Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
In November, the Pacific oasis of Careyes, Mexico hosted its fourth edition of the Ondalinda x Careyes festival. Held on the vibrant Mexican shoreline, the celebration invited 700 guests for a five-day experience of music, arts, and wellness activities, focused on honoring the country’s heritage and drawing attention to the magical location.
Known for being a coveted villa resort location featuring sustainable, luxury design and a predominantly untouched natural environment, the destination began its development when Gian Franco Brignone traveled from Italy to Mexico in 1968. Almost immediately after a flight over the beaches of Careyes, Brignone purchased the land, calling it love at first sight. In the years following, Brignone, with the help of fellow friends and investors like Count Gregorio Rossi de Montelara (owner of Martini & Rossi), Pablo Gerber, and creator of the Bic pen, Marcel Bich, transformed the once-wild stretch of forest and jungle into a coastal oasis, which is quite the antithesis of a tourist attraction.
Now under the care of Gian Franco’s sons, Filippo and Giorgio Brignone, as well as Pedro Verea and Luisa Rossi, Careyes is filled with a rich blend of Mexican and Italian cultures, iconic architecture, environmental programs that support the local communities, and is regularly visited by travelers from all over the globe in search of an escape from the chaos of modern life, including names like Issey Miyake, Robert de Niro, Uma Thurman, Stevie Wonder, and many more. To learn more about the destination, its history, and what’s to come in future years, Whitewall spoke to Brignone in an interview below.
WHITEWALL: In the years following your father’s purchase, what did Careyes become?
FILIPPO BRIGNONE: People from all around the world said, “Careyes is like a magnet.” They arrived there by word of mouth. They liked the place and they felt what we think is the magic of Careyes—a land with certain energies.
We have a very international crowd. And then there is also El Careyes, a hotel with 35 rooms. It’s more than anything a club and residence. The idea was to do a little Portofino. It’s the most beautiful marriage between Italy and Mexico.
WW: What is the difference in Careyes and a more traditional resort?
FB: We don’t build hotels, we have clubs and residences.
WW: Can you tell us about Careyes’ iconic architecture?
FB: I think one of the characteristics of Careyes is that everybody loves so much that style, that they mostly all follow the same formula. The decorations inside is what’s more contemporary, more Mexican, more colorful, more a pickup of objects that you find—but the structure of having this main structure and the palapas, it’s always the same. The essence of it, it all goes with the same idea of living in nature, enjoying what is around, and these kinds of things.
The inside of the houses of architecture of Careyes tend to be white, very neutral, because you receive such an incredible quantity of light, color, sun, and nature all day that at night, you’re happy to go to your room and find peace—something that is totally minimal because your eyes are already full of emotions.
In a lot of houses of Careyes you really feel the texture of the walls and you really feel the humans that have been building it, and not machines. In itself, they are sculptures. They are things that are very sculptural.
WW: What is the vision for Careyes in the future?
FP: The vision of Careyes for the future is very clear and is part of its creation already. We have innovative architecture. We have people who have come from all around the world. We have the Careyes Foundation that is already doing innovative programs, and really giving to the kids in the village.
We already have a film festival, which is starting to be recognized worldwide. We have ArteCareyes that is promoting young artists. I’m working on a new program that is going to be more focused on wellness and being conscious about your body.
So mostly, the vision for Careyes is that it’s a place where you have beautiful houses, important nature, interesting people there, and it has to become a think tank. What people want in their experience is to go to a place that is nice. They want to enjoy the sun, relax, rest, and recharge their batteries, have fun, and they want to have around them interesting things that will motivate their own creativity.
For us, an attachment with empathy and art and a way at looking at life is very important. We don’t talk in Careyes about who is who; about how much they are worth. It’s the anti-Careyes—it’s what nobody in Careyes wants, and I can tell you that we have billionaires and very important people. That’s what we try to avoid. There are other places that went down that road. We have to go back to nature.
Also, there’s a new generation of people in California and in the states, that are young entrepreneurs with very good money, and they are not interested in watches and cars, but are looking for something new; something that helps them. That’s what we can offer—we can offer space, we can offer wellness and meditation.
WW: Are you thinking of organizing a type of sustainability conference?
FB: I’m working on a new center to do exactly that.