Conde Nast Traveler June 2009

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Conde Nast Traveler June 2009 Powered By Docstoc
					The three-bedroom
Bush-Field Estate, in
California’s Wine
Country, can be yours
for $1,500 per night
through BeautifulPlaces
(see “Wendy’s Rolo-
dex,” page 99).
                            w e n d y         p e r r i n ’ s

           worldwide guide to

Scoring the perfect villa has never been more achievable than now.
Detailing the prizes and pitfalls of going the rental route, Consumer News Editor Wendy
Perrin shares her field-tested tips for finding that most elusive of villa stays—an inexpensive
gem on the beach—and for extracting the most value whatever your destination
PLUS: Our directory of 49 vigorously vetted villa rental specialists, who hold the keys to
an array of properties, from a pied-à-terre in Paris to a private island estate in New Zealand
                                              t’s the holy grail of vil-                                    like you were outdoors even when you
                                              la rentals: a home smack on the       worldwide               were in. My family and i had 5,240

                                              beach, where your terrace is just                             square feet of space—including a pri-
                                              a shell’s throw from the sand and                             vate 1,500-square-foot oceanfront
                                              where the first thing you see when                            terrace and an architecturally unique
                                              you sit up in bed in the morning is
                                              an unobstructed expanse of tur-
                                                                                     RENTAL                 522-square-foot pool—as well as ev-
                                                                                                            ery comfort, from king-size canopy
                                              quoise sea. such a place is often          gu ide             beds with plush pillowtop mattresses
                                              extravagantly expensive, of course. of all         to iPod docks with poolside outdoor speakers to
                                              the features a rental villa can have, a beach-     bathrooms with the most elaborate showerheads,
                                              front location is the one that will shoot the      jets, and nozzles i’ve ever seen. the nightly rate?
                                       price the highest. renting a house just a one-block       including housekeeping and tax, $1,062. that
                                       walk from the strand can save you hundreds if not         breaks down to $354 per bedroom per night. even
                                       thousands of dollars.                                     with today’s great deals at beach resorts, i can’t
Find More                                 if ever there was a time when the beachfront           imagine getting all this at any hotel for less than
                                       rental has entered the realm of possibility, how-         $1,000 a night.
    OnLine                             ever, that time is now. on many islands and coasts,          how did i find this bargain? first, i avoided tiny
   Go to               homeowners are ready to negotiate, and the deals          and exclusive islands—e.g., st. Barts or Mustique,
villarentals to download               are flying. last winter, i decided to seize the day       where the demand for villas outweighs the sup-
the worksheets “How to
Identify the Right Villa Rent-         and see how little i could pay for a snazzy beach-        ply and puddle-jumper flights to get there can be
al Agent and Villa for You”            front villa in the Caribbean at the height of the         pricey. instead, i chose a more trafficked island
and “What You Need to                  season: the february Presidents’ Week school hol-
Know About a Villa Before
                                                                                                 where supply exceeds demand and affordable
You Arrive.”                           iday. i ended up scoring a state-of-the-art three-        nonstop service is available from many U.s. cities.
   Wendy’s blog, perrin                bedroom villa with a private pool on the french/          Now, make no mistake, st. Martin/sint Maarten, lists St. Martin
recommendations and use-               Dutch island of st. Martin/sint Maarten. the              is overbuilt and junky in parts—the parts that,
ful Web links. Scroll down             living room and master bedroom were no more               sadly, most cruise-ship visitors never get beyond
to “Topics Covered,” and               than 20 steps from the beach, and the floor-to-           (mainly on the Dutch side). still, it has plenty of
click on “Caribbean.”
                                       ceiling glass walls facing the ocean made you feel        scenic drives, hidden-gem beaches, authentic lo-
                                                                                                              cal color, and world-class cuisine . . .
                                                                                                              if you know where to go (mainly on
                                                                                      The private ter-
                                                                                      race and pool           the french side). i chose a spot on the
                                                                                      come with a gaze-       Dutch-french border so we could
                                                                                      bo in the water.        quickly reach the delights of the
                                                                                                              french side while also having conve-
                                                                                                              nient access to the boating and water

                                                                                                             Starfish villa at S
                                                                                                             Maarten’s Coral int
                                                                                                            Beach Club is that
                                                                                                            rarity—an affordable
                                                                                                            beachfront villa

                                                                                                                              The villa faces
                                                                                                                              Dawn Beach and
                                                                                                                              the Atlantic Ocea
                                                                                                                                                                               Photographs by Timothy Baker

                                 Starfish’s airy living/dining room
                                 is a spacious 784 square feet.

  96                                                                                                           C o n d E n a s t t r av E l E r / c n t r a v e l e r. c o m
                                                                                                       The rustically charming town of
                               sports infrastructure of                                 Grand Case is the gourmet capital
                               the Dutch side.                                          of St. Martin.
                                  another strategy for                                                                             A vendor sells hand
                               getting the best beach-                                                                             musical instruments     tival.
                                                                                                                                   the Harmony Nights fes
                               front value for your dol-
                               lar is to rent a villa that’s
                               not a freestanding house
                               but rather a unit in a set
                               of residences. Most unat-
                               tached beachfront Carib-
                               bean rentals have more
                               than three bedrooms and
                               represent a value only if
                               you can fill every bed. My
                                                                                                   Dinner at Sol é Luna restaurant
                               party was small, how-                                              was our most memorable meal.
                               ever: i required only two bedrooms
                               for my family of four. and when you
                               need just two or three bedrooms on
                               a beach, it often makes sense to rent
                               a residence that splits the cost of the
                               amenities with other units. We chose
                                                                                                                                                    A villa can connect
                               one of six beachfront villas (and 15                                                                                 you to local life. St
                               non-beachfront) that belong to the                                                                                  Martin’s top-notch .
                               Coral Beach Club in oyster Pond.
                               each shares a concierge desk, a gym, a parking garage, portion of the rooms,
                                                                                                                                                   dining and its wintertime
                               and a housekeeper but has its own private pool and yet you get the entire                                           street fair in Grand
                               terrace. only when we walked outside our villa did we property to yourself.                                         Case were highlights
                               feel like we were part of a larger development; indoors, the Coral Beach
                               gazing through those glass walls at the sea, there were Club has such sliding
                               no other buildings in sight, so it felt like ours was the rates, so we were able to reduce the $1,062 even fur-
                               only thing on the beach.                                    ther by renting just two bedrooms for $798 per night
                                  My third tactic for achieving the affordable beach- (including housekeeping and tax). i also sought out a
                               front villa was to rent a property with adjustable rates, property that allows stays of fewer than seven nights.
                               where the price depends upon how many bedrooms Many owners—especially in europe—insist on a sev-
                               you occupy. such arrangements are common in the en-night minimum, often from saturday to saturday.
                               Caribbean: you can pay a lower rate by renting only a When you’re trying to snag cheap airline tickets, how-

                                                                                    is A V i LL A FOr yOU?
                                                                      Wh a t to co n sid e r b e for e e mbar king on the r e ntal r oute

                               1    Am I better off at a hotel?
                                      Many travelers have a glamorized view of a vil-
                               la vacation. But staying in a private home without
                                                                                        2    Do I require American-style
                                                                                        If you decide to splurge on a staffed villa, the work
                                                                                                                                                    person might suffer from allergies, for instance, and
                                                                                                                                                    require a property with no animals on it.

                               the array of help you get at a hotel could mean
                               more work. Even with a part-time housekeeper,
                               you often need to wash dishes, do laundry, and take
                                                                                        disappears. What may not disappear, however, are
                                                                                        the inconveniences that come with old homes in rural
                                                                                        areas. Many European villas, for instance, have no air-
                                                                                                                                                   5     How do I envision spending
                                                                                                                                                         my time?
                                                                                                                                                    A Europe-bound group with plans to do a lot of
                               out the garbage. You might also need to buy not          conditioning, no window screens, no high-speed In-          sightseeing might want a location convenient to a rail-
                               only groceries but household supplies such as dish       ternet, no heated pool, and a limited supply of water.      way hub, whereas one staying put might want a shad-
                               detergent, paper towels, soap, sponges, toilet pa-                                                                   ed terrace for outdoor dining.
                               per, and trash bags. And living in an authentic villa
                               means taking care of it: In Provence, for instance,
                               where a traditional home has shutters to keep it
                                                                                        3    Do I have a full week?
                                                                                              Many villas, especially those in Europe, rent only
                                                                                        in one-week increments, often Saturday to Saturday.        6     Should I arrange for a villa
                                                                                                                                                         with built-in staff?
                               both cool and secure, you must close and fasten all      Villas closer to the United States, however, may have       In Europe, if you don’t want many precious hours
                               of them every time you leave the house; you also         four- or five-night minimums and allow more sched-          to be swallowed up with meal preparation, house-
                               need to collapse the outdoor parasols in case of a       ule flexibility.                                            hold chores, and battles with foreign appliances,
                               sudden mistral. When I spoke with villa owners in                                                                    you need both a cook and a housekeeper, at least
                               Italy, some complained about Americans hanging
                                                                                        4    What amenities do I                                    part-time. The big advantage of full-time staff—
Photographs by Timothy Baker

                               wet towels on antique bedposts and tossing them               require?                                               especially a cook or a caretaker who lives on the
                               on floors, thereby damaging the wood, or failing to      Say you’re going with a group of couples. Do you            property—is that it makes a house particularly warm
                               carry the outdoor furniture cushions into the house      need a private bathroom for each bedroom?                   and inviting. A majordomo who has cared for a
                               at day’s end. Lastly, you might be asked to leave a      Standard-issue amenities in the United States—a bar-        property for years—and whose family may have
                               villa “broom clean” when you vacate, which in-           becue grill, a clothes dryer, CNN, Wi-Fi—are not so         served the owner’s family for generations—not only
                               cludes stripping the beds and removing all the food      standard in some countries. Ask the other members           makes life a lot easier but expands your window
                               from the fridge.                                         of your group to make a list of their must-haves. One       onto the culture.                              –W. P.

