Valentines Day … time for a seriously romantic gesture
Winter has to be one of the most popular times for a romantic getaway, the cold weather and dark nights encouraging you to curl up somewhere special with someone exceptional or run away to somewhere where the sun will warm your skins. And as Valentine’s Day is upon us, there is absolutely no excuse not to whisk away the most important person in your life right now, or at least set that train off down the tracks. So, from the Paris cliche that is never a cliche, from private tropical oases to cosy mountain retreats, and from chic rural boltholes to sexy beach getaways, here are a few of our favourite ideas for a couples vacation or break this winter. But only a brief snapshot of the boltholes our experts can offer that are ideal for an intimate retreat any time of the year, perfect for asking the most important question of your life if that is on your mind; or just showing someone very special how much time spent just with them means to you …
Tucked into a hillside overlooking a vineyard and the Welsh hills beyond, Little Lodge, near Cheltenham, is a perfect romantic retreat for two. Cosy up around the fire-pit with something cold and bubbly … Perhaps a glass or two of Cotswold champagne … Part of Luxury Cotswold Rental’s collection.
Paris is the City of Love all year round, of course, but if you visit during winter – when there are fewer other tourists and snow sprinkles around – you can have more of the capital just between the two of you. And what better way than to base yourself right in the heart of the city at one of Haven In’s amazing apartments. There’s nothing more romantic than savouring some quality time with your sweetheart in the heart of Paris.
Enjoy a romantic ski trip to the Alps while staying at the charming La Petite Ferme chalet, located in a picturesque hamlet of Montriond on the outskirts of Morzine. It’s only a five-minute drive from the bubble at Ardent, so you can easily access the slopes and then retreat to your couple’s chalet at the end of the day for a cosy evening just for two.
Available through UltraVilla ski chalet expert Ultimate Luxury Chalets, La Petite Ferme has been beautifully restored by its owners and is luxuriously decorated in furs, cowhides, dark wood and other mountain elements. The double height ceiling of the lounge area gives a fantastic spaciousness to the chalet, which is amplified by the floor to ceiling windows with views onto the distant ski lifts and local church steeple. Adjacent is an open plan kitchen with a traditional wood burner.
Two of the chalet’s bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms and the third an open plan and a separate shower room. The delectable decor is carried over into the bedrooms, each with individually styled featuring cow or deer themed antiques.
If you’re not snuggled on the cosy living room sofa enjoying its vast selection of DVDs, you’re bound to be relaxing in the chalet’s private outdoor hot-tub.
New England charm in a Caribbean clime with small narrow streets and perfectly formed old clapperboard houses – but still bristling with the conveniences of modern life. You can curl up with your ‘plus one’ in perfect seclusion but still have fine tête-à-tête dining and some serious clubbing a stone’s throw away. And, of course, the famous pink sands for that romantic morning stroll or late night wander … Allamanda is a perfect example of Pamela Murdock’s great portfolio.
For many an ideal vacation involves relaxing next to a gorgeous, sunny infinity pool. If you fall into this category, make your holiday dreams come true at one of these exceptional luxury villas with outstanding pool terraces, located in some of the most awe-inspiring settings across the planet.
Casale Alto – Tuscany, Italy
Enjoy your own private paradise at this vast seven-bedroom villa perched high above the famous Feniglia beach on the delightful Maremma coast of Tuscany. You might not even need to go down to the seaside due to the villa’s stunning pool terrace featuring amazing views of the arched beach and coastline.
Available through Homebase Abroad, the Casale Alto is situated next to the famed Il Pellicano hotel in the harbor village of Porto Ercole, home to a port-side pedestrian lane lined with seafood restaurants, gelato shops and lively bars. All of this seems a world away in your private villa oasis. The garden is laid out over multiple levels, with flowers and comfortable seating areas to enjoy the breathtaking views. Depending on the timing of your holiday you will can sample some of fresh fruits from the garden – plums, peaches, apricots, figs and a local variety of small, delicious pears. These go well with a breakfast of eggs from their own chickens. Above the villa are vineyard terraces and below is an olive grove. When you’re not basking in the sun next to the pool, you can cool off under one of the five shady pergolas with the natural air-conditioning of the refreshing Tuscan breeze.
The villa’s accommodation is spread out across the hillside in three distinct structures, creating a perfect balance of togetherness and privacy. Guests can gather for meals on the lower terrace which has an outdoor living/dining room and rustic kitchen with traditional wood-fired barbecue. Other group fun can be had in the games area with ping-pong, foosball ball and a seating area. There is also a gym (bike, free weights and bench, treadmill) and a sauna. The villa is an excellent base for exploring the region from visiting unspoiled coves and beaches of the Tuscan Archipelago to scuba diving in pristine cerulean waters and from boat trips to Giglio Island with its coral reefs or to Giannutri with its nature preserve and Roman vestiges.
Combine the seaside with a fantastic pool area at the spectacular Casale Alto by Homebase Abroad at this link.
Allamanda – Harbour Island, The Bahamas
With a beautiful climate of an average 310 days of sunshine per year, The Bahamas is an excellent destination for sun-seekers. Our local expert Pamela H. Murdock suggests the Allamanda villa, a beautiful six-bedroom house on Harbour Island, as being an excellent choice for making the most of the sunny weather right at the villa.
“Its location on a quiet street in adorable Dunmore Town, makes it very easy to walk to restaurants and shops which is fun,” details Pamela. “Walking past Allamanda’s picket fence, one sees a charming and classic Bahamian house, like others in town but step inside and you’ll discover very pretty and chic interiors with imported wide plank French oak floors.
“Two wings flank a heated salt-chlorinated swimming pool with a very sunny coral stone terrace. The outdoor spaces also offer a covered dining area with a custom wooden table and 12 chairs, a bar with a large flat screen TV, comfy chaises longues, a sitting area near the outdoor kitchen area and grill as well as a roof deck with ocean and sunset views. The beach is just a few minutes away by golf cart which is how one gets around this idyllic island.”
