There is a place south of the coast of Jalisco, in the Mexican Pacific, where a privileged few tan – just enough -, drink water with lemon and chia, organize exclusive parties in impossible mansions on cliffs, go horseback riding on a private beach.
They walk in embroidered white robes, play polo, meditate a lot, rescue turtles. But above all, they enjoy the life that being the owners of a unique enclave provides.
From the highway that connects Manzanillo (Colima) with Puerto Vallarta, near kilometer 52, you can see a huge house on top of a hill overlooking the sea and the mangroves. The imposing circular construction, made of yellow-painted concrete and with a palapa roof – made with guano palm leaves – warns the driver that the Mexico he knew ends from there. The low deciduous forest is skeletally resistant at this time of year and only turns green as one enters one of the private areas of the country.
The cobbled path connects the different beaches and remote mansions with each other. One of them, the one observed at the top of the cliff, Sol de Oriente, which has its nemesis on the mountain opposite, Sol de Occidente. Two powerful circular homes with an infinity pool built even before any resort made it fashionable, which achieves the real feeling of floating between the sky and the sea.
The price for a house in Careyes ranges from one million euros to 10 million. One of the residents estimates that there are no more than 65, including some cute apartments inspired by the Italian seaside town of Positano, on the edge of the beach.
Towards the Rincón de Careyes is the first house of its founder, the banker, and descendant of the Piedmontese aristocracy Gian Franco Brignone, which was designed by the architect Marco Aldaco and revised by Luis Barragán himself, inspired by the Mediterranean tradition of the islands. Greek and Mexican and, above all, in the mansion of fashion icon Gloria Guinness, in Acapulco. He called it My Eye.
From the open dining room to the coast of that house, he receives his eldest son, Giorgio Brignone, to talk about this place: more than 1,500 hectares and 14 kilometers of beaches, mostly sold by an engineer from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM ), Ricardo Ludlow, political prisoner of the 1968 student movements, at a bargain price, some 300,000 euros, according to the book Los gentlemen de la costa, by the Mexican historian Carlos Tello. “It is a place outside of Mexico, but within Mexico,” Brignone sums up, to explain why it is known as a principality.
“The profile of a Careyes neighbor is someone elegant, knowledgeable or with a European identity, who likes to live and eat well,” he adds. As he speaks, he shows a detail that reveals his father’s mastery in deciding the architecture of his property and that would set an architectural precedent: the Careyes style. “Orienting a house to the west is in bad taste, the sunset blinds your view. The elegant thing is that it faces south and that the sunset illuminates everything ”, he points out.
To understand the origins of Careyes it is necessary to mention one of the richest men in the world in the mid-20th century, the Bolivian Antenor Patiño (known as the king of tin), husband of a descendant of María Cristina de Borbón and Bosch-Labrús. The discovery of this coast was largely due to the divorce of this couple, which Patiño desperately sought in Mexico, since in 1945 in Franco’s Spain it was not allowed. The tycoon’s landing also saw the appearance of his acquaintances and relatives of his new wife, Beatriz de Rivera. And with them, the arrival of Gian Franco Brignone – married to his niece – who fell in love with this coast on a plane flight in July 1968 and decided to create a luxury tourist development in the style of what the billionaire Aga Khan IV I was building on the Emerald Coast,
From the seventies until now, some of the richest in the world have spent the summer in Careyes and the heirs of the European aristocracy, especially Italian and French, have fixed residence. They don’t talk about money or business – “it’s in bad taste,” says one of its residents. Speaking at least three languages is an unwritten requirement, but essential to be accepted. And, if possible, candidates to acquire land or one of the mansions for sale should be wealthy for life.
There are few American owners, a European or Europeanized upper class is advocated. One of the first partners in the Careyes project in the 1970s was Gregorio Rossi di Montelera, heir to the Martini & Rossi fortune., and Baron Marcel Bich, inventor of the pens that bear his name. James Goldsmith, one of the richest businessmen in England in those years, passed these beaches; Gianni Agnelli, and Umberto from Italy. Later, Rod Stewart, Naomi Campbell, Luis Miguel, Cindy Crawford, Richard Gere, and Miguel Bosé have visited this area.
Although they have tried to maintain the utmost discretion and “high-level” tourism, the day one of the Kardashians – Kylie Jenner – posted a photo of her in a bikini on her Instagram in January, the world looked at Careyes. The aristocracy was threatened, it was just the opposite of what they wanted.
On the other side of the road is the town of Careyes. A municipality designed for workers to live there and the only point where you can do some social life. It is almost the only possible approach to reality. The eldest Brignone sums it up: “People live extremely well here.”
Those who populate Careyes are the last heirs of a European aristocracy established outside their lands. They detest the resort model and the extravagances of other rich people who populate destinations like Los Cabos or Cancun.
Not for nothing are the Careyes villas presented as “the only ones in the Mexican Pacific with a Mediterranean flavor”. Although they are probably also the only ones that resist in the world, thousands of kilometers from that sea.
HOW TO GET TO COSTA CAREYES
Costa Careyes, Mexico is easily accessible. Located on Highway 200 which links Manzanillo to Puerto Vallarta, it is just over an hour drive from Manzanillo International Airport and a 2.5-hour drive from Puerto Vallarta.
Luxury car services and taxis are available at both airports. However, a rental car is recommended for your stay. In addition, private airplane charters operate between the Puerto Vallarta Airport and a 4,000 ft. grass landing strip is located near Costa Careyes in Chamela (CHM31).
Please let us know if we can assist with transportation requests. It is our pleasure to arrange for airport pick up and drop off, vehicle rentals, and the chartering of planes. [email protected].
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU ARRIVE
After a short journey through the Mexican jungle, Costa Careyes appears out of nowhere like a mirage or a vision: Perfectly paved cobblestone streets and immaculately manicured lush tropical gardens wind their way up to kaleidoscope colored private villas and ocean castles built into the cliffs that rise from the sea. In the bay below them, sits an emerald green island, lapped by azure waves, straight out of Neverland. Once you spot it, you know you have truly arrived and your adventure has officially begun.
Direct flights to Manzanillo Airport ZLO from:
- Los Angeles, CA (LAX) with Alaska and Delta
- Mexico City (MEX) 4 flights daily with Aeromar and Aeromexico
- Houston (IAH) with Delta
Direct flights to PuertoVallarta (PVR) from:
- New York
- Los Angeles
- Mexico City
- Other important cities.
Most flights are offered by Delta, Aeromar, Aeromexico
Careyes is beautiful all year, including the summer, featuring a micro-climate that is unique to the west coast of Mexico. The typical daytime temperatures are on average between 22° and 25°C (72° – 76° F). It rarely rains more than 25 days per year in Careyes, and even then the rain tends to be in the early evening or at night when offshore storms illuminate the night skies. Regardless of the time of year, Careyes always enjoys cooling sea breezes.