Puerto Vallarta: Following in the Romantic Footsteps of Taylor and Burton
By Paris Permenter & John Bigley
, Editors of Lovetripper.com

Just the names Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton spell romance. Although the couple traveled the world, perhaps no other destination is as closely associated with these lovers as the location where their romance first blossomed: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

It has been over four decades since Elizabeth Taylor came to this seaside getaway while Richard Burton was filming The Night of the Iguana. Time, however, hasn't diminished the interest travelers have in these famous lovers--or the city's interest in showing off these locations to romantic travelers.

A two-hour, direct flight from Houston to Puerto Vallarta took us to this Pacific getaway. Tucked between the Sierra Madre mountains and the Bay of Banderas (Mexico's largest natural bay), it was easy to see why these Hollywood giants fell in love with this beachside destination. Then just a small village, today the city has blossomed into a full-grown tourist resort with over 250,000 residents. Off the busy Malecon and away from the tourist track, however, we discovered the Puerto Vallarta that Taylor and Burton once knew.

Burton & Taylor's Love Nest

Tucked up in the hills lies Casa Kimberly, a hacienda built in 1957 which Richard Burton rented, later buying the massive home as a present for Elizabeth Taylor's 32nd birthday. Even by Hollywood standards, the home ranks as a giant, spanning 22,900 square feet with three gardens, 10 bedrooms, and a dozen bathrooms.

Now operating as both a bed and breakfast and a museum, with tours available for a small fee, Casa Kimberly may be built to a movie star scale but, surprisingly, it shows a couple that lived laid-back lifestyle. Built without air-conditioning but positioned to take advantage of sea breezes, the house was definitely a home. The room which functions as today's game room was a school room during Burton and Taylor's days in the home, which spanned from 1963 to 1974.

Reminders of the famous duo are found throughout the home, which Elizabeth Taylor left fully furnishing, taking only a painting of herself that Diego Rivera had created. The couple's bedroom is filled with photos of happier days; it's a room that's requested by many honeymooners and anniversary couples.

For all the romance-filled photos found in the home, visitors see what might be a clue to the couple's eventual breakup: literally his and her haciendas. The main house functioned as Liz's home but across the street stand another hacienda which served as Burton's hideaway. Connected to the main house by a pink bridge (a replica of Venice's Rialto Bridge), Burton's "bachelor" pad had its own kitchen, pool, and even a getaway route. To avoid the ever-present paparazzi, the couple could sneak out a door which connected to the neighboring hacienda, allowing them to take their children off to the beach unobserved.

Burton's Former Hacienda

Just a block from Casa Kimberly stands another hacienda with a later Burton connection: this was the home of Richard Burton in his post-Liz days. Hacienda San Angel, a romantic member of Mexico Boutique Hotels, is a luxurious sanctuary for travelers looking for a central location but with a definite Mexican atmosphere. Today the inn encompasses three haciendas spanning nine suites. Guests can opt for the Celestial Suite, which served as Burton's second floor bedroom, or the Crown View Suite, lit by small candles in wall niches. The location here is perfect for a walk down cobblestone streets to downtown churches, shops, and restaurants. The inn is filled with one-of-a-kind Mexican antiques and artwork collected from around the country.

The Night of the Iguana

But to truly walk in Burton and Taylor's footsteps, you need to head out of town, off to the place where their romance began: Mismaloya. This beach, located south of the city, was home to the sets built for The Night of the Iguana and home to the spectacular Mismaloya Beach.

We headed out of Puerto Vallarta, winding our way along a seaside road which even today boasts stellar connections, including a home owned by Kevin Costner. Soon we were at the set, now an open-air restaurant which overlooks the famous beach. In the evenings, the restaurant, with both indoor and outdoor seating, serves as a romantic eatery. During the day, the set can be rented for weddings and receptions, tucked beneath tall tropical foliage but with unbeatable beach views.

Standing at the rail, looking down at the beach, it was easy to see how this stellar romance had flourished in this tropical setting. Even decades later, this beach destination makes any traveler feel like a true star.

For More Information

For more information on Puerto Vallarta, call 888-384-6822 or see www.visitpuertovallarta.com.

Related Story:

Locations to Make You Feel Like a Movie Star in Puerto Vallarta

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