The MEXICO Report
By Susie Albin-Najera
Watching the sun set over Banderas Bay has always been a standout memory in all of my visits to gorgeous Puerto Vallarta. Each time I see the sunsets in Vallarta, I remember hearing Paco Martin’s live version of ‘Cuando Calienta el Sol’ begin to play at El Set, just as the sun skimmed the skyline and finished perfectly as the sun’s last sliver dissolved. (The song also brings fond memories to my parents who honeymooned in Vallarta back in 1964.)
I am also reminded of how much I look forward to seeing the bountiful bougainvillea everywhere in sight and the tropical green parrots flying around, filling the air with acrobatic and loud calls.
This visit to Vallarta allowed me to indulge in that beautiful Mexican sunset once again, but from a different point of view, an uninterrupted panoramic view from the spacious patio of the San Miguel Suite at Hacienda San Angel. Hacienda San Angel is part of Mexico Boutique Hotels, a group of select luxury boutique hotels throughout Mexico, who arranged the visit and transportation (VIP Transportation Service) to the hotel, one of the many benefits of booking through them.
Centrally located in the old town area and historic part of Puerto Vallarta, Hacienda San Angel is perched only a stone’s throw away from the iconic and breathtaking Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The discrete entrance of the hacienda rests on a narrow cobblestone street, and if you haven’t visited before, you would never know the stunning beauty that awaits you behind those locked doors.
“I feel very blessed,” said owner Janice Chatterton who has owned the hotel for 12 years. She had come to visit Puerto Vallarta in 1980 with her family on a last-minute decision. They were suppose to go to Hawaii, but chose Mexico, which ultimately changed the course of Janice’s life forever. Years later, she encountered the opportunity to purchase the hacienda.
“I didn’t mean to open a hotel,” she chuckled. “It just happened.”
Villa I, Villa Bursus, was previously owned by actor Richard Burton as a Valentine’s Day gift for his then wife Susan, hence the name Bur-Sus.
And even though the last thing she thought she’d ever do was own or operate a hotel, she has mastered the process, and them some.
Hacienda San Angel is a photographer’s dream. The architecture, décor and lush grounds were the standouts of our visit. The antiques throughout the hacienda are mostly from the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th century, from Mexico and Europe.
“People knock on my door selling pieces of art,” said Janice when I asked her how she found the items to decorate the space.
“A private museum in Puerto Vallarta had closed its doors,” she went on, “And I bought 80% of the pieces.” She said each time she buys a piece of art, she wonders how she will find space for it, but somehow she always does. They effortlessly fit the décor.
Possibly the most impressive thing in meeting Janice the owner, was learning that she has a heart for animals and makes every effort to rescue and find homes for them. (Janice is also treasurer and one of the founders of SPCA Puerto Vallarta.) When you enter the courtyard of Hacienda San Angel, the small dogs greet you with a smile and complement the casual and relaxed ambiance of the hacienda. The same day of our arrival, Janice had just rescued a small brown pup, who I immediately fell in love with, of course.
We stayed in the spacious San Miguel Presidential Suite, which boasts a king size bed with gorgeous, crisp white fresh linens, a large, private terrace and sitting area just outside the bedroom with panoramic views of the town and bay, plus an impressive outdoor Jacuzzi.
Above the bed is a 1920s copy of the famous Monja Coronada from the main Cathedral in Guadalajara. The large mirror next to the Victorian chair has a hand-carved frame from a Cathedral circa 1860. At the foot of the bed there is a Mexican Baul of Mesquite wood, circa 1800, and the flat screen TV is tucked away in a 19th century Mexican armoire.
With remarkable detail, everything at the hotel was either personalized by Janice herself or monogrammed with the HSA logo. We even received a personalized welcome letter in our suite from the concierge, Juanita Gutierrez, who we met briefly.
A special thanks and appreciation to Sylvie Laitre and Rocio Martinez Quintal from Mexico Boutique Hotels who meticulously coordinated the visit and provided exceptional follow through on every detail of our trip.
If you have the opportunity to stay at this hotel or to visit Puerto Vallarta, you will be amazed at the hospitality and feeling of home. You truly feel you are at a friend’s beautiful estate in the hills of Vallarta and they have invited you to share their home with you. It’s true when they say, ‘está en su casa’, you really are at home.
To view a slideshow montage of The MEXICO Report’s visit to Hacienda San Angel, visit our site on YouTube by clicking the photo below:
To book a room at Hacienda San Angel, call toll free from the U.S., Monday through Friday: 9am to 6pm (CST) and Saturday: 9am to 2pm, 1-800-728-9098 or visit http://www.mexicoboutiquehotels.com/sanangel/