THERE’S something about those old Mexican telenovelas I used to watch with my mom that just can’t be beat. Maybe it was the colonial architecture where the stories unfolded, the sharp contrasts between the habitual and opulent settings, or the unexpected plot-twists, that always delivered good, old-fashioned drama pertaining to matters of the heart—maybe the mix of it all. But whatever it is, it’s all coming back to me here: being a guest at Hacienda San Ángel, the only luxury boutique hotel located on the hills of Puerto Vallarta’s Zona Romántica, is like being the starring role of an old-world novela Mexicana.
Its street entrance is discretely masked among traditional, colonial buildings. But once I pull the rope and ring the bell, unsure on whether I’ve arrived to the right place or not, the wooden door is opened for me. In I walk on cobblestone floors, as if Calle Miramar—the street where the hotel is located minutes away from El Malecón, where the action of Puerto Vallarta unfolds—pours into the foyer. Because Hacienda San Ángel is so reserved from the outside, the architect in me lets out a dramatic little gasp as I’m taken through the series of interconnected courtyards, bathed with the sunlight of the Pacific and separated by brick arches and stairs-on-stairs-on-stairs.
Statues of Catholic deities—the Virgin Mary, the Archangel Rafael, St. Francis of Assisi, among many, many others—collected from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries are primary characters in Hacienda San Ángel, seemingly blessing most corners of the property, from its common spaces to the interiors of its twelve gorgeous suites.
One of the secondary courtyards at the hotel
Walking through Hacienda San Ángel’s open spaces, I feel like I’m dancing with the architecture to the sound of Luis Miguel’s “No sé tú”—a ballad where the Mexican singer expresses his longing for his past lover, and how he tirelessly looks for them from sunrise to nighttime. Twisting and turning, looking up and down, Hacienda San Ángel’s most memorable features shift into view: one, two, three swimming pools. One, two, three intimate dinning tables for friends and darlings sprinkled through the three main villas. And its gardens, alive with flowers, sculptures, and butterflies.
One of the three swimming pools in the property
The hotel’s garden, where the brick staircase doubles as an altar
I thought I was completely enveloped in the drama of it all, until I’m taken to my room: the San José Suite. Maybe it’s the margarita talking, maybe it’s the imaginary cameras capturing every single one of my expressions, but the terrace alone—with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, the Sierra Madre Mountains, and the terra-cotta shingles of Puerto Vallarta’s roofscape, is reason enough to make me gasp and swoon. I admit it.
The terrace with this panoramic view is shared by two suites in the property
Inside San José, the kingsized bed’s headboard steals the show. Immaculately crafted in wood, it’s displayed on the wall like an altar piece removed from a Mexican-Baroque style church and placed inside the suite as an offering to love and an ode to lust. The afternoon’s pink light bathes the space, and its romance is only matched by the fireworks in the hours of the night. From the terrace, like el amo de la hacienda—the lord of the manor—I look over Hacienda San Ángel’s entire property, as well as Puerto Vallarta’s gorgeous Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Parish, and gasp once again as sudden booms and bursts of gold, pink, green, red, blue, purple, and white light adorn the church’s crown-like tower.
I suppose my instincts were right the moment I walked in: no telenovela is complete without gorgeous architecture, splendor among the banal, nor without a leading character dramatically looking out into the night, longing for their Mexican lover.
by Regner Ramos
Nightly rates at Hacienda San Ángel start at $450 for the Autumn season. For more information,
visit https://haciendasanangel.com/ .