Learn more about this gorgeous, sunny villa and vacationing on Harbour Island by contacting Pamela here.
Cottar’s Bush Villa – Masai Mara, Kenya
Located next to Kenya’s phenomenal Maasai Mara, the exceptional Cottar’s Bush Villa is the only real private luxury rental in the area and it features a divine infinity pool overlooking the stunning savannah plains that carry the great annual wildebeest migration.
The Villa is set on its own 6,000 acre private conservancy within Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp, only one kilometre from the Masai Mara game reserve. Due to its advantageous location, guests have easy access for day and night game drives to the Masai Mara game reserve. Back at the Bush Villa, guests can enjoy its sublime 25m swimming pool, perfect for doing laps for the very energetic or for just relaxing and enjoying the view for the less so. It’s built on the side of a hill and looks over the great Masai Mara and Serengeti plains, the ideal sunny spot to look out for the migration and any other wildlife that may pass by. A great place to wallow and enjoy the warm African sun while sipping a cocktail and reading your book.
Designed personally by Calvin and Louise Cottar, the Bush Villa was built using only indigenous and eco-friendly materials. It has over 10,000 sq ft of living space including a large living room, dining room, viewing deck, and five en-suite bedrooms. Guests also have access to the Safari Camp’s services, its swimming pool, shop and other facilities.
Take in the magic of the Masai Mara in your own private hideaway at Cottar’s Bush Villa here.
Private Bora Bora – French Polynesia
This stunning modern villa, set on its own private island, is the one of the most sought after beachfront estates on the planet and is available through Villas and Apartments Abroad. It has received accolades and awards from top travel magazines including the Robb Report Best Villa 2015 and the Best Boutique Hotel/Best Villa Australasia also in 2015. Guests can choose to swim in the lagoon on one side, a long private beach on the other or in the beautiful pool positioned to benefit from the sun, especially at dusk when it reflects the sunset like a painting.
Located on a 30,000 m² (7.5 acres) islet overlooking the aquamarine waters of Bora Bora, this spectacular estate includes five independent suites, each with in character and intimate setting. The gorgeous marbled pool surrounded by a wooden deck and a tropical garden is the ideal place for sunbathing, reading a book or a relaxing massage. The villa is equipped with the latest technology in music and television, with the best broadband connection on the island and a self-sufficient power system provided by solar panels.
The villa has its own surfboards, paddle boards, kayaks, windsurfs and other water sports equipment or guests can arrange a number of excursions with the villa’s private boat and captain for snorkeling, feeding the turtles, to local restaurants or sunset cruises. The villa also has a dedicated manager and team who will ensure that your absorb the essence of Bora Bora and have an exquisitely relaxing holiday in this supremely peaceful and awe-inspiring destination.
Enjoy a sunny vacation in paradise at the idyllic Private Bora Bora by reaching out to Villas and Apartments Abroad here.
Villa Camaruche – Saint Barthélemy
With a secluded location, spectacular views and a spacious deck bathed in sunlight all day, the four bedroom, four bathroom Villa Camaruche is a magnificent option for a small group of sun worshippers on beautiful Saint Barthélemy.
Available through St Barth Properties this charming compound has a zen-like décor and is enrobed in palms and indigenous flora. There is a main building is home to an open floor plan with a sleek and modern kitchen, a contemporary living room and two stylish en-suite king bedrooms. Next to the pool is a separate pavilion with the other two bedrooms, one king and one with twin beds, both with ocean views and en-suite baths with open-air showers.
Around the gorgeous 45 x 15 ft infinity pool are lovely outdoor spaces including covered living and dining areas which are beautifully lit at night. Soak up the rays, sit back and take in the breathtaking view of ten islands including St. Martin and Anguilla and sip a cocktail with the backdrop of the stunning sunsets. You’re guaranteed a spectacularly sunny holiday with St Barth Properties. Reach out them at this link to start planning.
Illusion – Sugar Hill, Barbados
Featuring an incredible infinity pool and set within marvelous gardens, this gorgeous custom-built, four bedroom villa is located in the highly coveted gated community of Sugar Hill Resort and is available through Blue Sky Luxury.
As you enter this elegant, contemporary villa you will be struck by the uninterrupted panorama of the Caribbean Sea from its expansive windows. The foyer opens onto a covered terrace that overlooks the large pool and staircases leading down to the pool area. To the right is the master suite and to the left of the covered terrace is the formal dining room that seats twelve and transforms into an alfresco dining area thanks to its folding glass doors.
There is a stylish and comfortable living room which also opens onto the pool deck, equipped with a large flat screen television with cable TV, DVD player, Bose surround speakers and a bar. The pool deck receives a lot of sunshine, however guests can enjoy the outdoors in the shade under various covered areas. It has a number of loungers, a barbecue and two gazebos. One gazebo has a small outdoor kitchenette and the other gazebo has an informal dining area.
Found mainly on the ground floor, the bedroom suites are all air-conditioned, have private covered terraces and en-suite bathrooms. The master suite is situated on the first floor and has its own living room, a large walk-in closet a large king-sized bed, an en-suite bathroom with both a tub and shower and spectacular views of the sea.
The estate features a private gym and a putting green within its splendid landscaped gardens dotted with banana, papaya and coconut trees. Guests have access to the Sugar Hill resort amenities which include a Clubhouse, an excellent restaurant, two swimming pools, and four championship tennis courts, plus access to the beach facility at the nearby Fairmont Royal Pavilion hotel.
Contact Blue Sky Luxury at this linkfor further information and to book your blissfully sunny holiday in Barbados at the Illusion villa.
Villa Grande – Lucca, Italy
This fabulous historic villa is located in a breathtaking and very private location on a gentle slope in the hills near Lucca and features a fenced swimming pool, making it an excellent destination for multigenerational families with small children.
