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Richard Carroll: Las Alamandas
one of the entrances to Las Alamandas

Las Alamandas Awaits
By Richard Carroll
Photography: Halina Kubalski

verlooking a gorgeous stretch of Costa Alegre coastline, a small exclusive property awaits with open arms, pulling visitors into a verdant world of multihued bougainvillea, lush tropical growth, and a dramatic and intoxicating sense of nature’s sounds, shapes, and scents.

a luxury villa at Las Alamandas

Framed by swaying palms leaning defiantly into a gusty ocean breeze, Las Alamandas, a sparkling five-star Mexican hideaway lying midway between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, appreciates hospitality and service as it should be.

Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, Nicolas Cage, Ellen de Generes, and Sting have all checked in at Las Alamandas, as have any number of everyday folks with a sense of discovery and romance looking to enjoy the 1,500-acre, nature-based enclave.

bougainvilleas beside a fountain, Las Alamandas

Like an exquisite movie set on Universal’s back lot where a gifted artist’s broad brush has created the splashing colors and textures of Mexico, Las Alamandas’ landscape carefully accents four eye-opening beaches, seven luxurious villas, 18 gorgeous suites, and a huge separate estate with views of the sea that will remain etched in your holiday memories.

hut by the sea, Las Alamandas

When she opened Las Alamandas in 1990, international celebrity Isabel Goldsmith Patino pursued a vision and dream, which rapidly developed into a distinctive and exclusive enclave that is the very essence of Mexico. With great affection for the country, the people, and their art, music, and cuisine, Isabel, as she likes to be called, embarked on an incredible challenge.

Costa Alegre coastline by Las Alamandas

Vivacious and focused, with roots in Mexico, London, Paris and California, and fortunately blessed with a sizeable slice of genius, Isabel tackled a large piece of raw land handed down to her by her maternal grandfather, Don Antenor Patino. Patino, a Bolivian tin magnate, completed Las Hadas in 1974, a resort seven miles northwest of Manzanillo on the Santiago Peninsula.

swimming pool by the sea, Las Alamandas

While still in her 20s and determined to make her mark within the competitive business of hospitality, Isabel was admired as an unpretentious beauty who was eager to please. But it was her hands-on vision and years of intense work that earned her a host of international honors, a mark of distinction that women throughout the world with dreams and ideas can use as a measure of achievement.

palm-lined pathway at Las Alamandas

Named after the prolific yellow Alamanda flower, her gated oasis is as remote as it gets in Mexico, the romantic atmosphere vigilantly protected by eliminating room keys, blaring televisions and jangling telephones, transforming daily living into a succession of sensuous pleasures.

replica of a 17th century fountain Isabel Goldsmith Patino discovered in Estoril, Portugal

Conservation being a high priority, Isabel designed Las Alamandas for a discriminating clientele by incorporating the best of uncluttered Mexican hacienda decor and architecture, the sole exception being the large Portuguese entry fountain, a replica of a 17th century fountain Isabel discovered in Estoril, Portugal.

colorful interior of a villa at Las Alamandas

Classic primary colors, cool tile floors, thick walls, shuttered windows, and vaulted ceilings set an exquisite mood, as do furniture pieces made on the premises. Brightly cushioned equipales chairs from Colima, pottery from San Miguel de Allende, colorful Guatemalan pillows and Mexican fabrics and art, are ideal combinations.

interior of a villa by the sea, Las Alamandas

bedroom in a Las Alamandas villa featuring colorful Guatemalan pillows and Mexican fabrics

Individually designed suites and villas have honor mini-bars, large bathrooms with hand-painted Mexican tiles, oversized bathtubs perfect for two, showers, and bidet.

dining at a patio by the sea, Las Alamandas

Most include a private Jacuzzi and a private flower-draped patio ideal for dining al fresco or relaxing in a hammock soothed by the sounds of the ocean.

During the opening in 1990, Robert De Niro, the first registered guest, suggested a state-of-the-art fitness room which was promptly installed. Adjacent are attractive value accommodations for those booking a longer respite.

dining table for two

Overseen by Isabel and General Manager Dorota Antoszkiewicz, the thoroughly modern and self-sufficient kitchen provides an ever-changing menu of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs from the property’s large organic garden while paying strict attention to the essentials, like water purification. The menu is further enhanced by the daily catch brought in by specially selected local fishermen who deliver to the kitchen door.

lush tropical growth at Las Alamandas

Intimate dining can be arranged at Mirador, a glorious vista point high on a bluff dedicated to Isabel’s grandfather, overlooking inlets and small offshore islands, flocks of spirited sea birds, and lingering vibrant sunsets, long ranked among the world’s best.

a jacuzzi-by-the-sea at Las Alamandas

Exploring the property, guests will gaze upon 80 miles of virgin protected beach, a coastline that stretches to the horizon, and a large soft-water estuary with a 20-foot channel opening to the ocean. A wild ride for those with a sense of adventure is to be swept along the channel from the lagoon to the Pacific’s foamy surf.

