Gringo Gulch is known for its colonial-style villas. // © 2011 waywuwai
Gazing at the pink arched passageway known as the “Love Bridge” now takes on a new significance. Residents of and visitors to Puerto Vallarta’s Gringo Gulch neighborhood are mourning the loss of one of their most beloved celebrity denizens, Elizabeth Taylor. The glamorous star, who died in March, helped put the neighborhood on the map back in 1962. That was when Taylor and her soon-to-be lover, Richard Burton, arrived in the city to film the sultry “Night of the Iguana,” directed by John Huston. They fell in love with each other and with Puerto Vallarta as well.
Gringo Gulch is located downtown, at the corner of Carranza and Zaragoza streets. It’s right by the Cuale River and steep hill known as El Cerro behind the town church, just a short walk from shops, galleries and bistros, as well as the malecon. The most famous site in Gringo Gulch is Casa Kimberley, the home that Burton bought for Taylor during their romance. Later, when the couple married, they bought the house across the street as well and built the Love Bridge that connects the two homes.
The area affords magnificent views of the city as well as the surrounding mountains and the sea. Gringo Gulch was named for the foreigners (nicknamed gringos by the locals) who settled in the area at the time both prior to and following the filming of “Night of the Iguana.” Many expatriates still live in this artsy, charming neighborhood, where they can hike up staircases to winding paths surrounded by colonial-style villas and houses, typically white with red-tile roofs and covered with bougainvillea.
A visit to the Church of our Lady of Guadalupe is something clients should do when in Puerto Vallarta, as it is the centerpiece of Gringo Gulch. Open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, the church features lovely paintings, a marble altarpiece, a brick bell tower and a grouping of stone angels. Clients can enjoy the ringing of churchbells, children chasing pigeons in the courtyard and authentic Mexican ambience that is ever present here.
For tours of Gringo Gulch, get in touch with the International Friendship Club, which conducts popular weekly tours of some of the town’s toniest homes, seasonally from Thanksgiving to Easter. The club asks for approximately $30 per person as a contribution to its charitable activities. Visitors can also try the regular Wednesday Art Walk tour, which is available during the fall, winter and spring, and features notable local galleries and art studios. For more information contact Galeria Vallarta (firstname.lastname@example.org
Clients who would like to stay in the area can check out Hacienda San Angel, a member property of Mexico Boutique Hotels and one of Puerto Vallarta’s most upscale independent properties. The Hacienda San Angel offers splendid views of the city and the glittering Bay of Banderas below. Five colonial villas (one of which was once owned by Richard Burton) house 14 elegant suites that are joined by a path leading to a terraced tropical garden with a fountain and statues. The Hacienda’s Gourmet restaurant is a popular dining spot and is open to non-guests as well. Classic sophisticated Mexican cuisine and international specialties are served overlooking the city lights and blue bay. Sunsets are accompanied by mariachis playing music during happy hour, which takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. nightly (www.haciendasanangel.com
The area also offers two luxurious homes available for rent — the Villa Buganvilia and Mi Casa. Both are lavishly furnished, very private and beautifully maintained. They are located on the hillside, with views of the Pacific Ocean and the distant tropical jungles. The homes are fully staffed, with cooks, housekeepers, gardeners and a concierge service.