Discovering the Grand Traveler in Costa Careyes
BY HELEN STORTINI
Like many communities, Costa Careyes, Mexico, has a few conditions that prospective buyers must meet to purchase a house—27 of them to be exact. I expected the list to include items like “no overnight street parking” or “exotic pets prohibited”. The first condition took me a bit by surprise: “You must have will, love, and fantasy.” As I read further down the list it was more of the same. Instead of landscaping regulations, were things like “Admire the sunrise and the sunset” and “Have a sense of humor”. It was clear to me from this unusual list of conditions that Costa Careyes was not your average holiday destination. While I wasn’t in the market to buy a house, I was in the market for a vacation.
The “27 Conditions for Owning a House in Costa Careyes” were written by Gian Franco Brignone—the founder and creator of Costa Careyes. Gian Franco—an artist and entrepreneur from Torino, Italy—dreamed of creating an ideal community and resort. In 1957, Gian Franco lost vision in his right eye. There was no accident or illness; his vision just disappeared. He claims that his right eye’s sight was replaced with an inner sense or feeling that guided him to create Costa Careyes.
In 1968, while flying over a stretch of undeveloped Pacific Coastline just south of Puerto Vallarta, he discovered the perfect location for his dream—a location he called “heaven on earth.” He purchased the land, named it Costa Careyes—which means “turtle coast”—after the giant sea turtles that nested on the beach, and set out to build a utopic retreat that married the best of Mediterranean and Mexican culture with the area’s pristine natural environment. Instead of erecting the architectural blemish of an oversized resort, Gian Franco brought in famous architects, such as Marco Aldaco, Diego Villaseñor, and Jean Claude Galibert, to build innovative castles and villas that combined modern design with traditional thatched palapa roofs.
Gian Franco’s story intrigued me. He sounded more like a visionary than a resort developer. But I was skeptical. It sounded almost too good to be true. I felt like the dramatic origins and “27 Conditions” were a little too staged and I was concerned that Costa Careyes would turn out to be just another tacky tourist resort.
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