has received tons of press ever since Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor put this town on the map in the 1960s. Since then, several movies have been filmed here. It has become a gay mecca but yet, has retained it’s small town charm.
I hope that never changes. More and more celebrities come to Vallarta to escape the constant flashing cameras of the paparazzi. They seek privacy and refuge in the small boutique properties here in PV.
Tucked away on an unassuming, cobblestone street, Casa Kimberly, Elizabeth Taylor’s former home, is now an intimate, nine-suite boutique owned by Janice Chatterton, hotelier of nearby celebrity-magnet Hacienda San Angel just two blocks away. Modeled similar to Hacienda, Casa Kimberly is as glamorous as it is palatial and designed to feel timeless with blue-and-white tiled staircases, stone columns, arched doorways, wrap-around terraces and al fresco courtyards with bubbling fountains. All suites and public spaces are adorned with 19th-century antiques, from Italian paintings and horse carriages to a marble statue carved by French sculptor Gustave Deloye. Suites start at $435; Elizabeth Taylor suite from $825.
Beyond Burton and Taylor, however, the balmy beach town of Puerto Vallarta has cast a spell on A-listers. It’s now chock-full of luxury resorts and private villas to pander to their whim. Eva Longoria and Mario Lopez vacation at Garza Blanca Preserve Resort (suites from $385,), a secluded all-inclusive resort that straddles jungle and beach. The rising number of new boutiques (like Casa Kimberly) have also been drawing attention.
Stars like Angelica Huston have shacked up at Rivera del Rio (suites from $359, www.riveradelrio.com), a fantastic whimsical, eight-room property in Old Town and decades deep with Hollywood ties. Since the 1970s, the former private home hosted Hollywood actors and crew for films (including Predator, Revenge, Gunmen) before established as a hotel in 2012. Owner Alexander James Andriadis Killen says: “I remember when they were filming Gunmen in our house and watching Mario Van Peebles blow up our kitchen. I also remember when Arnold Schwarzenegger first walked into our home during the filming of Predator. I was scared that the Terminator was in our house that I ran away crying.” Having lived “on set” for 32 years and grandfathered into Hollywood, Alex has become a valuable source in town for the A-list who continue to flock over. “Hollywood still lives on in Puerto Vallarta.” (Photo right – courtyard pool @ Garlands Del Rio).
Alexander James Andriadis Killen has just renovated and opened a new property just down the street, Garlands Del Rio. www.Garlandsdelrio.com. This Majestic Bed and Breakfast located directly on the Rio Cuale is another masterpiece. Garlands Del Rio represents a rustic yet magical time in Puerto Vallarta. Each room has a character and personality inspired by long time residents of Puerto Vallarta.
These beautiful rooms make up a Garland of beauty and relaxation. Garlands has 8 true vallartan style rooms with antiquated bathrooms that span around a luscious sapphire blue pool and a Vaulted ceiling kitchen fit for kings and queens. Located directly under the Rio Cuale bridge you will experience a true Vallartan experience that cannot be found at a typical hotel. BOTH of Killen’s properties consistently get rated 5 stars!
THE RICH AND FAMOUS
– Most Puerto Vallarta-bound celebrities also vacation in Punta Mita, a tony resort community just 40 minutes from Puerto Vallarta International Airport. Famous faces like Kate Hudson shack up at Four Seasons Punta Mita (which recently debuted a new beach club with beach shack bar). The five-star property is home to private villa residences equipped with infinity pools (with adjustable temperatures), personal chefs and tantalizing views of the sea , three-bedroom, ocean-view residence from $5,100 per night). The five-bedroom, beachfront presidential Coral Suite starts at $23,000 per night. Honeymooners like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West and Lance Bass and Michael Turchin continue to swoon over Casa Aramara , the famed private residence owned by Joe Francis, and Gwyneth Paltrow has checked into Casa China Blanca ($1,700 per night) a 10,000-square-foot, five-bedroom and fully staffed sanctuary that has been featured in blockbuster films Limitless and Elysium. Casa De Mita ($750 per night), an intimate, hacienda-style, eight-room boutique right on a virtually deserted unspoiled beach, is Punta Mita’s best-kept secret.