Our Story

Founded by industry leaders Ileana von Hirsch of Five Star Greece, Madelyn Byrne of Paris Perfect, Andrew Loyd of Loyd Townsend Rose and Marina Gratsos of Carpe Diem Luxury Travel, UltraVilla started in 2014 as a spontaneous collaboration between the world’s best professionals in the villa and vacation rental world. UltraVilla members give you access to some of the world’s most exciting, exclusive and secret properties.

The inspiration for UltraVilla came from the founders’ own experience of working with clients and fielding requests for recommendations for trusted experts in countries outside their expertise. “We created UltraVilla because we could see there was a genuine need for a website that brought together the very best of the world’s vacation rental specialists. This is not a website with a million listings, but a refined directory that offers remarkable properties from companies we trust and who we can confidently declare are ‘the best”.


If you like authenticity rather than the international hotel experience, if you aren’t so keen on sharing space with strangers, if you love your own kids, but aren’t so hot on other people’s, if you want to feel at home in a different place, and to experience somewhere like a real insider, you are our kind of person. Become part of UltraVilla.


We will only ever feature companies and properties that match the high standards of service and behaviour we demand. If we don’t feel right about a company or a property, they will not be featured on UltraVilla. If anyone is featured here, they have the UltraVilla seal of approval.

We are not another internet clearing house dealing in huge numbers and never will be. In UltraVilla’s directory, you will only find recommendations made by the world’s top professionals, and trust us, we know what to look for.


Ileana von Hirsch

Ileana von Hirsch

Ileana is the CEO and founder of Ultravilla, and has worked in the villa rental business for 18 years. She co-founded Five Star Greece in 2000, partly to help rent her own family property on the island of Ithaca, thereby pioneering the luxury villa rental business in Greece. Her experience in seeing gaps in the market and running a small, high-end villa company led to her creating a website where her clients could find other dedicated experts with highly curated portfolios, and receive equally expert advice for other destinations. She is passionate about encouraging excellence and collaboration in the travel world and preserving the human touch in a world of SEO, SEM, CTR, ROI, CP and other acronyms. Ileana studied PPE at Oxford, has lived in New York and Munich, and is based in London with her husband and three children.

Marina Gratsos

Marina Gratsos

Marina Gratsos is a Director and Founding Member of UltraVilla, and Managing Director of Carpe Diem Luxury Travel, one of the world’s leading villa rental specialists. Marina founded Carpe Diem in 2002 after spending two years working for a leading London-based high-end tour operator, gaining valuable experience in the nuts and bolts of luxury travel and running a successful travel company. Her extensive network of social and professional contacts has enabled her to put together an unrivalled collection of private houses world-wide, and the ability to locate almost any suitable property for a particular request. As a result, Carpe Diem regularly features on the lists of the world’s Top Villa Agents as voted by Conde Nast Traveller, Travel & Leisure and House & Garden. With her wide-ranging knowledge of the world-wide villa market, Marina brings a global perspective to UltraVilla. Marina speaks French and Italian, is a fan of truffles, opera, donkeys, London and travelling the world.

Andrew Loyd

Andrew Loyd

After 8 years working & training in London hotels and a further decade managing a myriad of private estates in the US, Andrew Loyd returned to Scotland in 1999 and co-founded Loyd & Townsend Rose. Over the last 17 years, Andrew has built up a wealth of experience renting out some of the finest houses & castles in the UK and Ireland, whilst also offering a full concierge service to their clients. Andrew moves between London, the Scottish Borders and the Cotswolds, where his wife Katharine manages her family’s agricultural estate. Andrew has a passion for beautiful homes, making marmalade and exploring the world. His company has been members of Virtuoso, regular attenders of PURE, Conde Nast Traveller villa rental specialist for Scotland and amongst Travel & Leisure’s top 40 Villa rental companies in the world.

Develop a relationship with your travel professional or villa agent and confide in them- what you like, what you don’t like, how you dream of spending your days and nights. Then let them match-make you with the right destination and the right property. They can guide you to places you might not think of, warn you away from things you won’t enjoy, put together experiences for you, and think of ways of making your holiday even better.

How To Get The Best
Out of Your Travel Professional

If you have chosen your destination, contact our specialists. If you have no idea where to go, choose one of our villa consultants who work with all the niche specialists but have a global overview of where would be best for you at any time. They may end up becoming your personal long-term travel planner.