Puerto Vallarta’s Molino de Agua

David Simmonds

pv-08-003.jpgAs Jimmy Buffett tells us in one of his best songs, everyone has their “One Particular Harbor”, the place that speaks to you like an old, dear friend; the person/place you trust and can always depend on to deliver. For me that “harbor” has always been Puerto Vallarta, where I first landed in 1970 aboard my old VW van that was soon to blow an engine in the Sonora desert while limping back to San Diego during a blistering August day.

What is now called the Romantic Zone, the neighborhood south of the Rio Cuale near the beach, has specifically been the lure for many of us. I have been staying at the old, simple, wonderful Posada de Roger for over three decades. What was then a single story, eight-room hostel for about $3.00 per night, is now much larger with a pool and restaurant with rooms running around $35.00…still a bargain and still my place.

Another great hotel for all of those years, although more expensive, was the two-acre Molino de Agua, a remarkably quiet oasis retreat featuring individual bungalows spaced amongst tropical gardens, bordered by the Rio Cuale, the beach, and the city streets. For those of you who have been there you may recall the caged monkey who delighted in ripping sunglasses off anyone’s face who stood within arm’s length, shrieking in larcenous triumph.

The hotel shuttered and closed a couple of years ago with rumors of new owners and a face-lift to come. And now it is taking place, only the change is far more than cosmetic, as the name indicates: Residencias Molino de Agua. The photo here, sent to me by Lyn Turner, reveals what appears to be, at least, a ubiquitous ten-story structure lording over a magical two-story neighborhood. The sales material advertises 110 beachfront condos, each three-bedroom/three-bath, with all of the high-end amenities one would expect. Well, okay, I guess these things are inevitable. But I’m guessing some serious dinero was paid to some city planners to pull building permits on this Goliath.

So, I will remain loyal to my old friend Vallarta, but I’m a little disappointed that money has once again trumped soul. I can never quite adjust to that concept.