Lelievre and Heinz Legler, Boutique Homes is a discovery engine for unique properties – a collection of places so perfect they exceed your imagination.
The pair has an eye for the extraordinary with an emphasis on character and experience right alongside quality. They coined the hashtag #chicnomads to describe the Boutique Homes consumers (and themselves) – they are adventurers willing to take a boat and hike for thirty minutes before getting to the hotel lobby – which is the case for the couple’s resort, Verana, located in Yelapa, a little town South of Puerto Vallarta. They know hospitality and there is something for everyone in their collection of destinations. They are that cool, happily married European older couple you kind of wish would invite you to their dinner parties. That’s why you stay at their hotel, and also why you trust the quality of every single property that makes it onto the site. Have a read of our interview and book your next vacation now!
LF: Both of you immigrated from Europe – Vero from France and Heinz from Germany – because of your love for California. From San Francisco to LA and now in beautiful Topanga, you have lived many places. Do you feel like California is home forever? Has it changed a lot since you got here? What do you love about it?
Heinz: California is for us the ultimate cosmopolitan ‘country.’ People and cultures from all over the world come together here, you can live in nature, close to the ocean, but still be in the most forward-thinking cities (LA and SF) within a few hours travel. And what tops it off is the weather. California is the best place if you want to have a life outside…
Veronique: California is definitely home. Yes it has changed, but in a good way. More good food, more good wine, more great galleries and the best landscape / weather / friendly people. Plus you feel younger in CA!
LF: Your site is very personal, it is carefully curated and a reflection of your taste. What would you say are some essential criteria to get your house listed on Boutique Homes?
Heinz: The house has to be personal and show personality.
Veronique: Interesting architecture, good decor, good location.
LF: You are dedicated to offering affordable rentals, and obviously more interested in design & architecture than luxury. Is this something that just happened naturally from being the type of traveler that you are, or was it because you consciously wanted to appeal to younger, more adventurous people who maybe don’t have the budget to stay in a 5K/night house?
Heinz: It always was about us. What we like, where we want to go, how we want to live. Since we’ve practiced this now for decades, we’ve accumulated many resources to pass along to other likeminded travelers. We never stayed in a place where the nightly rate was more than $250 – unless it was by invitation…
Veronique: We are more interested in the history of the place, the charm of it. We don’t go for the big fancy place. It’s just personal taste. But we do have expensive properties on the site.
LF: You own some of the properties listed on Boutique Homes, including a beautiful hotel in Yelapa and and a cluster of cabins in Yosemite. Little birdie told me that Heinz loves a fixer upper – how did these purchases come about?
Heinz: We always scouted remote and less developed areas because there were less restriction and you could get creative with not too much of an initial investment. Then we needed to get inspired by the landscape and we would get excited to envision ‘something’ there.
Veronique: Heinz always need the challenge of a difficult, out of the way place where he can just “figure out how to make it work.”
LF: Are you looking to own more properties?
Heinz: Not actively, we are more into refining the existing properties.
LF: Who are your favorite architects?
Heinz :RM Schindler, Lautner
Veronique: Also, Charles Eames
LF: As a hotel owner, what do you think makes for great hospitality?
Heinz: Personal touches, creativity and personality in each department. From the waitress, the chef to the host and into the landscape.
Veronique: The attention to details, and being attentive without invading the privacy of the guest.
LF: Where do you see yourself and Boutique Homes in 5 years?
Heinz: We’d like to become the authority for cool places to stay for the community of modern nomads, urban gipsies and elegant vagabonds.
Veronique: Having built a portfolio of the best cool places!
LF: How FAST do you live?
Heinz: Not as fast as I used to.
Veronique: I try to live slow, but as you know life goes fast so I am riding the wave!