                               junE 2009                                                                                                                                                               97
                                            Plane-spotting on Maho Beach.                       sint Maarten, owns a home on the island
                                                                                                and has spent every winter there for the
                                                                                                past 25 years. Not only did she steer me to
                                                                     Zip-lining at
                                                                     Farm, in a 154-a  cre      oyster Pond—which provided quick ac-
                                                                     rain forest preserve.      cess along picturesque roads to the most
                                                                                                charming spots on the french side of the
                                                                                                island—but she also picked a beach suit-
                                                                                                able for kids (Dawn Beach, perfect for
                                                                                                bodyboarding) and a property with every
                                                                                                amenity on our wish list (free no-hassle
                                                                                                Wi-fi above all). she knew that the Coral
                                                                                                Beach Club was offering a special pay-
                                                                                                the-low-season-rate-in-high-season deal,
        Butterflies on view at                                                                  and she suggested villa No. 5, starfish, be-
        La Ferme des Papillons.                                                                 cause it’s on a relatively private, peaceful
                                                                 Being based on the             section of the beach.
                                                                                                   What did i give up to get this bargain?
                                                                island’s Dutch-French           Well, i did not get the silky, flotsam-free
                                                                border allowed us to            white sand beach with a calm glassy sea
                                                                enjoy the best of bo            that i would have gotten on, say, anguil-
                                                                areas conveniently th           la—where a beachfront two-bedroom of
                                                                                                equivalent comfort and appeal, Meads
                                                                                                Bay Beach villas, would have cost me
                                                                                                $1,080 per night, including tax (versus the
                      ever, date flexibility is key. Because the Coral Beach $798 i paid). i did not get the picture-postcard panora-
                      Club allows rentals of six nights, i managed to reduce mas unmarred by high-rises in the distance that i could
                      my airfare from New york to $328 per person. (rent- have gotten on, say, st. Barts—where the charming
                      ing for seven nights would have doubled the airfare.)          beachfront home i might have rented, Crystal Dream,
                          My most important strategy, however, was to seek had a two-bedroom rate of $1,178 per night. Nor did
                      the guidance of a villa rental agent who knew my des- i get the glamorous seclusion—the virtually private
                      tination like the back of her hand and could match beach—that i could have gotten on st. Martin itself
                      me to the right location and residence. Marilyn Pulito had i rented a villa such as la vie en Bleu, located
                      of villas in Paradise, whose sole focus is st. Martin/ on the spectacular strand at (Continued on page 126)

                              H O w T O G e T G OOd VA LUe i n A V i LL A

                                       S te p s fo r ma k in g y o u r dr e am r e ntal an affor dable r e ality

          hoose a destination where                         forgo in order to be able to afford it? On Barbados,     Go where the cost of labor is low.
          supply exceeds demand.                            for instance, oceanfront villas are not too expensive    Having staff at your villa in the British or U.S. Virgin
            Pick places where villas are abundant: Forgo    if you’re willing to do without a pool. If what          Islands, for example, is usually more expensive
            high-profile Anguilla for Virgin Gorda, over-   matters most is a panoramic ocean view, you’ll save      than it would be on Jamaica or Barbados. Want
exposed Tuscany for Umbria. And consider the                thousands of dollars by renting inland, atop a hill,     only a cook? Realize that at some destinations (e.g.,
length of the rental season: Destinations where villas      and driving three minutes to the beach. Or choose        Provence or St. Martin), “cooks” are pricey gourmet
are filled three to five months of the year, such as Ita-   a house that’s waterfront but requires a five-minute     chefs. You’ll get better value if your cook is part of
ly, are pricier than those where the season lasts eight     walk down a path to get to the beach. Ask your           a villa’s built-in staff.
or nine months, as it does in the Caribbean.                villa rental agent which amenities drive up prices
                                                            the most at your destination, since these things vary    Consider renting a villa that’s
Go where the U.S. dollar is                                 from country to country. On the French Riviera,          part of a set of residences which
strong. Greenbacks usually stretch a lot further in         for instance, air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, and a heated      share certain amenities. When you
Costa Rica or New Zealand than in England or France.        pool won’t add much to the cost; in Tuscany, they’ll     need fewer than four bedrooms and don’t require
                                                            send it soaring.                                         the privacy of a freestanding house, this is an easy
Go where villas have adjustable                                                                                      way to reduce your rental bill. Such villas often
rates. In certain regions or seasons, if your group         Consider what the rate includes.                         come with their own private pool and terrace for
is not big enough to fill all of a villa’s bedrooms, you    Sometimes villa rental rates exclude a hefty tax, a      outdoor dining, yet they benefit from the shared
can pay a fraction of the rate for a fraction of the        cleaning fee, and additional charges for air-condi-      staff and grounds.
bedrooms yet still have the property all to yourself.       tioning, heat, and the privilege of paying by credit
Even when adjustable rates aren’t published, try to         card. Sometimes they include staff, beach-club           Use a rental agent who works
                                                                                                                                                                                             Photographs by Timothy Baker

negotiate for them.                                         access, a rental car, and even a boat. If a villa does   directly with villa owners rather
                                                            not have beach access, find out if you can buy day       than with property management
Prioritize your wish list. Decide                           passes to a nearby oceanfront resort. Two years          companies. Management companies tend to
which features and amenities (a modern kitchen?             ago, my rate of $700 per night for a hilltop villa in    standardize the prices of all the properties they
air-conditioning? Wi-Fi?) you’re willing to give            Jamaica included day passes to a nearby beach re-        represent. Owners, however, may decide to price
up to get those you can’t live without. Say a               sort with a water park—passes that normally go for       their villas below the current market value in order
beachfront location is a must: What can you                 $55 per person.                                          to rent them more often.                        –W. P.

98                                                                                                                           C o n d E n a s t t r av E l E r / c n t r a v e l e r. c o m
                                                 wendy’s rOLOdeX                                                                                                    VILLA
                                     Your indispensable guide to 49 rigorously vetted villa rental agents                                                           RENTAL
                                                                                                                                                                          gu ide

B         e L oW i S A Ro ST e R o f T H e
          villa rental agents whom we consider
          best qualified to match Condé Nast
          Traveler readers with properties. To
compile the list, we created a 47-question ap-
plication designed to assess an agent’s com-
                                                                 combing through these materials, we inter-
                                                                 viewed the most promising rental agents by
                                                                 phone to evaluate their user-friendliness,
                                                                 honesty, and familiarity with the villas and re-
                                                                 gions they represent.
                                                                    only 49 agents made the cut. What sepa-
                                                                                                                                    books, updating them once a year at mini-
                                                                                                                                    mum and filling them with insider tips. Some
                                                                                                                                    agents have a preponderance of modest cot-
                                                                                                                                    tages, others fairy-tale estates, and we’ve
                                                                                                                                    characterized their overall portfolios accord-
                                                                                                                                    ingly—from one dollar sign ($) for the least
petency, connections, and business practices.                    rates the honorees from the also-rans? The                         expensive to four ($$$$) for very expensive
We asked each agent to send a sample                             best have personally visited all of the villas                     accommodations relative to their regions.
house book (that invaluable guide to a villa                     that they represent and have slept in a good                       Unless otherwise noted, prices reflect the
and its environs), sample driving directions,                    many of them. They reinspect properties at                         cost of a one-week rental. if you would like
as well as other preparatory information and                     least annually. They speak the local language                      to nominate a villa rental agent for a future
questionnaires that they give clients, check-                    fluently. They handpick villas that have an                        list or to comment on your experience with
lists that they use to evaluate properties, and                  authentic sense of place. And they them-                           one of the agents below, please e-mail me at
at least one client reference. After carefully                   selves write or at least vet their house                           –W. P.

