Imagine if you could take your family or a big group of friends to a private vacation villa in, say, Marbella, Miami or St. Tropez. The villa is perfectly located for privacy but still central to the beach, buzzed about new restaurants and any sights you might want to meander through on a lazy afternoon. It is outfitted with a pool, billiard room, home theater, chef?s kitchen, fitness center and amenities like WiFi, Godiva chocolates for munching, a full library of DVDs and the plushest robes you?ll find outside a Four Seasons. And, most impossibly, there is a staff of concierges, housekeepers, cooks and other good time facilitators on standby, ready to address your whims on a moments? notice.
Think it's too good to be true? Think again. Villazzo is here. Offering private villa rentals in magnificent homes in the world's dreamiest destinations, Villazzo's edge is the combination of properties and amenities it offers. Unique in the field, Villazzo provides guests with the best of five-star hotel amenities in the luxurious private villas in its portfolio.
Surprisingly, the Villazzo idea did not come from a hotelier. Instead, it came from an entrepreneur who was, himself looking for a high-end vacation rental. What Christian Jagodzinski found were plenty of beautiful properties, but none of them with amenities he was used to, having stayed in numerous five-star hotels. To begin with, there was no airport transfer to the property. The villas were not equipped with an internet connection nor in some cases even a phone. Laundry and maid services were not part of the package, either. And so, like a true entrepreneur, Jagodzinski recognized a hole in the market for private villas with high-end hotel amenities, surely he couldn't be the only one in search of them?
In 2002, Jagodzinski founded Villazzo and began selecting villas to manage the Villazzo way. With properties in St. Tropez, Marbella, Aspen and Miami (one of which is Jagodzinski's own) and more then 20 employees worldwide, Villazzo has grown into a thriving boutique hospitality business. Careful not to grow the property portfolio beyond the ability to provide truly personalized service, Jagodzinski and his staff keep their eye on the quality of each guest's experience. The staff office is never more than 30 minutes from each of the properties, this way, staff can respond quickly to guests' more immediate needs.
How does it work? Prospective guests can peruse www.villazzo.com or call one of their offices directly to make a reservation for a two night minimum. Then, guests are encouraged to submit any requests they may have for their stay in advance. As Villazzo's Director of Villa Management, Ludovic Roche, points out, Almost anything is possible if we have enough time to make the arrangements. And even on short notice Roche has provided the nearly impossible to guests wanting, for example, a new billiard table set up by the pool. More standard requests range from stocking the fridge with a list of groceries to setting up dinner parties with catering from noteworthy local restaurants. Once on the property, the level of service supplied is entirely up to the guests.
Inside Casa Contenta in Miami, one of Villazzo's signature properties, it is difficult to imagine wanting any interference from the outside world. On an acre of prime Palm Island real estate, the 20 million dollar villa is a Spanish-style mansion enrobed in tropical foliage with interiors reflecting a French sensibility. With over 11,000 square feet of living space and grounds that feature a heated pool with waterfall and grotto, two Jacuzzis, a wet bar with barbecue and even a regulation-sized sand volleyball court, there is plenty of privacy on the property as well as from the outside world.
Days float by in the idyllic setting on the Gulf of Mexico. Hours by the pool or in the rooftop hot tub are the stuff of vacation fantasies. If you must check in with the outside world, the business office is equipped with an internet-ready PC, printer and fax machine. Settle in for a movie night in the home theater and take your pick of hundreds of DVDs in the villa library. Want to work off last night's dessert and cocktails? Head for the fitness center where resistance training equipment, cardio and even a mirrored wall with ballet bar offer the latest exercise options.
And, much like high-end hotels, the experience is enhanced by details, like the Mont Blanc pen on the bedside table, fresh flowers delivered every morning, 300-thread count sheets, well stocked wine cellar and humidor, Aveda products in every bathroom, JURA espresso maker in the kitchen and Godiva chocolates and fruits around the house. Technologically, the house is tricked out with all the latest Ethernet cabling throughout the house, Dolby 5.1 home theater systems, a vast musical selection available and customizable in every room of the house. Villazzo is even in the process of installing a biometric security system in which guests can simply place their hands up to a fingerprint reading sensor for entry to the property. The twice-daily housekeeping and turndown service is discreetly handled, the effect is felt, but their presence is virtually undetectable.
It's tempting to stay indoors and enjoy all that Casa Contenta has to offer, but Miami is a big city with lots to see. Villazzo has a chauffered limousine waiting to drive guests to South Beach hotspots or for an afternoon of shopping on Ocean Drive. Villazzo will also make seamless arrangements for golf or tennis, spa treatments and helicopter and yacht charters. Want to go out and leave the little ones at home in trusted hands. Villazzo will not only secure a choice restaurant table for your party but send a nanny to the house to look after the children.
The best part is that it's entirely up to you whether you want to enjoy Miami on the streets of South Beach or delivered directly to you at the villa. The staff regularly delivers dinners from local favorites, Shoji Sushi, Smith & Wollensky and Joe's Stone Crab, but they can make arrangements with virtually any restaurant in town.
With services such as these, it is no surprise that celebrities are among Villazzo's devotees. Although Villazzo's staff is tight-lipped about their clientele, other sources informed me that Derek Jeter and Jamie Foxx had recently enjoyed Villazzo's services in Miami.
Connoisseurs who find in Villazzo everything Jagodzinski found lacking in other villa rental services will be heartened to know that the Villazzo standard found at Casa Contenta is also the norm at the other Miami villas, evocatively named Villa Gabrielle and Villa Capponi. In an elite Coral Gables neighborhood, Villa Gabrielle is comfortably laid out for large or more intimate parties. Each room is a refreshing burst of color, giving the property a playful touch. The massive outdoor grilling area invites poolside barbecues, which can either be arranged for guests or left to their own culinary skills. Villa Capponi, on the other hand, is a bit more extravagant in its invitations. Owned by a nightlife impresario, the property is the perfect celebratory destination located in close proximity to the pulsing center of South Beach.
The coastal city of Marbella, long a treasured vacation destination of Spaniards and citizens of the world, houses three Villazzo properties: Villa El Cid, Villa Flamingo and Villa Enola. Each offers a convenient, yet unique location in the hilly Marbella area. Golf lovers gravitate to Villa El Cid for its proximity to the Flamingos Golf Course while Villa Flamingo and Villa Enola both enjoy breathtaking views of the Mediterranean and the North African coastline.
The Villazzo properties in St. Tropez live up to the city's glamorous reputation. Villa Belle Vue and Villa Village are classic French Riviera luxury homes, and are worth 7 million euros and 15 million euros, respectively. They are joined by Apartment du Port, Villazzo's only apartment property. But do not be dissuaded its 1,600 square feet are beautifully laid out into a charming three bedroom home fronted by the port of St. Tropez.
Each of the well-chosen properties reflects Villazzo's signature aesthetic: elegant luxury living with an emphasis on comfort. But, unlike many chain hotels, the unique features of each property are not crushed under uniformity. Instead, the service is consistent but not generic. Villazzo staff are trained at the highest level of the hospitality industry. Unlike either posh hotels or new destination clubs, Villazzo follows a strict philosophy that the client should pay for only those products or services they actually use. There is no membership fee or annual fee, simply the rental fee for the property. And, likewise, if a guest has no interest in a full-time butler, in-house massage treatments, or an exotic car rental, he will not be charged for extra services. But, decadent services like these are awfully difficult to resist, aren't they?