One of my favorite things to do in Zihuatanejo over the past few weeks is improving my accommodation.
Enjoying a bit more luxury is a guilty pleasure as many of the vacation rentals here include pool and housekeeping services. I usually plan my reservations after Semana Santa and when the crowd has gone a long time to get better prices. That way, I can feel confident of some solitude and blissful tranquility – perfect for adjusting to Canada’s busy lifestyle and staying within my budget.
This year I was lucky when my friends Al and Agatha Doerksen mentioned that they had bought an Airbnb on La Ropa Beach, Villa Casa Luna, in 2019.
Like many long-term travelers to Zihuatanejo, I knew the place through my acquaintance with the former owners Patsy, a well-known photographer and the late Joe LoGiudice, a trained architect and former Soho art dealer, as well as a film producer and activist. Still, I had never had the pleasure of experiencing it.
Villa Casa Luna has hosted many celebrities in the past, including musician Keith Richards and activist Abbie Hoffman. Numerous other artists – such as Jose Luis Cuevas and pop art icon Larry Rivers – and actors such as Lauren Hutton and Janet “Viva” Hoffman were also frequent visitors to the area.
Casa Luna is big enough that several families can vacation together and reach the nearby beach.
I chose the nice casita. From the moment the red electric gates opened, I felt like I was entering a secret garden.
A maze of lush vegetation and bamboo trees, as well as rare orchids and other plants, lined the path to a cottage in the corner of the property. I could see the main house to my right, almost hidden by leaves – just the peace I wanted.
A large, inviting porch with a couch and hammock beckoned me, and I imagined napping and reading for hours in the cool shade of the tiled roof.
There is a large swimming pool just a few steps from the hut and behind a bamboo door. The reconstruction of another future casita with an outdoor shower begins only a few meters away.
The casita itself was like traveling back in time to the 60s and 70s – when it was originally built by the LoGiudices – and yet offers all the amenities you would want in a well-stocked house.
The black checkered floors in the open kitchen, dining and living areas were the first hint of the topic, and the painted wooden cupboards and board walls complemented stone counters and a massive stone sink. The numerous windows, which let in plenty of light and are decorated with wooden shutters, are also enchanting. I especially liked the terracotta tiles in the Mexican style bedroom and bathroom.
The owners Al and Agatha Doerksen take a break at the end of the day. They bought the house in their retirement.
The main house, a mixture of modern and traditional Mexican architecture, has four additional rentable rooms with kitchen and living room. The whole house is perfect for larger groups. The open-air rooms look out onto further gardens and make you feel at one with nature, no matter where you are.
The entire complex, which is on a full acre of built and undeveloped land, is large, and I was curious why a well-retired couple would do such a project.
As a Canadian originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba (and now southwestern Ontario), I learned that the Doerksens also had an illustrious past.
The couple had traveled and taught and consulted in many parts of the world, including Calcutta – where they were neighbors of Mother Theresa – to Germany and Colorado.
“It’s really because of our daughter, Allison,” says Agatha, an artist whose work has been exhibited at home and abroad. “We were sitting on the balcony on the second floor of the apartment we own next door when she saw the sale sign. Although we could only see parts of the property and knew our neighbor, we had never really been within its walls. Of course we were curious and decided to have a look. “
“Al and I have the visions and dreams – along with Allison, who invested her own money in the property – but it is our children and grandchildren who will have the energy to keep them going. Hopefully future plans will include meeting the needs of this vision while protecting what is already here, and that honors history and the people of Mexico. “
The courtyard garden of the house is the perfect place to relax and reconnect with nature.
“I really felt that this is where I can do my best art,” says Agatha. Her passion, she explained, is somehow incorporating nature into Allison’s plans to trade through her beeswax candle business.
There are plans to expand too – maybe more casitas and yoga or meditation retreats. However, with the advent of Covid-19, some of these plans are being put on hold for the time being.
Right now it seems the priority for a brighter future with endless opportunities to stay afloat, make plans and make sure the place is renewed with new life.
Those who want to experience this piece of paradise just steps away from Playa La Ropa can do so by visiting Villa Casa Luna website for contact information and more details.
The writer divides her time between Canada and Zihuatanejo.