  Reported by Kathryn Maier
          C A R I B B E A N                                                                                                                                                           Under
M U LT I P L E I S L A N D S                                                                                                                                                           room
Hunter Butler, Blue Escapes,
Austin, Texas
500 properties (low season, $2,500–
$12,000; high season, $4,500–$20,000).
Overall portfolio: $$
Butler’s properties are interspersed
throughout 19 islands, but she is particu-
larly knowledgeable about Anguilla, the
British Virgin Islands, St. Martin, and the
U.S. Virgin Islands. She’ll guide you to the                                                                                                              ju
                                                                                                                                   Paris: Romanti            no t
perfect island for your dream vacation,                                                                                                             c
whether the primary goal is idyllic white                                       dest iny                                          ment with cla rendezvous in 1BR, 1BA
                                                                                                                                                   ssical furnishin                ap
                                                                                            nly sea views from 4BR,               ties, two firepla                 gs, modern am ar t-
sand beaches or the ultimate island hide-              Jamaica: Enjoy trade winds and heave                                       ment location ces. Super-quiet 18th ar ron eni-
                                                                                              infinity pools, exercise
away, and will work hard to find a villa to            4½BA home on 7-acre hillside. Two                                          minimum. Co
                                                                                                                                                 . From $1,235
                                                                                                                                                                 /w                disse-
fit your budget (512-472-8832; hunter@                 pavilion, full staff. from $7,500/wee
                                                                                             k. Contact Linda Smith,                            ntact Gail Boisc eek with a 3-night
                                                                                                                                                                  lair, Perfectly
                                                       Jamaica Villas by Linda Smith.                                                                                             Paris.;
Timothy Roney,
LaCURE Villas, Toronto
575 properties (low season, $3,000–
$62,500; high season, $4,000–$87,500).           knows what to look for (and to look out           Carriacou                                        the island each year. When inspecting and
Overall portfolio: $$$                           for) when selecting homes for his carefully       Carolyn Alexander, Down Island                   evaluating properties, she moves into them
Roney has listings on 22 islands and knows       chosen list. All properties come with daily       Ltd., Carriacou, Grenada                         for several days so she can sleep in every
the Caribbean inside and out. He’s selec-        housekeeping, and many have full staff. His       20 properties (low season, $400–$2,100;          bedroom and bathe in every bathroom,
tive about the properties he takes on, pay-      concierge team can handle any special re-         high season, $525–$2,500). Overall               enabling her to know their individual char-
ing particular attention to furnishings and      quests that your villa’s staff cannot (809-       portfolio: $                                     acteristics. All of her listings include full
decor and only choosing places with a            589-7065; jason@northcoastmanagement.             Willing to sacrifice creature comforts to es-    staff personally trained by Smith herself
sense of style. He’s great at helping people     com;                   cape the tourist hordes? Alexander will ac-      (301-229-4300;;
figure out which island will best suit their                                                       quaint you with this tiny island, where
needs—say, which are best for avoiding au-       GRENADA                                           chickens and donkeys and goats walk
tumn’s weather woes, where homes on              Nick Hughes,                                      down the main street past little old ladies      S T. B A RT S
beaches are more plentiful and affordable,       Spice Isle Villas, Grenada                        cooking bread in outdoor ovens. There are        Peg Walsh, St. Barth Properties,
and where good golf or shopping can be           28 properties (low season, $950–$18,700;          no organized excursions, but the proper-         Franklin, Massachusetts
found (800-387-2726; tim.roney@lacure            high season, $1,250–$27,500). Overall             ties often come with DSL and cable TV, and       150 properties (low season, $1,100–$35,070;
.com;                         portfolio: $$                                     Alexander can book interisland flights and       high season, $1,530–$75,070). Overall
                                                 A Grenada resident for 13 years, Hughes           four-wheel-drive rentals for you. Her villas     portfolio: $$$
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC                               knows the owners and staff at every one           generally don’t come with air-conditioning       Walsh spends several months on the island
Jason Matthews,                                  of his listings and is never more than 20         or staff, but you can arrange for meals to       each year and holds weekly cocktail par-
North Coast Management,                          minutes away should a problem arise.              be delivered (473-443-8182; islander@            ties for her clients near her full-service on-
Cabrera, Dominican Republic                      Ranging from affordable cottages to a fully;             site office. She thinks of absolutely every-
20 properties (low season, $1,750–$22,750;       staffed waterfront “castle,” all properties                                                        thing, advising guests where to park at
high season, $3,150–$32,550). Overall            come with an ocean view, housekeeping at          JAMAICA                                          beaches, where to go for sunsets, where
portfolio: $$                                    least three days a week—and Hughes’s en-          Linda Smith, Jamaica Villas by Linda             to buy the catch of the day, which grocery
Matthews’s portfolio comprises mostly            couragement to get out and explore the            Smith, Cabin John, Maryland                      store to stop at en route to your villa from
large (five bedrooms and up) partially to ful-   lush island and meet its friendly residents.      67 properties (low season, $1,900–$61,555;       the airport. And since the grocery store
ly staffed beach- or waterfront homes on         Whether it’s a car rental or a hiking tour,       high season, $3,750–$72,800). Overall            requires a one-euro deposit for a shopping
the Dominican Republic’s Costa Verde.            he’s happy to make the proper arrange-            portfolio: $$                                    cart, her airport greeters even provide a
He’s lived in the country for eight years and    ments (473-439-2486; spiceislevillas@             Smith has been renting homes on Jamaica          coin for you to use (800-421-3396;
is well versed in its pluses and pitfalls—and;              for 24 years and spends several months on;

junE 2009                                                                                                                                                                                     99
                     aquama re
 Virgin Gorda, BVI: Ideal beachfront location for cluster of
                                                                                                                           Cho ngw e rIve         r hou Se
 three 5BR, 6½BA homes. Luxe finishings, 30-foot vaulted                                                                                                              with full access to facilities of
                                                                                                                              nestled in Lower Zambezi National Park,
 ceilings. Great for weddings. From $13,750/week. Con-                           Zambia: Safari setting for 4BR, 4BA house pool, game viewing from windows. Elephant lover’s paradise. Private
 tact Hunter Butler, Blue Escapes.                                               nearby Chongwe River Camp. Unique                                             , Explore, Inc.
                                                                                                                           $3,900/night. Contact Cherri Briggs
                                                                                 vehicles, guides for walking safari. From

                     amaroo                                                                 CAS A KIM BAL     L
                                                                        Dominican Republic: Dra                                                                            su n da       zz le
Queenstown, New Zealand: 5BR, 3BA with modern                                                     matic ocean views from                                                                              ikiki with
decor, Australian Aboriginal artwork, stunning lake                    bedroom in ultramodern                                   ever y                                         chfront estate near Wa
                                                                       munity near beaches. Infin
                                                                                                  8BR, 8BA home in gated
                                                                                                                                 com-                  Oahu: 7BR, 8BA bea gourmet kitchen, housekeeping 3
and mountain views, courtyard with hot tub. From                                                 ity pool, hot tub, full staff.                        mosaic-tiled pool, hot tub,                      e Pawsat-
$9,520/week with a 3-night minimum. Contact                            $3,000/night with a                                      From                                               0/week. Contact Ann
                                                                       son Matthews, North Coa
                                                                                                4-night minimum. Con
                                                                                                                              tact Ja-                 days/week. From $16,45    ays.
Jacqui Spice, Touch of Spice.                                                                    st Management.                                        Dressler, Hawaii Hideaw

