HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Private Villas Available Online
by Kathryn Brooks
Picture yourself waking up in a villa in a faraway land. Is it Tuscany that is calling your name? Do you hear the sounds of the Kauai Rainforest or maybe view the calm Mediterranean Sea from a veranda high above the Côte d’Azur? Whether your picture-perfect paradise is found on a Venetian gondola, in the fragrant lavender fields of Provence or surfing off the coast of Maui, vacation rental properties offer opportunities that even the world’s finest resorts do not provide.
The advantage of comfortable common spaces, fully-stocked kitchens and private grounds is that they provide an ideal setting for a group to spend quality time together without having to fight the hotel crowds. Guests have the assistance of a local concierge to fill their every request, from arranging guided tours, spa services and surfing lessons to securing theater tickets, yoga sessions and a private chef to prepare gourmet dinners.
We did our homework and have identified three outstanding sites, each specializing in one specific region: Italy, the Hawaiian Islands of Kauai and Maui and France. Each travel company has garnered numerous awards and receives consistent recognition as having A-list properties, exceptional customer support and outstanding resources in the region they service.
Homebase Abroad specializes in Italy, the regions of Tuscany, Amalfi and its environs, Lake Como, Umbria, the Dolomites and the cities of Rome, Venice and Florence. Currently representing 55 curated villas ranging from 4 to 20 bedrooms, all have been hand-selected according to standards for location, property quality, amenities and on-site staff. The represented properties are refined and updated each year to introduce more locations, styles and vacation opportunities for the benefit of their clientele.
The basis of this company’s success lies in outstanding and direct communication with their guests. Time is invested getting to know the unique interests and style of each family and group to create a personalized Italian experience. “We listen rather than dictate,” explains Director Mara Solomon, “leading us to select the best possible house for each guest’s specific requirements.”
Once the chosen property is secured, the real planning begins. The process is interactive as they help you identify your want-to-do list. Working closely with the guests, a travel itinerary is planned that reflects a preferred combination of relaxation, exploration and discovery. “Preparation is the soul of a Homebase Abroad travel experience,” states Solomon. “We believe in friendly, frequent phone calls; careful, attentive listening and generous sharing of our hands-on experience.”
In addition to Solomon overseeing every trip, the team of experienced U.S. staff members and local concierges throughout Italy work together seamlessly. Homebase Abroad’s personal relationships with villa owners, guides, drivers and chefs ensure that clients’ every request will be met. She adds, “We bring you into our trusted circle of resources, recommending the people and places we know intimately in Italy so you can be sure of the quality and reliability of all your arrangements.”
Pure Hawaii creates unforgettable vacations that raise the standard for luxury travel. Offering the finest private vacation homes in Hawaii and superlative in-home services, every consideration is taken for their guests’ comfort, privacy and enjoyment. Focusing on personalized attention, a designated concierge will help you select the property most suited to your individual preferences, assist you in planning an itinerary, be there to greet you when you arrive and be available 24/7 to handle any additional requests you may have.
Each trip is customized to the guests’ specifications. Whether you choose the excitement of surf and stand-up paddle boat lessons, the thrill of hiking over swinging bridges or the serenity of private yoga sessions and guided snorkeling, your days in paradise will unfold effortlessly. Arrangements also can be made for a wide assortment of services including massage and other spa treatments, guided tours, cooking lessons, a private chef and a personal grocery shopper. All you need do is ask your concierge.
Concentrating on the most sought after vacation spots in the Hawaiian Island chain, we spoke with two specialists extraordinaire, Ryan Siebring, the Maui specialist, and Andrew Vastola, the expert for the Island of Kauai. Maui, often referred to as the “Magic Isle,” boasts an incredible diversity of scenery. From the summit of Haleakala volcano to the calm waters of Wailea, and from the lush waterfalls of Hana to the nightlife in Lahaina, there’s a lot to explore and experience. Says Siebring, “What makes the Pure Maui experience so special is the exceptional quality of the properties, the meticulous planning that goes into arranging an itinerary and the outstanding service each guest receives.”
Known as the “Garden Island,” Kauai, the most pristine of all the Hawaiian Islands, is a dramatic panorama of majestic emerald peaks and canyons dotted with waterfalls. It’s a lush landscape where vibrant jungles and rivers flow down to 143 miles of magnificent beaches. “I am committed to inspire our guests to co-create a unique experience on this island of incomparable beauty and to proudly offer the best services and villas available,” says Vastola.
As their name states, this U.S.-based company offers superior and luxury vacation rental properties exclusively in France. “Celebrating our 27th year, Just France’s mission is to turn your fondest dream of an unforgettable stay in France into a living reality,” says Owner and President Annie Flogaus. Each property is personally inspected by their team of experienced professionals to ensure that each house and villa is up to the highest standards.Their properties in the countryside range from renovated farmhouses to village homes, from historic chateaux to luxury villas and estates.
The Just France portfolio includes the regions of Loire Valley, Brittany, Provence, Côte d’ Azur, Burgundy, Aquitaine, Dordogne, Périgord, Côte Varoise, Gascony, as well as Paris and its environs. The staff includes French-speaking property advisors who travel to France several times each year to meet with homeowners, update their knowledge of existing properties and inspect and photograph new homes, villas and apartments for offering to their clientele.
Flogaus shares, “ Our personal relationships with the property owners and their staff, in-depth knowledge of all our listings and familiarity with the locations of each, expertise in travel arrangements and overall love of France and all things French results in a positive experience from start to finish.”
Just France clients receive detailed arrival materials with directions, including contact information for a local representative, an updated list of recommended restaurants in proximity to the chosen destination, the most recent regional information available and helpful hints and tips such as the best way to stay connected while abroad and what to do in the case of an emergency. Details such as airport transfers, car rentals, travel by rail, restaurant reservations, tickets for performances and special events, cooking lessons, securing a private chef, guided tours, unique excursions and activities all can be handled by Just France. : :