“The setting is a burst of big bunches of various types of flowers, elegant wrought iron avenues and arbors wrapped with delicate shades of roses against a backdrops of green shrubs and towering trees,” describes Sylvia Delvaille Jones of Villas and Apartments Abroad, through whom the villa can be booked. “This is one of the happiest settings for children to swim, splash and play or chase butterflies in one of the most beautiful gardens.”
The former aristocratic villa dates back to the mid-1600s and was the residence of Cappuccini monks over the course of much of the 20th century. The interiors feature lovely antique furniture, frescoed walls and accommodation for up to 22 guests in 11 bedrooms (10 bathrooms). In addition to the spacious pool area, the estate has a lovely manicured Italian garden overlooking the picturesque vistas of the surrounding countryside of the rolling hills and vineyards of Tuscany.
Plan your perfect sunny getaway to Tuscany with Villas and Apartments Abroad here.
La Rive – Franschhoek, South Africa
Enjoy the best of South Africa’s wine country and the glorious sunshine of the southern hemisphere next to the fabulous pool at the gorgeous restored six-bedroom La Rive farmhouse in Franschhoek.
The villa presents a lovely mix of Victorian, Cape Dutch and Georgian architecture and furniture, as well as artwork by famous South African artists like Neil Rodger, Gregoire Boonzaier, Edward Wolfe and Dylan Lewis. A highlight is its spacious, airy patios and inviting swimming pool, ideal for a quick dip to cool down from Franschhoek’s hot summer day. There is also a lush “secret” garden with a number of paths leading to various alcoves, benches and lawns, a great place to wander in the shade or have a moment of tranquility or romance.
Each of the villa’s rooms has its own personality, character and decoration. You will be well taken care of by the villa’s live-in chef and butler who provide world-class service and can assist you with everything you may desire as well as tips for exploring the region.
Discover the pleasures of Franschhoek with absolute privacy at this exquisite villa here.
It can be very valuable to have local tips when you travel, especially when it comes to dining. With decades of experience in their destinations, our local experts give us their top picks on where to eat in the Caribbean. Whether you’re looking for the perfect venue for a special meal or the absolutely freshest fish, eat your way from island to island with the recommendations below.
Photo on left courtesy of Veya, Photo on right courtesy of Scilly Cay
Anguilla is one of the ultimate foodie destination of the Caribbean and our regional expert Tim Roney gives us his insider tips on the island’s best tables. Anguilla has an impressive array of dining options from fine French gastronomy to laid back local BBQ. The most famous restaurant on the island is undoubtedly Blanchards, one of the first high end restaurants in Anguilla. This oceanfront venue is situated on Meads Bay, also home to many of the island’s top luxury villas. On offer is a well curated selection of the Caribbean, American, Mediterranean and Asian specialties. Enjoy equally delicious dishes at its more casual sister-restaurant Blanchard’s Beach Shack.
For a special night out, book in at Jacala where you can enjoy refined French food and stellar views. Chef Alain, named one of the top chefs in the Caribbean in 2014, and his team delicately prepare the likes of lobster soup, steak tartare and sautéed filet mignon, among other mouth-watering meals.
For creative cuisine, work your way through the menu at Veya (above left). With the motto of “cuisine of the sun,” it’ll be hard to choose from their inventive dishes fusing Island flavors and Asian influences like the jerk-spiced tuna which explodes with flavor. The unique setting gives diners the impression of being perched in a tree house in a tropical rainforest. Live music on several nights a week adds to the atmosphere and some guests prefer their lounge bar, Mezze, serving succulent cocktails and small plates.
Finally, at least once during your stay on Anguilla, Tim urges you to try Scilly Cay (above right). This is a quintessentially Anguillan restaurant with a focus on seafood, amazing rum cocktails and fabulously fun times.
Start planning a deliciously amazing vacation in Anguilla with our local experts here.
Bo Kao, photos courtesy of Peg Walsh
The little island of St. Barth has a wealth of world-class restaurants and there’s always something new. Our local expert Peg Walsh reveals her top choices to tantalize your palates in 2017:
This season Bo Káo opened in the delightful courtyard of Gustavia’s Carré d’Or. They introduced Nikkei cuisine – a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian gastronomy. This culinary trend is sweeping Europe and diners are wowed. Pisco Sours headline a creative cocktail menu and they offer wines to complement their unique woks. Start with their Anticuchos – this delicious appetizer is a concoction of marinated chicken tempura, chiso and corn. It’s divine.
St. Barth newest hotel, the 5-star Villa Marie has named its restaurant François Plantation in homage to its predecessor in this tropical garden setting. Guests can enjoy classical French cuisine, poultry from Mieral, house-made fois gras and heirloom Caribbean dishes. The wine list is impressive and includes offering from their signature Domaine De Marie label. Save room for dessert and order the lemon soufflé. There’s an intimate bar for a digestif and perhaps a cigar. Dining here is well worth the ride out to Colombier.
The perennial favorite Santa Fe has changed hands but happily is still garnering rave reviews, the casual atmosphere, friendly service, and delightful breezes are just the same. And the langoustes are still swimming in that giant tank! Moule frites (flown in from France) are still the Thursday lunch special and so delicious and popular that if you are interested enjoying them for dinner, you must place your order when you make your reservation.
Tap into Peg Walsh’s vast expertise of St. Barth to plan your perfect gastronomic holiday to the island at this link.
Photo courtesy of The Cliff
Barbados might allure visitors with its beautiful and gorgeous luxury accommodation, however, its cuisine is just as tempting. Our local experts at Blue Sky Luxury have been keeping their eye on the Barbadian dining scene for more than 30 years and let us in on some of their favorite eateries.