     ST. MARTIN /                                                     E U R O P E                           authenticity? Your villa’s owners may live           buildings with old-world charm. You won’t
     SINT MAARTEN                                                                                           nearby and take you to a local antiques              mistake your stay for one at the Ritz, but
     Marilyn Pulito, Villas in Paradise,               FRANCE                                               market or to the annual cherry harvest               the small size of Boisclair’s portfolio allows
     Medway, Massachusetts                             Annie Flogaus, Just France,                          (510-559-8080; rentals@villeetvillage                her to provide personal service—she might
     275 properties (low season, $1,400–$53,000;       Berwyn, Pennsylvania                                 .com;                           be the one to greet you when you arrive at
     high season, $1,750–$74,000). Overall             190 properties (low season, $1,800–$20,350;                                                               your flat. In keeping with her budget-friend-
     portfolio: $$                                     high season, $1,900–$24,175). Overall                Evan Wood, Homes Away, Toronto                       ly focus, Boisclair includes Métro stations
     Pulito has been booking villas on the             portfolio: $$                                        42 properties (low season, $6,600–$21,750;           along with cafés and restaurants as re-
     island for 23 years and has owned a               Flogaus is familiar with all the particulars, in-    high season, $7,900–$40,000). Overall                quired nearby amenities for her listings (33-
     home there for 20. All properties come            cluding the views from each bedroom and              portfolio: $$$                                       1-44-92-00-84;;
     with private pools and daily housekeeping,        the walking distance to the nearest village.         Wood hunts down properties with charac-    
     and she knows each one intimately.                Her attention to detail also shows in how            ter and authenticity. Each villa includes a lo-
     Pulito can tell you which villas best             thoroughly she briefs clients. Flogaus rec-          cal host—an English-speaking longtime resi-          G R E AT B R I TA I N
     accommodate small children and whether            ommends Provence in June, when the vil-              dent of the region who is eager to share             Suzanne B. Cohen, Suzanne B.
     the walk from your villa to the beach             lage markets are not crowded and the                 insider advice and the hidden gems that              Cohen & Associates, Hallowell, Maine
     is sandy or rocky (508-533-1388;                  fields are dotted with bright red poppies—           you might otherwise miss. The host can               418 properties (low season, $639–$8,750;; villasin            the only thing missing, she notes, is the lav-       recommend restaurants, make reserva-                 high season, $925–$12,210). Overall                                    ender, which blooms in early July. Just              tions, take you to a favorite winery or              portfolio: $
                                                       France is best for self-sufficient travelers:        market, and arrange special events (pig              The two-night minimum for Cohen’s col-
     U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS                               There is no concierge, and only about half           roast, anyone?). Homes Away’s steep                  lection—which ranges from manor houses
     Nancy Anderson, McLaughlin                        the house managers speak English (610-               rates reflect the assistance you get not only        to lighthouses to flats in London and Bath—
     Anderson Luxury Villas, St. Thomas                407-9633;;              from the host but also from the house-               is welcome news to anyone interested in
     84 properties (low season, $1,300–$22,000;                                     keeper (all properties are cleaned daily)—           getting a brief taste of villa renting before
     high season, $1,500–$38,000). Overall                                                                  not to mention the attention to detail in            committing to a full week. She will steer
     portfolio: $$                                     Carolyn Grote, Ville et Village,                     the house book, which covers everything              you around the pitfalls, from homes with
     Anderson has lived on St. Thomas for              Berkeley, California                                 from how to ask “Do you have this in a               no shower curtains (or no showers at all)
     25 years, so she knows every road,                200 properties (low season, $1,000–$10,000;          size forty-four?” to ways to identify a hand-        to traffic fines: “Don’t park on the double
     beach, and restaurant on the island and           high season, $1,200–$16,000). Overall                rolled baguette (800-374-6637; evan@                 yellow line even if everyone else has”
     will share with you her favorite finds.           portfolio: $                               ;                       (207-622-0743; suzanne@villaeurope
     Each property, whether a studio cottage           Grote’s villas exude history and authentici-                                                              .com;
     or a ten-bedroom mansion, comes with              ty—which means you should not expect all             Paris
     access to a concierge who is accustomed           the comforts of home. In traditional Pro-            Gail Boisclair, PerfectlyParis, Paris                Alison Lowe, Exclusive Castle
     to providing five-star luxury: She was            vençal houses, for instance, headboards              38 properties (low season, $950–$2,430;              Rentals, Nottingham, England
     formerly with the Ritz-Carlton, St.               are uncommon: “Provençal bedrooms                    high season, $950–$2,430). Overall                   40 properties (from $8,000 per day). Overall
     Thomas, and can arrange anything                  usually have a more spare, Mediterranean             portfolio: $                                         portfolio: $$$$
     from in-villa massages to a decorated             style.” Another rarity is fancy gardens:             Boisclair’s listings are all in or near the artsy    Lowe represents only fully staffed castles
     Christmas tree (800-666-6246; nancy@              “Some clients dislike the look of a gravel           Montmartre neighborhood, where she her-              and manor houses, ranging from cozy; mclaughlin                courtyard and expect a manicured lawn or             self has lived for eight years. Most of the          and intimate to truly grand. She’ll send                                    a concrete patio.” The advantage of such             cozy apartments are in turn-of-the-century           you details on properties after figuring

     100                                                                                                                                                 C o n d E n a s t t r av E l E r / c n t r a v e l e r. c o m
                                                a ten-minute drive away from one, and                208-232-9760;;           countryside views and an English-speaking
        WORLDWIDE                               all have sea views and come with daily                                local contact. Mid-priced rentals come

                                                housekeeping. Although a concierge                                                                    with daily maid service and a local resident
                                                is always available, you might want to               Mykonos                                          who acquaints you with the area, intro-
                                                bring a guidebook, since Deimezi and                 Federico Arduino and Barbara                     duces you to the village butcher and bak-
                                                                                                     Menthonnex, Aqualiving, London
                                                Giannakopolous don’t leave house books                                                                er, and remains at your beck and call
                                                with local info in their villas (30-210-721-         60 properties (low season, $7,000–$30,000;       24/7 to make museum reservations or
                                                05530;;                      high season, $10,000–$50,000). Overall           provide tips on taking the kids to the sea-
                                                                       portfolio: $$$                                   shore. Top-end rentals include full-time
              GU I D E                                                                               Stark-white Cycladic architecture, private       staff to cater to your every whim (39-055-
                                                Ileana von Hirsch,                                   pools, and a touch of glamour character-         264-8029; ganichini@sanctuaryretreats
out exactly what you’re after, and can ar-      Five Star Greece, London                             ize Aqualiving’s villas, which are concen-       .com;
range every aspect of your vacation, from       50 properties (low season, $10,000–$50,000;          trated on Mykonos. The agency’s on-
a local guide to special services such as a     high season, $12,000–$50,000+). Overall              island reps spoil you from the moment            Countess Simonetta Brandolini
Harry Potter–themed tour by car or              portfolio: $$$$                                      they meet you at the airport to escort           d’Adda, The Best in Italy, Florence
helicopter. A night in a spectacular castle     Von Hirsch hails from one of Greece’s old-           you to your villa, sharing insider advice        60 properties (low season, $7,000–$40,000;
may cost a king’s ransom, but at least          est shipping families, and thanks to her so-         such as where to buy the freshest fish           high season, $11,000–$52,000). Overall
there’s no minimum stay (44-115-975-            cial connections, she has exclusive access           and which clubs are in vogue (44-207-            portfolio: $$$$
6979;; exclusive         to some of the country’s finest proper-              060-6244;;                Want to live like royalty? The countess has                             ties—from historic village homes to sprawl-                              exclusive access to some of Italy’s most lav-
                                                ing beachfront estates. Don’t try to view                                                             ish estates—the kind that come with stables
London                                          them on her Web site, though: Each prop-             IRELAND                                          and laundresses and museum-quality paint-
Ann Christ, Farnum & Christ,                    erty has its own password-protected Web              John Colclough,                                  ings. These fully staffed villas are owned by
Bristol, Tennessee                              page. After Von Hirsch speaks with you,              Adams & Butler, Dublin                           her friends, many of them local nobility.
22 properties (low season, $1,300–$3,500;       she’ll handpick up to ten suitable villas and        470 properties (low season, $630–$37,775;        Brandolini’s house books are practically
high season, $1,300–$3,500). Overall            send you the links. We love how conscien-            high season, $820–$37,775). Overall              works of art and detail each villa’s history
portfolio: $                                    tiously she discloses drawbacks and sug-             portfolio: $$                                    (down to the names of the ancestors in the


                                                                                                                                                              eL gouTe
                                                                                                                                      Near Marrakech: Moorish-style 4BR, 4BA home with gar-
                                                                                                                                      den, pool, Atlas Mountain views. Cook, daily housekeeping
                                                                                                                                      included. From $5,110/week with a 3-night mini-
                                              Torr e dI CLAv eL                                                                       mum. Contact Edward Marquis, The Villa Book.
                                                                                    ntory surrounded by the sea on
                                            t tower and adjacent buildings on promo
  Positano, Italy: Arrive by boat to ancien in 7BR, 6½BA. Multiple terraces, stairway to beach. Fully staffed, con-
  three sides. Carefree, casual seaside living
                                                                                  base Abroad.
                                         00/week. Contact Mara Solomon, Home
  cierge services included. From $26,5