Nearby is the San Nicolas River where one can take pleasure in a picnic lunch on the banks of the river, then hop on a crusty riverboat named Robinson Crusoe and cruise the San Nicolas through a nature area of unspoiled terrain. Another day could be a guided horseback ride on well-fed horses that understand a bit of English.

Under a star-filled sky, guests including a smiling honeymoon couple, walk to a dining area adjacent to the beach where a buffet is in place along with Mexican music, candlelit tables and a roaring beach bonfire. Friends for a fleeting moment, everyone salutes the evening and exchanges nice thoughts before disappearing into the darkness.

When You Go

Check for numerous travel packages including arranged airport shuttles from Puerto Vallarta or Manzanillo. Toll free in U.S. and Canada (888) 862-9616; Tel. + (52) 322-285-5500;;

Under a star-filled sky, guests including a smiling honeymoon couple, walk to a dining area adjacent to the beach where a buffet is in place along with Mexican music, candlelit tables and a roaring beach bonfire. Friends for a fleeting moment, everyone salutes the evening and exchanges nice thoughts before disappearing into the darkness.

Related Articles:
Playa del Carmen, Yucatan Peninsula; La Paz, Baja Sur California; La Paz Slideshow; Mayan Ruins; Cozumel, Mexico; Guadalajara; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Costa Rica; Laguna Beach

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Let Richard know what you think about his traveling adventure.

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Feedback for Paris

In Paris would love a tour of Hemingway’s haunts.

--- Roy Curnow, New Jersey

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A very well written and empathetic article about literary Paris. I am visiting again with my husband in early November and having re-read 'Moveable Feast' in my 60's following reading all Hemingway during my 20's and subsequently again ever since, and – honeymooned for a weekend in Paris in 2004 – cannot wait to retrace Hemingway's steps from the book (as we walk) this time. Also heard great Radio 4 cover of Shakespeareand Company so will be making a visit there without fail.

--- Caroline Timmis, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, UK

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Enjoy getting your Traveling Boy newsletter. Just read the article about Paris. Brought back many fond memories of my year there. I frequented all the haunts mentioned esp. on the Left Bank.

--- P. Sammer, Hawai'i

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We loved your story...we love Woody's new movie and we love all the spots in Paris you outlined. Next time I go there I'm taking your story with us so we can prowl around Hemingway's hot spots. Thanks for letting us know about the story. Merci beaucoup! mon ami...

--- Joseph Rosendo, Topanga, CA

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I just finished reading your piece. Traveling with you must be like enjoying the past, present, and sometimes the future. You bring a place to life. Thanks for sharing. The photos were also excellent.

--- Maxine, Salt Lake City, UT

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A fantastic story, Richard. It's so evocative and seductive that after reading it, one could easily be tempted to buy that one-way ticket to Paris. I read Paris Wife, but after reading your story, Paris and the Paris Walks are definitely in our future.

--- Maris Somerville, Los Angeles, CA

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Richard, thanks for sharing the link to this wonderful article. Helina's pictures are a great complement to your writing. Best regards,

--- Mitchell Lane, Shadow Hills, Los Angeles, CA

Feedback for Las Alamandas

Dear Amigo Richard,

What a beautiful and well written article well your photos and illustrations are amazing!!! Thanks for been such a good friend and promoter of Mexico.

--- Jorge Gamboa, Los Angeles, CA

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Richard's beautifully written and illustrated story brought back many magic memories of my visits to lovely Las Alamandas! I can't wait to return.

--- Marian Gerlich, Los Angeles, CA

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I thank you, it looks like a great place to relax. Maybe... someday who knows?

--- Mel Carroll, Bountiful City, UT

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Nice piece. I missed the rates.

--- Harry Basch, Los Angeles, CA

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This is my favorite of all your pieces I've read. The pictures are lovely. Halina looks like she's in heaven. I would love to visit there.

--- Maxine, Salt Lake City, UT

Feedback for Playa del Carmen

Great photos!! Can't wait to see these sites myself - these pics alone got me even more excited! Any other places you'd recommend in the Yucatan!?

--- Kyle Goes Global

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Man, you draw the tough assignments. You must have been a good boy when you were young (perhaps an earlier incarnation?)!

--- Mel Caroll, Bountiful

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