Down by the Sea

On the colorful hillside east of Colonia Centro, Gringo Gulch’s emblematic homes have drawn tourists to Puerto Vallarta.

By Jamie Siebrase

Photography by Dorsett Photography Sayulita


     With its red-tile roof, white stucco façade and stone sourced directly from the Río Cuale, Casa Guacamole is a very special property, says homeowner Andrea Miles.

    She and her husband, Francisco Carretero, purchased the 7,500-square-foot hacienda in 2016 as a vacation home big enough to accommodate their blended family. When they aren’t using it, the couple rent out Casa Guacamole through their website, and Vrbo. But the ultimate goal, Miles says, is to operate it as a bed and breakfast. (Hospitality comes naturally to Carretero: back in St. Louis, his brother owns Guido's Pizzeria and Tapas on The Hill.)   

    Hovering above Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, overlooking the Bay of Banderas, the three-story coastal estate was built in 1971, after a sordid affair between Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor transformed a small fishing harbor into one of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations. Rooted in traditional elements of Serrana design, Casa Guacamole brings some serious avant-garde oomph: unglazed, painted brick, for example, along with polished cement, mosaic tile, lavish ironwork and plenty of archways.   

    It’s a short walk to Puerto Vallarta’s lively main square. “There’s something like nine hundred restaurants in town,” Miles says. “The Romantic Zone is five blocks away,” she continues, adding, “You have the mountains inland, and twenty-four miles north is the best surfing in Mexico, in Sayulita.”

    But then again, the homeowners don’t have to go any further than the heated Roman rectangle pool on the first-floor balcony for aerial views of their picturesque surroundings. “You can see the water from absolutely every room,” Miles says. That includes all five of the bedrooms with their en suite bathrooms, along with the great room, family room, kitchen and three separate dining areas, including an outdoor dining area complete with a built-in eight-burner grill.

    On the main level, gracious, 15-foot-wide hallways connect the essential common spaces. When Miles says the place is “open air,” she isn’t kidding around. With few windows and doors, the hacienda is staffed year-round to keep it fresh and to offer meal service. There’s always a light wind blowing through the place, reminding visitors that life is breezier down by the sea.