A collection of some of the world’s most sought-after villas, from million-dollar oceanside residences in the Caribbean to Cliffside dwellings above the beaches of bali
by Nubia DuVall Wilson
When traveling with an entourage, renting a private villa is often the smartest way to go. You can get the best of both worlds: the comforts of a luxury home and resort-like amenities, such as butler service, housekeeping, and even private chefs at your beck and call from morning till night. Nowadays, large-scale resorts across the world offer this type of accommodation, in both secluded areas for the ultimate in privacy or right on the beach for unimpeded ocean views. We’ve found some of the best, including an Old World, independently-owned option in Spain that is well worth a trip off the beaten path.
Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort
Bali, bali-uluwatu.anantara.com, $$$
Set on the southern coast of Bali, Uluwatu is a spectacular peninsula fringed with limestone cliffs. This is home to one of Bali’s most iconic sites, the Uluwatu Temple, perched high above the sea. The coastline, with six beaches, is a world-class surfing playground, and there is championship golf available at the new Kuta Golf course, overlooking Balangan Beach.
The Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort is a sanctuary amid the rugged natural beauty of this famed island’s southern shore. Luxurious suites, pool villas, and duplex penthouses offer spectacular views of the Indian Ocean. On-property experiences include the Anantara Spa, yoga classes, cliff-side dining at the Dewika Lounge, diving, cycling, and even an elevator that takes visitors down to the private beach. Guests have easy access to river rafting, elephant safari tours, and the famous Kecak dance (or “fire dance”) at the nearby Uluwatu Temple. Advanced surfers will enjoy riding the waves, particularly at Uluwatu and Padang-Padang beaches. The resort also offers guests its Spice Spoons cooking class, which introduces them to the island’s traditional culinary scene beginning with a vibrant market tour and ending with a hands-on lesson in how to make local dishes.
Guests can choose from 74 accommodations—sea view suites or private pool villas. The three-bedroom Ocean Front Pool Villa is one of the resort’s most impressive. It includes a 40-foot private pool, a garden, and dramatic (truly spectacular at sunset) views of the Indian Ocean. The 3,500-square-foot villa features a living room, dining area, kitchen, and master bedroom with a jacuzzi, adjacent to the pool. Each of the two guest bedrooms has its own en-suite bathroom. Rates start at
$1,071 per night.
For the ultimate in luxury, book the Penthouse, a duplex that covers almost 4,000 square feet. The two-bedroom accommodation boasts panoramic ocean views, floor-to-ceiling windows in the first-floor master bedroom and bathroom, and an upstairs living and dining area that leads onto an outdoor sundeck adjacent to a private pool. There is also a pantry for personalized butler service. Rates for the Penthouse start at $3,205 per night.
The Dunes, Grace Bay Club
Turks and Caicos, gracebayresorts.com, $$$
The Grace Bay Club is the first luxury all-suite resort in Turks and Caicos. The beachfront destination has four types of accommodations: the adults-only Hotel; the family-friendly Villas Suites; The Estate (essentially a resort within a resort); and The Private Villa Collection of beachfront homes. There are three bars and four restaurants, including Kone, a new pop-up restaurant that serves savory main courses and sweet desserts in cones. Additional amenities include Kids Town, the Anani Spa, heated freshwater pools, and two outdoor jacuzzis.
The Private Villa Collection offers the comforts of a personal, multimillion-dollar ocean side residence with the superlative amenities of the Grace Bay Resort. Among its most extraordinary homes are the beachfront residences of The Dunes on Smith’s Reef, which is famous for its superlative snorkeling. There are three ocean-view bedroom suites in the main villa (including two master suites) and two additional one-bedroom executive pool suites—each with outdoor shower—located adjacent to the pool. The pool includes a “floating” outdoor dining palapa with a unique fire feature. At 6,700 square feet, the property offers five and a half baths, a kitchen, a dining room that seats eight, and a living room with dramatic ocean views.
Additional amenities at The Dunes include airport transfers in an SUV, a personal concierge, daily American breakfast, start-up bar with spirits and mixers, pre-stocked kitchen staples, daily housekeeping, pool and beach setup daily, and shuttles to the Grace Bay Club or West Bay Club for lunch or dinner. Non-motorized water sports equipment, including paddleboards and snorkeling gear, are available. The Dunes five-bedroom villas start at $3,300 per night.
Riviera Maya, Mexico, rosewoodhotels.com, $$$$
Rosewood Mayakoba is a 1,600-acre luxury resort south of Cancun, on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It lies along a mile-long beach on the so-called Riviera Maya, backed by jungle. Besides three restaurants, the resort offers the “Sense of Taste” gastronomic experience, based on the Mayas’ rich culinary culture. The Mayan Bees Farm tour showcases the preservation of Melipona bees, which are crucial to the Mayas’ ancient medicinal practices. The tour includes a dip in a cenote and a picnic featuring local products.
The resort offers 130 suites in 11 different categories. Top of the line is Casa Laguna, which sits on a private lagoon with dramatic views of the Caribbean. Casa Laguna combines the privacy of a personal villa with the services and amenities of the Rosewood Mayakoba hotel. Guests can access the accommodation by footpath, bike, private boat, or golf cart. Upon arrival, they are greeted by a dedicated staff of five, including a culinary team, personal butler, and housekeepers.
Casa Laguna’s 9,400 square feet of interior and exterior space includes three bedrooms, a living and dining room overlooking the lagoon, and a chef ’s kitchen with Viking appliances. The three bedrooms are on the lagoon level and include two master suites with en-suite bathrooms. The villa also has a media room. Outdoors, there’s a private pool, a boat dock, an outdoor shower, and a private dining deck. Additional amenities include airport transfers, daily breakfast, private fitness classes, fresh fruit delivered daily, private boat tours with a resort biologist, and preferred seating times at any of the resort’s restaurants or bars. Rates start at $12,500 per night.
Cruilles, Spain, charmingvillas.net, $$$$
A grand estate 90 minutes from Barcelona, Masia Cruilles is an eight-bedroom villa that stands out as one of the best rental properties in Catalonia. The owners, a British Lord and Lady, spared no expense when they restored the house, which sits on 12 acres in this picturesque part of the Iberian Peninsula. The villa is within walking distance of the village of Cruilles and a five-minute drive from the town of La Bisbal, known for pottery, hiking, cycling, centurie sold castles, and folk culture. The nearest beaches are just 20 minutes away by car.
Masia Cruilles has eight bedrooms and can accommodate up to 16 guests. There are six king bedrooms and two rooms with twin beds; each with its own shower and bathroom. The ground floor has two kitchens—a large, fully equipped main kitchen and an adjacent second kitchen with two refrigerators and a wine fridge, two sitting rooms with TVs and an electric piano, a lounge area with a fireplace, and a laundry room. The first floor has an extensive library and an office area, while the upper floor includes the eighth bedroom and a second TV room.
Outside, guests can play tennis on the private court or relax in the courtyard. The main kitchen leads out to a covered patio, perfect for alfresco dining, with unhindered views of rolling farmland and the Gavarres Mountains in the distance. Adjacent to the pool is a shaded area with casual seating. Between the pool area and the villa is an additional courtyard with a small fish pond and retractable awnings. The grounds are a mix of olive, fig, orange, and lemon trees, creating an unmistakable Mediterranean ambience.
The rental includes daily maid service and an in-house chef who will prepare six evening meals during the stay. Rates start at 15,000 euros per week ($16,340).
Vanua Levu, Fiji, namalefiji.com, $$$
Set on 525 acres of tropical beauty on Fiji’s northern island of Vanua Levu, the Namale Resort & Spa is an all-inclusive, adults-only luxury resort that has hosted some of the world’s biggest celebrities, from Anthony Hopkins to Russell Crowe and Donna Karan. The majority of the property is untouched rainforest, which makes for picturesque hikes among lush landscapes and private swims at a hidden waterfall. There are two restaurants on the property serving Indo-Fijian cuisine made with ingredients from the resort’s organic farm; poolside and in-bure (en-suite) dining is also available.
At Namale, no two accommodations are alike. Each features spacious layouts and authentic Fijian design. The Villas are about 1,500 square feet each, with king beds, private infinity pools, ocean views, spa tubs, decks, outdoor showers, and daily laundry service. Some rooms have open-air bathrooms, outdoor showers, and full-sized billiards tables. All are perched along the volcanic cliffs of the Koro Sea, offering premium views and ocean breezes.
The 2,000-square-foot Luxury Grand Villa, the property’s only two-bedroom accommodation, is the resort’s most luxurious, starting with the entrance, which has mini waterfalls lining both sides. Extras include a mini library, full-size dining table, kitchenette, workstation, and oversized pool deck. The master bedroom includes a king bed, natural stone bathroom, private outdoor shower, and spa tub. The second bedroom offers a queen bed and a large indoor and outdoor shower. Each room leads out to a shaded day bed perched at the edge of the cliff. The Luxury Grand Villa has consistently been a celebrity favorite, most recently hosting Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel. The all-inclusive package includes airport transfers, all meals and beverages, private outdoor dining, access to the Namale spa, and a golf cart. Rates start at $2,000 per night for four to six nights (the per-day rate is lower for longer stays).