Whether you're in your own posh palace or in a bungalow at a resort, these villas are truly a home away from home.
Sundown Villa is the spot for your next family reunion. With a total of nine spacious suites, up to 18 guests can coexist comfortably in the crisply
decorated spaces. The veranda opens to an outdoor living room with oversize sofas under the shade of a sprawling almond tree,
just steps from the pool and 125-foot private beach.
Keep busy on the bay with stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking to a nearby reef for snorkeling, and sailing on the Hobie Cat with the resident certified lifeguard. The rest of the staff, including a butler, chef, and housekeeper, seem to be mind-readers, anticipating your every need. All-inclusive meals are available, or the chef can tailor your weekly menu. Your farewell party includes s'mores and "Irie Mon!" written in the sand with fire. That means "Everything's all right, man," and here, it is all right—and more.
Rates start at $1,360 per night for the main house; yourjamaicanvillas.com.
—Amy Lowe Mitchell
Situated hillside along the rocky coast of Lido di Noto, Sicily, the ivory cubic structure of Cubo al Mare emerges from the
emerald landscape like a fallen cloud. Inside, the open ground-level layout flows from the kitchen's stainless steel appliances
to the sleek, white dining table and the soft, white sofa in the living room, where floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors allow
the space to fill with light.
Up a winding staircase, two minimalist bedrooms make the scenery the star. The waist-to-ceiling windows yield awe-inspiring views of the land, sky, and sea. Up another flight of stairs is an open-air terrace, with a dining table for six and cushioned loungers for sunbathing to the soundtrack of the waves crashing below. Outside, stairs lead to the water and huge, smooth-surfaced boulders—the perfect locale for relaxing in the sun with the sea at your feet.
Rates start at $3,130 per week; thinksicily.com.
In the quiet, unassuming town of Westbrook, a resort is the last thing you would expect to find among the old-time shingled
residences. In fact, The Water's Edge Resort and Spa sits not far from the multimillion-dollar estate of the late Katharine
Hepburn, and the resort manages to maintain a similar vibe to an old New England family compound.
New this year at Water's Edge: trim two-bedroom villas for rent. At last you can prop your boat shoes on the deck of your own balcony overlooking the calm waters of the Long Island Sound. With beautiful water views, nautical decor, and top-of-the-line kitchen appliances, these gems are a retreat for water-loving, relaxation-seeking folks escaping the bustle of New York. With an on-site formal restaurant (brunch is a hot ticket and needs advance reservations) and a hopping pool right beneath your windows, you have the perks of a hotel plus the comforts of a villa.
Rates start at $750 per night; watersedgeresortandspa.com.
—Antonia van der Meer
After 10 years of full-time residency, the sun-kissed inhabitants of the British Virgin Islands can apply for a special title:
belonger. But, truthfully, it takes less than one day for visitors to Virgin Gorda's newest resort, Oil Nut Bay, to feel fully
at home. Perhaps it's because guests at the resort's six-bedroom Bella Beach or two-bedroom Jewel Box villas can have the
full-service kitchens pre-stocked with all their favorite goodies. Or maybe it's courtesy of the oversize, infinity-edge pools
on private oceanfront patios.
Either way, these luxury rentals have all the conveniences of home and then some (45-inch LCD televisions, chromotherapy bathtubs, and remote-controlled, adjustable mattresses complete with massage settings). Visitors also get undisturbed bay views and access to dining at The Beach Club. It's the perfect retreat to get away from it all. (Though you can expect some minor construction as part of the resort's rapid growth.) Ferry service to neighboring islands turns this stretch of the Caribbean into your personal playground.
Rates start at $2,850 per night; oilnutbay.com.
—Brielle M. Ferreira
Along the windy, two-lane road through the town of Brewster, two stone pillars signal your arrival at the Ocean Edge Resort.
A horseshoe pathway leads your car to The Mansion for check in—an opulent, restored, 1912 Gatsby-esque gem with cement lions
at the entry and guests playing croquet on the expansive front lawn. The red-tiled roofs of the new Presidential Villas dot
the landscape, past the resorts' tennis courts and family-packed outdoor pool to the sandy shores of Cape Cod Bay.
Each two- and three-bedroom villa has a similar aesthetic, from the blanched, wood-framed fireplace in the living room to the blue-and-white tile backsplash in the kitchenette. Nautical stripes adorn blankets and pillows, and sailor knot--patterned curtains hang in the master bedroom. The ultra-comfy bedding makes it tough to get out of bed—good thing there's room service. Or you can enjoy a meal at the retro-inspired, bubble window banquette, the ultimate perch overlooking the protected seashore.
Rates start at $650 per night; oceanedge.com.
Whether you're just Jenny from the block or actually Jennifer Lopez, the planning for your stay at The Resort at Pelican Hill
begins way before your trip with e-mail and phone chats with your personal pre-arrival coordinator. Once your preferences
are known, it's all taken care of, from the aromatherapy scent in the villa to the brand of water in the fridge. A butler
is on call 24/7 and can arrange for the chef to prepare a meal or a personal shopper to grab what you need.
Designed to look like an Italian seaside village, the two-, three-, and four-bedroom villas are terraced along the hillside, ensuring that each of the 128 abodes has an ocean view. The spacious interiors feature hand-hewn wood-beam ceilings, limestone fireplaces, and gourmet kitchens. Each of the large baths have walk-in showers and soaking tubs, and the bedrooms feature fine linens and fluffy beds. Although the large circular pool, available to the entire resort, is the place to see and be seen, villa guests have access to a gorgeous glass-tile pool at an exclusive clubhouse. Pelican Hill's two sought-after golf courses have 18 holes apiece—each one with its own ocean view.
Rates start at $695 per night; pelicanhill.com.
—Kristen Shelton Fielder