Life

Home from home: Conintental villas to book whenever travel abroad is allowed

With many hoping that international travel may resume in time for a sunny escape, Sarah Marshall recommends some impressive private holiday stays

Villa Kalypso, Crete, Greece

IT HAS sometimes felt like it might never happen over the past year but finally foreign travel can once again become more than just a distant fantasy. Since the roadmap to recovery was announced, agents have reported a flood of holiday enquiries, with villa bookings proving most popular.

It’s no surprise. Villas offer the reassurance of crowd-free privacy and minimum interaction with strangers so many of us are seeking. They are also ideal for multi-generational breaks, as families seek to reconnect, and longer stays, which are a growing trend.

Here's a taste of some of the fantastic properties on the holiday-rental market…

:: Villa Baroniblei, Sicily, Italy

According to Massimo Villas, who specialise in Italy, modern spaces with up-to-date tech are in vogue. Wifi, in particular, is a priority request, especially for a new breed of digital nomads looking to combine work and play, booking stays of up to eight weeks.

A Bond-esque beauty wrapped by the sandy beaches of east Sicily, four-bedroom property Villa Baroniblei is a perfect embodiment of the new trend.

Set in the countryside, it’s close to the flamingo-filled Vendicari nature reserve, Baroque town Noto and fishing village Marzamemi.

How: A seven-night stay costs from £415pp (10 sharing), excluding flights. Visit massimovillas.com or call 020 3529 8773.

:: Le Mas des Chenes Verts, Provence, France

A grand French farmhouse with modern trims, this six-ensuite-bedroom house is the fit for a multi-generational summer break.

Outside, meals can be taken on north or south facing verandas with views of the Luberon Valley and Mont Ventoux, and there’s a semi-covered space for barbecues next to the pool.

Reached by a short walk along a forest path, the village of Bonnieux has a selection of shops selling fine wines and fresh pastries.

How: A seven-night stay in June costs from £1,025pp (12 sharing), excluding flights. Visit akvillas.com or call 01242 547 705.

:: Villa Isidora, Crete, Greece

Since Greece announced vaccinated UK visitors will be able to travel there without the need to self-isolate, interest has shot up. This is a three-ensuite-bedroom property on the rugged far eastern side of Crete. Ideal for families with older children, the contemporary property is decorated in coastal colours and has a pool and a gym.

Set on a hillside in an area of olive groves and wine production, it overlooks low-key town Sita, where pretty tavernas line the seafront.

How: A seven-night stay costs from £795pp (six sharing), travelling on May 25, including flights and car hire. Visit simpsontravel.com or call 020 8003 6557.

:: Villa Kalypso, Kefalonia, Greece

Accessible with direct flights from the UK, Kefalonia is proving to be popular. Villa Kalypso is near Spartia on the south coast. Located at the foot of the headland, a fixed ladder leads to the water and one of the best snorkelling sites in the Ionian Sea.

With no through-road and no tavernas, there are very few day-trippers, making this is one of the quietest corners of the island.

How: A seven-night stay in shoulder season starts from £225pp (six sharing), excluding flights. Visit freelancevillas.com or call 01789 297 705.

:: Casa Majada, Ronda, Spain

A finca renovated by a renowned Spanish architect. Two of the four en-suite bedrooms open on to an inner courtyard covered by trellises with vines, and the vast gardens are filled with lavender and 100-year-old olive trees. The addition of a pool, pizza oven and barbecue mean there’s little reason to venture far, although Seville, Cordoba and Granada are an hour’s drive away.

How: A seven-night stay costs from £1,000pp (eight sharing), excluding flights. Visit scottwilliams.co.uk or call 01749 812 721.

:: La Poderina, Siena, Italy

A revamped ruin surrounded by olive groves, only 5km from Siena, and also within easy reach of several small villages.

Sleeping 10, the property has a pool, wine cellar, orchard, pizza oven, cook service and daily housekeeping. Any excess calories can be worked off in a gym with Pilates reformer set-up, and in-house yoga.

Designed by landscape artist Luciano Giubbilei, two-time Chelsea Flower Show Gold medal winner, the gardens are a delight.

How: A seven-night stay costs from £893pp (10 sharing), excluding flights. Visit merrioncharles.com or call +39 0585 92098.

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