Christ has been renting London flats for        gests alternatives: She’ll advise which is-          Whether your tastes run to a thatched            family portraits hanging in the halls). She’ll
more than 20 years and understands the          lands are best for avoiding the August               cottage or a historic castle still owned by      greet you at the villa herself with a mag-
importance of location in this sprawling        meltemi winds, and where non–party                   an aristocratic family, there’s sure to be       num of her family’s wine and keep in touch
city: All of her listings are in the most       animals can find refuge from the some-               something to suit your fancy among Col-          during your stay, offering to conjure up
desirable central neighborhoods. She            times pervasive noisy nightlife (44-20-              clough’s reasonably priced homes. His            anything from an invitation to the Palio in
steers clear of fussy accommodations with       8422-4885;;                friendships with many of his homeowners          Siena to an art history lecture at your villa
sky-high thread-count sheets in favor of                                 go back to his school days, ensuring exclu-      by a university professor (39-055-223-
those with low-key charm and comfort.                                                                sive access to stunning properties. As for       064;;
In addition to arranging for theater and        Ionian Islands                                       concierge services, he’ll work his multi-
concert tickets, she can get you a private      David Watrous, Greek Islands Club,                   tude of contacts to fulfill your every desire
tour of Parliament using her connections        Old Isleworth, England                               (353-1-2889355 or 800-894-5712;                  Suzanne B. Cohen, Suzanne B.
(800-366-2048;;          250 properties (low season, $700–$2,700;   ;          Cohen & Associates, Hallowell, Maine                             high season, $4,400–$7,100). Overall                                                                  232 properties (low season, $775–$42,600;
                                                portfolio: $                                         I TA LY                                          high season, $1,025–$56,700). Overall
GREECE                                          Watrous delights in the accessibility of life        Gaia Anichini,                                   portfolio: $$
Anna Deimezi and Dimitris                       on the smaller islands. “You strike up con-          Sanctuary Retreats, Florence                     No matter the size of your wallet, Cohen is
Giannakopolous,                                 versations with locals,” he says. “If you            42 properties (low season, $5,300–$26,500;       ready to help, since her collection includes
White Key Villas, Athens                        want to know what’s appetizing in a restau-          high season, $6,700–$29,000; two-week            affordable cottages and farmhouses and she
60 properties (low season, $5,070–$50,700;      rant, you go into the kitchen and lift pot           minimum for most properties). Overall            promises the lowest car-rental rates. Thanks
high season, $8,870–$63,360). Overall           lids.” Still, his villa priorities are privacy and   portfolio: $$$                                   to her warm relationships with villa owners,
portfolio: $$$                                  seclusion. His properties are about getting          This native Florentine knows Tuscany like        she can open doors you didn’t know exist-
These two Greek natives have sourced            away from it all, whether in a Corfu manor           her own backyard, and her house books            ed—offering you access to private art collec-
high-end properties that span the main-         house where no neighbors can be seen or              abound with insider tips such as where to        tions, for instance, or sending you to a
land and the islands, many concentrated         heard (despite nearby nightlife) or a cot-           find the singing butcher of Chianti or the       perfumer for a custom scent—and her res-
on the Peloponnese peninsula and in             tage on tiny Antipaxos (population 20). He           best pecorino maker. She represents villas       taurant tips are invaluable. She’ll even
the Cyclades. A lot of their homes are          provides 24-hour concierge service, and              with three levels of service. The least ex-      suggest a no-menu eatery where “Mama
beachfront, the rest are no more than           most homes come with a rental car (44-               pensive have, at minimum, unobstructed           cooks, grown sons serve, and Papa brews

102                                                                                                                                           C o n d E n a s t t r av E l E r / c n t r a v e l e r. c o m
      the grappa” (207-622-0743; suzanne@                     20 properties (low season, $840–$23,200;            0000;;;                      high season, $1,100–$29,000). Overall                                            WORLDWIDE
                                                              portfolio: $$
      Mara Solomon, Homebase Abroad,                          Grisdale knows her villas so well that she          Tu s c a n y
      Scituate, Massachusetts                                 can tell you what flowers are planted in            Carol and David Ross,

      55 properties (low season, $6,500–$113,100;             which part of the garden and, if a church is        Sophisticated Italy, Milan
      high season, $9,800–$141,400). Overall                  nearby, how often you’ll hear the bells toll.       45 properties (low season, $1,900–$40,000;
      portfolio: $$$                                          A Brit who’s lived on Lake Como for 18              high season, $3,500–$40,000). Overall
      The worldly owners of Solomon’s staffed                 years, Grisdale fills her house books with          portfolio: $$
      houses tend to be restorers and designers               such terrific tips—from local recipes to road-      Former American diplomats who served                             GU IDE
      with a strong personal aesthetic. These are             sign translations—that clients ask to pur-          in Italy, the Rosses have lived there for
      well-loved homes, lived in by the owners                chase them. Her Web site is intentionally           30 years now—long enough to become              apartments in old palazzi. Early-morning
      much of the year, so they have a distinct               spare: She prefers to ask questions and,            not only friends with local villa owners        noise from boats isn’t a worry: Corsile
      sense of place. Solomon will get to know                based on your answers, selects four to eight        but also award-winning travel agents spe-       selects waterside apartments on canals
      you and your tastes and sensibilities well              villas and sends photos (39-031-952-059;            cializing in Italy. You might hear from         too narrow for large boats to pass
      enough to make the right match. And,          ;             them several times during your stay (they       through. You won’t find info about individ-
      thanks to her photographic memory and co-                                                                   check in to answer questions and make           ual apartments on her Web site; after
      pious villa-inspection notes, she can tell you          Rome                                                sure you have everything you need).             an initial consultation over the phone,
      whether the trees surrounding the pool are              Patrice Salezze, Papavero Villa                     Headed through Milan? The Rosses often          she’ll send links to the Web pages of
      pear, plum, or fig, and what type of local              Rentals, Schnecksville, Pennsylvania                meet up with clients there, taking them to      the properties she deems most suitable
      wood the kitchen table is carved from. As               33 properties (low season, $1,385–$8,265;           the opera or for a round of golf (39-02-        (617-472-5392;;
      for excursions, she’ll send gelato lovers to a          high season $1,800–$8,265). Overall                 3652-1621;; 
      farm that makes buffalo-milk ice cream and              portfolio: $$                             
      motorcycle buffs on a back-roads tour on                Salezze has stayed in each and every one                                                            S PA I N
      antique Vespas (trailed by a mechanic). One             of her 33 Rome apartments over her mul-             Ve n i c e                                      Mary Vaira, El Sol Villas,
      caveat in Tuscany: Although your villa’s un-            tiple visits to the city every year, so she         Denise Corsile, Venice Rentals,                 Wayne, Pennsylvania
      marred views will be of countryside that has            knows them all from a guest’s perspective.          Quincy, Massachusetts                           200 properties (low season, $2,000–
      not changed for centuries, the rough dirt               Her centrally located flats (many near the          60 properties (low and high season, $850–       $32,000; high season, $2,500–$85,000).
      road to the property might not have                     Spanish Steps) are a great base for sight-          $6,500). Overall portfolio: $                   Overall portfolio: $$
      changed either (781-639-4040; info@home                 seeing, and their friendly, welcoming               Based in Venice eight months of the year        With accommodations ranging from casi-;                    owners are the icing on the torta. A chat           and married to a Venetian, Corsile knows        tas to castles, Vaira has something for ev-
                                                              with Salezze provides a valuable introduc-          her properties—and the local culture.           eryone and will also book day tours and,
      Lake District                                           tion to Rome, but for a more up-close               She’ll share tips on shopping protocol at       for a fee, entire itineraries. She sends
      Andrea Grisdale,                                        look, she can arrange sightseeing tours             fruit vendors and how to drink espresso         foodies to San Sebastián or Barcelona, and
      IC Bellagio, Bellagio, Italy                            with her handpicked guides (866-737-                like a native. Many of her properties are       suggests that traditionalists consider her

                                                                              $200/                                                                   Under
                                                                              room                                                                    $200/

                      vILLA ALLe roSe                                                            old sch ool                                                           villa vista precios a
                                                                            Dorset, England: Quaint 3BR, 2BA
   Near Florence: Dynamic decor in 4BR, 5BA 15th-century                                                                forme
                                                                            Brick facade, tiled roof, enclosed garden, gourm r schoolhouse.          Playa Ocotal, Costa Rica: 8BR, 8BA home overlooking the Pa-
   property. Fireplaces, pool, cypress and olive trees, cook, house-        Aga stove. From $1,231/week. Conta et kitchen with                       cific Ocean. Local furnishings, infinity pool with hot tub and
   keeper. From $15,000/week. Contact Simonetta Bran-                       Suzanne B. Cohen & Associates.                ct Suzanne Cohen,          waterfall, full staff. All-inclusive. From $8,400/week. Con-
   dolini d’Adda, The Best in Italy.                                                                                                                 tact Heather Mahaffey, Costa Rican Rentals.

