For most of us, booking a vacation consists of stages: deciding a vacation is needed, choosing where we want to go, and finding a place to stay.
When we reach the ‘finding a place to stay’ stage, the obvious choice for many is to head over to Google to book direct or click on a mainstream online travel agent (OTA) such as Booking.com or Airbnb, where we can search and select from a large range of property options that meet our vacation needs and desires.
These sites are great for comparing properties in the low to mid-priced market, but for unique, luxury rentals; for those who want a holiday that goes above and beyond the norm, there is a rather more elegant and stress-free solution.
Luxury villa accommodation has certainly become a preference for discerning travellers who want to enjoy a vacation without compromise. A beautifully designed space to enjoy with family and friends: one which is both private and unique and where their every need will be looked after during their stay.
And yet, high-end travellers don’t want to spend hours surfing the internet on sites such as Booking.com. They want to put their vacation in the hands of a company that will understand their vacation needs, who will handpick the perfect villa and create a bespoke vacation experience.
The go-to place for these travellers is a select group of luxury booking and concierge sites, which are meeting the demands of today’s high-end travellers.
Luxury villa rental companies aren’t a new concept but the challenge to create tailor-made experiences has meant that it’s no longer enough for companies to just offer a villa, they have reinvented themselves into luxury travel experience designers.
In this article, we’ve hand-picked some of the best providers of luxury villa accommodation who are going above and beyond to deliver the ultimate vacation experience to every guest.
Luxury Retreats is a villa booking website that features luxury rentals across the globe. Originally an independent booking site it was bought out by Airbnb and now branded Luxury Retreats / Airbnb Luxe.
Dedicated trip designers create customised itineraries and tailored services for guests. All the properties under the Luxury Retreats brand have been inspected and verified, are meticulously maintained and fully equipped to match the demands of even the most exacting guest. Some of the other features offered on Luxury Retreats are private airport pick-ups, an in-person welcome and the accommodation stocked up before the guest’s arrival.
One Fine Stay delivers ”handmade” hospitality in some of the most desirable vacation locations around the world, including the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii and Asia. The company was formed in London in 2010 and now forms part of the global Accor brand.
Aside from offering tailor-made vacation experiences, One Fine Stay also offers a monthly stay service for clients on a business trip or those looking for a temporary but longer stay for home renovations or company relocations.
The Villas of Distinction brand offers one-of-a-kind getaways and lasting memories at the world’s top luxury villas in over 50 destinations. They advocate a ‘guest-first approach and work together with the client to plan every last detail of the vacation.
They claim an unrivalled experience in the luxury villa rental market after having been in the business for over 25 years. From their Villa Specialist team who help guests choose the right destination and rental, to the Villa Concierge team who are on hand to deliver a five-star experience during the stay.
A background in psychology applied to the principles of travel is how the concept of Dream Exotic Rentals was conceived over 20 years ago by founder Maria Salazar.
She recognised that every client is unique and seeks a unique vacation experience and that is what she set out to provide. Today, Dream Exotic Rentals use their extensive knowledge to create dream vacations for clients and also specialise in destination weddings and celebrations. The family-run company has stayed independent and their direct and friendly approach brings repeat guest bookings as they treat clients as part of the family.
The Boutique Homes collection combines luxury villa rentals with boutique and small hotels, bringing together a handpicked selection of some of the finest accommodation stays across the globe.
Boutique Homes isn’t your average rentals listing site, the concept centres around a community of homeowners and travellers who share a passion for travel, style and design.
There are no booking fees and each time you book a stay you receive reward points which you can redeem in their Nomad Marketplace where you can purchase unique curios from around the world for home, travel and fashion. Their website also showcases boutique accommodation for sale and prestigious event locations around the world.
If you are looking for an extraordinary vacation experience, then check out Time and Place. The company have curated the best homes from over 45 destinations around the world and pair them with an exceptional concierge service for guests.
