Te Amo: Puerto VallartaLEFAIR
“That’s just how people in Puerto Vallarta are. They’re nice,” said Sara Sanchez, our Puerto Vallarta guide and friend. We needed to repair an intricate statement jewelry piece just before our shoot with celebrity photographer Ben Cope and model/actress Margaux Brooke. Sara was kind enough to take the beaded silver mess to an artisan in town who insisted that the repair cost nothing. Because the hospitality and generosity of the locals in Puerto Vallarta is unparalleled and the resorts are exquisite, Puerto Vallarta is LEFAIR Magazine’s favorite spring 2018 vacation destination.
LEFAIR Magazine flew to Puerto Vallarta via Volaris Airlines. The team stayed at Villa Premiere (part of Hoteles Buenaventura), an intimate contemporary adults-only property with a five-minute walk from the famous seaside boardwalk “El Malecón” and all the major attractions that historic downtown Puerto Vallarta has to offer. We were welcomed with champagne and a five-minute massage/transcendental experience, and then invited to pick our own pillows from the pillow menu — orthopedic (rigid and firm), pleasure (medium soft goose feather), essence (soft hypoallergenic)… No detail is overlooked at Villa Premiere. We were also asked to choose fragrances for our rooms like gardenia or cucumber.
Suckers for words and poetry, our team was drawn to the poem written in a large cursive gold font on the white wall near the hotel’s entrance. The poem reads:
queda este enorme cansancio
la debil certeza
de no saber nada, de no querer ya nada
de conformarnos con esta tarde en la playa
y con los ojos palidos del mar,
los que no ven,
lo hechos para ser contemplados
– Hugo Gutierrez Vega 1934 – 2015
“He was a friend of ours,” General Manager of Villa Premiere Alessandro Stifani explained. “He died just a few years ago. He wrote this poem for us. I don’t really know how to translate it. It’s difficult with poems.”
This, non-Spanish-speaking American can only roughly translate the poem (with the help of Google Translate) to:
Is this huge fatigue
just the certainty
of not knowing anything
of not wanting anything anymore
Wanting to settle for this afternoon on the beach
And with the pale eyes of the sea,
Those which do not see
The facts to be contemplated
Bottles of champagne awaited each of us in our rooms along with colorful assortments of candies and chocolates under bell-shaped glass trays. Tranquil music played through speakers. We met up with DJ and model, Sam Blacky by the pool where she and our Editor in Chief, Tracy Kahn, ordered iced almond milk lattes, guacamole and chips, and shrimp ceviche.
The word “chic” is entirely overused and vague but somehow, Margaux Brooke is the very essence of the word and gives it meaning. She is poised, feminine and fashionable without trying. Even if she just rolled out of bed and threw on sweats and sneakers, she’d look beautiful without makeup. Sitting in the glam chair under the masterful hands of hair and makeup artist, Kendell Cotta, Margaux’s hair was sleek and straight with some movement using Amika Straightener, heat protectant and hair serum, and IGK foil frizz static control spray. Her skin was prepped with Pacifica beauty, and makeup was kept simple — clean, glowy skin with peachy cheeks using Tarte and Glossier products. The eye look was tamed brows, a metallic neutral eye with wispy lashes using Nudestix. The lip was kept natural and hydrated.
The team was off to downtown Puerto Vallarta — the colors and textures of the buildings and walls made for a perfect canvas for Ben Cope’s photos of Margaux. Picking flowers for her hair along the way, we ran into iconic structures like the love nest of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton where they stayed during the making of “Night of the Iguana.”
The locals and tourists looked on at the shoot as they passed, admiring Margaux’s beauty and the framing of the shots. Popping in and out of local P.V. restaurants and boutiques to change looks, Kendell slicked down Margaux’s hair into a low bun using IGK vicious strong gold hair spray and changed her lip color using Nudestix lip pencils. Part shoot, part downtown Puerto Vallarta exploration, Margaux often stopped to take Polaroids of old Beetle Bug Volkswagens. In downtown Puerto Vallarta, you will find bars, clubs, shops, an outdoor amphitheater, and a gazebo in which elderly people gather on Sunday nights for traditional Mexican dancing called Danzón. Next to the gazebo there is a “safe space” meeting ground for the town to gather in the event of an emergency. There is a reverence for history, tradition and community in Puerto Vallarta coupled with a welcoming attitude and open-mindedness towards its tourists. The savory delights of the street food in Puerto Vallarta are evidenced by one ceviche cart in particular located on Guerrero and Matamoros where we cooled off in the shade with fresh shrimp ceviche and waited for our Uber back to Villa Premiere.
Two shoots in two days and Sam Blacky was up next! Of course, Sam is already beach bunny perfection, but Kendell Cotta took everything one step further and gave Sam texture-heavy beach waves that would turn any beach bum into a beach babe! She used the Amika hot tool barrel to create the waves with the heat protectant serum and texture spray. Sam’s makeup was kept natural and minimal (since things were about to get wet!)