For gourmet experiences, look no further than the west coast, where you’ll find the island’s widest selection of fine dining establishments. You certainly won’t be disappointed with The Cliff, consistently considered as the top fine dining restaurant on the whole island. You’ll be wowed by their contemporary dishes with an emphasis on seafood such as spicy tuna tartare, Cajun salmon or chargrilled mahi mahi. Otherwise, you may like the posh Cin Cin By The Sea, a great option for fresh salads, seafood escabeche and amazing cocktails in a sleek and stylish setting with a stunning backdrop of the turquoise sea.
If you’re looking to try some of the island’s traditional fare at lively outdoor grills, the Blue Sky Luxury team suggests trying Cuz’s fish shack for their to-die-for fish sandwiches or rub shoulders with the locals at the fish-fries of seaside towns like Oistins and Moontown. On Saturdays everyone heads to theVillage Barat Lemon Arbor for their cow heel soup and famous pudding, which go down well with a crisp beer or rum punch.
Or why not have your private chef whip up some of these delicacies in the comfort of your luxury villa? Many of Blue Sky Luxury’s exquisite villas have professionally equipped kitchens where their repertoire of excellent private chefs can work their culinary magic. Learn more about this or other exceptional Barbadian holiday experiences by contacting their team here.
Photo courtesy of Loterie Farm
Another culinary hotspot of the region, Saint Martin proudly carries the well-deserved title of “Food Capital of the Caribbean”. The high level of quality and wonderful diversity of cuisines thrills food lovers who come from far and wide to savor everything from local Caribbean specialities to French gastronomic masterpieces. Meghann Cundall, director of our Saint Martin luxury villa specialists Carimo, has been living on the island for decades and therefore has her pulse on the best dining on this island with both French and Dutch heritage.
If you’re striving for a stylish beach restaurant with fabulous food then Meghann recommendsLe Sand. Popular with locals and visitors, this beachfront restaurant in Cupe Coy serves up the likes of juicy ribs, fresh salads and spicy mojitos.
Hardcore foodies should flock to Grand Case, a charming fishing village deemed the “Lyon of the Caribbean.” Here you’ll find over 65 restaurants, including The Calmos Cafe, a beachside eatery with a chilled vibe, great drinks and tasty tapas suitable for both young and old alike or the romantic Sunset Café where locals go on Thursday nights to gobble up their fresh off the boat mussels.
For a more refined experience in a unique location, try Bacchus, situated in a million bottle wine warehouse, the Loterie Farm with its lush rainforest ambience and divine cuisine or the inventive Temptation, blending Creole with international flavors at the Starz Casino.
Create the perfect menu for a divine culinary getaway to Saint Martin with Carimo here.
Photo courtesy of Coco Bistro
Turks and Caicos
Of the 40 islands and cays of the Turks and Caicos, Providenciales is our go-to pick. According to our regional expert Tim Roneythe most in-demand restaurant on the island is the stylish Coco Bistro. Its menu could include such dishes as Coco Bistro Style Ahi Tuna Tataki, Homemade Ravioli of Conch and Flame Grilled Sweet Peppers or Palmers Jerk Pork Tenderloin. If you can’t get in at Coco, then Coyaba is the best alternative. Set within a lush tropical garden, you might find Edamame Hummus, Hijike Wakime Kale or “Wellington Freebird” jerk chicken on the menu.
Great Italian food in the Caribbean is rare, however, Via Veneto. Succeeds at this beautifully. Their excellent dishes include Homemade Ricotta Cheese and Porcini Mushrooms Ravioli, Paccheri Pasta with Shrimp, Zucchini and Saffron and Sliced Beef Entrecote with Arugula. Lastly for a French bistro with a tropical twist, you’ll surely enjoy Le Bouchon du Village.
Pair exquisite Caribbean cuisine with a dream villa vacation with our local experts at this link.
Photo courtesy of Acquapazza
Harbour Island, Bahamas
If you’re seeking a great foodie destination away from the crowds, consider holidaying on gorgeous Harbour Island. Despite its size, this tiny island of the Bahamas has a fantastic collection of dining spots. Our local expert Pamela H. Murdock can’t get enough of the lobster quesadillas at Sip Sip, a laid back restaurant overlooking the immaculate white sandy beach. For fresh conch salad there’s no better place than Queen Conch, a rustic shack on Bay Street.
Enjoy some time out on the water as you take a short boat trip to Ocean Tally, a bar and grill found in a lighthouse on Eleuthera. For the best sunsets and Italian food, grab a table at Acquapazza, found close to the ruins of an allegedly haunted plantation house. For something more relaxed pick up some supplies at the various shops in town and enjoy a picnic lunch on a deserted island or arrange a fishing charter to catch your own dinner to be grilled at the end of the day back at your beach house.
Make the most of this island food paradise vacationing with Pamela H. Murdock here.
Jamaica is one of the most vibrant islands of the Caribbean and their cuisine is no exception to this. It’s most famous dish has to be its spicy jerk pork or jerk chicken and our Caribbean expert Sylvia Delvaille Jones of Villas and Apartments Abroad suggests going straight to where it was invented: Boston Bay, Port Antonio. If you can’t make it there, you’ll be able to enjoy this tasty dish at food shacks can be found on roadsides around the island.
For the most succulent lobsters, conch salad and others from the sea, stop in at Lobster Shack, located just down from Round Hill Hotel, roaming with royals, rovers and locals. Enjoy these dishes with an ice cold bottle of local beer (Red Stripe, of course) and to the soundtrack of reggae. Here you may spot Ralph Lauren or other celebrities like shoe designer Vanessa Noel and other notables who own homes at Round Hill.
Sylvia also recommends the Driftwood Bar, found one mile out to sea and where you can enjoy reggae music, rum and coconut water, as well as Dip And Fallback served up with boiled green bananas. Little shacks serve the best local foods – ox tail and broad beans, curry goat and rice and peas, Escovitch fish and pepper shrimps – your eyes water as you eat but you can’t stop. The choices are endless.
