I is for... Island. Image © Welcome Beyond
A TO Z OF THE WORLD’S MOST SPECTACULAR PRIVATE VILLAS
There’s nothing quite like having your own space on a holiday, and these residences guarantee family bonding in utter seclusion. Come with us on an A-Z of the world’s most spectacular private villas.
WORDS Amelia Hungerford
A IS FOR... ARIJIJU
ARIJIJU, LAIKIPIA COUNTY, KENYA
Head off on a safari adventure unlike any other at Kenya’s most inspiring new private home, Arijiju. This exclusive-use five-suite lodge allows young explorers to get up close with the lions, buffalo, elephant and cheetah of the Borana Lewa Conservancy on game drives, guided bush walks and horseback rides, while spoiling parents with wholesome cuisine inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi and a wellness retreat surrounded by the peace of the wilderness. The architecture is also something new on the safari scene; the newbuild home features floor-to-ceiling arched windows and rock-hewn walls reminiscent of Ethiopia’s stone churches.
B IS FOR... BLUE MOUNTAINS
ANGEL WING, BLUE MOUNTAINS, NSW
Talk about a home among the gum trees. This ‘invisible house’ was designed to showcase the scenery of the Blue Mountains, and it certainly hits the mark. Angel Wing harnesses light effects and waterfall features to create a welcoming home with the mountains’ best views. Cosy up around the fireplaces in winter, cook with your mini master chefs in the kitchen and head out on an expedition to nearby Jenolan Caves.
C IS FOR... CASA KIMBALL
CASA KIMBALL, CABRERA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
This sprawling eight-bedroom villa perches above the north coast near Playa Grande, DR’s most popular beach. The 180-degree view of the ocean blends into the infinity pool, perfect for entertaining the family – or perhaps hosting a scuba diving introductory class. Kids will find endless hours of fun in the Entertainment & Media Centre, complete with table tennis, music system, Xbox and karaoke. An eco-farm with horse riding, kayaking, cycling and crabbing adventures is just 25 minutes away, or take a private snorkelling charter. casakimball.com
B is for... Blue Mountains.
D IS FOR... DIKWELLA
TALALLA HOUSE, DIKWELLA, SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka is a heavenly family escape, with lush jungles, beautiful beaches and aweinspiring wildlife encounters, and Dikwella, on the southern coast, offers one of its most idyllic beaches. Talalla House has direct access to this long stretch of sand, protected by headlands and reefs, and wonderful views from its infinity pool (with shallow kids’ area) and the garden roof terrace. There’s room for up to 14 across five bedrooms in the main beach house and two garden rooms, with the services of a house manager, chef and staff to cater for your every desire.
E IS FOR… ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE
PUGGIESTONE HOUSE, DEVON, UK
Picture a manor in the English countryside, and you’re probably imagining Puggiestone House, located within Dartmoor National Park. While its exterior is quite traditional, inside the seven bedrooms are chic and modern, and ideal for families. Escape chilly days in the indoor pool, with a kids’ corner, and embrace the natural beauty of the region on country walks. The estate has its own stretch of the river Teign where little anglers can cast a line, and hectares of woodland and beautifully tended gardens. Visit in warmer months to make the most of the ‘shed’, a treetop retreat with wraparound balcony to soak up the scenery.
F IS FOR... FABULOUS
VILLA MALI RAJ, MALI LOŠINJ, CROATIA
All right, so Fabulous isn’t exactly a place, but it’s worth cheating a little to showcase the beauty of this sumptuous 10-bedroom villa on the Dalmatian Coast. Bask in Croatian sunshine on your private beach pier and sun deck, and play the day away in the seawater pool, complete with whirlpool and views of the bay. Your butler is on hand to create your dream escape: transforming the bar into a teens’ games room; arranging a boat excursion to Mljet National Park, renowned for its lake; or making a booking for the spa at the nearby five-star hotel. akvillas.com
E is for... English Countryside
G IS FOR... GAILLAC
CHÂTEAU GAILLAC, GAILLAC, MIDI-PYRÉNÉES, FRANCE
This grand castle at the centre of an ancient wine-growing region is a peaceful countryside retreat. Sparkling chandeliers light the opulent interiors (including nine bedrooms and the main salon), but it’s the outdoors that will entrance little ones. Early risers will soon discover wild deer emerging from the rural idyll to drink at the fountains. Kids can explore the surrounding landscape on complimentary bikes and dive into the elegant mosaic pool, set within a walled sun terrace. oliverstravels.com
H IS FOR… HIDDEN BAY
HIDDEN BAY BY THE SEA, RUNAWAY BAY, JAMAICA
This six-bedroom villa on Jamaica’s coveted North Coast was designed with multigenerational adventures in mind. Sunset cocktails for adults and lawn games for kids are a must around the freshwater pool and terrace, before sitting down to Chef Chad’s mouth-watering cuisine. Jump into the bay from the private deck or gather shells on your own slice of beach. Be sure to venture into town; Runaway Bay is a historic village with plenty of local charm. villasofdistinction.com
I IS FOR... ISLAND
VILLA SYROS I, SYROS, GREECE
Picture your family’s dream modern villa and it probably looks a lot like Villa Syros I. With its big blue views over the Aegean Sea and maze of terraces around an endless swimming pool, the property embodies the best of contemporary Greek architecture. This is a space for relaxing, so kick off your shoes and soak up the scent of olive trees and herbs on the breeze. Owners Ilektra and Georgios can suggest a range of activities for all ages on this unspoiled, off-the-beaten track isle; try kayaking around the beaches, having a game of tennis or sitting back at the open-air cinema.