                                                                                                           InfInITy                                                  la ferme des anges
                                                                                                                                                      Provence: Classic 7BR, 7BA Provençal estate on 7 acres with
                        Paro s 10d                                                 Mykonos: 5BR, 5BA hilltop property with complete pri-              vineyards, olive trees, rose garden, tennis court, pool/pool house.
Paros, Greece: Spacious outdoor living in 7BR,                                     vacy and panoramic Aegean views. Walk to the beach.                Live-in housekeeper, concierge services. From $20,200/
                                                7BA villa a short
path away from the beach. Mediterranean                                            French and Italian antiques, infinity pool, live-in staff. From    week. Contact Evan Wood, HomesAway.
twist. Cactus garden, pool. Daily housek decor with a modern                       $14,950/week. Contact Federico Arduino or Barbara
upon request. Contact Ileana von Hirsch
                                           eeping, cook. rates
                                            , Five Star Greece.                    Menthonnex, Aqualiving.

      junE 2009                                                                                                                                                                                                103
                                         ; carpediem                    room

        VILLA                                      Adam Coats, Sanctuary Retreats,
                                                   Cheltenham, England

                                                   57 properties (low season, $3,655–$77,034;
                                                   high season, $8,220–$109,742). Overall
                                                   portfolio: $$$
                                                   If Mediterranean sun, a private pool, and
              GU I D E                             serious pampering are on your agenda,
                                                   Coats’s villas in France, Spain, and Croatia
cortijos near Andalusia’s historic white           will fit the bill. You’ll find renovated old
towns (610-687-9066; info@elsolvillas              stone fincas in southern Spain and more
.com;                            modern villas on the Côte d’Azur; the
                                                   common thread running through all of his
Mallorca                                           properties is a high standard of luxury. You
Solveig Thomas, Mallorca                           can book the home only or arrange for                                                Thre e BeAr S hIde AwAy
                                                                                                                                                            30 secluded acres near Bridger Bowl
Farmhouses, Reading, England                       Sanctuary Retreats’ “hosted” service,                          Montana: Cozy 4BR, 4½BA home on
                                                                                                                                                             ce, Western artwork and furnishings,
189 properties (low season, $600–$14,029;          which includes daily housekeeping, a local                     ski area. Log cabin feel with stone firepla          Lisa Orr, Mountain Home.
                                                                                                                  magnificent views. From $3,295/week. Contact
high season, $1,905–$22,000). Overall              host who’ll provide a welcome supper
portfolio: $                                       and a tour of the area, and concierge ser-
As the company name implies, Thomas’s              vices during your stay (630-725-3449;
roster consists mainly of rustic farmhous-; sanctuary
es, all on Ibiza’s sleepier cousin. The  
homes are unstaffed and concierge service                                                            cierge team in her Los Cabos office is              from classic ranch homes to Tuscan-style
is limited, but her comprehensive house                N O R T H        A M E R I C A                available around the clock. Want to char-           villas; some properties even have vine-
books provide authentic regional recipes                                                             ter a fishing boat, swim with dolphins, or          yards. Her relationships with the local vint-
as well as a rundown of the island’s best          C o S TA R I C A                                  have a mariachi band play at your villa?            ners mean that she can arrange for lunch
beaches and advice on which local wines            Playa ocotal                                      She’ll make it happen (800-745-2226;                in a wine cave, a painting lesson in a vine-
to try. Thomas will point active people            Heather Mahaffey, Costa Rican           ;              yard, or a special tasting with a winemaker
who want great scenery to the north                Rentals, Richmond Hill, Georgia                                                                       (800-495-9961;;
of the island, families or those wanting           6 properties (low season, $3,150–$26,460;         U N I T E D S TAT E S                     
restaurants and nightlife to the south.            high season, $3,500–$29,260). Overall             California
Most properties are available April                portfolio: $$                                     Peter Cheasley,                                     Hawaii
through October only, since they’re                Mahaffey is up-to-date with the still-forming     Luxury Retreats, Montreal                           Irene Ann Aroner,
occupied by the owners in winter (44-              villa-rental scene in Costa Rica, and her         21 properties (low season, $2,765–$18,000;          Tropical Villa Vacations, Maui
118-9187-603;;                carefully chosen all-inclusive villas offer       high season, $3,360–$18,000). Overall               45 properties (low season, $2,450–$59,500;                                   great value: You pay based on the number          portfolio: $$                                       high season, $2,450–$70,000). Overall
                                                   of people, and the price includes a full-time     Names once found within some of Cheas-              portfolio: $$$
M U LT I P L E C o U N T R I E S                   maid, a cook, and all food and drink. Fami-       ley’s posh Palm Springs properties: Sina-           Having spent more than a decade as a
Marina Gratsos, Carpe Diem Luxury                  lies enjoy the ease of staying in these homes     tra, Monroe. Names currently found in               concierge at various Four Seasons hotels,
Travel Ltd., London                                and having Mahaffey arrange child-friendly        most of them: Sub-Zero, Frette. A three-            Aroner brings an obsessive attention to
25 properties (low season, $12,000–$80,000;        day-trips and excursions. Playa Ocotal is far     night minimum makes these houses ideal              detail to her property evaluations and cus-
high season, $15,000–$100,000). Overall            enough from major tourist areas that its          for a long-weekend getaway, and if the              tomer service. She uses the most stringent
portfolio: $$$$                                    beaches are nearly empty, but if you crave        hundreds of nearby golf courses are the             criteria in selecting houses and performs
Seeking an over-the-top experience (say,           resort-style amenities, golf is within driving    main draw for you, Cheasley can offer               regular inspections. As befits her back-
an estate on a private island) or something        distance and spa treatments can be done at        knowledgeable recommendations on                    ground, Aroner offers extensive concierge
specific (an Austrian palace) but don’t            your villa (800-569-2688; reserve@costa           which courses to hit—and can schedule               services, such as arranging for a private
know where to look? Gratsos is your      ;         the best tee times (877-993-0100, ext.              dinner on the beach or yoga instruction
problem solver. If none of the 25 fully                                                              230;; luxury               at your villa (888-875-2818, ext. 203;
staffed gems to which she has exclusive            MEXICo                                                              ; tropical
access are right for you, she will use her         Los Cabos                                                                                   
aristocratic connections to track down             Julie Byrd, Earth, Sea & Sky                      Liza Graves, BeautifulPlaces,
the perfect fit. Since her owner friends           Vacations, Watsonville, California                Sonoma, California                                  Anne Pawsat-Dressler,
demand privacy, these villas cannot be             140 properties (low season, $1,890–$36,000;       30 properties (low season, $4,900–$35,000;          Hawaii Hideaways, Maui
viewed on her Web site. Contact Gratsos            high season, $2,100–$52,500). Overall             high season, $6,125–$49,000). Overall               150 properties (low season, $7,350–$54,500;
and, after an initial consultation, she will       portfolio: $$                                     portfolio: $$                                       high season, $8,000–$72,000). Overall
select suitable properties and provide links       Byrd’s villas come with ocean views, a            Oenophiles will love Graves’s listings in           portfolio: $$$
to their Web pages (44-20-7402-5330;               pool, and daily housekeeping, and the con-        California’s wine country, which range              Pawsat-Dressler’s sumptuous beachfront
                                                                                                                                                         Hawaiian villas come with the latest and
                                                                                                                                                         greatest amenities (Bosch appliances,
                                                                                                                                                         HDTV, iPod docks) and a 24-hour con-
                                                                                                                                                         cierge who can line up everything from a
                                                                                                                                                         private heli-hiking tour of Molokai to a
                                                                                                                                                         pedicurist who makes house calls. Pawsat-
                                                                                                                                                         Dressler, who lives on Maui, combines
                                                                                                                                                         intimate knowledge of the islands with a
                                                                                                                                                         type-A efficiency born of a Yale education
                                                                                                                                                         and years spent in the Northeast (808-
                                                                                                                                                         Lisa Orr, Mountain Home,
                                                                                                                                                         Bozeman, Montana
                                                                                                                                                         65 properties (low season, $795–$5,250; high
                                                                                                                                                         season, $945–$7,095). Overall portfolio: $
                                                                                                                                                         If your reaction to log cabins and cattle
                                                                                                                                                         ranches is “Yee-ha!” you’ll love these Mon-
                      villa cortez                                                                  mille fleurs                                         tana properties with log-post beds and
  Los Cabos, Mexico: Sea views from 5BR, 6BA oceanfront ha-                  St. Martin: Colonial-style 4BR, 4BA oasis with sunset and ocean
  cienda next to a Jack Nicklaus–designed golf course. Pool, patio           views and infinity pool on 2.5 lush acres of landscaped tropical            back-porch views of wide-open spaces.
  with fire pit. Daily housekeeping. From $10,395/week.                      gardens. From $5,800/week. Contact Marilyn Pulito, Villas                   None are staffed, and you’ll need to rustle
  Contact Julie Byrd, Earth, Sea & Sky Vacations.                            in Paradise.                                                                up your own reservations for horseback
                                                                                                                                                         riding or river-rafting trips, but Orr is hap-
                                                                                                                                                         py to recommend the best outfitters. She’ll