There is also a wonderful range of fine dining options. To cool down, pick up a cone of homemade ice cream at Devon House using fresh local mangoes, papaya, nesberries, starapples, pineapples and more. Check out Harmony Hall in Ocho Rios for a gospel or jazz brunch on Sundays, where fantastic local artists also exhibit their works.
Cook up your perfect Jamaican holiday with Sylvia Delvaille Jones at this link.
The Caribbean Islands are a sunshine and beach-lovers’ vacation paradise. From rugged cliffs to gently arching coves, from crystal blue waters to vivid turquoise and from glitzy to ultra relaxed, the diversity found across these thousands of islands is immense. Your decision over which island is right for you is made much easier thanks to our mini guide filled with excellent insider advice from our regional luxury villa experts.
The northernmost of the Caribbean islands, the 700 islands and cays of The Bahamas start off the east coast of Florida and trail south to just above the Turks and Caicos. The archipelago stands out for its soft white, sandy beaches and waters ranging from clear blues to flashy jades. As such, diving and snorkeling are very popular in addition to bone and deep sea fishing. You can expect great weather all year round, a laid-back vibe and relaxed, luxurious vacation homes. Travelers craving solitude can enjoy the deserted beaches on Andros or those looking for more action can find it on Paradise Island or New Providence, where the capital city Nassau is located. Enjoy a happy medium on Harbour Island, a particular favorite of our local expert Pamela H. Murdock.
Situated off the coast of North Eleuthera, this dreamy island bordered by pale pink sand is only accessible by boat and features the homes of several well-known people including Elle Macpherson and Diane von Furstenberg. Despite its small size there is a good range of restaurants, both casual and chic, or opt for picnic on a sandbar. You can often find Pamela nibbling away on succulent lobster quesadillas at Sip Sip or digging into fresh conch salad at tiny food shack Queen Conch on Bay Street. She also suggests taking the short boat trip over to Ocean Talley, a restaurant set in a lighthouse on Eleuthera or to settle in for sunset drinks at Acquapazza. Tap into more insider knowledge of The Bahamas and where to stay via our local specialists here.
Turks and Caicos
The 40 low-lying islands of the Turks and Caicos, southeast of The Bahamas, are one of the few remaining destinations in the Caribbean that hasn’t been overrun by mass tourism. It’s an excellent option for those looking for privacy and luxury without the glitz of many of its neighbors. The island’s calm, crystal waters are ideal for snorkeling and paddleboarding, especially on graceful Grace Bay on Providenciales Island, thanks to its long, protected coral reef abundant in colorful marine life, including the endangered green turtle. Here you can also find some of the Caribbean’s best mega villas, like those available through our local experts at In Villas Veritas. There are also world class spa facilities, amazing restaurants and golf courses. You can continue exploring the archipelago from Providencialeson boat trips to some of the splendid nearby islets like Iguana Island and Water Cay. Discover the beauty and intimacy of Turks and Caicos with the help of our local villa experts at this link.
If unabashed luxury and privacy in a truly stunning setting is what you’re after then our Tim Roney, director of Villa Concierge and one of our global experts, suggests this particularly gorgeous island of the 60-island archipelago. Located north of larger Virgin Gorda, This 30-hectare tropical paradise is entirely owned by Sir Richard Branson who’s built a heavenly complete buy-out resort. Featuring Balinese design and open walls, it has ten bedrooms which can accommodate up to 30 guests. There are two beaches, several pools, tennis courts, watersport equipment and your own private chef. What else could one need? Perhaps make it an extra luxurious experience by also chartering out Mr. Branson’s private yacht the Necker Belle. Holiday in this glamorous luxury destination by contacting Tim Roney here.
For those looking to escape crowded resorts, Anguilla is the perfect destination. This is British overseas territory located east of the Virgin Islands and directly north of Saint Martin features only private vacation villas, spa resorts and small boutique hotels. A laid back, luxurious 16-mile-long island, it has pristine 33 white-sand beaches, small and large designer boutiques, art galleries and a wide variety of dining options from gourmet restaurants to food shacks. It’s a haven for seafood and fish lovers, some of the best in the region and active holiday goers won’t be disappointed with the island’s excellent watersport opportunities from sailing to windsurfing. With the Caribbean’s highest concentration of extravagant “super villas,” especially on Shoal Bay and Meads Bay, our local villa specialists can assist you with planning the perfect luxury holiday to Anguilla. Reach out to them here.
St Martin/St Maarten
Discovered by Christopher Columbus on November 11, 1493, the island was baptised after that day’s saint. The 37-square-mile island played a key role in West Indies trade from the 16th to 19th centuries and was eventually shared by the French and the Dutch. Today its spectacular beaches, tropical forests and vibrant restaurant scene provide an ideal vacation setting for those who want to relax or those who want to experience the best Caribbean glamor. Discover historic forts, plantations and old houses in Marigot, peruse the fabulous tax-free boutiques of Philipsburg, lounge by the pool of one of Terres Basses’ mega villas or find out why the island is known as the “Food Capital of the Caribbean” by tasting your way around the incredible restaurants of the picturesque fishing village of Grand Case. Our local expert Meghann Cundall of Carimo recommends those looking for laidback beach restaurants with amazing food should Le Sand,Calmos Cafe and Kontiki or for an amazing gourmet experience book in at Bacchus, Temptation or theLoterie Farm. Get more fabulous insider tips and the best luxury villas on the island with the assistance of our local experts here.
