"Any work of architecture which does not express serenity is a mistake."
- Luis Barragán
Costa Careyes is reputed to have been heavily influenced by the work of groundbreaking and Pritzker Prize winning architect Luis Barragán. Barragán’s seminal work in Mexico in the latter half of the Twentieth Century is hailed as melding modernism’s linear formality with the pure impulse of light and infinite color that we find in the natural world. What is certain is that the design principals of Costa Careyes were laid down by Barragán’s disciple and fellow Guadalajara native Marco Aldaco in a breathtaking reinterpretation of traditional regional house-building and the limitless modern imagination.
This extraordinary luxury development now consists of 42 villas, 40 smaller casitas and a 48-room hotel, villa and residential complex. It is a perfect amalgam of the artisanal purity of Mexico and the luxurious sophistication of the Mediterranean in a setting so serene that it appears to have been chosen by Barragán himself.
Aldaco collaborated with Costa Careyes’ visionary creator and owner Gian Franco Brignone to create Mi Ojo, which was completed in 1975 and created the Careyes signature style which has been imitated all over the world, but never bettered. Shaded by a huge woven palm leaf palapa that provides such efficiently ventilated cover in the sultry Pacific heat that the air conditioning is practically unused, a vast open plan living area dominates the first of Brignone’s fantastic castles. Cliff top set, Mi Ojo lends stunning panoramic views of the ocean, twelve kilometers of coast and two thousand hectares of lush jungle into which the complex seems to be organically woven.
A stunning rope bridge sways gently in the coastal breeze eighty meters above the raging azure breaking on the waves and rock face below, and connects Mi Ojo to a private garden and meditation platform on a vertiginous private island. This combination of breathtaking natural scenery and Brignone’s highly attuned sense of bending the experience of the visitor around it - rather than vice versa - makes the unanswerable sensory case for a daring and liberated surrender to serenity, and pervades Costa Careyes. As Brignone says:
"We don't use bulldozers here. If there's a rock or a tree we build around it."
Son of a wealthy Turin banking family, Brignone first fell in love with the unspoiled paradise of the Costa Alegre from a tiny light aircraft in 1968, and on the strength of this moved his family to Mexico from Paris a few weeks later. His more romantic instincts have been proven to be rather shrewd in the long term, as this one hundred mile stretch of protected coastline is now a luxury green holiday destination, with two international airports, Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, within a couple of hours drive. The Brignone philosophy has meant that Costa Careyes has grown into an enriching example of how luxurious holiday destinations can be developed sustainably. The roads of the complex are hand made using rock and dirt - ensuring that no asphalt is used, and the complex is constantly looking for new ways to reduce electricity consumption and nighttime lighting.
The two other equally breathtaking castles that Brignone added to complement Mi Ojo only serve to heighten the atmosphere of timeless luxury and elemental simplicity. Symmetrically designed Sol de Oriente and Sol de Occidente are each perched high above Costa Alegre’s pristine white sand and bluest of sea in their own rocky aeries, each centered around their own high-vaulted communal palapa and feature their own unique panoramas.
Whilst these six bedroom eco-palaces are fitted with every ultra luxury standard the celebrities and billionaires that stay in them would expect, one can also find the esoteric flourishes that cut them from the same cloth as Mi Ojo. The floors are hewn from hammered concrete and marble chips, and the deluxe “elephant skin” stucco that creates such a fresh interior structure and bespoke furniture is also heavily featured.
The success of the unique Careyes approach is evident in its extensive and extraordinary community of some of the world’s wealthiest and most influential people - many of whom Brignone’s friends - who have residences here. Attracted by the utterly unique opportunity to go so luxuriously back to nature, not to mention the world class Careyes Polo Club and El Tamarindo Championship Golf Course, this polyglot elite shows no sign of leaving their carefully tailored paradise.
Perhaps most spectacularly representative of Brignone’s verve are the vast infinity pools that ring his three Careyes castles like tropical moats. Gliding effortlessly to the cliff edge and then melting seamlessly into the Pacific view, they share the same sense of blissful integration with the beauty of their surroundings as their creator.
- Ben Stewart
Address: Km. 53.5 Carr. Barra de Navidad-Puerto Vallarta, Costa Careyes
Tel: 315 351 0320 Reserve Online