Time and Place have a team of savvy advisors who will search the best properties based on your demands and deliver a selection within 24 hours of your request. Their local concierge team are on hand to craft a memorable experience during your stay.
From a private chef, tickets to a ‘sold-out’ event or insider’s tips on hidden local gems, their on-the-ground team are the local authorities for every destination. Their Time and Place Adventures brand claims to turn your bucket list into reality. From watching the Big 5 roam Kenya’s savannah to savouring Dim Sum in Shanghai, you share your dream and they will make it happen.
From a cosmopolitan upbringing to setting up their original business in 2014 catering for the luxury Gstaad market in Switzerland. Moriya and Ira Rockman of Smiling House has always had a penchant for travel.
Now their Smiling House network caters for guests booking luxury properties all over the world. From beautifully designed apartments, award-winning ski chalets to lavish villas and ancient castles. Whatever type of property you desire, Smiling House will find it for you. If you are considering an investment in luxury real estate, the Smiling House network offers a selection of some of the finest second homes for sale in destinations such as Switzerland, Dubai and Croatia.
Plum Guide doesn’t profess to offer the largest selection of properties. Just the best of the best. In fact, their portfolio comprises just 3% of available short-term rental properties in each destination.
Their Plum Guide official selection seal guarantees you’ll be staying in a quality home, which has undergone the world’s most meticulous home test.
To gain a plum award, a home is reviewed and then shortlisted for its location, guest reviews and design. The host is then interviewed and the top contenders go forward for a plum award. These homes then go into their ‘up and coming selection’. A home only gains the Plum Award once it has delighted a Plum Guide guest and passed the Plum Home Test, which is undertaken by an independent critic. They are continually monitoring and updating the quality of the homes to ensure standards don’t slip.
We’ve just read about the stringent selection process at Plum Guide. Perhaps, even more meticulous is the selection process to get your home listed on Oliver’s Travel, which professes to offer only the top 2% of holiday rentals in their destination portfolios.
A villa vacation with Oliver’s Travels is all about the extraordinary. From handpicked villas and chateaux accommodation to creating the perfect vacation experience. Whatever your vision, they claim to deliver a vacation that fits it like a glove!
Co-founders Oliver and Ravi started out with a website where clients could book chateaux vacations without having to shell out a fortune. Since then the company has grown, and its accommodation portfolio has diversified. You can still book that chateaux experience, but there are also luxury villas, stately homes, cottages, even a beach hut or two!
According to their claim, Stay One Degree is the Trusted Member’s Club for Luxury Travel, connecting luxury travellers with the world’s foremost luxury rental accommodation.
Stay One Degree operate a strictly Member’s Only business for both travellers and hosts. Applicants and homes are carefully vetted before gaining access to the exclusive community. Once you are qualified and your membership has been approved you can network with like-minded travellers and hosts and book luxury stays around the world. There is a membership fee but members are given preferential booking rates. The concierge team at Stay One Degree are on hand to design your travel itinerary and gain you access to the best restaurants, clubs and events.
Private villa accommodation backed by assurances from the global hospitality brand, Marriott International. This is the pledge when you book through Homes and Villas. The company with over 90 years of hospitality experience launched its global home rental service in 2019. Their focus is fully dedicated to the luxury rental sector, working with property management companies around the world to deliver the Marriott guarantee of quality and service in a home-from-home environment.
What’s more, when you book a vacation through Homes and Villas you can redeem points to use in Marriott’s rentals around the world.
According to Inc 500, Villaway is one of America’s fastest growing private companies. The luxury vacation rental website provides a unique marketplace for luxury villa rentals and vacation homes in the US, Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, Europe and Asia.
All homes are hand-selected, inspected and professionally managed and there is a dedicated 24/7 concierge team who look after guests during their stay.
The needs of discerning travellers are being met with care and consideration from these exceptional luxury accommodation providers, who make it their business to offer truly exceptional experiences and exceed the vision of every guest’s idea of the perfect vacation.