104                                                                                                                                              C o n d E n a s t t r av E l E r / c n t r a v e l e r. c o m
                                                                                               AFRICA:                                  Under
also advise you on when to go: late spring        35 properties (low season, $1,500–$30,000;                                            $200/
for wildlife lovers (since elk and bison are      high season, $2,250–$48,000). Overall        S a f a r i Vi l l a s                    room
giving birth in Yellowstone and the park’s        portfolio: $$                                Cherri Briggs, Explore,
not yet crowded) and autumn for fly-fish-         His staffed properties, mostly in or near    Inc., Steamboat Springs,
ing (800-550-4589; info@mountain-home             Marrakech, range from riads in the           Colorado
.com;                         heart of the medina to casbahs in the        30 properties (low season,
                                                  countryside to contemporary villas in        $10,585–$50,890; high season,
Wa s h i n g t o n                                the Palmeraie. All are selected for their    $14,860–$50,890). Overall
Denise McIntosh, Windermere                       peace and quiet—even those only a few        portfolio: $$$
Vacation Rentals, Friday Harbor,                  minutes from the most bustling market-       Looking to mix the adventure
Washington                                        place. Marquis will give you the scoop       of a safari experience with the
77 properties (low season, $675–$11,250;          on unfamiliar menu items (such as pigeon     privacy and family-friendliness
high season, $750–$15,000). Overall               pie) and can provide concierge services,     of a villa? Briggs knows the
portfolio: $                                      including arranging for a belly dance        most spectacular sites to enjoy
Can’t imagine a vacation without a cook           performance in your casbah (44-845-          the best of both worlds. The
or a pool? Then the San Juan Islands are          500-2000;;           fully staffed properties, in six
not for you. But if a low-key week of bik-                           countries throughout East and
ing, hiking, kayaking, and whale watching                                                      Southern Africa, are located
is what floats your boat, McIntosh will put       AFRICA: South Africa                         on game reserves—many affili-                               les fonta ines
you in the right spot and point you toward        Therese Botha, Icon Villas, Cape             ated with A-list safari lodges            Provence: Delightful 18th-century mas (farmho
the right outfitters. She won’t book activi-      Town, South Africa                           with whom she has clout.                  with 4BR, 3½BA. Contemporary decor, large
ties or make reservations, but she’ll share       300 properties (low season, $700–$10,500;    Briggs spends half the year in            den, pool with pool house. from $5,225/week
                                                                                                                                         Contact Annie Flogaus, Just France.
the must-dos and must-sees; for instance,         high season, $1,050–$38,450). Overall        Africa and is a safari expert, so
she’ll direct you to the best location for        portfolio: $$                                she can advise you not only on
watching orcas frolic—assuming your               Whether your ideal villa vacation centers    the villas themselves (all of
timing is right (800-391-8190; denise@            around cities, beaches, or golf, Botha’s     which she’s stayed in) but also; windermerevacation             got you covered with her broad range         on when and where to go to see the wild-        high season, $1,880–$6,270). Overall                                     of properties. Most are in Cape Town and     life you’re interested in (888-596-6377;        portfolio: $$
                                                  its environs, but several are scattered;     These properties, mostly in and around
    O T H E R        R E g I O N s                throughout the country. Her in-house                                                         Queenstown, range from luxe city apart-
                                                  concierge, on call 24/7, can arrange ex-     NEW ZEALAND                                     ments to country hideaways and private
AFRICA: Morocco                                   cursions from whale-watching to shark-       Jacqui Spice, Touch of Spice,                   island rentals—all featuring modern fur-
Edward Marquis,                                   cage diving (27-21-461-0310; therese@        Queenstown, New Zealand                         nishings and five-star luxury. The contacts
The Villa Book, London                  ;       27 properties (low season, $1,460–$5,225;       Spice has amassed from living in the city
                                                                                                                                               mean that her 24/7 concierge service
                                                                                                                                               can arrange anything you’d like, from an
                                                                                                                                               in-house ski boot fitting in winter to a win-
                                                                                                                                               ery tour during the summer months (64-

                                                                                                                                                         w O R l d w I d E

                                                                                                                                                Maxine Harrison, Elysian Holidays,
                                                                                                                                                Tenterden, England
                                                                                                                                                330 properties (low season, $825–$27,400;
                                                                                                                                                high season, $2,100–$70,450). Overall
                                                                                                                                                portfolio: $$
                                                                                                                                                The countries on Harrison’s list practically
                                                                                                                                                encircle the Mediterranean and dot the
                                                                                                                                                rest of the globe (Brazil, Thailand, and
                                                                                                                                                Tobago, to name a few). She’s lived in
                                                                                                                                                many of the locations where she repre-
                                                                                                                                                sents homes, and her contacts allow her
                                                                                                                                                clients to experience the local culture.
                                                                                                                                                All properties are chosen for their region-
                                                                                                                                                al character, and better still, Harrison
                                                                                                                                                knows which have owners and staff who
                                                  Mas ia stefano                                                 a                              are likely to invite guests to celebrate the
                                                                                on 5 acres. Dining room was once
                                                7BA fortified masia (farmhouse)                                                                 local holidays with them (44-15-8076-
  Catalonia, Spain: Panoramic views from 6BR,                             Contact Mary Vaira, El Sol Villas.
                                   Pool, fireplace. from $10,400/week.                                                                          6599;;
  13th-century Benedictine chapel.

                                                                                                                                                Sylvia Delvaille Jones,
                                                                                                                                                Villas and Apartments Abroad,
                                                                                                                                                New York, New York
      Under                                                                                                                                     300 properties (low season, $5,000–
       $200/                                                                                                                                    $300,000; high season, $7,000–$400,000).
                                                                                                                                                Overall portfolio: $$$
                                                                                                                                                Jones has Europe and the Caribbean well
                                                                                                                                                covered, with a select few properties scat-
                                                                                                                                                tered on four other continents. Her list-
                                                                                                                                                ings, with a focus on larger, high-end prop-
                                                                                                                                                erties, range from Caribbean beachfront
                                                                                                                                                cottages to a Tuscan estate that can sleep
                                                                                                                                                up to 100. She’s especially attuned to
                                                                                                                                                multi-generational families’ needs and
                                                                                                                                                will guide you to a child-safe house (com-
                                                                                                                                                plete with sturdy banisters) in a location
                                                                                                                                                with plenty of activities to keep all ages
                            il refugi o                                                    wailea sunset estate                                 occupied. Her regional concierges can
      Tuscany: Elegant 17th-century 6BR, 5BA home with 2 fireplac-               Maui: Spacious beachfront 3BR, 4½BA home                       pull off just about any feat: She once ar-
      es, gourmet kitchen, pool with pool house, gardens, grapevines,            with Old Hawaii decor, pool, hot tub, outdoor fire             ranged to have an opera staged at one of
      woodlands. Daily housekeeping. From $7,500/week. Con-                      pit. From $10,500/week. Contact Irene Ann                      her Italian homes (212-213-6435; villas@
      tact Suzanne B. Cohen, Suzanne B. Cohen & Associates.                      Aroner, Tropical Villa Vacations.

junE 2009                                                                                                                                                                               105
      Old SAN JUAN / villA reNTAlS
      An abandoned hospital became a fine arts           cians, playing elbow to elbow, the trombone
      school; a convent became the Hotel El Con-         nearly hitting the heads of the singers.
      vento, still the city’s best (it had been sched-      When the music stops, the air outside is
      uled for the wrecking ball in the 1950s, until     comfortably warm and the streetlights give
      Alegría convinced city officials that a park-      off a soft glow. It’s well past midnight, but
      ing lot might be better located elsewhere).        the streets are as busy as in the middle of the
         Over the years the pace of the renewal          day, and despite the hour, there is no drunk-
      picked up dramatically, with the last aban-        en sloppiness. We seek out a view of the wa-
      doned houses now undergoing renovation.            ter and the illuminated fortresses. “Take ad-
      As many as ten cruise ships can berth in the       vantage of the romance here,” a Florida man
      harbor, although looking down from my              chides us. “If not, shame on you.”
      hotel roof, I could hardly imagine it—four            A few days later, as I rush downstairs at
      of them took up a monstrous amount of              Da House Hotel to head for the airport,
      space. A revitalized restaurant scene on           the young receptionist urges me to relax,
      Calle Fortaleza, which began with the Par-         explaining that an hour and a half is more
      rot Club in 1996, has popularized Nuevo            than enough time to make a plane in San
      Latino cuisine and sent local chef Roberto         Juan. He carries my bag down two flights of
      Treviño, who cooked at both the Parrot             stairs. (The hotel, a former monastery, has
      Club and Aguaviva, to challenge Mario              no elevator.) The street is quiet, with signs
      Batali on Iron Chef America (sadly, his cat-       of the previous night’s party in the piles of
      fish seviche lost). In these chic new spots,       trash on the cobblestones, and no radio
      the martini usurps the piña colada, the            taxi. The young man waits with me. It takes
      city’s claim to cocktail fame since 1963.          a moment, but even without his hat I rec-

