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- Careyes is a private beach resort that sits on the Pacific coast of Mexico.
- The community of artists and high-end hippies was founded in 1968 and has since become an enclave for well-off bohemians.
- It’s marked by playful, colorful architecture, and is even home to a Burning Man-like arts festival.
- In April, I spent three nights in Careyes. I’ve traveled the majority of Mexico — but nothing has surprised me quite like Careyes.
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I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it for myself. To be honest? I’m still not entirely sure it’s real. But last April I found myself staying at a hidden European enclave on a stretch of deserted Mexican coastline.
It’s called Careyes, and it’s almost too wild to believe.
Allow me to backtrack: I live in Puerto Vallarta for four months out of the year and have done so for the past four years. I’ve traveled the majority of Mexico. Nothing has surprised me quite like Careyes.
Here’s what it’s like.
Business financial make money capital trading I live in Puerto Vallarta four months out of the year, and have done so for the past four years. I’ve also traveled through the majority of Mexico.
Business financial make money capital trading There is a stretch of coast that runs from Puerto Vallarta in the state of Jalisco down to the city of Manzanillo in the state of Colima.
Business financial make money capital trading This 200-mile stretch of rugged, untamed, raw coastline is called the Costalegre, or the “Happy Coast.”
It’s veined by a singular curvy, snaking highway that winds its way through the mountains, opening up to vistas that show barren, sweeping beachscapes, forests of palm trees, and little else. It’s a part of the country that will make you forget that anything else exists in Mexico.
It is, in short, magic.
Business financial make money capital trading So it isn’t all that surprising that this is where an Italian banker would decide to build a private hideaway for artists, celebrities, and high-end hippies.
Gian Franco Brignone, an Italian artist and banker, first explored this part of Mexico in the late 1960s. And by explored, I mean bushwhacked — because at that time, Careyes was virtually inaccessible. It was the heart of the jungle, hidden between mountain ridges where no roads had been developed.
Brignone’s vision was to create a hideaway for the upper echelon of creatives. It was to be a space for artists, poets, and musicians to come together to create, to inspire and be inspired by each other and by Mexico.
Business financial make money capital trading I arrived from the Manzanillo airport, about two hours south of Careyes.
Careyes sits on more than 20,000 acres of Jalisco land, and the best part is you don’t even know you’re there until you’re right in the thick of it.
Business financial make money capital trading You can’t see it from the road. A frankly unimpressive turnoff from the highway leads away from the mountains and moves toward the ocean.
The only hint of what’s coming are two mirror-image castles that sit perched on opposing clifftops overlooking the Pacific Ocean, which can be seen from the highway. But the design of Careyes is so subtle, and so in tune with nature, that unless you know what you’re looking for, they are easy to miss.
Business financial make money capital trading Once inducted into the exclusive fold (rates to stay there begin at $350 per night), Careyes becomes a playground for the glitterati who want to tuck their stilettos away in exchange for caftans and green juice.
The high-powered put away their iPads in exchange for yoga mats and essential oils — with million-dollar views, mind you. It’s not uncommon for a yoga session to be held on the terrace of a six-bedroom villa, with nothing but the Pacific Ocean splayed out before you.
Business financial make money capital trading All of the accommodations, whether it’s a room at the Residences or one of the palatial villas, are owned or for sale, but they are also available as vacation rentals.
I stayed at the Residences, which seems modest in comparison to some of the other digs available. By any other measure, however, they are extremely high end.
The condo-style Residences all feature balconies overlooking the sea, modern furniture, expansive kitchens, and luxurious bathrooms. The Residence section has a selection of restaurants, as well, like the infinity poolside La Duna or Playa Rosa, which serves Mexican cuisine on the beach.
Business financial make money capital trading I was able to snag an architectural tour led by Brignone’s son, Giorgio, who now essentially holds the keys to Paradise while his father acts as more of a figurehead. Giorgio’s private residence, Casa Azul, is a work of art on its own. The multi-level villa, painted in Frida Kahlo Blue, sits over the churning Pacific.
The villa’s design plays with nature: Half of it is open to the elements, while the other half has enough windows that you’re never sure when outside ends and inside begins.
I was visiting during an international polo tournament, which meant that as I meandered in and out of the rooms, I was coming across elegant women sipping Champagne on plush daybeds, or walking across international polo celebrities having their calves rubbed down with massage oil in preparation for the match later that afternoon.
Business financial make money capital trading Other villas were equally impressive. Remember the mirror-image castles that sat perched on cliffs? They are also villas that are available for rent: Sol De Oriente and Sol De Occidente.
Sol De Oriente is an explosion of canary yellow that sits high on a cliff, wreathed in a 360-degree turquoise infinity pool. The villa is topped with a massive, thatched palapa that adds a serious dose of understated elegance to an otherwise posh palace.
The castle has three-bedroom suites and multi-tiered levels, private dining, living areas. It comes fully staffed with a live-in butler, chef, and maids. Just across the Playa Careyitos is the sister castle, Sol De Occidente, which is a mirror image, only in pale green.
Business financial make money capital trading So anyway, as I was saying: polo. It turns out that Careyes is the host for the annual Agua Alta polo tournament, and has been for the last 20 years.
The estate has its own polo club that adheres to international standards — hats, Champagne, and all. The club has two regulation Bermuda grass fields and stables for 150 horses.
Any time there is an event at Careyes, there are parties to match. Polo is no exception.
In addition to the matches throughout the day (which come complete with wine, art, and fashion), there are evening parties — think massive gaucho-style bonfire cookouts and barefoot beach parties by moonlight.
Nestled on the sand on one of the many desolate beaches in Careyes is a charming, driftwood-style elevated beach shack called Casa de Nada. It’s known for its potent cocktails, Mexican-style street snacks, and after-hours parties.
Business financial make money capital trading Polo season isn’t the only time the Careyes elite don their boho best. Each year, the compound hosts what is essentially an elevated Burning Man. It’s called Ondalinda.
Ondalinda is a celebration of all things art, culture, and music, and even includes large-scale installation on the beach.
Business financial make money capital trading The difference between Ondalinda and Burning Man is that the former comes with five-star accommodations — and it’s invitation only.
But those who do manage to snag an invite to Ondalinda are treated to an endless soundtrack of international DJs, dancing by firelight, the unveiling of massive art structures, and a whole lot of Careyes magic.
It’s a self-proclaimed “tribal gathering” of creative minds and hearts.