No matter what incredible getaways are on your list this year, we likely have a villa right where you’re going. These six—some of our newest—just happen to be located right near the major attractions, beaches, main streets, and more of six highly-desirable destinations. It doesn’t hurt that these vacation rentals themselves are just as alluring as the cities, towns, and islands they’re found in.
Great Bluff Estate on Grand Cayman Island, Caribbean
Close to: Barefoot Beach, Collier’s Beach, Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park
If a Caribbean getaway is in the cards, Great Bluff Estate in the East End of Grand Cayman Island should be on your radar. Nestled amid bluffs on the island’s North Shore, this waterfront villa boasts a private beach where you can snorkel and enjoy panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea. The recently-renovated home takes its design cues right from the Caribbean too, with white stucco facades, a rooftop of cobalt-blue tile, and a terracotta motor court. And while the interior is stylish and filled with windows that allow breathtaking glimpses of the ocean from every angle, the multi-tiered outdoor living areas are the real stunners of the property. There’s two green-turf lawns, a charming palapa, a wood gazebo, an inviting freshwater pool, and a hammock perfect for daydreaming.
Once you’re fully relaxed and recharged, head to nearby Barefoot Beach for a dip or Collier’s Beach for more snorkeling and solitude. Also nearby are The Blowholes, the East End’s famous seaside caverns that, when waves wash in and pressure builds, shoot impressive pillars of seawater as much as 20 feet into the air. Ready to leave the coastline? Don’t miss a visit to Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, a quick drive from your villa, where you can wander through magnificent gardens and see among the blooms, the islands’ national flower–the wild banana orchid.
Villa Gilda in Sicily, Italy
Close to: the ancient towns of Noto and Siracuse
Villa Gilda is the ideal base for exploring the rural south-east coast of Sicily—that is, if you can pull yourself away from the beautiful villa itself. Modern in design and made of pale, locally-found stone, it perches gracefully on a hillside overlooking olive groves which stretch all the way to the coast. The expertly landscaped garden incorporates palms, cactus, olive trees, and even fruits and vegetables. And in the casual manner the Italian countryside is known for, guests are welcome to simply help themselves to any of those natural treasures.
While Villa Gilda seems like a rural escape, it’s located just a 10-minute drive from the charming UNESCO World Heritage town of Noto, one of the south-east coast’s gems, which is known for its distinctively curvy baroque architecture. It’s an excellent place to dreamily wander, taking in sights like the reconstructed 18th-century Noto Cathedral and the Palazzo Ducezio, with its gilded Hall of Mirrors. While there, don’t miss a stop at Caffe Sicilia, a fourth-generation owned café that opened in 1892 and is renown as one of the best cafes in Italy. There’s also plenty of day trips within striking distance, and one especially popular excursion is to the ancient city of Siracuse. The town is known for its impressive ancient ruins. Its central Archaeological Park Neapolis includes a Roman Amphitheater, the Greek Theatre and one particular must-see just underneath the theatre: the Orecchio di Dionisio, a famous limestone cave shaped like a human ear—which, fittingly, boasts some incredible acoustics.
Villa Agua Clara in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
Close to: Playa Hermosa, the town of Santa Teresa, Playa Santa Teresa
Tucked into the jungle, airy Villa Agua Clara is designed for the kind of indoor-outdoor living that takes full advantage of Costa Rica’s sunshine. The villa is laid out around a courtyard with a private pool and al-fresco shower, and all of the living areas are open-sided. The casual-chic decor plays up organic materials and natural textures—it truly fits right into the lush jungle surroundings. But the best part is that just beyond this handsome hideaway, the beach beckons. The clear blue waters of popular Playa Hermosa are a two-minute jaunt down a romantic, winding path. A short drive also delivers you to the center of the up-and-coming beach town of Santa Teresa and it’s world-class surf break at Playa Santa Teresa. And this is no ho-hum town, it’s one The New York Times has recently called “the next Tulum.” Not surprisingly, this just-under-the-radar hotspot is a surfer’s paradise, but it’s also filled with unexpected gems. One of those is that this tiny town has a Japanese sushi master, Koji Hyodo of the excellent Koji’s. Don’t miss trying the town’s plethora of organic, all-natural local fare too. Also notable is the semi-secret bar and restaurant Clandestina (means “clandestine”) that’s hidden in the jungle behind the Montezuma Butterfly Gardens.
Villa Rocca in West Los Angeles, California
Close to: Rodeo Drive, the Getty Center, Santa Monica Beach and Pier, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Grove
A striking blend of California modern with a bucolic Italian elegance, Villa Rocca is one of Los Angeles’s dreamiest secluded getaways. Lush gardens and tall trees hide the home, and a ivy-covered facade complete its fairy-tale good looks. Located in the high-end Bel Air/Brentwood area of the city, the home makes the most of Southern California’s year-round indoor-outdoor lifestyle. Three guest rooms enjoy direct access to the terrace or pool, and throughout the house, expansive glass doors and oversize windows offer views of the verdant surroundings. There’s a swimming pool, plenty of chaise lounge chairs to relax on, and a spacious terrace—all extremely private.
When you’re ready to explore LA, you’re about four miles from the iconic, two-mile-long luxury shopping mecca of Rodeo Drive (yes, to have your own Pretty Woman moment) and the renowned Getty Center, a campus of the Getty Museum filled with pre-20th-century European paintings like Van Gogh’s Irises, drawings, and sculptures. Also a short drive away: the famous Santa Monica Beach and Pier—the historic pier’s midway is an excellent place to watch the sun set—plus the Hollywood Bowl amphitheater and The Grove’s celebrated open-air shopping mall.
Burj Gate Penthouse in Downtown Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Close to: the Dubai Mall, Dubai Fountain, Dubai Opera, City Walk, and Jumeirah Beach
When in ultramodern Dubai, it only makes sense to stay in the center of the action. The spectacular Burj Gate Penthouse checks all the boxes: the apartment is an easy walk or drive from the city’s must-see Dubai fountain, the largest choreographed fountain in the world, as well as the massive 2,000-seat performing arts centre, the Dubai Opera. The Mall of the Emirates, the world’s largest mall by total area, is also nearby—and yes, this is the place that has the spacious indoor ski area, Ski Dubai, within it. Burj Gate Penthouse is also just over three miles from glorious, powdery white sand Jumeirah Beach on the Persian Gulf. And when you’re within, you can see nearly everywhere you might like to go. The dozens of windows all frame breathtaking views of the sea and city skyline–including the iconic Burj Khalifa building. The apartment is also exquisitely furnished, with an overall look that reads very modern-chic-meets-Arabian-magnificence, thanks to the tasteful gold accents throughout.
Villa Agar near Marrakech, Morocco
Close to: Marrakech and the historic Medina quarter
Located on the famous Route Amizmiz just outside of Marrakech, striking Villa Agar is part of the Royal Fairmont Palm Resort—and includes access to all of its amenities, including its outstanding golf course. The house is divvied between a main house and guest cottage, both set on expansive private grounds surrounded within high pisé walls in classic Moroccan style. There’s a swimming pool, olive trees, modernist sculptures, and plenty of chaise loungers to linger on, plus a beautiful veranda perfect for dining al fresco. And when you want to leave your home base, Marrakech and its historic, labyrinthine Medina are within easy reach. Obviously, you can’t miss haggling in the souk or seeing treasures of the Medina like the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square and lively marketplace or exploring the Ben Youssef Madrasa, a stunning former Islamic college-turned-historic-site that’s the largest madrasa in Morocco.