The ultimate in luxury, seclusion and privacy, staying in your own villa is fast becoming the predilection of discerning global travelers looking to escape, unwind, and share a meaningful home away from home travel experience with family and friends.
“The rise of villa vacationing is a sign of the times we are living in. Providing an oasis of privacy and safety, staying in your own private villa makes for an unforgettable vacation experience that feels luxurious and special,” says Sue Ricketts, co-founder of Anguilla Luxury Villa Collection.
To help you get on board the luxury villa trend, enjoy our curated showcase of these heavenly global destinations.
Toucan Hill, Mustique Island
Villa Vibe: Situated on the highest point of Mustique, Toucan Hill is the creation of Tatiana Copeland, a Delaware-based businesswoman and philanthropist, and the great-niece of Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. Moroccan in style with its reach-to-the-sky mirador, archways, colorfully painted columns and fountains, Toucan Hill is best known for its jaw-dropping views – especially stunning upon arrival – of both the Atlantic ocean and Caribbean sea. And at night, in the blanket of darkness, its lantern-lit transformation, evokes the magic of 1001 Arabian Nights.
Luxe living: In designing her island home, Copeland awoke to the vision of ramparts and miradors after a candid conversation with her architect who suggested it take the form of a Spanish-style concrete structure. “The image of [Spain’s] Alhambra instantly came to mind”, she says. The four-bedroom home (with an additional owner’s suite) took ten years to complete, with Copeland making multiple trips to the site, often several times per day, to examine the sea, sky, light, and positioning of the sun, to “get it just right.” And indeed she did. Toucan Hill’s infinity pool offers the best sunset view on the entire island. A feature much appreciated by the loyal guests who return year after year.
Celebrity Factor: Since its earliest days when Lord Glenconner Colin Tennant gifted land to the late Princess Margaret as a wedding gift, Mustique has served as a paparazzi-free zone where the rich and famous can unassumingly blend in and unwind. Young royals (Kate Middleton and Prince William) continue to vacation here; rockers Mick Jagger and Bryan Adams own homes as does fashion icon Tommy Hilfiger.
Villa Il Palagio, Tuscany
Villa Vibe: With its saffron stucco walls and red roofs, the 400-year-old Villa Il Palagio was home to the dukes of San Clemente before being purchased by musician Sting and Trudie Styler in the late 1990s. Everything about the property, which sits atop a long, steep drive overlooking cypress and oak forests, personifies classic Tuscany.
Luxury Living: Meticulously restored both inside and out, the property features the main villa (where Sting and Styler stay) plus six guesthouses. There is also a pool, tennis court, yoga center, recording studio and a life-size chessboard. Outside, with the help of experts and locals – some who had worked the land for generations – the couple has also breathed life back into the vineyards, olive groves, vegetable and flower – lavender, roses, wisteria – gardens, and introduced honey bees. Villa Il Palagio’s wines are available for purchase, and come with names straight from a Sting repertoire: Roxanne, Message in a Bottle, and When We Dance.
Celebrity Factor: The formal outdoor fountain was previously owned by Sophia Loren. When Sting and Styler first came across the villa in the late 1990s, it had fallen into a state of disrepair. “We bought it for a song, maybe two songs, I’m not sure,” said Sting who recorded four albums at the villa. The restoration took seven years and became both a passion and a personal sanctuary for the couple who still spend much of their time here.
Villa Nureyev, Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barth
Villa Vibe: Purchased in the 1960s by Russian ballet dancer Rudolph Nureyev, Villa Nureyev is one of the most mysterious on St. Barth. Located on the ‘wild’ coast of the island, Nureyev built a floating deck (which remains today) just inches above the crashing waves to practice his signature dance moves. A part of – yet separate from – the luxurious Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barth, Villa Nureyev is surrounded entirely by the ocean.
Luxury living: The dreamy villa features four bedrooms – two masters, a private suite with its own terrace and kitchen area, and a guest cottage with a private bathroom and view of the pool. The creative vibe is evident in the ‘dancer’ artwork gracing the walls. And the yearning-to-be-played piano.
Celebrity Factor: Nureyev first came to St. Barth to visit friend and colleague, Mikhail Baryshnikov. And like most who come, reportedly ‘fell instantly in love’ with the island. These days A-listers like Beyonce and Jay-Z, Miranda Kerr and yep, the Kardashians love to vacation on this island paradise.
Château de Courtomer, France
Château Vibe: If you really want to up the luxury vacation ante, why not book your own French château to stay in palatial style and grandeur? Set on 350-acres in the romantic green hills and valleys of Normandy in western France, just two hours’ drive from Paris, Château de Courtomer was inspired by the Palace of Versailles no less. Once the seat of a powerful family of Norman noblemen from the 11th, the château caught the eye of American Elizabeth Bonner during a trip to Normandy in 2005. A lover of French art, architecture and the quaint villages, streets and rich history of the area, Bonner bought the 18th-century château (listed on the French National Registry) and has devoted years to restoring it to its former glory and elegance.
Luxury Living: Like something out of a fairy tale, the château has a grand dining room, sitting room and cozy library with floor to ceiling gold spined books. As you step through the château’s grand doors and up a majestic staircase, you’ll find 25 magnificent Marie Antoinette-esque guest rooms all with private ensuites, plush curtains and regal touches. It’s the expansive grounds, including a charming Orangerie that add to the romance and overall ‘wow’ factor, making it also a dream wedding and event location.
Celebrity Factor: You are the celebrity in this story as Château de Courtomer is literally fit for a king and queen. On hand is long time resident château manager Heather, a Brit who relocated to France over 20 years ago, who will happily bring you tea and biscuits to your room, regal you with stories of the château’s history and organize local tours to surrounding wineries, the site of the battle of Normandy and to experience local gems like cheese makers and honey and saffron producers. There is also a private chef available to curate lavish private dinners and special events. It is the trip in a hot air balloon that you will treasure forever. The balloon takes off from the château’s grounds and floats over the lush French countryside, landing at will in a local farm which is said to bring the farmer luck. That’s when said farmer will rush out to celebrate with his finest bottle of French champagne. Je vous en prie.