Headlines - USA Today - "Luxury villas set up house at more resorts"

Luxury villas set up house at more resorts

By Kitty Bean Yancey, USA TODAY
For big spenders, the suite life no longer is sweet enough. Resorts are wooing the well-heeled with villas that offer the privacy of a luxurious residence plus hotel amenities, activities and services.

June 27, the One&Only Ocean Club in the Bahamas (where Cindy Crawford wed and Oprah Winfrey unwinds) unveils three oceanfront villas with outdoor tubs with jets and infinity-edged pools. The three- and four-bedroom villas come with a butler and iPods programmed with guest-requested tunes and run $4,000-$5,000 daily in summer.

High-end travelers' needs are changing, says Howard Karawan, executive vice president of Kerzner International, which owns Ocean Club. "They're seeking a higher level of exclusivity and more privacy, their own protected area."

Hotel villas are a big trend, agrees Anne Scully, a villa specialist at McCabe Bremer Travel in McLean, Va. Guests get "all the features and benefits of a resort, but you've got your beautiful house, private pool and nobody around you."

Lodgings have been adding or updating villas. A sampling:

Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands added villas featuring oversized living and dining areas, private pools and outdoor showers. Low-season rates are $1,500 nightly for the two-bedroom; $2,000 for the three-bedroom.

Demand is so high that three more are going up, says Meg Byrne of Rosewood hotels, which manages Little Dix.

• Recently renovated Jumby Bay Resort off the coast of Antigua draws the famous to 11 hotel villas. Rates start at $1,500 for two this time of year, including all meals and alcoholic beverages.

• Starwood's Santa Marina Resort & Villas on the Greek island of Mykonos boasts two- to four-bedroom villas that run $1,600-$6,000 nightly in June.

Sandy Lane on Barbados offers a luxe five-bedroom villa starting at $8,000 a night.

House-like hotel lodging is increasingly favored by families, many with nannies in tow. "When you start paying for four or five deluxe rooms, a villa could be a better price," Scully says. Plus, kids can play in their own pool without disturbing other guests.

At a growing number of resorts, including Jumby Bay and some Four Seasons properties, travelers also can rent private homes furnished by their wealthy owners.

West Virginia's The Greenbrier offers accommodations in privately owned "Estate Homes." Rates run $2,000-$4,000 daily in summer for three- and four-bedroom lodgings and include breakfast and dinner.

At Parrot Cay in the Turks & Caicos, the star-struck can even vacation in a villa owned by Bruce Willis.