Virtuoso Traveler 2019 April 5 Reasons to Plan a Villa Vacation

5 Reasons to Plan a Villa Vacation

Villas of Distinction brings everyone to the table at Le Mas des Poiriers farmhouse in Provence.
Villas of Distinction brings everyone to the table at Le Mas des Poiriers farmhouse in Provence.
Photo by Villas of Distinction 
For family time, dedicated service, decadent seclusion, and so much more, book a (better than) home away from home.

Some trips demand breathing room. For those times — when you’re celebrating a milestone, seeking solitude, or just want to kick up your heels and make some noise – a villa rental is the perfect fit. “A private villa also gives you the chance to really immerse yourself in a destination, whether it be a city like London or New York, or perhaps rural France or Italy," says Michael Nolan, a Virtuoso travel advisor based in Melbourne, Australia. “Just living like a local in a house or villa gives you a deeper understanding and experience of the place.” What’s more, Virtuoso’s global portfolio includes a plethora of hotels and resorts with on-site villas, along with partners that focus solely on home and villa rentals. Bonus: Virtuoso-approved properties come with value-added perks – think exclusive amenities such as stocked pantries and bars, and complimentary spa treatments. Villas may be remote or resort based, studios or 40-plus bedrooms, pieds-à- terre or palazzi. Why rent one? Let us count the reasons.

Wide-open spaces at One&Only Le Saint Géran’s Villa One.
Wide-open spaces at One&Only Le Saint Géran’s Villa One.
Photo by One&Only Le Saint Géran

1. Bring the Generations Together.

What more natural way to unite multigenerational families than to house them all under one commodious roof?

“Villas work so perfectly because families have chill space to be alone and big areas to hang out together,” says Wendy Davis, a Toronto-based Virtuoso agency owner. “You have way more space than hotel rooms allow, as well as additional opportunities for interaction.”

In addition, villa rentals are especially child friendly: They offer many bedrooms, ample space to run around and play, and a hiatus for parents worrying about how their kids’ noise might affect others.

Our Suggestions: 
From beachfront homes to honeymoon villas, urban penthouses to ski cabins, Luxury Retreats manages 4,000-plus private properties in more than 300 destinations, with myriad offerings for large family gatherings. Personal concierges are available 24/7 to handle any detail, from itinerary changes to arranging authentic local experiences.

Whether it’s beachcombing, pool dipping, spa-going, or golfing, there’s something for every family member at Rose Hall Villas by Half Moon in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Its 28 villas come in four- to seven-bedroom configurations.

On Mauritius, the sleeps-six Villa One at One&Only Le Saint Géran faces the Indian Ocean. A butler and chef manage meals from indoor and outdoor kitchens, while guests splash in the infinity pool or nap in a hammock strung between shady palms.

Destination immersion at Laucala Island.
Destination immersion at Laucala Island.
Photo by Laucala Island 

2. Celebrate Good Times.

A villa rental takes commemorations of birthdays and anniversaries to the next – and more unforgettable – level.

“Our agency’s biggest villa requests typically coincide with milestone celebrations,” says Judy Stein, a Virtuoso advisor from New York City.

Stein once booked a monthlong stay in a six-bedroom Tuscan villa
for a couple celebrating a big birthday. They took a week for themselves “to catch their breath, work out the kinks, and get accustomed to the property, the neighborhood, and the area,” she says. “Then it was a revolving door of everyone they loved coming and going each week.”

Our Suggestions:
With a tightly curated portfolio that includes Colorado ski estates and a private Bahamian island, Cuvée manages 40-plus villas, with staff who focus on customizing each stay. In Italy’s Chianti region, the fourteenth-century Villa Serravalle houses ten bedrooms, a swimming pool, and dining terraces. A Cuvée curator organizes experiences such as cooking classes, Fiat drives, and winetastings.

Friends and family can spread out undisturbed on Fiji’s Laucala Island, home to 25 indigenously inspired villas ranging from a hilltop estate with three thatched-roofed residences to a two-bedroom overwater villa with a pool carved into the rocks and oceanfront hideaways set amid a coconut grove.

Entertain at one of six two- and three-bedroom homes at Napa Valley’s Carneros Resort and Spa. The celebration-ready accommodations feature great rooms with 16-foot ceilings, wood-burning fireplaces, and dining tables for six.

