Mexico’s history is rife with ancient civilizations, war, and artistry. Though the center of the country’s thick jungle is highly populated and visited, the picturesque western coastline of Mexico got major credit in the 1960s. Puerto Vallarta’s beautiful tropical location came into the spotlight when Oscar-winning director John Huston showed up in 1960 to film “The Night of the Iguana” with a star-studded cast.
Since then, it hasn’t shied much from the spotlight. All types of artists from the likes of filmmakers, painters, musicians, actors, and socialites have made Puerto Vallarta their go-to tropical destination in Central America. The city had to transform to accommodate such star power, but still had its own identity to preserve. The outcome is luxury Puerto Vallarta hotels and resorts scattered with varied boutique and themed hotels, allowing guests to choose from a variety of experiences.
Puerto Vallarta is bursting with all kinds of history, and where you stay can either keep you in the lap of luxury or woven into the rich culture of this country. Check out the top 8 most storied hotels in Puerto Vallarta:
Puerto Vallarta’s tourist legacy began with the release of “Night of the Iguana.” The movie starred mega-celebrities Ava Gardner and Richard Burton, but the real attention surrounded Elizabeth Taylor, who came to the town to be with Richard Burton amidst her divorce.
Liz and Dick, their couple moniker, was a media circus attributed with the birth of public obsession with celebrity gossip. The 72-days they spent in Puerto Vallarta ushered their relationship and, incidentally, the quiet Mexican town into worldwide headlines.
Since then, the once-quiet town is a bustling tourist hub. Barceló Puerto Vallarta is at the center of its Hollywood rebirth. The sprawling resort previously known as La Jolla De Mismaloya, is on the very beach the movie was filmed. There are still set locations you can visit and feel the tropical intimacy of old Hollywood glamor and gossip.
It offers 316 completely renovated and comfortable suites with excellent service, leisure, history, beautiful scenery, exuberant flora, and privacy. Relax after a hard day’s work in the hotel spa, catch some rays at one of the hotel pools or take time out to practice your favorite water sport.
Though they didn’t fall in love in Puerto Vallarta, Burton and Taylor fell in love with it. During the filming of The Night of the Iguana, Burton wanted Taylor close. He found her a home here, at Casa Kimberly, within reach of his own casita.
Their personal homes-away-from-home were connected via a bridge, allowing them to easily access and flee each other, depending on their mood. In 1964, Burton gifted the casa to Taylor, securing his love for both her and the town.
Casa Kimberly has been resolute in preserving the romance of Burton and Taylor, and it’s now as much a museum to their love as it is a glamorous lodging. The property includes the renovated original houses in which the couples stayed and the love bridge that kept them connected, plus all of the glitz and glam you could expect from a hotel devoted to the starlet’s legacy. Liz Taylor’s private quarters are available, inclusive of her personal marble tub and balconies.
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor’s romance eventually faded, but Burton’s love for Puerto Vallarta did not. Burton couldn’t keep himself away from Banderas Bay, and even after his second and final split from Taylor he bought property in Vallarta for his next wife Susan.
Hacienda San Angel is not far from Casa Kimberly but has its own romantic intrigue. This casa, originally named Casa Bursus, a conglomerate of Susan and Burton, was purchased as a gift to Susan for Valentine’s Day.
That marriage was short-lived and they split after a year. Susan kept the property for some time before selling it to a wealthy American in 1990. The new owners bought some neighboring villas and turned one casita into many, birthing Hacienda San Angel.
The legacy surrounded The Night of the Iguana has stitched itself deep into the fabric of Puerto Vallarta. Burton and Taylor’s romance created a tidal wave of celebrity intrigue to Puerto Vallarta, and the town had to expand its accommodations to host these high profile guests.
One of the hotels that was popular among Hollywood hot shots was Hotel Garza Blanca. It provided the seclusion and romance that Liz and Dick made Puerto Vallarta famous for since their arrival in the early 1960s. The main hotel welcomed the likes of high-profile celebrities of decades past and it’s since been expanded with hopes of continuing that legacy. It features an elegant lobby and private passage to Banderas Bay that are both reminiscent of it’s glamorous Hollywood glory days.
While much of the news was focused on the scandal of Liz and Dick, director John Huston found his own hideaway in Vallarta away from the drama once filming was done. The villa at Casa Tabachin was decadent with culture smack in the central location of famed neighborhood, Gringo Gulch.
Local architect Fernando Romero built it in 1957, predating the debut of Vallarta as Mexican scenic resort town, making it one of the original homes of the area. It’s an all-around classic staple of Vallarta, as its built in the Mexican colonial-style and just steps from Los Muertos Beach.
Puerto Vallarta’s 1960s film debut ushered in an era of hotels and resorts that were all about glamor, but there was still thick culture to be experienced in the fishing town. Hotel Roger came to be in the 1970s, offering an unassuming accommodation with a touch of tradition.
This family-owned hotel was one of the first to crop up in the now densely-packed resort area. It’s situated on the cobblestone streets of what’s known as The Romantic Zone, a hotspot of old-time charm, tradition, and comfort. It connects to Fredy’s Tucan, a restaurant that serves some of the best breakfast in the city and has its own long history in the town since opening in 1981.
After renovation and renaming, Hotel Posada de Roger is still a favorite among tourists. It offers some of the best tradition in the area in a neighborhood with charm true to its Mexican roots.
This centrally located building is within reach of all types of Mexican heritage attractions, including the namesake Cathedral. You can hear the bells of the Cathedral Our Lady of Guadalupe from your room and don’t even have to leave the building to shop from local artists.
The building was rescued in the 1950s with the intent of making it a place to stay focusing on the culture and tradition of the country. The hotel itself is floor-to-ceiling homage to Mexican heritage, with papel picado hanging in the courtyard and traditional architecture of the port city.
Vallarta’s heyday is far from over, as it continues to attract Hollywood elitists. A notorious gathering ground for the glamorous is Hotel Mousai. Their picturesque infinity pool and proximity to Banderas Bay has made this the destination for actors and models of today.
To keep up with the clientele, this standard is the first and only 5-diamond rated resort in Puerto Vallarta. It’s a place that certainly would have attracted the likes of Elizabeth and Robert. Some of the most notable guests of the hotel include Scandal’s Jeff Perry and Bellamy Young, as well as top model Nyle DiMarco, and Kale Walsh of Grey’s Anatomy.