Villa Leonardo
on the Rio Cuale
in Gringo Gulch
One of the original Villas here in Gringo Gulch. Visited by many celeberties over the years,built in the traditional Mexican Colonial style, formidable hardwood beams and red tile roofs, this riverfront property is a haven of tranquility. Among the luscious greenery of the patio pool area you may hear the church bells in the distance, the singing of the birds or the sound of the river rushing by. The Villa has become a favorite rental for their friends and guests to visit and to enjoy authentic Mexico and Puerto Vallarta.
Rate Property Type Location
see below Villa Gringo Gulch
City Bedrooms Bathrooms
Puerto Vallarta 5 5

History of the Villa

Villa Leonarda, owned by Sergio Toledano, is one of the most historic homes in Puerto Vallarta, is possibly the oldest building still standing in Vallarta, circa 1860-1880. Miners hauled silver on donkeys and mules down along the river from Mascota and San Sebastian. The building was used for storage and bunkhouse-style sleeping quarters while the ore was laden onto ships in Bahía de Banderas followed by the men's return eastward into the Sierra.

Situated in Gringo Gulch, the villa became a local gathering place for artists and celebrities in the 1960's who considered Vallarta one of their favorite getaways. John Huston (who directed "The Night of the Iguana"), Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole spent many an afternoon into the late evening playing poker on the terrace by the pool with other friends.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who used to sit under the fabulous Ficus tree on the patio to watch the river flow by, were only a few of the celebrities that delighted in the unique atmosphere of this house, one of the first built in the old fishing village that has become a world-class resort. Rock Hudson was a frequent guest as well as Burt Lancaster and the beautiful Mexican actress Dolores del Río. Huston, who built his house on a small cove south of Vallarta, Las Caletas, loved to spend the afternoons at the villa playing poker, his favorite game.

After filming "Cleopatra," Elizabeth and Richard came to Puerto Vallarta in 1962 so he could begin work on the Tennessee Williams drama "The Night of the Iguana," shot almost entirely in the oceanside jungle of Mismaloya, now considered a watershed event in the history of modern day Vallarta.

At the time, hotels for cast and crew were in short supply and primitive to say the least. The old Oceano Hotel that stood in front of the black and white striped lighthouse on the malecón in Old Town was the production’s headquarters. But when Elizabeth arrived to find a dirt floor and cockroaches flying around, Burton called his buddy Huston and said "My friend, if we don’t find suitable accommodations for Elizabeth, I’m afraid I won’t be able to star in your film."

Huston immediately offered the couple his own rented villa on the hill on the north side of the river, Casa Kimberley, and the rest is history. This area was where up and coming architects Freddy Romero and Guillermo Wulff were building fabulous villas on the hillside. Burton bought their little getaway as a 32nd birthday present for Elizabeth in February 1964, one month before their marriage.

In time, other jet set friends and celebrities followed and created an artistic and happening enclave in the exclusive neighborhood that came to be known as the Gringo Gulch. Elizabeth and Richard visited the house often over the years and Burton eventually purchased the house across the street, razed it and built another house around a large pool directly in front of Casa Kimberley, connecting the two houses with "The Lover's Arch". It became Burton’s poker lair when high jinx buddies were in town or "the dog house" when Elizabeth saw fit to lock him out of the main house. Hence the neighbor’s name for the The Lover’s Arch was "El Puente de Reconciliación" or the "Bridge for Making Up."

The Burtons entertained often and other Hollywood friends Roddy McDowell and Rock Hudson became regulars. They also offered their romantic hideout to other couples facing public scrutiny, such as Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, who could come enjoy tropical times away from prying eyes. The Burtons spent much time in Puerto Vallarta over the years, bringing along their kids (she had three children plus the daughter she adopted with Burton), their movie star friends and Taylor’s ever present entourage.

The Burton’s befriended many of the locals and took a special interest in the young nephew of their neighbor, clothing designer and boutique owner Xavier de la Torre, owner of Villa Leonarda and friend of Rock Hudson.