Caribbean comforts courtesy of St. Barth Properties.
Caribbean comforts courtesy of St. Barth Properties.
Photo by St. Barth Properties

3. Seek Maximum Privacy. 

Villas may be mansions, castles, bungalows, or penthouses. But what most
share, says advisor Michael Nolan, “are the most coveted locations that are private and away from others.”

Seekers of seclusion, whether they’re romantic couples or active families, “are usually more about the destination than resort amenities,” says advisor Judy Stein, citing rural areas in Italy, Spain, France, Greece, and Jackson Hole as popular get-away-from-it-all locales.

Our suggestions:
St. Barth Properties manages more than 230 villas on the elegant Caribbean island, where the glitterati hide out undisturbed. Those who do venture from their private residences find designer boutiques, an elevated dining scene, and solitary stretches of soft white-sand beaches.

Join the ranks of Napoléon Bonaparte and Queen Margherita of Savoy and escape to Lake Como at Villa Pliniana, a sixteenth-century palazzo owned by the neighboring Il Sereno hotel. Set on 18 lakefront acres, the 19-bedroom estate comes with its own private boat, spa, swimming pool, helipad, and staff.

Claim a hammock on a private terrace tickled by the forest canopy or gaze out over the ocean from one of 20 villas (some with a private infinity pool) at the newly refurbished Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo. Organic building materials and window walls welcome the tropics indoors.

Going green at Terranea Resort.
Going green at Terranea Resort.
Photo by Terranea Resort

4. Get the Best of Both Worlds.

For travelers seeking the retreat of a private residence with all the amenities of a resort, “a villa on the grounds of a hotel offers it all,” says advisor Judy Stein. “You have space for family togetherness, but when you need all the bells and whistles, they’re right there.”

Being on resort grounds doesn’t mean that villa residents will feel
crowded, though. Agency owner Wendy Davis recently booked a family at a five-bedroom villa at Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco in Tuscany. “It was two kilometers from the main hotel,” she says. “You still get the true villa experience, but you just dial the phone, and staff will pick you up and take you to the spa.”

Our Suggestions:
Villas of Distinction’s 2,500 residences span one to 42 bedrooms. Top spots include Italy and France, Punta Mita and Los Cabos in Mexico, Orlando in the U.S., and, in the Caribbean, islands such as the Dominican Republic, including villas at expansive resorts.

Recently reopened in Puerto Rico after an extensive renovation, Dorado Beach,a Ritz-Carlton Reserve gives guests of its 63 residences access to its scalloped beaches, sprawling pool club, nature-focused spa, 11-mile recreational trail, and three golf courses.

Terranea Resort in coastal Los Angeles County offers 32 villas with breezy indoor-outdoor living spaces. Residents can be transported via a golf cart to the 50,000-square-foot spa, tee up on the nine-hole golf course, or set out on a guided kayak adventure.
Dreamy views at Touch of Spice’s Lodge at The Hills.
Dreamy views at Touch of Spice’s Lodge at The Hills.
Photo by Lodge at The Hills

5. Let the Butler Do It. 

Rather than leaving guests on their own, Virtuoso-approved villas often come with service staff, such as chefs, butlers, and concierges, to arrange special dinners at home or adventures away from it, ranging from safaris to heli-skiing.

“It’s like having well-connected friends who can open doors that are typically only accessed by locals,” says advisor Michael Nolan, “especially with providers whose portfolios of properties are handpicked and personally approved by engaged villa managers.” Butler service is often informal, befitting the home setting. “It’s nice to have one point of contact to make sure the pool is just the right temperature,” says agency owner Wendy Davis.

Our Suggestions:
“New Zealand-based Touch of Spice is a prime example of the sort of managers who do villas really well,” says Nolan, extolling the company’s carefully selected portfolio and concierge services. Case study: Situated on The Hills Golf Course, the art-filled Lodge at The Hills near Queenstown can be staffed with a private chef and sommelier, and the provider can book special activities such as heli-skiing on a private mountain.

Residents of the two- to four-bedroom villas at The Resort at Pelican Hill near Newport Beach, California, have butlers available around the clock. Stays begin with a pre-arrival planning phone call from the villa concierge. Personalization goes as far as aromatherapy in the villa.

Butlers organize ski rentals, heat the sauna, and secure movies for the screening room at the two very lavish chalets at L’Apogée Courchevel, Oetker Collection in the French ski resort.

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