Marian Jane Sanders
Jane Sanders is a freelance writer who lives in Silicon Valley and likes
escaping to quiet, out-of- the-way places whenever she can.
a recent visit to Puerto Vallarta, I discovered Casa Gardenias, a charming,
moderately-priced B&B nestled high in the jungle, a few minutes from town.
properties in the hotel zone, Casa Gardenias offers no disco, no tobacco shop,
no beauty salon. What it does offer is seclusion, intimacy, and the
opportunity for complete relaxation in a beautiful setting.
on a hilltop at the end of a winding dirt road, the inn is oriented to
maximize views of lush tropical forest below and the bay beyond. Owner Diane
Raye has decorated it in regional style featuring terra cotta floor tiles and
throw rugs, arched open-air windows with wrought-iron grillwork, rustic wood
furniture, local artwork, and bright wool blankets for the cool evenings. All
six guest rooms have tiled showers (but no tubs) and two share a deck.
is an expatriate who managed rental units in Oregon before deciding she
“might as well be fixing water pipes here, where it’s warm.” When she
purchased Casa Gardenias eight years ago, it was a private residence with no
water and only three lights.
the inn is far from primitive, but, as Diane says, “it’s not for la-ti-da
types.” Tap water is nonpotable (purified water is provided in coolers and
bedside pitchers); taxi drivers tend to get lost (just insist they continue to
the very top of the hill); and guest rooms have no phones or TVs
(some people prefer it that way).
this aerie in the hills is certainly comfortable. A cozy downstairs lounge
contains plush sofas, shelves filled with books, a refrigerator, a large
basket of fruit, and a guest phone. The emphasis is on privacy, but for the
socially-inclined there are five inviting common areas and a daily cocktail
hour. During my visit, the international guest list included Europeans,
Canadians, and Americans.
stayed in the Lavender Room, where I awoke each morning to a view – from my
bed – of gently swaying palms against a clear
blue sky. By mid-morning I’d manage to slip into a guest robe and
make my way to the upstairs terrace for a leisurely breakfast. Diane prepares
it in the adjacent open kitchen, while guests help themselves to coffee and
juice. She’s a superb cook whose specialties include delicious huevos
rancheros, with or without chorizo and salsa, and possibly the world’s best
breakfast, Diane usually offers guests a ride to town or to the local beach;
if she’s busy, a taxi to either costs $2 to $4. Some guests simply remain on
the terrace all day though, reading or enjoying the view –
“activities” perfectly suited to a stay at Casa Gardenias.
is an event in Puerto Vallarta, and Diane is a good source of inside
information regarding the area’s best restaurants, in all price ranges. She
also keeps a “things to do” file for guests, and she can arrange a class,
pack A picnic, and even supply a tote bag for shopping or
like to watch over guests, not too close, but enough to ensure a memorable
holiday,” she told me. “In truth, I’d love being a guest in my villa.”
I know I loved being a guest there. I planned to stay one night, and stayed six.
Gardenias has 6 rooms with rates from $49 to $95 including a full breakfast.
Airport pick-up and delivery is included with a minimum stay of 4 nights.
Jungle Dinners are offered 3 nights a week to both guests and non-guests.
Besides dinner, the evening includes drinks, live music, and transportation.
Cost is $40-$50 per person. Tel/fax owner Diane Raye at 011 52 322 25409 or e