Close to home or far-flung: There’s a private stay for every type of travel.
As we dust off our suitcases and venture back into the world, there’s a certain peace of mind to be found from settling into a private villa. Luxury villas have always rocked the perks with 24/7 butlers, pantries stocked with local goodies, and concierges who know how to pull the right strings for a meaningful experience. But seen through the lens of present-day reality, they’re also private sanctuaries, a holiday in a secure bubble. A private villa rental is a great way to have your next vacation with minimal social interaction, but still have an enjoyable getaway and much-needed escape. Work with your travel advisor to have the villa concierge prestock your favorite food and drinks so you’re ready to settle in and enjoy as soon as you arrive. These are a great option for families: “Escaping to a villa or private residence allows travelers to experience destinations while providing space and seclusion for the whole family to reconnect and recharge.
Here, are some picks for villa life near and far.
Homes on the Range
Bison, elk, mule deer, mountain lions, and bears are at home in the grasslands and pine forests around Ladder, a Ted Turner Reserve, on 245 square miles of New Mexico wilderness. Four Rio Grande tributaries burble through the ranch, which includes a four-bedroom house Turner built for his family. Guests choose from activities such as horse-back riding, photography tours, and wildlife safaris that focus on ranch conservation efforts, such as bringing back the endangered Bolson tortoise. A private chef creates bespoke menus with ingredients from local farms, served in unparalleled settings – the big house among them, with a blaze roaring in its stone fireplace. Two-night minimum stay includes a private chef, a private guide, and all meals, beverages, and activities.
On a working sheep and cattle farm on the Banks Peninsula, an hour-plus drive from Christchurch, New Zealand, Annandale has five villas (two with pools) ranging in style from a lovingly restored five-bedroom homestead to a jaw-dropping glass-and-stone one-bedroom, built into a hillside on a secluded inlet. Two-night-minimum villa rentals include in-villa breakfast and dinner provisions, and a $100 dining credit.
Private Island Escapes
On a seven-and-a-half-acre cay dotted with palm and hibiscus trees, Royal Belize is a great jumping-off point for seeing the manta rays and trumpet fish of the country’s extraordinary barrier reef. Three tropical-chic villas, a roomy bunkhouse, and an open-air palapa await for the exclusive use of 10 to 16 people. Villa rentals include round-trip airport transfers, all food and beverages, and nonmotorized water sports.
Fourteen-acre Dolphin Island is home to four elegantly appointed wood bures. Life on this private island in the Fijian archipelago is unhurried and unforgettable. (That goes double for a night spent in the open-air hilltop bure, lit only by lanterns and candles.) By day, guests take dips in the infinity pool, lounge on outdoor daybeds, snorkel among coral reefs, and visit nearby islands via paddleboard or sea kayak. At night, they dine on a lovo feast cooked on hot stones in an underground oven and accompanied by traditional song and dance performances. Two-night-minimum bure stays include breakfast daily, a Fijian cooking class, and a massage.
Perched on a limestone cliff overlooking Bali’s Bukit Peninsula, the 65 minimalist, one- to three-bedroom villas of Alila Villas Uluwatu have private saltwater pools, cabanas, and butlers who’ll set up local experiences. Watch a kecak dance performance at a clifftop temple; ride the country’s famed waves with a surf coach; learn traditional Balinese dance; or visit the R.O.L.E. Foundation, which provides housing, education, and health care for orphans. One more positive: Serious eco-friendly principles are at work here, in the form of sustainable and recycled building materials, water-conserving rain gardens, and wildlife-friendly vegetation. Villa rentals include breakfast daily and butler services.
In the sun-soaked Turkish city on the Aegean Sea, the Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum is home to 13 villas. Revel in well-appointed solitude with private pools, alfresco dining areas, and – at the Alisya Villa – private beach access. Three-night minimum rentals of four- to seven-bedroom villas include breakfast daily and a $100 hotel credit.
Safari in Style
Classic opulence (wood-burning fireplaces in the bathrooms, for instance) defines the family-friendly, three-bedroom Stable Cottage at Elewana The Manor at Ngorongoro, a 19-room safari lodge on a lush coffee estate adjacent to Tanzania’s wildlife-rich Ngorongoro Crater. Best over-the-top moment: a formal lunch served on the crater floor, followed by a postprandial chill in a carpeted pillow lounge. Two-night-minimum Stable Cottage rental includes all meals and beverages.
Chimpanzees carom through the protected jungle that borders One&Only Nyungwe House, in the misty mountains of Rwanda’s Western Province. Spy members of East Africa’s last intact populations on a guided trek of Nyungwe National Park during a stay at the resort. The nine wooden villas in a tea plantation are decorated with local artwork and textiles, and designed to capture lush vistas. Engage with and support the communities around the park: Visit Banda Village to meet local craftspeople and participate in umuganda, the practice of monthly community service, such as planting trees and building schools. Two-bedroom villa rentals include all meals, select alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, and two resort activities per person.
Bring the Kids
A family holiday needs two key elements: space for meaningful downtime and activities to ward off the dreaded “I’m bored.” Line up both with a private villa at Eden Roc Cap Cana, a 65-room beachfront resort and residential community at the Dominican Republic’s eastern tip. For the children, there are floating hammocks, adventure tent camping, and kayaking in a kid-friendly lagoon. Adults get a Jack Nicklaus golf course, fresh seafood at Mediterraneo restaurant, and a 12-treatment-room spa. Three- and four-bedroom villas (and, debuting in 2021, a six-bedroom oceanfront bungalow) each sport a private pool, a 24/7 butler, and chef service. Three-bedroom villa rental includes round-trip airport transfers and breakfast daily.
Sprawl out with the whole family in a beachfront villa at 83-room Belmond La Samanna on Saint-Martin, home to a sandcastle-ready beach, gecko-friendly gardens, and an infinity pool. The floor-to-ceiling windows, wraparound terraces, and spacious kitchens make mealtimes easy – and access to the resort’s tennis courts, fitness pavilion, spa, and four restaurants round out the experience. Three-night-minimum villa stays include breakfast daily, one lunch for two, and a fruit basket.
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