Playing with the curtains of the hotel’s massage cabana at the end of the pier and in the sand on the beach, the rays of the sun hit Sam Blacky’s skin. “You have such a great way of moving and I just want to follow you, so you’re leading,” Tracy Kahn said to Sam. Sometimes photo shoots look more like an un-choreographed dance. This is how it looked at sunset as Tracy shot Sam in the waves on the beach. With a drone flying overhead, a sailboat at sea, Sam lying in the sand like a beached mermaid, and the sun just settling over the horizon, the scene was picturesque.
The team’s last night was spent together immersed in culinary refinement and excellence. Upon request, Villa Premiere provides a unique sensory experience that will delight even the most demanding group of foodies. The hotel’s Chef’s Table is a 5-course menu created by Chef Martínez that reflects creativity, passion, teamwork and the art of flavor. The dinner is available at an additional cost for groups with hotel reservations. Our culinary journey began with a bouquet of mushrooms accompanied by five sauces to choose from. Most agreed that the mushrooms paired best with the passion fruit cream sauce. Each diner was given a small fire contained in stones on their setting to cook their dishes and have the meal remain hot. The dishes were plated beautifully, and 27-year-old Executive Chef Tony Martinez is quite the dish himself. Raised in a family of chefs and restaurateurs, Chef Martinez proved himself to be gifted in the culinary arts at a young age. To name a few of his notable diners, he has cooked for the President of Mexico, the President of Spain, the Crown Prince of Norway, and now LEFAIR Magazine. Those who have tasted his extraordinary creations say that this young culinary wizard was born with a special gift.
The culinary team introduced Chef Tony by telling us that he has ten different pencils in his office. They all look the same but he says they’re different and they’re used for different things. “He is always drawing and always creating,” they explained. He was a hippy, surfing on the beach in Sayulita when he started as a kitchen helper in a restaurant near the beach. From there he worked his way up. When someone asked him how he created the egg in the nest dessert, he said he was listening to Pink Floyd. After dessert, We were served Mezcal in wooden sipping cups along with salt and a lime. “This Mezcal is from Oaxaca, the south of Mexico,” explained the jovial Isabel Fernández, Food and Beverage Assistant at Villa Premiere. “It’s very strong. I don’t want you to fall over, so just give your cup a little kiss at first!”
Most of us gave our Mezcals a few too many kisses that night. Chef Martínez combines his natural-born talent with authentic passion to create extraordinary experiences. He was even eager to cater to some of our more high maintenance gluten-free, pescatarian needs, creating special dishes like a delectable tofu in a mustard plantain crust. In his own words, the food and experiences he creates “nourish not only the body, but the soul, as well,” as he said at the November 2014 Gourmet Festival in Puerto Vallarta, at which he cooked shoulder-to-shoulder with master chefs from all over the world.
With its incredible cuisine, rich cultural history, and prominent artistic community, visiting Puerto Vallarta in general does just that, nourishes the body and the soul. During our stay at Villa Premiere, we learned that Puerto Vallarta is a city dedicated to the love and appreciation of art. Almost every bar or restaurant features some kind of live entertainment. The city is known for fostering and cultivating talent and creativity. Children in Puerto Vallarta are encouraged at a young age to pursue arts and music as evidenced by The Puerto Vallarta Youth School Orchestra. The OEPV (Orquesta Escuela de Puerto Vallarta) was founded by Hoteles Buenaventura as a community action program that helps develop young kids and teenagers into musicians, with the intention of expanding their outlook and forming a better community within the city.
Its rigorous and extensive music development regimen assures students have a chance at competing with graduates of the best music conservatories and schools. The OEPV project looks to, among other things, create and educate better citizens within all walks of life. It’s a project that aims to develop better leaders who are committed and consistent in their respect of their city. Along those lines, the project aims to give back to the community, making P.V. a more attractive place for everyone.
In the past, The International Poets and Art Conference “Letters by The Sea” has chosen Puerto Vallarta as the perfect backdrop for this International Conference. One of the most important literary events in Mexico, this professional exchange between poets based in P.V. and guest poets visiting from Uruguay, France, Spain, Poland, Sweden, Quebec and elsewhere in Mexico creates a profusion of poetry, with the goal of transforming it into a basic necessity of good living. “Letters by the Sea” has rendered Vallarta the “Poetry Port in America” since 2011.
Thanks to prose and poetry, love and beauty are in the air and on the walls at Villa Premiere. The Oscar Wilde quote, “Who being loved is poor?” and The William Shakespeare quote, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date…” remind us to relish in the refinements of our surroundings and reflect on what it is to be loved and to give love. Romance is all around Villa Premiere (and the city of Puerto Vallarta) and even though it was a running joke that Kendell Cotta and I were on our couple’s retreat, in all seriousness, this is a destination that should be visited with love in your heart, be it self-love or the love of another.
Fall in love with Mexico like we did and take to heart the words of Hugo Gutierrez Vega, and “settle for this afternoon on the beach…with the pale eyes of the sea…”
Thank you Villa Premiere and the people of Puerto Vallarta!