St. Barthlémey is a tiny (8 square miles) piece of France in the middle of the Caribbean, south of Anguilla. Our local expert Peg Walsh ofSt Barth Properties tells us more about this small but exceptional island:
St. Barth is not like any other island in the Caribbean. There is no poverty. There is a Swedish influence because Sweden owned the island in between French rule, as such, many of the streets in Gustavia have Swedish names. It’s renowned for having the best food in the Caribbean. The restaurants are fantastic, but casual. No jacket and tie! We also have sidewalk cafés, designer boutiques, and beautiful beaches. Since no high-rises taller than a palm tree can be built here, the island maintains its charm. There are no all-inclusive hotels, instead there are small 5-star hotels and over 250 private villas scattered across the island. The airport is also tiny. The largest plane that can land here is a 19-seater STOL.it, therefore it takes an extra effort to get here which keeps away large crowds. Many of the beaches have been protected from development, so exploring the beaches is a favorite pastime. – Peg Walsh, St Barth Properties.
Discover the best luxury accommodation on Saint Barthlémey via our experts here.
Photo Credit: Andrew Moor / Flickr
With stretches of deserted sand bordered with aquamarine waters, this 174-square-mile island, and its sister island Barbuda, offer a wonderful beach escape with a healthy dose of history and local flare. In the southeast of the Island, English Harbour has long attracted sailors due to its sheltered bay, a tradition it retains today being a popular yachting and sailing destination. It also plays host to the Antigua Sailing Week, held annually at the end of April/early May. Visitors can visit its historic Nelson’s Dockyard or catch a passionate game of cricket. Discerning travelers can stay far removed from the cruise ships docked in the capital St John’s by vacationing in exquisite Jumby Bay, another favorite secret spot in the Caribbean of our expert Tim Roney of Villa Concierge. Here you’ll find the best exclusive, excellent fully staffed private villas along with a range of great restaurants, art galleries and other luxurious facilities. Use Tim Roney’s astute expertise to find you the perfect villa in Antigua at this link.
In the south of the Caribbean, to the east of Saint Lucia, Barbados offers interesting colonial history, miles of white sandy beaches, a vibrant culinary scene and an abundance of island charm. Considered one of the safest islands of the Caribbean, the 21-mile long, 14-mile wide island offers a wide range of holiday options, though tends to attracts the uber-rich drawn by its collection of lavish vacation homes. The glamorous west coast of the island has narrow beaches with calm waters bordered by classy hotels and luxury rentals. There’s something for everyone on Barbados and visitors can spend their days lounging on the gorgeous beaches, hitting the waves surf board in hand, roaming through tropical forests, visiting heritage sites of historic Bridgetown or sipping some of the island’s delicious rum on a terrace overlooking the sea.
Our local Barbados specialists Blue Sky Luxury draw on their 30+ years in the luxury rental business in Barbados to bring you the most exceptional villas on the island. Let them help you plan the perfect holiday on this spectacular island by contacting them here.
Canouan, The Grenadines
The Grenadines may have 32 islands, but it’s hard to beat the exceptional beauty of chic Canouan with its divine beaches, picturesque coves and bays, steep green mountains dense in tropical forests and jaw-dropping sea views.
“But what really makes Canouan so special is its famous breeze,” reveals another of our global experts, Sylvia Delvaille Jones director of Villas and Apartments Abroad. “The island is ideally positioned to enjoy the full benefit of the northeast trade winds all year round.”
Spend your days combing its beaches, hiking into the hills, discovering its quaint towns or taking your clubs out on one of the world’s most scenic golf courses: The Grenadines Estate Golf Club. At the end of the day, soak up the spectacular sunsets over the neighboring islands and bobbing sail boats at one of the island’s flower encircled villas. Let Sylvia help you plan an amazing island holiday on Canouan here.
The beach is synonymous with romance, so it’s not surprising that it features high on the list of locations for a destination wedding. That said, there are amazing variety of beaches on the planet, each with different types of sand, shades of blue waters and natural surroundings. Make your beach wedding dreams come true at these heavenly seaside villas stretching from New Zealand all the way to Mexico.
Six Shillings – Harbour Island, The Bahamas
The stunning sands and waters of the Bahamas beckon those looking to tie the knot on the beach. One of the most memorable islands is the laidback, yet exclusive Harbour Island. Our local expert, Pamela H. Murdock, tells us more about organizing your special day on this unique island:
“As small as Harbour Island is, it’s big for destination weddings. And it’s something the island knows how to do perfectly. Whether one gets married in a church or on the beach, this idyllic isle is completely romantic and fun. No matter where the location of the actual ceremony is, brides should definitely plan at least one event on the pale pink sand beach framed by clear turquoise water. What could be a more beautiful, fairy-tale setting?
“As wedding guests are usually on island for at least three days, there’s lots to do to keep everyone busy – from charming shops and a variety of restaurants to in-house massage and personal training to boat charters for diving, snorkeling, fishing (deep sea and bone) and picnics on a deserted island. All of which we can organize for clients who rent villas through us.
“Another fun feature on the island are the golf carts which are how one gets around. One bride even planned a island-wide treasure hunt and guests had great fun zipping around clutching the list of things they must find. Golf carts are also ideal as one can’t get into too much trouble – especially after a couple of glasses of champagne!”
For a small wedding of under 20 people, Pamela recommends the Six Shillings Villa. The secluded estate has two lovely beach houses located on two acres of well-landscaped oceanfront property. The main house features a Great Room with cathedral ceilings, a comfortable living area, dining alcove and a fully equipped kitchen. There are three spacious, air-conditioned bedrooms that open onto a wrap around deck with both shaded and sunny sitting areas as well as a covered dining area overlooking the beach.
Twenty-five feet from the main house is a quaint cottage, tucked in the lush garden, which can accommodated an additional two guests. It’s immersed in palms and bougainvilleas and the other flowering trees scattered throughout the garden. The beach is a mere few steps away.
To marry in The Bahamas, couples must present valid passports and birth certificates. Divorce decrees are also required if applicable. Pamela will take care of the rest! Reach out to her here to start planning a beautiful Bahamian beach wedding.
