With Thanksgiving, the December holidays, and spring break all on the horizon, the best vacation rentals are already starting to book up. So: Will it be the Bahamas beaches this year, a ski break in Breckenridge, or maybe a Santorini escape? Here’s eight of our most sought-after homes, all exquisite for their own reasons, and all still available… for now. Act fast.
Casa Aramara, Punta Mita
Top-Rated for: Treating guests to the experience of having it all (quite literally!).
When early 20th-century performer William Pruette sang in the 1905 operetta Mlle. Modiste, the lyrics “I want what I want when I want it,” he may as well have been touting the lifestyle of the Punta Mita vacation home of media mogul Joe Francis. Casa Aramara, a 12-bedroom, 13-bathroom, two-swimming pool, fully-staffed villa is the epitome of luxury. The ornamentation is exquisite, the work of the world-famous English interior designer, Martyn Lawrence Bullard. The track record is on point; past (and often repeat) guests include celebrities like the Jenner-Kardashian family, Jennifer Aniston, Russell Wilson, and dozens more. And, oh, the amenities! They’re practically unimaginable. For starters, professional frozen yogurt, popcorn, and cotton candy machines are all on-site; there’s badminton, basketball, and beach volleyball courts, and a game room is outfitted with air hockey and billiards. Oh, and there’s an ANYTHING™ button, a Casa Aramara trademark that allows you to make any request imaginable with the push of a button—and Francis guarantees that “every request is accommodated” thanks to a 15-person full time staff that anticipates your needs seemingly before you do. Don’t lift a finger: A five-star chef and 24-hour butler service are part of the villa’s team. Pruette’s ditty continues: “I eat when I’m hungry, and drink when I’m dry.” Nowhere is this fantasy played out better than at Casa Aramara.
Michaela Residence, Santorini
Top-Rated for: Spectacular sunsets views in a lavish setting.
Oh, those Santorini sunsets—they sure do leave a mental picture. The Greek island turns heads with its multicolored cliffs, white-washed buildings, and panoramic caldera vistas. And Santorini boasts some of the most sought-after sundowns in the world—and there’s more than one extraordinary way to properly experience one. Take your pick of vantage points between a sunset cruise, the picturesque port at Ammoudi Bay, or the Santo Winery. Yet, Michaela Residence, a peaceful five-bedroom villa on the hillside in Akrotiri, may just be better than any of those other options. Not only is the home elevated to enhance the sightlines, its terrace features an immense infinity pool with unobstructed views. Plus, simply being in a private abode avoids the crowds jockeying for the best view, as well as sidesteps the endless selfie snapshots and sundown clapping. As a guests at Michaela, you don’t have to share the incredible view with anyone. Spending the day’s end gazing out over the island from your private hilltop courtyard, where outdoor furniture surrounds a fireplace and a wood-burning oven. PS, the alfresco dining area overlooks a storied neighbor: the old Castle of Akrotiri. Though you may already feel like royalty yourself.
Seahorse Villa, Bahamas
Top-Rated for: Its private setting paired with resort amenities
What’s typically included in a signature Bahamas vacation? We say, things like living steps from the beach, having plenty of space for a big group, having an attentive staff wait on your every whim, and keeping everyone entertained at all times. So let’s just say of Seahorse Villa, check, check, check, and check. Seahorse Villa is a 2,000 square foot vacation rental on Nassau within a gated community that’s just 20 strides from the ocean. With four spacious bedrooms, it suits a party of eight looking to spread out and relax in style. Upon arrival, after a meet and greet with the villa’s personal concierge, guests receive a complimentary wristband offering access to Palm Cay Resort amenities, including the Clubhouse restaurant, tiki bar, water sports equipment, tennis courts, and spa services. Meanwhile, Seahorse Villa has its own private outdoor lounge areas with views of the beach. Cooking up dinner on the grill and serving it alfresco is so much more enjoyable with the ocean in the background. Plus, Palm Cay is a short drive from anywhere on the island you’d want to visit, including downtown Nassau and the masterful Ocean Club Golf Course. A tropical escape that everyone will enjoy? Check.
Fleurs de Provence, Provence
Top-Rated for: A serene setting and chef-worthy kitchen
The magic starts as soon as you set foot on the expansive property of Fleurs de Provence, when guests are treated to a welcome basket of seasonal fruit & local wine. As your palate grows acquainted with the region in the south of France, you’ll be thankful it doesn’t stop there. Guests at Fleurs can hire an in-house chef trained in traditional French culinary arts to take over their kitchen. Otherwise, the culinarily inclined will appreciate the home’s chef-worthy kitchen equipped with an impressive walk-in refrigerator, a double stove and double oven, and a professional fryer. Meals can also be prepared in the villa’s outdoor kitchen and enjoyed outdoors at one of the property’s picnic areas. To experience Fleurs de Provence to its fullest, spend as much time outdoors as possible; the home’s surroundings are elegant and blissful. Flanked by luxuriant gardens, aged sequoia pines, and stone fountains, the alfresco living areas here are serene without being showy, fit for hosting a classy wedding. The 19th century building is majestic but not overstated; antique tables and chairs create an old-world charm and modern artwork brings you back to present day. Even small details delight, like L’Occitane en Provence toiletries in each of the home’s nine well-appointed bathrooms. And with a tennis court and swimming pool on property, it’s easy to let go of your itinerary and spend all your time right here.
