During the last few years, Puerto Vallarta has transformed into an entirely new destination, with A-list restaurants, high-octane dance clubs and sprawling resorts. But diehards remember the city in its 1960s heyday when John Huston and Richard Burton put it on the map with the 1964 film "Night of the Iguana."
Back then, Puerto Vallarta was a sleepy fishing village with winding, romantic streets, a smattering of cantinas and an endless, empty beach. Travelers now have the opportunity to stay in a true Puerto Vallarta throwback with the re-emergence of Casa Kimberly
, the former love nest of Elizabeth Taylor, who was in town during the shooting of the film, and Burton that has been transformed and revamped back to its original glamour.
The two adjacent casitas, tucked into a cobblestone hillside overlooking the Bay of Banderas, were once the discreet hideaway where Burton and Taylor, both married at the time, went to escape the prying eyes of the press. Today, the renovated and reimagined Casa Kimberly, which opened Dec. 1, is an ultraluxe, nine-suite hotel with a pool, boutique spa, restaurant and bar evocative of a European villa with views of the terra-cotta rooftops of Puerto Vallarta's Zona Romantica.
While renovated and expanded, much of the villa's past remains intact. The Puente del Amor (Bridge of Love), designed as a replica of the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, connects the two villas that make up the hotel.
Taylor's bedroom and her commissioned pink marble, heart-shaped bathtub still occupy their original space. The bedroom suite also has a large terrace, private pool and Jacuzzi.
Close by the Elizabeth Taylor Suite is the pool-adjacent Richard Burton Suite, set in the star's personal quarters across the Puente del Amor.
Each of the additional seven suites are individually designed with a mixture of antiques and modern amenities. Most suites have private terrace Jacuzzis and individual baths and are decorated with hand-painted tile ceilings, brick domes, murals, clawfoot tubs and patio fountains.
The Iguana is Casa Kimberly's fine dining restaurant, which serves a twist on Mexican cuisine. Open on three sides, the views from the chandelier-lit restaurant are spectacular. The dining room wraps around to an outdoor patio decorated by palm trees and a central fountain. There is a small tequila bar, as well, with dozens of rare tequilas and mescals. A resident tequila expert is on hand to introduce visitors to new varieties and styles of tequila. Private sessions may also be arranged.
Across a terrace tucked into a private corner is the CK Spa, which comprises two spa suites. Each accommodates two guests and has a private Jacuzzi. Skin care, nail care, body treatments, specialty spa baths and aromatherapy are some of the treatments travelers can book.