Residence on the Rocks – Mahé, The Seychelles
What setting could be more perfect for a beach wedding than on one voted best in the world? In addition to the Seychelles’ amazing beaches, the area surrounding spectacular Intendance Beach features some of the most pristine indigenous forests in the world, allowing you to be completely enveloped by natural beauty on your special day.
High above Intendance Beach is the magnificent Residence on the Rocks, a private four-bedroom villa found on the estate of the Banyan Tree Resort. Thanks to its discrete position, the Residence offers supreme privacy yet with easy access to the beach and the 5-star amenities of the resort. The villa is perfect for the bride and groom and possibly the wedding party whereas the other guests can be lodged at the hotel.
The ceremony can take place directly on this breathtaking beach or it can be performed at the gazebo of the Residence where guests can watch it from the pool deck. The staff of the Banyan Tree can assist with all arrangements and even have a variety of wedding packages. These include everything from beauty services for the bride to stylish tropical bridal bouquets and groom’s boutonnieres and from signature two-tier wedding cakes to scenic helicopter flights before or after the ceremony. Catering options range from a gourmet grill on the sand to a more formal sit down dinner with fine wines and house champagne. A personal wedding coordinator can also be hired for the occasion.
Afterwards, you can kick back and relax in this piece of pure paradise. Reach out to the Residence on the Rocks at this link to make your beach wedding dreams a reality.
Casa Aramara – Punta Mita, Mexico
Over in Mexico, the spectacular Casa Aramara, by In Villa Veritas, is ideal for a beach destination wedding in every way. Located in posh Punta Mita, north of Puerta Vallarta, a wedding at this gorgeous 12-bedroom estate facing the turquoise waters of the Pacific, can be customized to fit clients’ desires and the sky’s the limit.
The largest property in Punta Mita, the estate’s spacious grounds are filled with lush tropical gardens bordering a gentle, beautiful beach. The exquisite beachfront house sleeps 24 with endless nearby options for additional guests including several estates on the same beach. Newly renovated in 2013, the design emphasizes indoor-outdoor living with airy rooms with exotic and colorful touches.
Catering for the big day can be as fancy or fun as you wish, from lobster cookouts or tacos and prepared by the estate’s two 5-Star executive chefs trained at some of the best restaurants in the world. Music can be arrange with live bands playing lively reggae or rock or a classical 10-piece orchestra.
Add some Mexican flare to your luxurious beach wedding with In Villas Veritas here.
Kauri Cove, Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Make your wedding an event to remember on your own private beach and villa in New Zealand’s awe-inspiring semi-tropical Bay of Islands.
Designed by acclaimed New Zealand architect Pete Bossley, Kauri Cove is somewhere that stands out from the crowd – literally. This stunning beachside house, available through Touch of Spice, has been skilfully built to take advantage of the soothing water and island views as well as to fit into its native surroundings on the idyllic Moturua Island.
Additional features include accommodation for 14, chefs’ kitchen, heli pad, ample lawn space for a marquee, children’s playground and games room. Access to the island is restricted to boat or helicopter so you know it’s going to be an exclusive location. Plus, the warm Bay of Island waters and golden sand will make for a picture perfect backdrop on your special day.
Touch of Spice’s team can help make all the necessary arrangements to ensure that your wedding in this exclusive and exceptional destination exceeds perfection. Contact them here to start planning.
Little Harbour Estates, Anguilla
With over 30 sandy beaches and populated mostly with small boutique hotels and luxury villas, Anguilla is an ideal location for a chic Caribbean beach wedding in stunning surroundings. A magical and memorable event can be arranged at the luxurious Little Harbour Estates, available through In Villas Veritas.
Set within four acres of lovely tropical gardens and the quiet waters of Little Harbour, the estate is the ultimate in luxury and privacy. Comprised of two villas, Indigo and Le Bleu, each property has two private swimming pools, a tennis court, gym, private beach access and fabulous views out to the Caribbean Sea and islands beyond. The two villas combined can sleep 40 guests in 20 bedrooms, plus there are many options for overflow guests from villas to nearby hotels.
Little Harbour Estates has an Executive Wedding Concierge Team that can work with couples to custom design the perfect wedding that reflects their personality and fits into their budget. Every wedding at Little Harbour Estates is a truly memorable occasion. Contact In Villa Veritas at this link to learn more about this fabulous beach wedding venue.
The crystal clear coves of the Caribbean Sea, the pure rivers of the Rockies, the tremendous waves of the Pacific; the diverse waters of the Americas beckon locals and visitors alike to cartier replica enjoy their splendors to the fullest by partaking in a wide range of watersports. While there might be a vast variety to choose from no matter where you go, there is always the ultimate sport for your specific holiday destination. Discover the best places across the Americas to pick up a paddle, strap up a tank and mask or climb aboard thanks to these excellent insider tips.
Diving – Harbour Island, The Bahamas
Over in The Bahamas, one of the best places for diving in the Caribbean is Harbour Island. Located two miles off the north coast of Eleuthera, the island offers excellent diving opportunities throughout the whole year.
“The Island was made famous by Jacques Cousteau and National Geographic,” describes our local villa expert Pamela H. Murdock. “One can swim through ridges and coral canyons that are full of sea life. For those also who love underwater photography, this is a spectacular spot.
“On the whole diving is better during the rainy season, May to November, when the water is warmer and clearer, and we can better access Bat Islands as well due to lower winds. In the dry season, however, with the cold water, we get the rays in abundance, and very rich plankton filled water that creates a lot of action.
“At different times of the year, you’ll be able to catch certain sealife. Whales are usually visible from January to March, and then again from August through November. The season to see sea turtles starts in June and extend through November. Giant Manta Rays and all rays (large schools of hublot replica golden rays and devil rays, and tons of roving stingrays) appear from January to March. Whale Sharks occasionally come, but it’s hard to guess a season, however, they usually appear from December to April as well. Since they like the warmer water, sharks are generally visible from May to November.”
