Life through a lens: the Mexican villa that encapsulates La Dolce Vita as neatly as any European hotspot

It may be one of the greatest travesties in photographic history that Slim Aarons – who, in the post-war decades, captured the private lives of the jet set’s leisurely exploits in sun-soaked locales such as Monte Carlo, Capri, Ibiza and Palm Beach – never got to point his lens towards Cuixmala, a 25,000 acre string of private villas nestling on the Mexican Pacific.

“I’d wandered through enough concentration camps and bombed-out villages,” Aarons said on his return to New York after the war, “[and] I owed myself some easy, luxurious living.” It’s likely he’d have found his holy grail at the most desirable of all the properties found on this ribbon of nirvana, Casa La Playa (£5200 approx, cuixmala.com/room/villas).

Built for Ginette Goldsmith, a former wife of Sir James Goldsmith, and designed by Robert Couturier, the property’s series of pavilions cascade down a small hill to a wide, sandy private beach. The house itself has a round living room with panoramic views of the ocean, mountains and gardens, while the dining room looks down the beach to the ocean beyond, as does the master bedroom, one of four beautifully appointed sleeping quarters.

Superb cuisine (with ingredients sourced entirely from the property’s own organic farms and ranch), staff who specialise in unfussy attentiveness and irresistible breaks from the pool-side sybarism such as paddle boarding, a nearby crocodile lagoon (home to thousands of tropical birds) and participation in the local turtle protection program complete the package.

Photos by Michael Gilbreath

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