                                                         ognize him—it’s Wilfredo, the singer in the
             NLY SEVEN STREETS BY SEV-                   salsa band. “Yeah,” he says, pleased at the
             en, Old San Juan is small enough to be      recognition. “That was a good night. We
             walked end to end in twenty-five min-       were jammin’.”
      utes, so after a few days, I began to know peo-
      ple. On a Friday night, in the alley Callejón
      de la Capilla, outside the Nuyorican Café,
                                                                 Villa Rentals
                                                                  (Continued from page 98)
      my husband and I run into a Midwestern
      couple we’d met at a hotel cocktail hour. We       Baie Rouge, for a whopping $1,807 per
      stand together drinking beer from plastic          night.
      cups, waiting for it to get late enough for the       For $798 per night, however, I don’t think
      salsa band to begin. We are too old to con-        I could have done better than Starfish. My
      sider most of the other clubs, like the Milk       family was more than happy to put up with
      or the Pink Skirt, which sucks in crowds of        a few passersby on the beach in exchange for
      local girls in miniskirts followed by strutting    the convenience of having several restau-
      guys in untucked button-down shirts.               rants, a beach bar, a small grocery store, and
         Here in the alley, a crowd of all ages          the activities of Oyster Pond Marina only
      ebbs and flows. Finally, we take our seats         a short walk away, and we sacrificed noth-
      in the cavernous Nuyorican Café, and the           ing in the way of comfort. Our villa’s gleam-
      salsa singer, Wilfredo, in matching cream-         ing kitchen was outfitted with all manner of
      colored vest and newsboy cap, impatiently          gourmet touches, from stainless steel Viking
      urges his band onto the stage. His casual          appliances to a custom-built wine cooler.
      group is barely assembled when he signals          The living room had a 50-inch flat-screen
      a young woman wearing thick eyeliner, a            TV with a gazillion channels, surround
      pouf skirt, and work boots to begin shak-          sound, and a DVD player, as well as a dining
      ing her beaded chekere in that familiar syn-       area with a formal glass table and seating
      copated beat. With the salsa under way, the        for eight. Each bedroom had an enormous
      dance floor fills with couples who, once they      closet, a 32-inch flat-screen TV, and a sleek
      find an empty spot, seem to flip a switch that     en suite bathroom. The pool terrace had six
      sets their hips rotating, as if they were born     overstuffed chaise longues, four huge arm-
      to move this way.                                  chairs, and a dining table with eight more
         Our friends do a basic cha-cha they             chairs, yet it was so spacious that the fur-
      learned in Michigan. My husband and I              niture seemed to disappear entirely. One of
      finally put down our Heinekens and find            our favorite touches was an outdoor shower
      space in the back to dance. Nobody pays            (for washing off sand) that opened into the
      any attention as we shuffle away, putting the      indoor shower attached to the master bed-
      accent on different wrong beats, because           room. Mid-pool was a sunken gazebo—
      salsa dancing is not sport but something all       accessible via a little walkway from the ter-
      Puerto Ricans do at family parties. By now,        race—where you could lounge on pillows,
      the small stage has filled with nine musi-         enjoying a cocktail and the ocean view, yet

126                                                             C o n d E n a s t t r av E l E r / c n t r a v e l e r. c o m
remain dry and shaded from the sun. The          ager, Dad is the chef, and Daughter is the          says gastro journalist Keren Tsur, over Orna
sand-colored travertine floors both indoors      hostess and—thanks to her stage presence            and Ella’s legendary sweet potato pancakes.
and out meant that the only thing distin-        and beauty—the floor show, too. And ev-                Neighborhood places such as Orna
guishing the interior from the terrace and       ery detail of our spectacular dinner there—         and Ella—and Café Noir, with its trade-
the beach was a glass wall, and when you         from the puff pastry that topped the lob-           mark schnitzel—have a devoted clientele:
looked through it from the living room or        ster bisque like a beret and the homemade           The food is one attraction, the famously
the master bedroom, the glorious view was        fruit-flavored rums to the lush vegetation          handsome waiters another. Israeli chefs
of nothing but pool, sand, and sea.              embellishing the wraparound terrace—left            are creating a mod-Med style utilizing the
   St. Martin/Sint Maarten may not have          us swooning. Marilyn Pulito knows these             country’s dazzling produce and mosaic of
the cachet of more exclusive islands, but we     families, of course, as well as exactly which       cuisines. “Israeli cuisine is new and has de-
found plenty to do and, thanks to Marilyn        restaurants to recommend depending on               veloped quickly because it’s an immigrant
Pulito’s insider advice, managed to do most      the occasion. Indeed, every one of her food         cuisine. Israelis are adapters, they learn
everything on just the right day and at just     suggestions—where to dine, which super-             fast. They traveled and learned to appre-
the right time, avoiding logistical pitfalls     market to shop at, what staples to bring with       ciate good wines, fine cheese. They under-
such as traffic jams and parking problems.       us on the plane—was spot-on.                        stand these things now,” says Keren.
We made day-trips by ferry to both Anguil-          We did a lot on St. Martin/Sint Maarten,            The third paradox is that Israel can be a
la (a 20-minute ride from the French capital     yet we barely scratched the surface. There          macho, sexist society, yet Tel Aviv is home
of Marigot) and St. Barts (a 45-minute ride      was no time for sailing the Americas Cup            to a substantial gay and lesbian commu-
from Oyster Pond). We zip-lined through          yacht, snagging deals on duty-free cameras          nity. That nurtures a sexually ambiguous,
the rain forest at Loterie Farm, a nature        and watches in Philipsburg, scuba diving            charged atmosphere, especially in the sum-
preserve atop Paradise Peak, where there         with Aqua Mania Adventures, day-trip-               mer months. Each year, tens of thousands
are three ropes courses: one for kids, one for   ping to the island of Saba, dining at famed         attend the Gay Pride Parade, which lasts
adults, and one extreme. At La Ferme des         Grand Case establishments Le Pressoir               all day and ends in a giant beach party. All
Papillons, we held butterflies on our fingers    and L’Auberge Gourmande. Clearly I’ll               of which is another reason not all of Israel
and watched several take wing for the first      have to convince my family to go back. It           loves Tel Aviv. The spirit of The Bubble
time. We signed on for one of local legend       won’t be hard.                                      was best captured in the film of the same
Captain Alan’s boat trips to St. Martin’s        For more St. Martin/Sint Maarten recom-             name directed by Eytan Fox. Much of
uninhabited outer islands, including Pi-         mendations and useful Web links, go to my           The Bubble takes place on Sheinkin Street.
nel, where we snorkeled and hand-fed fish,       blog (, scroll down to “Top-         Three twentysomething friends decide to
and Tintamarre, where we slathered age-          ics Covered,” and click on “Caribbean.”
old volcanic mud all over our bodies. We
hung out with the plane spotters on Maho
Beach—which sits at the end of the runway
                                                               Tel Aviv
                                                          (Continued from page 93)
at Princess Juliana International Airport—
watching in awe as 747s and A340s zoomed         percent for 2009. Tel Aviv property prices
past, just a few dozen feet overhead, right      are also declining, although they’re still
before landing.                                  high in comparison with the country’s aver-
   What’s nice about French St. Martin is        age wage of $23,000 a year. A three-room,
that if you’re seeking authentic island cul-     1,500-square-foot downtown apartment
ture, you can find that, too. The village of     near the beach goes for about $700,000.
Grand Case (a 20-minute drive from Oys-              The second paradox is that Tel Aviv was
ter Pond) throws a homespun street festi-        founded by ascetic Zionist pioneers but is
val called Harmony Nights every Tuesday          now one of the world’s most pleasure-seek-
from January through March. It features          ing cities. In its early years, there were plenty
local artisans selling crafts made from na-      of cafés serving coffee and cakes to German
tive woods and plants, sensuous rhythms          and Austrian immigrants, sweating in their
from local bands, and a small-town parade        suits, pining for Berlin and Vienna, but few
of stilt walkers and costumed, dancing chil-     luxury restaurants. For a long time after the
dren. You can find traditional island food       establishment of the state in 1948, there was
in Grand Case at its lolos—open-air water-       little food culture. Meat and even fresh eggs
front shacks serving barbecued snapper,          were an expensive treat. Israel was virtually
conch sausage, and the like—but the best         a one-party quasi-Socialist state. Bourgeois
homegrown fare we had was the melt-in-           pleasures were frowned upon. Meals were
your-mouth seafood at Lee’s Roadside Grill       fuel, taken quickly. No longer, I discover
in Simpson Bay and the Caribbean special-        the next day at Orna and Ella, a restaurant
ties at Loterie Farm’s Hidden Forest Café,       on Sheinkin Street, the hub of The Bubble
an après-zip-line must. Haute cuisine is part    and Tel Aviv’s hip, sexy heart. Outside the
of the local culture (many consider French       window, a parade of tanned, pierced beau-
St. Martin to be the Caribbean’s culinary        ties of both sexes stroll by. “Israel is a young
capital); so are the families who have owned     country—we’re not like France or Italy,
and run the island’s finest restaurants for      where food is part of the culture and they are
years. At Mont Vernon’s romantic Sol é           very proud of it. Dealing with food, and the
Luna inn, for instance, Mom is the man-          joy of food, was considered something bad,”

JunE 2009                                                                                                                                     127