Sergio Toledano, now an award-winning Mexican photographer, was at the time a precocious 12 year old boy who had recently lost his mother. Taylor had strong maternal instincts and she and Richard took him under their wings, standing in as godparents for his first communion and taking him on many trips around the world including on their yacht the Kalizma which they moored off England while Burton filmed "Anne of a Thousand Days".

The international paparazzi that gathered outside the gate at Casa Kimberley waiting for photo ops of the famous couple sending headlines around the world from Vallarta: "Liz to Adopt Another Child". There is a wonderful collection of '60's black-and-white photos of Sergio with the Burtons adorning a wall in the villa. 

Taylor sold the Casa Kimberley complex several years after Burton died in 1984, saying the "memories made her too sad." She could never bring herself to spend the night there again after he was gone. Hundreds of Burton’s books and letters were found, along with movie memorabilia, vintage 60’s clothing and a collection of Taylor’s wigs.

Taylor comments in her book, "My Love Affair with Jewelry", that a be jeweled Tiffany brooch in the shape of a dragon that Burton gave her for the premier of The Night of the Iguana, "forever symbolized the early days of our marriage when we lived in Puerto Vallarta."

No doubt being hopelessly in love in Puerto Vallarta can make for some special memories.

Today, Villa Leonarda continues to possess a special magic, overlooking Río Cuale, mountains and jungle. Three-foot thick stucco/adobe walls, arches, high ceilings, trestle doors, hacienda-style wooden shutters, antique wrought iron and vintage handmade tiles are the distinctive design details of this century + old masterpiece.

Time has gone by, but the magic of the place still exerts its power, and today Villa Leonarda welcomes guests who wish to experience the beauty of Puerto Vallarta surrounded by the fascination of these old walls and the warmth of the Mexican people that captures one's imagination. Angelica Huston and brother, Danny Huston, internationally acclaimed artist Alejandro Colunga and photographer Gabriel Figueroa, Jr. are frequent guests at the villa.



  • Original charming Mexican property next to the Rio Cuale
  • Nicely decorated and furnished on 2 levels with the finest accessories-Antiques unique are mixed with imported furnishings and original paintings by famous artists
  • Fully equipped kitchen - your cook will provide delicious meals for you
  • 5 bedroom suites each with private bath, Flat screen tv, cieling fan, and AC
  • All amenities available to includeAC, maid service, wifi internet, Cable Tv with Flatscreen TVx, and phone for local calls
  • Beautiful tropical heated pool and spacious decks with outdoor bar area - perfect for entertaining
  • Fully staffed with a great cook and housekeepers
  • Walk down to the new Malecon and Zona Romantica where all the boutiques, restaurants, and shopping are located
    Click here for current pics - Malecon
  • Los Muertos and Playa Camarones beaches are very closeby within walking distance


    The Villa is available at four or five bedroom rates.

    Low Season

    (May 1st – Oct 31st)

    4BR low season rate $500
    5BR low season rate $600

    High Season

    (Nov 1st – April 30th) – Except Holidays

    4BR high season rate $700
    5BR high season rate $850


    (Dec 15th – Jan 5th)

    4BR Holidays rate $950
    5BR Holidays rate $1200

    For more information - Contact Samuel
    Text/call local cell # 322-109-1676
    WhatsApp - 011-521-322-109-1676
    Email us for summer rates and longer term stays -

    Here are some other nice Properties in Gringo Gulch for rent - click here

Complimentary Concierge service -
1. Airport pickup service that will take you direct to the property
2. Spa services at your condo - massages, pedicure and manicures
3. Restaurant info and reservations
4. Tours - jungle and city tours, whale watching, zip lines, Atvs, fishing, boat rentals
5. Jeep and car rentals with discounts

Back to Home Page - click here • From the US/Canada text/call -011-521-322-109-1676
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