House of the Butterfly

Near Montezuma's Castle lies a peaceful hacienda in Camp Verde, Arizona.
Near Montezuma’s Castle lies a peaceful hacienda in Camp Verde, Arizona.

Several years ago, Kat Vinson contemplated purchasing five villas and operating them as a bed and breakfast in Camp Verde, Arizona.

Before making the decision, she drove to nearby Sedona, and there in the red rock country, she meditated on the deal. When a butterfly landed on her hand, she took it as a sign that she should purchase Hacienda de la Mariposa—House of the Butterfly.

This New Mexico-style villa resort has five acres with a wooded creek view, gardens, fruit trees, a wedding chapel and a pool. Each of the villas has a private spa, cozy fireplace and butterflies both inside and out. “We consider it a petite resort,” says Kat, who operates the bed and breakfast with her husband Reggie, more famously known as Rockin’ Reggie Vincent (yes, Vincent, not Vinson).

An advertisement drew Kat to Hacienda de la Mariposa in part because she has “always loved the butterflies.” Since purchasing the property, the Vinsons have branded it with their own unique style as they attempt to provide a peaceful setting where people can restore their spirits while appreciating the Western heritage.

“When people come, we give them a little piece of our heart,” Kat says.

History, Just Around the Bend

The earliest people to inhabit this area of Arizona were the Hohokam, skillful farmers who arrived around A.D. 600. They were followed by the Sinagua people who moved in and created homes in the ancient cliffs circa 1125, farming along Beaver Creek. Evidence of their habitation—the five-story, 21-room adobe structure they once occupied and that is now part of Montezuma’s Castle National Monument—stands little more than a mile downstream from the Hacienda de la Mariposa.

The Sinagua are believed to have been assimilated into Hopi culture. The Hopi also revered butterflies for their beauty and role in pollinating plants. Each year in late summer, Hopi youths and young adults take part in the Butterfly Dance, meant to recognize the role the butterfly plays in the cycle of life. The girls wear elaborate headdresses for the dance. The traditional hairstyle of young Hopi women includes whorls of hair above each ear. Representing a squash blossom, the whorls also depict butterfly wings and are traditionally known as poli’ini, or “wearing a butterfly.”

House of the Butterfly

The main villa features a handcrafted cedar door that leads into the gathering room with its 20-foot high ceiling and exposed vigas. A kiva fireplace in one corner balances banco-style seating where guests can visit with each other.

Rooms within the House of the Butterfly are the Monarch, with its rustic armoire and writing desk, the Gossamer Wing, which has a king sized bed, reading nook and fireplace, and the Mariposa Creekside, with a private gated patio and bay window.

In the Casita la Mirada (Little House with a View) are the Painted Lady and the Sonoran Blue rooms. The former overlooks a water garden, while the latter has a kitchen, dining nook and walled in courtyard, making it ideal for a longer stay.

While walking around the main villa, you’ll notice gold and platinum records adorning the walls of the common room. Reggie has had a hand in nine gold and platinum records during his long, distinguished career in the music business (he co-wrote the triple-platinum hit “Billion Dollar Babies”). He’s played guitar and performed with John Lennon, Alice Cooper, Liberace, Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison and the Blues singer Etta James. In fact, his first gold album was recorded with Alice Cooper—“I became like the sixth Coop.” Reggie learned the business from his parents, Virgil Vinson and Lillie Keith (a gospel singer who performed on the Grand Old Opry and who was a half-sister of Minnie Pearl). In addition to his rock and roll, Reggie regularly performed gospel music with Johnny Cash and for the Billy Graham Crusades, and he has 16 gospel albums. In his recording studio today, he showcases a collection of his guitars, including the Gibson that belonged to his father and a Gretsch he has played for the past 35 years.

These days, Kat and Reggie not only entertain their guests with music, but also perform on tour at special events and work on filmmaking projects in an effort to restore Western subjects to the big screen. “We are trying to get people back to the values of the West,” Kat says.

The entrance to Hacienda de la Mariposa is through the Gate of the Butterfly, which is lit up at night and becomes the welcome for all guests. Kat says symbolically, the gate represents a new beginning for people who enter.

The doors to the villas are handcrafted and all unique, featuring heavy woodwork, wrought-iron metal work and varied shapes. For example, the door to the chapel is unusually small, made so to make people feel humble as they enter the structure. One main front door has Spanish-influenced architectural touches.

Guest rooms all feature butterflies, whether as ornaments, linens or other decorative elements. The Sonoran Blue room has a large four-poster bed with leather and wicker settees, table lamps and butterfly coverlet.

Hacienda de la Mariposa is located along the route of the stagecoach road linking Prescott and Camp Verde with Sedona and Flagstaff in an area that served as a base of operation for Gen. George Crook in the 1880s. The Vinson horse Blue and two goats, Carl (named for Carl Perkins) and Elvis (for Elvis Presley), have a pen not far from the old stage road itself.

In the gardens, filled with fruit trees and  flowers—trumpet vines and roses—butterflies and birds are abundant including blue herons, red-tailed hawks, eagles, orioles, robins, finches, roadrunners and hummingbirds.

Kat’s favorite butterfly is the Monarch, but she enjoys all that flitter and flutter throughout the gardens and around the home. Within the walls of her home, she features many examples of butterflies. “I have butterfly wind chimes and butterflies sticking in pots; butterflies that are in the tile. I don’t think that I could count them,” she says.  There are butterfly nightlights and samples of butterflies that guests have sent to her.

A collection of crosses hangs beneath the stairway in the common room. Some Kat has purchased throughout the years, and others given to her by friends, family or guests. “One is made from a railroad track. One is made of barbed wire. They are unique,” she says. Some are wood; others, ceramic.

“We try to make everyone’s stay as unique as possible while letting them roam free to enjoy themselves,” she says.

People come from all over the world to visit the Vinson home and business. “They come from Germany, Canada, Spain, Equador,” says Kat, adding, “One of the reasons they come is because of the quiet and serenity that the Mariposa holds.”

Candy Moulton lives and writes near Encampment, Wyoming.

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