Celadon Villa, Koh Samui
Top Rated for: Peace, quiet, and harmonious living
If you’ve ever wanted to feel as though you were living in a work of art, then Celadon Villa is the place to take your next vacation. The gorgeous wall art, architecture, and scenery seem straight out of an opulent masterpiece, and luxe amenities only add to the fantasy. Guests are spoiled with included chef services—the resident chef dishes out both Thai and Western specialties—though the fully-equipped kitchen is also available for guests to prepare a DIY meal or try their hand at local Thai cooking. And if exploring greater Koh Samui is of interest, Celadon Villa is well within striking distance of several nearby beaches and villages. If it’s sand you seek, options are aplenty: For an up-tempo, waterpark-style experience, head to Bophut Beach where inflatable floating devices add hours of fun. Or, find peace and quiet at Bang Po Beach, a laid-back, classic island paradise beach that, for reasons we can’t explain, remains practically empty most of the time. Of course, Celadon itself has plenty to keep everyone happy without going anywhere. Only 300 meters from the coast, this hilltop home above Bang Po makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. A rooftop living area offers an uninterrupted view of the sea, all while surrounded by a large, L-shaped swimming pool. Spend your day swimming, or inject some friendly competition into the vacation courtesy of the available outdoor table tennis and badminton.
Slope View Chalet, Breckenridge
Top-Rated for: Days on the slopes, nights on the town
Planning this winter’s family ski trip? Look no further; we’ve got it all figured out: Slope View Chalet makes it easy to spend days on the mountain. Walk just five minutes from your door to the BreckConnect gondola, which takes you for free from downtown Breckenridge to the base of Peak 7 (Crystal Peak Lodge) and Peak 8 (One Ski Hill Place). If skiing’s not your bag, head to Carter Park, less than a mile away, where you can race down the hill instead on a sled or tube.
Slope View Chalet can accommodate a larger group, yet still affords everyone a certain level of privacy. The cozy master bedroom has a king-size bed, an ensuite bathroom with a rain shower, a walk-in closet, and a fireplace—no compromise there. The kids? They’ll be in love with their setup. Two additional bedrooms each sport queen-over-queen bunk beds and the two rooms share a separate bathroom. Plus the home has fun additions like an old-style Pacman machine—who can set the high score?!—plus a hot tub and firepit. Slope View is just a three-minute walk to Breck’s bustling Main Street, so nights out on the town (or time spent indulging in the après-ski scene if the kids are old enough) isn’t hard to come by.
Maya Retreat, Bali
Top Rated for: Absolute privacy coupled with resort-like amenities.
Bali’s Maya Retreat looks like a resort, acts like a resort, and caters to its guests just like a resort—yet it isn’t one. It’s better. It’s a (very) private estate away from the tourist crowds where a group of up to 12 can relax in peace and tranquility. Situated along the banks of the Penet River and surrounded by mature trees and lush tropical greenery, Maya delivers that feeling of being completely removed from society. Each of its six bedrooms is like its own hideaway, with either a private garden (the Honeymoon Suite), a sitting area (Riverside Suites), or a patio and shared plunge pool (Upper Terrace Suites). Plus you can achieve ultimate relaxation on a comfy chaise lounge around the greenstone pool, with a glass of wine in the garden living area, or with a massage in one of two relaxation balés (a thatched roof structure). And the resort feel? That comes from an attentive yet discrete staff that includes a villa manager, a chef, and a housekeeper that ensure your fingers remain unlifted and your spirit remains content.
Kir Royale, Palm Springs
Top-Rated for: Its celebrated mid-century modern architecture
At Kir Royale, backyard living includes a close up view of the San Jacinto Mountains, a swimming pool and misting system to cool down, plus a fire pit to warm up again. Fans of the mid-century modern architecture so closely associated with Palm Springs will appreciate Kir Royale’s seamless indoor-outdoor living spaces. The home also has stylish interiors, highlighted by a spiral staircase, walnut stairs, and terrazzo floors. A high-end kitchen adorned with Boffi fixtures invite guests with culinary talents to cook up a storm. And for some serious rejuvenation, head straight to the villa’s private yoga and meditation room—the desert views makes it the perfect setting for an hour practice. Guests also love Kir Royale’s proximity to downtown Palm Springs (it’s less than two miles away), where art lovers should be sure to check out Palm Springs Art Museum to get a taste of some of the works once owned by the area’s affluent residents. The renowned Coachella Valley has great links including Escena, Mesquite, and Indian Canyons, all within 10 miles of Kir Royale, spoiling golf lovers with plenty of places to tee up.