H is for... Hidden Bay
J IS FOR... JACARANDA
JACARANDA, L’ANSECOY BAY, MUSTIQUE
The Caribbean hideaway of Mustique is a fascinating destination, with a relaxed vibe created over decades of private ownership and car-free streets (everyone gets around on buggies). With a kids’ cottage added in 2016, Jacaranda numbers among the best villas for families. The newly renovated six-bedroom retreat sits on L’Ansecoy Bay, offering direct beach access. Pavilions are set around a tropical courtyard complete with pool and kids’ playground.
K IS FOR... KOH SAMUI
VILLA KALYANA, LAEM SOR, KOH SAMUI
The southern shore of Thailand’s laid-back island, Koh Samui, is home to one of its most impressive estates. Villa Kalyana features 20 bedrooms across a range of bungalows, pavilions and apartments, making it perfect for big celebrations or getaways with family and friends. There are multiple bunk rooms for young beach bums, complete with games, and a Thai chef on hand to tantalise your tastebuds. There’s snorkelling gear, kayaks, beach volleyball and badminton for when the kids want to get active, and a ‘hammock island’ in the middle of the pool for when you don’t.
L IS FOR... LE MARCHE
CASA OLIVI, TREIA, LE MARCHE, ITALY
The rustic farmhouse façade of this villa in Italy’s Le Marche (The Marches) region belies the sleek, modern design within. The five-bedroom haven, with infinity pool and 1.2 hectares of gardens, is the perfect base for an active family, with both seaside adventures in Monte Conero and hikes and biking trails in the Monte Sibillini National Park both an hour away. Little foodies can head out on a truffle-hunting expedition with Alessandro or learn the art of cheese-making with Samuele, then take in the stunning countryside on horseback, with stables just two kilometres away. casainitalia.com
J is for... Jacaranda
M IS FOR... MOROCCO
VILLA PALMERAIE, MARRAKECH, MOROCCO
Experience the vibrancy of Marrakech while staying in a peaceful estate just 10 minutes from the Medina. Villa Palmeraie features eight bedrooms in a traditionally styled residence, with two of them just perfect for kids. A butler, maid, gardener and cook are on hand to tailor your stay, and the enormous swimming pool is sure to be a favourite in the Moroccan sun. The games room is filled with fun in the form of video games, table tennis and a basketball area. When you need a break, revive in the private hammam and organise an in-house massage.
N IS FOR... NAPOLEONIC FORTRESS
SPITBANK FORT, HAMPSHIRE, UK
Spitbank is one of three converted forts in the Solent, the stretch of water separating the Isle of Wight from mainland England, built to defend the nation from the threat of invasion by Napoleon III more than 150 years ago. Today, they’ve been transformed into luxury destinations, with Spitbank the most elegant. Military firepower has been exchanged for a roof terrace with hot pool, sauna, fire pit and sun deck, and the Victorian barracks are now eight contemporary suites, complete with a games room for young seafarers, and the Officer’s Mess dining space.
O IS FOR... OBERLECH
CHALET N, OBERLECH, AUSTRIA
The Arlberg’s most extravagant chalet is your gateway to a winter of magical skiing at Lech Zürs. Everything is for the asking at Chalet N, led by your personal butler and chef. Parents can recover after a day on the slopes in the chalet’s extraordinary wellness area, with a hay sauna, Finnish sauna and salt-cave steam bath. Dive into the indoor pool and settle in with the kids’ favourite movies in the cinema. There are nine suites, including a cosy kids’ area with four bunks (and plenty of toys), all with authentic Alpine details. Be sure to spend a night in the Walser Stüberl where fondue is the specialty.
