Hacienda San Angel, one of the best hotels in Puerto Vallarta, overlooks the beautiful Bay of Banderas. Here the Sierra Madre Mountains meet azure waters framed by a tangle of frangipani, bougainvillea and yellow trumpet flowers.
A stay at Hacienda San Angel transports you back in time to the Richard Burton era. The actor visited this place with his newest wife Suzy Hunt after his second divorce from Elizabeth Taylor.
THE HOUSE OF RICHARD BURTON OF BUR-SUS
On Valentine’s Day 1977, Burton gave his new bride a three-bedroom home in the hills of Puerto Vallarta. This sweetheart was called House Bur-Sus, recording both names to strengthen their bond.
Unfortunately, like Richard Burton’s other marriages, this one had an early due date. He and Suzy divorced in 1982. They never again shared magical visions of retreat.
However, Casa Bur-Sus continues with a new purpose. It has now been completely renovated and brought back to life as Hacienda San Angel. Centered on the original Casa Bur-Sus building, the hotel is one of the most beautiful small hotels in the world.
San Angel offers an escape from the bustling streets below with tranquil interiors and landscaped gardens
THE OLD GRINGO GULCH NEAR PUERTO VAARTA
Hacienda San Angel is located in an area known locally as “Gringo Gulch”. It got its name because it attracted foreigners from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Exclusive neighborhood with “forever” views of the hills above Puerto Vallarta. Away from the noise of the burgeoning tourist town below.
Dangerously winding cobbled streets barely wide enough for two cars wind their way into the hills of Gringo Gulch. Better known today as Centro, Puerto Vallarta.
The climb leaves behind a tourist area known as the “Zona Romantica”. An area with tourists and street vendors selling cheap handicrafts and T-shirts. It’s up and down airier places, including Hacienda San Angel.
MRS. CHATTERTON JOINS
Casa Bur-Sus took on a second life in 1990 when Mrs. Janice Chatterton of San Francisco bought it from Suzy Hunt, who had now remarried.
Mrs. Chatterton enjoyed living in Bur-Sus House, using it as her second home from May through October. Every year he invited his daughter and grandchildren to “grandmother’s house” for a few weeks.
But in 1996, Mrs. Chatterton suffered a terrible defeat. His only son tragically died in a motorcycle accident. At first she lived in California, but the memories of her son made her grief overwhelming. Two years later, he sold his house and moved to Puerto Vallarta permanently.
After settling in, he began renovating his house in Casa Burs-Sus. He did this with historical artifacts and religious relics from local churches that were closing. At the same time, he also rescued dogs.
Later she was able to tame her grief with two of her greatest loves: buying antiques and saving pets.
CHANGE OF THE HOUSE OF BUR-SUS
Mrs. Chatterton’s passion for buying antiques and accessories put her at ease. In addition, he confirmed the house of Bur-Sus, which has now been completely renovated. Everyone who saw him was delighted with the way he renovated their home. Many have even suggested that he rent out rooms. The bus guides approached him with similar suggestions.
Over time, his passion turned to the acquisition and renovation of neighboring properties. Casa Bur-Sus has become a catalyst for creating an ever-expanding place for visitors. Also offers rooms for his treasures and savings. Later it became what it is now; one of the best hotels in Puerto Vallarta.
The B&B opened in 1999. That was the beginning of Janice Chatterton’s first foray into the world of hospitality.
The grandchildren are grown now, and she and Mrs. Chatterton’s daughter, Paula, have fond memories of vacationing in the hills of Puerto Vallarta. It is this enthusiasm that has contributed to continuing the vision and continuing the legacy of this priceless asset.
After the completion of Casa Bursus, three small parcels of land called San Angel were merged. In three years, three suites, a storage room and a laundry room were added. San Angela was followed by La Luna in 2005 and La Joya in 2006. All were properties adjacent to Casa Bur-Sus.
DESIGNING WITH “DEMONSTRATION OF THE HAND”
Recent searches of the property have found no surviving architectural drawings. It appears that Mrs. Chatterton accomplished the revival using an architectural style known as a “raise of the hand”.
This consisted of a description of how she wanted her to be her. She therefore trusts that her employees will interpret and implement her vision of her. Her luck in Mexico has had and has excellent builders, craftsmen and stonemasons who know how to do just that.
The collections were an eclectic and diverse mix of colonial Mexican and Spanish colonial furniture. This included hand carved armoires, headboards, dining tables and chairs.
Also clocks, chandeliers, lamps, ceramics, porcelain and hand-painted majolica. It became known what happened in the house, and people began to offer him antiques.
The real stroke of luck came when the Museo Munoz Acosta, Puerto Vallarta’s only art museum, closed in 2003. Janice bought large oil paintings, cabinets, and even a 16th-century French Gothic tower. The tower was built in the Francisco Suite.
As interesting as the collections were, what was most fascinating was how Janice masterfully integrated these antiques into the rooms. She placed every piece of furniture, hung every artwork, and knew exactly where every tile collection would end up.
Although she was not trained as an interior designer, Ms. Chatterton had a gift for it. It’s a profession that usually requires years of training, but it seems she might do it on reflex. She just knew it.
ONE OF THE BEST HOTELS IN PUERTO VALARTA
It truly is the epitome of a boutique hotel. This level of decoration would never be possible in most hotels. They just wouldn’t have the budget for such a collection.
As an amateur designer and architect, Janice’s cultured taste has raised the bar. However, he was also an accountant. This meant that he was free to spend whatever he wanted to make his dream come true.
When completed, the Hacienda had twelve guest suites. These suites surround a large outdoor atrium connected by stone steps and colorful flower beds.
With many of the original features retained or restored, the entire property appears to have been around for generations. Mature trees and shrubs were also included in the new planting. This helped blend old and new seamlessly.
MY FIRST INTRODUCTION TO HACIENDA SAN ANGEL
I walked through the narrow winding cobbled streets of the Centro and arrived at Calle Miramar 336. The logo of the hotel was delicately painted on the wall, surrounded by antique tiles. There were black iron lamps on either side of the wooden double doors. There was also a heavy rope with instructions for “pulling” which I made.
The bell rang on the rope leading the uniformed staff to the door and I was graciously welcomed inside. I settled into an armchair in the covered foyer that connects all the suites and enjoyed a refreshing ice cold drink.
Inside, peace and tranquility are enclosed in a splendid setting of mature trees, climbing bougainvilleas and fragrant gardenias.
Stairs lead to different levels and each level offers a different view. The view opened over the rooftops, the iconic Church of Guadalupe and the Bay of Banderas. Everything is harmonious and looks like an interior that has always been here.