Pamela H. Murdock can not only arrange the best places to stay in Harbour Island but also excursions with the island’s best dive master. Contact her here.
Snorkeling – Turks and Caicos
There are many fabulous places to snorkel in the Caribbean, however, according to Laura Blair ofIn Villa Veritas, the snorkeling in the Turks and Caicos is phenomenal.
“The archipelago has the third largest barrier reef in the world,” explains Laura. “The water is the most lovely turquoise (pictured above) and the reef is amazing and teeming with fish and coral life.”
Providenciales offers some excellent snorkeling right from the beach. You can enjoy the best snorkeling off the north coast where there are two reefs. The Bight Reef is easy to access, but the more difficult to find Smith’s Reef has much more to see. Therefore, it might be better to book a boat trip to truly experience the reef, something In Villa Veritas can arrange. You’ll be able to swim above rainbow coral, spot some sea turtles, stingrays and other tropical sea life.
Scuba diving has become quite popular in Mexico, but adventurous and experienced divers might want to try cenote diving off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, as suggested by our experts at Catherwood Travels.
The omega replica peninsula sits on a huge limestone platform where freshwater flows like rivers through underground cave systems. Part of this land collapsed after the last ice age, creating sinkholes called cenotes. These offer one of the most unique diving experiences in the world.
However, it is mandatory to be certified in order to explore the hidden depths of these remarkable formations of stalagmites and stalactites. There are dive tours offered at every experience level and led by certified dive masters and supported by veteran ground crews.
Catherwood Travelscan create custom cultural and active experiences in the Yucatan as well as fabulous accommodation at the area’s best haciendas and villas. Discover their fabulous offerings at this link.
Kiteboarding/Kitesurfing – Anguilla
Kiteboarding (also known as kitesurfing) is today’s fastest-growing water sport, and you can be part of it the next time you visit the beautiful island of Anguilla.
“If you’re new to kiteboarding we suggest taking some lessons from Anguilla Watersports,” says Sue Ricketts of Ricketts Luxury Properties. “They have the one and only Kiteboarding Academy on the island and it is also considered by many to be the best in the Caribbean.They spare no effort in providing the ultimate kiting experience.
“They use the latest kiteboarding gear, uphold stringent safety guidelines, are respectful of the environment, and provide excellent instruction using a step-by-step approach so that you learn how to ride both quickly and safely. Anguilla has the perfect beaches and ideal weather conditions for learning how to kiteboard. Based on our experience, an average person needs 8 to 10 hours of kiting instruction in order to experience the thrill of the first solo ride. The best place to kiteboard is Cove Bay on the south-west coast of Anguilla.”
Kiteboarding is also taking off in Brazil and our experts at Matueté Villas recommend taking up your board and sail in Búzios.
“Búzios is known as ‘the Brazilian St. Tropez’ and attracts visitors from all over the world,” elaborates Martin Frankenberg of Matueté. “It has 23 beaches, some of which have warm waters, others cold waters, and a lot of wind for this sport. It is located close to Rio de Janeiro, perfect to spend a few days before or after the Olympics.”
The wide Manguinhos Beach is the hub for kiteboarding, where beginners can start by taking a few lessons. It also has an authentic fish market which you can peruse before stopping for lunch to enjoy the fresh catches of the day. For a more star-studded stay, head to Ferradura Beach. It hugs a charming cove with a sea of opulent mansions dotting its hillsides.
Matueté Villas has some gorgeous vacation homes right in Búzios with breathtaking views of the beach and ocean. Learn more about them at this link.
Windsurfing – Maui,Hawaii
According to our experts at Hawaii Hideaways you can experience amazing windsurfing from your own backyard in exquisite Banyan Cove on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Located on the beautiful north shore of the island, it is one of the best locales for windsurfing in all of Hawaii and could even be considered the current windsurfing capital of the world.
It is within easy walking distance from the artsy town of Paia, where all like-minded athletes play and dwell. It’s also nearby the world famous Hookipa Beach Park and the Kapalua Ridge Trail, though the natural beauty of the island and its verdant tropical vegetation are everywhere you look.
Hawaii Hideawayshas some amazing villas on Maui that are a paradise for windsurfers. See more about their designer properties here.
Surfing – Kauai, Hawaii
Surfing immediately comes to mind when Hawaii is mentioned. Sylvia Delvaille Jones of Villas and Apartments Abroad sends us to one of the best places to hit the waves: the beautiful island of Kauai.
“It’s on the northern coast which is very lush and exotic,” details Sylvia. “Since it tends to be windier, it’s perfect for wind driven sports. A main focus of visitors to this island is outdoors activities, especially at sea.
“Hanalei Bay with its backdrop of mountains and waterfalls is a great base. Another ideal spot is Kahili Bay, one of Kauai’s most secluded and scenic beaches. Multisport lovers might prefer Rock Quarry beach with its excellent surfing, as well as paddle boarding/kayaking on the river.”
Montana has some of the most awe-inspiring scenery of the Americas. Amidst the mountains snake powerful rivers, like the fabled Yellowstone River, the longest free-flowing river in North America. It originates in Yellowstone National Park and flows almost 700 miles to its confluence with the Missouri River.
One of the best watersport activities on this formidable river is white water rafting, advise our experts at Mountain Homes. They suggest trying out this activity through the legendary rapids of Yankee Jim Canyon. The location is ideal for first time rafters as well as experienced thrill-seekers. The narrow canyon features class III and class IV rapids and racing over them is a pulse-raising experience. The river can be paddled during a full or half day rafting trip like those offered by Wild West White Water Rafting.
You can experience Montana’s exceptional nature to the fullest by staying at the luxury lodges and homes by Mountain Homes found in the vicinity of Yellowstone River. Find out what they have available here.