There are luxury villas and then there are villas that crank cosseting up to the max with up-to-the-minute tech, dedicated butlers, adept chefs, helipads and endless distractions. We’ve selected private pads – both family-friendly and posse-ready – where next-level pampering comes guaranteed…
The extra mile Things look up as soon as the plane lands in Sri Lanka: a private seaplane or chauffeured car awaits you at arrivals. Your entourage includes a butler, concierge, spa therapists and chef Cyril, who takes requests but has a few tricks under his toque, too. He’s a dab hand at breakfasts and barbecues.
Your stay French designer Reda Amalou and AW2 architects have crafted something akin to a tropical Forbidden City. Skip from spa, to pool, to hot tub and try not to envy the kids’ water slide. This stretch of beach is all yours, but less flop-and-drop types can play tennis and shuffleboard or arrange yoga sessions.
To do Learn how to make Sri Lankan curries with chef Cyril. Tennis coaches and personal trainers are on speed dial. And, more pulse-pumping pursuits are free, too (CrossFit, volleyball, biking), plus some restorative spa treatments. For an extra charge, you can whale-watch and visit a tea estate.
For kids Parents, ready your prayer hands: four free hours of entertainment are included each day (for kids aged four and up). They’ll cook simple local dishes, go cycling or play cricket, football and shuffleboard. Your butler can arrange babysitting, too.
Smith Extra A bottle of champagne.
VILLA SUNGAI BALI
The extra mile Meet Made (pronounced Mah-day) your personal concierge, on call 24/7 – you’ll miss him when you go. He leads a team of chauffeurs, chefs and spa therapists, and will speed you through arrivals like a rock star. Order meals each day and the chef will pick up ingredients in the market (charged, but with no mark-up); and Made won’t raise an eyebrow if you arrive clinking with duty-free spirits.
Your stay This greenery-swathed jungle eyrie in Bali overlooks a river in tranquil Cepaka – inland from Canggu. It must be booked exclusively, but you’ll want the sunny terraces, veiled four posters and serpentine pool – with underwater speakers – all to yourself anyway. A bespoke citrus-lily scent has also been wafted through your new home’s halls.
To do Made can plot an itinerary before arrival. Leave room for swimming and spa treatments (just US$30 an hour). Your chauffeur’s on command for shopping and nightlife in Seminyak and surrounds. Temples, markets and gold and black beaches beckon, too. Or, meet local artisans, try kechak dancing and horse rides on the beach.
For kids Kids are spoilt rotten with custom sarongs and menus of tempura fish, banana crêpes and more. Baby kit runs from formula to wipes, toys and board games. Babysitters can be booked and tea parties, local-school visits, hair-braiding, kite-making, gamelan shows, quad biking, even submarine rides can be arranged.
Smith Extra A 60-minute spa treatment for each adult and a 30-minute massage for each child under 15.
The extra mile Your villa manager is a one-man command centre – they’ll see to all wishes. Pick and mix your staff from an array of yoga instructors, personal trainers and even a Muay Thai champion. Private chefs schooled in Thailand‘s traditional dishes can be hired, too, or work your way through choice-laden menus – from barbecue parties to juice cleanses.
Your stay There’s an air of ‘supervillain with taste’ to this modernist villa: a Hockney-esque structure embedded into a Koh Samui hillside. It’s vast and has a pool with underwater speakers, gym, cinema and Muay Thai ring. Or, get pummelled in more relaxing style in the private spa or Jacuzzi baths. Bay views are all around and meditation nests sit on suntrap terraces.
To do Refine your serve on the tennis court and take a short sandy walk to the beach. A 43ft yacht is just one of a fleet you can charter. Beyond your stay, take ATV safaris and waterfall hikes or thrill-seek with bungee jumps, go-karts and Thai-boxing tournaments.
For kids There’s fun aplenty, with a trampoline, table tennis and games room with video and retro arcade games. There’s also a basketball court and wondrous waterparks Cocosplash and Pink Elephant are close by. Nannies and babysitters can be booked.
Smith Extra A Thai cooking class with lunch.
The extra mile A dynamic duo, your personal butler and chef, will look after you in Santorini. Chauffeurs can be enlisted, too, and if you need to secure a chopper – for your private helipad, natch – your team can help to arrange. Otherwise, return airport transfers by car (and a beach shuttle) are free.
Your stay Overlooking the caldera from Megalochori, this immense stay is carved into the side of a rocky cliff. There are sweeping terraces for by-the-sea dinners, a promontory for ‘I’m king of the world’ moments, large pool and barbecue area. Interiors are typically pallid, yet expertly styled.
To do Oia’s cobbled streets and lively eateries are a 35-minute drive away, and ancient Akrotiri is just a 10-minute drive if ruins rev your motor. The island’s black-sand beaches beckon, too.
For kids They’ll be happy enough splashing around in the pool, and your butler can help with babysitters and days out. The chef makes excellent kids’ meals, with some trad picks.
Smith Extra A set of Aesop bath products.
VILLA SOLA CABIATI
The extra mile This stay is old school, right down to your butler’s white gloves. Ask nicely and you can tour the off-limits upper floors, where the sauciest artefacts (Napoleon’s hat and bed, his wife Josephine’s clothes) are kept. The chef does simple pastas and Baroque banquets equally well – food and most drinks, including wine, are included, so, buon appetito…
Your stay Lake Como in front, Rhaetian Alps behind: this villa’s all party and has been since the 1500s, when the Milanese duchy used it to swing from the chandeliers. Its parterre garden is groomed, Lombard heirlooms are wantonly displayed and all spare inches are swagged, frescoed and stuccoed – from swirling marbled floors to the ceiling’s Tiepolo-school paintings. Finished with gilding, Murano glass and trompe-l’oeil you’ll buy into: it’s a rare beauty.
To do Pass the time as dukes of swagger might: garden strolls, lazy swims… Guests can use neighbouring Grand Hotel Tremezzo’s spa, gym, tennis court and private beach, too. However, here you can indulge in dolce far niente (the art of doing nothing). After all, enlightenment poet, Giuseppe Parini, dubbed the villa ‘la Quiete‘ (the calm).
For kids Bambini and priceless antiques don’t make for relaxing holidays.
Smith Extra An hour-long boat tour of Lake Como with prosecco.
For more private-pad perfection, explore our luxury villas around the world.