Caribbean & Bermuda The Exceptional, Attainable Escape: There’s More To A Villa Stay Than You Can Possibly Imagine

There’s an insider’s vacation secret that those in the know hardly want to share, and for good reason. It explains how erudite travelers seem to have such impossibly perfect vacations—luxurious accommodations overlooking breathtaking panoramic views, private sunset dinners at a moment’s notice, sparkling cerulean infinity pools without another soul in sight and impeccable service that is truly intuitive.

This secret is well known at Andrew Harper Travel, and now we’re ready to share it with the world: staying at a villa is not only an exceptional vacation experience, it’s also a very attainable one. Let’s dive into both sides of that confidential claim to show you exactly what we mean.

Your Own Private Sanctuary

Imagine winding through the narrow streets of southern Italy, arriving to your seaside accommodations after an unhurried day of exploration. There are no check-in times, no waiting in line and no wristbands to wear. Vibrant fuchsia flowers spill over sun-bleached stone walls framing the private entrance. Inside your elegant master suite, golden light pours in through soaring picture windows. From the formal dining room to the full kitchen, posh living areas and expansive, sun-drenched terrace, you are the first—and only—guests.

Where some hotel rooms feel like luxurious apartments, villas feel like sumptuous palaces. Even if your hotel has fantastic amenities, you’ll still have to share them with other guests. At a villa, it’s all yours. No waiting for fitness equipment, no squeezing next to strangers in the sauna, and no rushing down to the beach to lay claim to the last sunbed. Enjoy space to stretch out and truly relax. Swim in the pristine pool all to yourselves. Greet the sunrise on your oceanfront balcony wearing just a robe without fear of being seen by other guests.


“Guests love the fantasy of staying in an exotic Moroccan villa on seven acres of hilltop gardens and leaving the real world behind. We get a lot of ‘Type A’ guests. The first three days, they want to do everything. But by the third day, the serenity and beauty of their surroundings sets in. And by the fifth day, they are just so relaxed, they don’t want to move. ”

– Tatiana Copeland, Toucan Hill 

Unique Retreats

If you want to accumulate truly astounding travel stories, along with the stunning photos to corroborate them, villas should top your dream list. And if the word “villa” immediately conjures images of Italy, you’re in for an exhilarating awakening.

Villa properties aren’t all sunny stucco estates nestled in rolling Tuscan hillsides, although you can certainly find several like this in Andrew Harper Travel’s list of partners, if that’s what you’re seeking. They come in any number of architectural styles—fairytale French chateaus, exotic overwater bungalows, remote estates—all nestled within the world’s most captivating landscapes. These private properties are sometimes hidden in the middle of a region’s most popular attractions, giving you both easy access as well as an oasis to escape to. Alternatively, other villas are perched in remote areas, allowing you to venture deep into largely uninhabited territories.

Furthermore, many villa estates boast unparalleled historical acclaim, like the Italian palace of Villa Sola Cabiati on the shores of Lake Como. Once the home of Charles II, king of Naples, and later the summer residence of Duke Gabrio Serbelloni, the romantic touches of its Belle Époque visage—gold-encrusted gates, intricate marble details and swirling gardens reminiscent of Versailles—hearken back to an era when decadence knew no bounds. Unwind like royalty with personalized service by a full team of dedicated staff, including a villa manager, butler, chambermaid and housekeeper.

Lodging options encompass more than archetypal mansions, too. Stay on the highest point of the private island of Mustique at Toucan Hill, a Moroccan estate in the Caribbean archipelago of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; or find your own slice of paradise at Dolphin Island, a stunning 14-acre private island retreat in Fiji. From Indonesian treehouses to Alpine lodges, Apulian trulli
and even Dalmatian coast castles, villas are infinitely unique.


“A day on the villa’s boat opens the door to a world of opportunity which may start with someone’s first surf lesson or scuba diving with giant manta rays. Guests may also choose to see more of Costa Rica by means of a journey across the country by helicopter. A flight usually includes a sweep over Arenal Volcano and perhaps a touch down for a jump in the waterfall. Or use the helicopter bicycle racks to get dropped high on the volcano and be back at the villa in time for sunset cocktails.”  

– Patrick Callahan, Villa Manzu

Sensible Yet Sumptuous

Private pools, pampered service, lush environs—if this all sounds a bit beyond your budget, you may be pleasantly surprised. For families and groups, staying in a villa is remarkably cost-effective compared to some resorts or hotels. Instead of paying per night for a block of rooms, you’ll have the entire place as your own. Unlike hotels, villas are often reserved on weekly rates, with no fees  for additional guests. All the lavish extra amenities are included, like stocked kitchens and personal chefs.

If you’re planning an event, villas also make incredible venues. Instead of paying extra to reserve the hotel’s fluorescent-lit banquet room, these opulent properties come standard with spacious dining areas and versatile outdoor spaces. With access to a full kitchen and on-site butlers, catering is a breeze. There’s no need for transportation as the night comes to an end, which can be whenever you choose, since your accommodation is on-site. Best of all, the evening can be set against the backdrop of any landscape you choose, from rolling hills of vines to powder-white beaches to towering mountain peaks.


“We’re committed to developing new, unique experiences to surprise and delight our guests. Expectant mothers can find a luxurious reprieve tailored just for them with our ‘Babymoon’ package. Other unique offerings include our dedicated Dog Butlers who pamper our guests’ four-legged friends with daily walks on the beach, special massages and ‘doga’ classes.”

– Frederic Vidal, Las Ventanas Al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort