Villa Pajaro

Luxurious Villa Pajaro

Villa Pajaro

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Villa Pajaro is a luxury five bedroom, 5 1/2 bath, 3 level, approximately 8,000 square foot hacienda style Mexican colonial home. It is situated in the heights of Conchas Chinas, in the friendly resort city of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (five minutes from the beach and seven minutes from downtown) with a spectacular view overlooking the Bay of Banderas.

living room

Living room with bay view

The large entry courtyard is adjacent to a stone columned loggia with beamed ceilings. A path from the courtyard leads to a garden below. Accommodations include a large living room and dining room open to a view of the bay, courtyard, and patio fountain. The dining room, kitchen, and stairway have antique colonial brick ceilings. All bedrooms and baths are air conditioned and have dramatic vistas of the ocean. The large master bedroom has a Jacuzzi bath.


Hacienda style bedroom

Enjoy your vacation from the thirty-five foot decorative infinity style pool that overlooks the bay. The hacienda is fully staffed with a maid and a cook.




I ran across this fabulous article, compiled by one of our featured cooking schools near Lucca, that I want to share with our devoted subscribers.

wine country

Vineyards In Burgundy

"The style of any particular wine is determined by the grape variety (or varieties) from which it is produced, the soil and climate in which the grapes are grown, and the technique or the winemaker. Wines are normally sold either by their geographical origin Bordeaux, Chablis, Soave, Rioja, as is usually the case in the traditional wine-producing areas of Europe or as varietals (by the name of a single or pair of grape varieties), particularly the case for wines from California and the Southern Hemisphere, which may also carry a geographical designation, such as Napa or Coonawarra.

The juice of most grapes is white, so white wine can be produced from either red or white grapes (Champagne is the most common example of a white wine made predominantly from red grapes). Red wines can only be produced from black grapes; the skins, which contain the coloring pigments, are macerated in the fermenting juice for anything up to 2 weeks, to produce color in the wine. The skins also impart tannin to red wines, a natural acid that diminishes in time, but which can make young red wine often taste dry and astringent. However many inexpensive wines are now made by a method of carbonic maceration, much in the traditional style of Beaujolais, which makes them ready to drink within months, if not weeks, of the harvest. Rosé wines are produced from a short period of skin contact, 12-48 hours, just long enough to give a subtle color, without the aggressive tannins. Hence Rosé wines, like most whites, are produced to be drunk while still young and fresh.

harvesting grapes

Harvesting is hard work

Tasting Wine
Wine, when it is poured should look clear and bright in the glass. Some young white wines may have small bubbles of carbon dioxide gas that will enhance the freshness. Light white wines, such as those from Germany, tend to be pale in color while fuller-bodied, richer white, like Australian Chardonnay, will be a deeper yellow. Most sweet white wines will have a deep golden color. Red wines generally start life with a purple red and take on brick and tawny hues as they age. As with whites, those from warmer climates will tend to have deeper color. Once poured, and before tasting, one should smell a wine. First, any faults will be apparent to the nose; secondly the bouquet will give a good indication of the taste to come. It helps to swirl the wine around the glass to release the aromas. When tasting, try to move the wine around the mouth and draw in a little air, before swallowing. This gives the wine a chance to reveal its flavors; and the longer they linger in the mouth, the better the quality of the wine.

Storing and Serving Wine
The ideal storage conditions for wine are an even temperature, around 40°F. or 12°C, well away from vibration, light, smell and with a relative humidity around 75-80%. Bottles need to be kept on their sides to avoid corks drying out, which would allow air into the bottle and subsequently lead to oxidation.

The best glasses for tasting, and therefore drinking wine, are made of clear, thin glass, narrower at the lip than in the bowl to concentrate the bouquet, and with a stem long enough to keep the hand off the bowl. Glasses, especially for red wine should be generous in size and should not be filled more than two-thirds full to allow the bouquet to develop as the wine is swirled around the glass.

White and Rosé wines should be served around 24°F. or 7°C; any colder and the bouquet and flavor will be lost. Sparkling wines can however be served a little cooler, which helps to reduce the pressure of the gas in the bottle. Most red wines are best served around 48°F or 14°C but some lighter styles, like Beaujolais and Valpolicella are best served cool (34-40°F or 10-12°C) and very full-bodied wines, like Barolo or Australian Shiraz can be served up to 55°F or 16°C. Most red wines, apart from the lighter styles, benefit from being opened up to 2 hours before serving. Red wines which have spent many years maturing will generally need decanting to separate them from the sediment that has settled in the bottle. White wine, which might show a crystalline deposit, do not need decanting; it is only a natural deposit of tartaric acid crystals that settle comfortably in the bottle or glass. Fortunately, very few wines today are faulty; the most common are those which are corked, the result of a tainted cork which renders the wine woody and musty, and those which have become oxidized, a problem mostly affecting wines which have been badly stored, or kept too long. Once a bottle has been opened it should not be kept for more than a day or two; the wine will deteriorate quite quickly."


mulled wine

A warm treat!

Mulled Wine

Greet your guests on a chilly Fall evening with a glass of hot mulled wine.

