Room service, Bulgari toiletries and a humidor are among the perks at a new kind of luxury rental properties.
When is a hotel a villa? When it's a Villazzo home. This Miami-based company appears to have identified a gap - or possibly a ravine - in the luxury holiday homes market. "There are luxury hotel brands such as Mandarin Oriental and Ritz-Carlton", says Christian Jagodzinski, 37, Villazo's founder, "but if you go beyond that, to the private home market, there are no global names."
While well-heeled hotel guests can book a private villa in the grounds of a multi-starred hotel, the holiday homes market fails to provide the same combination of privacy and service. "The hospitality element is left out of the equation", Jagodzinski explains. "Homes should be as easy to book as a hotel room and offer the same service as a five-star. "The reason they don't, he argues, is because the house rental business is run "by real estate agents".
His own business credentials are not in question. As a teenager, he started an internet book company in his native Germany (he now lives in Miami) which he sold 1998 to Amazon.com. His fortune made, he decided to enjoy the things he'd missed out on and traveled the world. That was when he spotted his next business opportunity - at the jet set end of villa holidays.
Enter Villazzo, a capsule collection of large, individual, privately-owned homes in all right locations - St Tropez, Marbella, Aspen and Miami. Rental prices are fixed and range from US$20,000 to US$70,000 (₤11,000 to ₤40,000) per week, so there is no need for haggling with owners or agents.
Each home comes with a general manager (multi-lingual, with a background in international hotels), and there is no messing with other people's stuff. While you are in residence it's your place. Unlike renting at, say, Jumbo Bay, you won't find Ken Follett's family photos scattered around.
Furniture apart, the only "clutter" is Villazzo's branded linens, pillows, embroidered bathrobes, slippers and Bulgari toiletries, plus a fully-stocked fridge and mini-bar; all properties have high-speed internet access and cable TV, wine storage and a humidor. The service is personalized, and you can order "room service" via your GM, who will collect from the top restaurants down the road and serve it, or ensure your chef is on hand at short notice.
Right now there are three villas in each location apart from Aspen (where the hunt is on for a third). The St Tropez properties vary from a six-bedroom super-modern hilltop villa to an antique-filled house built using traditional material. "This will change the perception of villa rental," Jagodzinski says.
Villazzo (001 305 777 0146, www.villazzo.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org).
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