O is for... Oberlech
P IS FOR... PENINSULA PAPAGAYO
VILLA MANZU, PENINSULA PAPAGAYO, COSTA RICA
Costa Rica is all about pura vida and that’s exactly what families will find in this eight-bedroom estate. Spot monkeys, hummingbirds and butterflies as you swing in a hammock or trek down to the private beach. Two swimming pools ensure water babies never get bored, and there’s a theatre when they want a rest. villasofdistinction.com
Q IS FOR... QUEENSTOWN
JAGGED EDGE, QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND
It doesn’t get more spectacular than this glass masterpiece perched above Lake Wakatipu, designed to offer 270-degree views of the surrounding waters and mountains. The kids can pretend they’re floating on the lake in the heated pool-spa, while parents will love the wine cellar and the James Bond-esque pop-up bar emerging from the floor at the push of a button. luxehouses.com
R IS FOR... RELAX
ANTILLES, ENDEAVOUR HILLS, MUSTIQUE
The island of Mustique proves its the pinnacle of family-friendly Caribbean chic with Antilles, a four-bedroom haven perched high in the hills. Enjoy spectacular views towards Bequia and St Vincent from the curving 18-metre pool terrace, complete with Jacuzzi. Kids have their own perfect hideaway with a gorgeous bunk room and courtyard garden. When you’re not relaxing at home, head out on your buggy to explore the island and its quirks.
Q is for... Queenstown
S IS FOR... SUNGAI
VILLA SUNGAI & SUNGAI GOLD, CEPAKA, BALI
Sumptuous custom menus designed around fussy eaters, excursions with your private driver and lazy days beside the pool are the hallmarks of this villa duo. Everyone from bubs to teens will feel at home with activities including tea parties, kite making and mini-me spa treatments around the pool. Add a jungle setting and three breezy suites in each villa for perfection. bali-villasungai.com
T IS FOR... THANDA ISLAND
THANDA ISLAND, TANZANIA
This villa in the turquoise waters off Tanzania comes with its own island and marine reserve, your aquatic playground. Dive with whale sharks, snorkel with turtles and embark on a new watery adventure every day of your stay. The five-bedroom beach house is complemented by two traditional bandas with two bedrooms each. thandaisland.com
U IS FOR... URUGUAY
THE CASTLE PUNTA DEL ESTE, PUNTA DEL ESTE, URUGUAY
Uruguay’s southeastern resort city booms in summer, giving it the reputation as the Saint-Tropez of South America. This expansive house occupies one of the most coveted destinations in the country, nestled in the dunes of Solanas Beach. Linger in the rooftop turret to admire the views, or head out on a jetskiing, boating or surfing adventure. Back in your five-bedroom castle, kids will while away the hours in the playground and infinity pool. luxurybeachhouserental.com
T is for... Thanda Island. Image © Thanda Island
V IS FOR... VAIL VALLEY
CHATEAU TRALEE, BEAVER CREEK VILLAGE, COLORADO
Chateau Tralee may look like an elegant Vail Valley ski chalet, but it’s been designed to entertain kids every minute they’re off the slopes. The children’s wing is spread out over two levels, and features a play area complete with fireman’s pole and a slide that might even make the adults jealous. There are six additional suites, plus a massage room, media room and bar. Beaver Creek resort is just a five-minute drive away, known for its daily cookie time.
W IS FOR... WANAKA
THE DACHA, WANAKA, NEW ZEALAND
The vast natural beauty of the South Island is on your doorstep at this incredible lake-view property, named for the second summer houses owned by Russian families. Mesmerising views and impressive spaces designed for entertaining and family bonding make this a must for kids and parents looking to embrace the outdoors. A pool, Jacuzzi, library, board games and bunk rooms will make little ones feel right at home, or venture out to explore a range of mountain bike tracks and walking trails right from The Dacha’s doorstep.
X IS FOR... XÀBIA
VILLA PERLA, XÀBIA, VALENCIA, SPAIN
This seaside town, known as Xàbia in local Valencian and Jávea in Spanish, is a favourite for the huge range of active adventures offered by its mountainous, coastal location: cycling routes, golf courses galore, snorkelling, sailing, hiking, climbing, kayaking and diving. Villa Perla offers all this and more for groups. Fresh wood-fired pizza is a must after a day exploring the beaches. For its four Norwegian hosts, this villa really is a pearl.
W is for... Wanaka
Y IS FOR... YUCATÁN
HACIENDA SAC CHICH, YUCATÁN, MEXICO
Delve into your own Mayan jungle at this lush estate on the Yucatán Peninsula. There’s so much for little explorers to discover, from the walled garden to the star-viewing platform. Six bedrooms are spread over two residential buildings, maintaining a layout from the days when the hacienda was run like a plantation, as well as a pool and rooftop lounge. Be sure to dive into Mexico’s crystal-clear cenotes during your visit. welcomebeyond.com
Z IS FOR... ZANZIBAR
VILLA LISA, ZANZIBAR, TANZANIA
Exotic and historic Zanzibar makes for a fascinating family getaway, particularly to complement a safari. Perched on the edge of the beach of Fukuchani on the main island’s northwest coast, Villa Lisa features a rustic African-inspired design, facing the pool and sea beyond. The three-bedroom house is set in a lush private garden, and uses natural ocean breezes to cool the rooms. Kids under 16 stay free of charge (one per paying adult) and are offered delicious, flexible meals wherever and whenever they choose to dine.
Y is for... Yucatán
This article appeared in volume 9 of Five Star Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.