1 cup water
1 stick cinnamon
6 cloves
Juice and rind of 1 lemon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 bottle of red wine (a cheap red table wine will do)
Slices of orange and lemon

Put water, cloves, and cinnamon into a large saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. Add juice and rind of lemon, sugar, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add wine and fruit slices and heat almost to boiling, being careful not to overheat. Remove spices and serve in heat-proof glasses. (For 6-8 glasses)


In Marrakesh

Dining on the Jemaa in Marrakesh

Marrakesh, Morocco

Admitting that I'm not the best contestant when the Geography category comes up on Jeopardy, I wanted to learn more about Morocco now that has some beautiful new properties to offer there. Perhaps you share my curiosity. Come to find out, this fascinating country in Northern Africa borders the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, situated between Algeria and Western Sahara and just south of Spain. It's the one and only featured in the motion picture "Casablanca", with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, remember now?

Morocco is slightly larger than the state of California, and just over 32 million people live there. Populated by the fierce and indigenous Berbers and conquered by the Arabs 1300 years ago, this exotic and little-known kingdom is the bridge between Europe and Africa.

Morocco enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with more extremes in the interior of the country. We think it best to try and avoid the summer heat and crowds and visit in the cooler months between September and May (now!). And from mid-January to mid-February there is usually enough snowfall in the Atlas Mountains to accommodate skiers!

map of Morocco


The official language is Arabic, but because it was a French territory until Morocco won its independence in 1956, French is still the language of business, government, and diplomacy. Although there is a residing king and royal family, the people are steadily moving towards political freedom, and the country has now established its own legislature and recently had parliamentary and municipal elections.

Economically speaking, Morocco faces problems typical of developing countries. Severe droughts in the 1990's contributed to a stagnant economy from the agricultural sector, but then favorable rainfalls began in 2003 and have led to substantial growth. The country seems well on its way to freer trade with the European Union and the United States, improving education, and the attraction of foreign investment to boost living standards and job prospects for its people.

The Moroccan unit of currency is the dirham which is divided into 100 centimes. There are ATM's and banks throughout Morocco, and credit cards are readily accepted at most of the nicer hotels, restaurants, and shops. There are 3 international airports, and you can fly directly to Marrakech from Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and other European cities.

Our properties are just outside the fascinating Imperial city of Marrakesh, set against the backdrop of the majestic Atlas and Jbel Ette Mountains. The city is nearby, large and beautiful, noisy, full of history, and considered the cultural center of Morocco. After a busy day amidst carpet salesmen, fire jugglers, and noisy souqs, you can return to your own hideaway and enjoy a cup of mint tea in a nice quiet courtyard.

Experience Morocco. Here you can get a glimpse of the Sahara desert where 9th century camel caravans brought spices and slaves to northern seaports. Its lush oases and earthen architecture, the magnificent Atlas Mountains ideal for hiking or trekking and the sophisticated Imperial city of Marrakech, give your senses a whole new experience that you won't soon forget!



Tintoretto Is a favorite!


Venice, Italy

Located in the Cannareggio Neighborhood, this three bedroom apartment has room for the family. You can easily walk to St. Mark's Square, where the famed marble galleries now shelter famous cafes and luxury shops. Take a tour along the Grand Canal in a steamer starting from St. Mark's Square to see the canal at its best.

"The apartment was exceptional and I will definitely stay there again. Your staff was wonderful to work with! The owner was very helpful."

- R D, New Orleans, Louisiana.

"A fantastic apartment, exquisitely situated with lovely views out on the rooftops. Just like its pictures suggest. We invited all our friends (just not all at once!) and had a most incredible lazy vacation! Kathy and RentaVilla were great!"

- JB, Biegeton, ME.

"The apartment was wonderful and the owner most helpful!"

- AT, Reston, VA.

"The Tintoretto as well as your assistance at RentaVilla were outstanding. The apartment was outstanding, a small terrace overlooking the rooftops of Venice, a moderne kitchen . The place was clean and the greeter extremely friendly and helpful!"

- CS, Toronto, Canada.


Emmanuel de Ricard


Dear Travelers and Friends,

Since 1983 when we opened our doors and wrote our first contract on a rental property, we've been listening to you, our clients. We ask for your feedback whenever you return from one of our properties and we take that feedback to heart. We love to hear about how wonderful your vacation was, and believe it or not, we deeply appreciate your candid criticism as well. Of course the good news makes us feel great, but the bad news gives us a chance to work with the owners and managers of the property to henceforth improve our clients' experience.

New Properties
In keeping with our commitment to our clients we've been making lots of improvements here at, and we'd like for you to know about them. We've been working hard to make your experience with us even more enjoyable, and to that end we have added nearly 50 new properties to our site in the last two months. As you may know, our staff was spread out this summer as we researched new properties in Mexico and Europe, particularly Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and some new areas of Italy including the Lake District and Umbria. In Italy we also added new properties in our already existing areas of Tuscany, Liguria, the Amalfi Coast and Rome. We have added new properties in Barcelona, Spain as well.

The availability of larger properties (6+ people) goes quickly. So if you are thinking of vacationing with family and/or friends in 2008, contact us soon and we'll start looking for the perfect spot for you. Or visit our Vacation Planner page to request information about any area that you're considering.

Bon Voyage!

Emmanuel de Ricard, President

For a little laugh

a laugh


Newsletter Editor: Kathy Hayes

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