The everlasting allure of this secluded Pacific-coast paradise in Mexico, founded by an Italian aristocrat
Words by TRISH REYNALES
Fall in Costa Careyes, Mexico, sees a whirlwind of social events drawing an international crowd, from the opening of polo season to the Ondalinda festival—Lulu Luchaire’s boho-luxe celebration of music, culture and wellness rituals aimed at creating “metaphysical magic.” But beyond grand affairs, Careyes and its intoxicating coastal beauty have been attracting visitors for decades, a setting the late Gian Franco Brignone fell in love with when he first founded the exclusive resort back in 1968.
The Careyes coastline.
The Italian-born former banker and real estate developer established Careyes as a sybaritic retreat for his like-minded, well-heeled, art- and nature-loving friends. Now, over 50 years later, the property has prospered into a luxury private beach resort comprised of “ocean castles,” private villas, casitas and condos with both seasonal and full-time residents.
Earlier this year, the Careyes community gathered in the town plaza to pay tribute to Brignone, who had passed away a few weeks earlier at the age of 95. His successors (daughter Emanuela and sons Giorgio and Filippo), along with the development’s partners, have committed to preserving his legacy and continuing his vision for the 20,000-plus-acre opus on Mexico’s jungled Costalegre in Jalisco.
The latest project is Punta Careyes, a 60-hectare development of cliff-top and hillside lots awaiting a new generation of homeowners. The first of its kind in decades, the property has no doubt caught the eyes of Californians, who appreciate Careyes’ proximity, serenity and alluring beauty.
Leah Forester and Bill Johnson’s newly renovated CASA LA HUERTA.
Careyes hosts world-class polo.
Concrete installation Copa del sol.
The appeal of Careyes is endless: There’s the singular community, the joyous lifestyle of parties, water sports, boating, horseback riding and yoga. There’s a sea turtle sanctuary, an art gallery, polo, Ondalinda, a film festival. There are a handful of sophisticated restaurants and the Barragán-pink Playa Rosa Beach Club, an open-air social hub that serves up sublime ceviche and margaritas.
But it goes beyond that. Brignone’s Careyes is by design a dreamscape celebration of nature and creativity, a meta fantasyland of art installations, cliff-top “castles” encircled by infinity pools, palapa-style villas and vibrant Casitas de las Flores. In creating his vision, Brignone teamed up with Guadalajara architect Marco Aldaco, who drew inspiration from organic materials, Mexico’s gravity-defying palapas and modernist Luis Barragán. Brignone brought to the collaboration an artist’s obsession with light, scale, wildly saturated color, the cosmos and mythology. At once ethereal and grounded, the Careyes style continued to evolve with architects like Diego Villaseñor and Mexico City-born, Careyes-based Alex Pössenbacher.
Casa La Huerta.
A recent revamp of an early Careyes villa, Casa La Huerta, explores light, sound and mystical archetypes. The L.A.-based owners and long-time visitors enlisted Pössenbacher and L.A. designer Raven Kauffman to help them reimagine the palapa-style villa. The result is a surrealist’s dream awash in atypical neutrals that play with light, reveling in such details as a geode-studded tequila bar and a tile coiled snake on the pool floor.
It takes just one visit to fall under Careyes’ spell.
Feature image: SOL DE ORIENTE is one of the treasured “ocean castles.”
This story originally appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of C Magazine.
Discover more TRAVEL news.